Last week, the DoD IG released a redacted version of its evaluation of the Air Force’s Air Base 201 in Agadez, Niger, and the installation’s construction - which began in October 2013 but was not completed until spring 2019.
The agency recommended the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller begin a preliminary review to determine whether the service violated the Antideficiency Act when it used $3.7 million in procurement funds - rather than military construction funds - to purchase a dozen guard towers.
While military construction funds require the service to notify Congress, procurement funds do not require such notice, but they are designated for financing equipment.
The DoD IG’s 72-page report also noted that the Air Force skirted Congress when it split construction requirements for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations into six separate operations and maintenance projects that totaled $5.4 million.
“However, all of the projects were known and each project on its own would not result in a ‘complete and useable facility,’ which means the projects should have been combined and reported to Congress,” the report said.
According to the agency, both US Africa Command (AFRICOM) and the Air Force failed to complete necessary site surveys for Air Base 201’s design and construction.
Additionally, a number of safety and security requirements set by the DoD were not met during this period, such as the installation of “solar airfield lighting that did not conform to the electrical power requirements to provide continuous uninterrupted visual airfield lights.”
After examining the cases made by the DoD IG, AFRICOM acknowledged that the correct actions were not always taken, but the command insisted no laws were broken.
“A few procedural missteps occurred in an effort to build a functional air base in a very remote area under very austere conditions,” AFRICOM spokesman Air Force Col. Chris Karns said in an emailed statement to the Air Force Times, noting that “mistakes were made” and procedures will be “tightened up” as a result.
“The construction of Nigerien Air Base 201 provides a valued capability to address and monitor the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel,” Karns added.
The DoD IG expressed in its report that while the agency has respect for both AFRICOM and the Air Force, their difficult circumstances “did not negate the responsibility for ensuring that construction projects were programmed in accordance with appropriation laws and regulations and construction, operations and security standards.”