This story on the U.S. military’s strategy to combat improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan aired this morning on NPR. 

It is a fascinating story, but what it brought to mind immediately was the work done several years ago by a friend and fellow waste warrior, Major Eric Egland, an Iraqi war veteran who was involved with an anti-IED program in Iraq. 

Charged with determining why our anti-IED program in Iraq was not adequately protecting or troops, Egland ulitmately discovered that one of the companies charged with anti-IED work in Iraq had had no previous experience in that field, wasn’t even competent enough to do the most basic work on the program, and had been awarded the contract through a top-secret earmark by former California representative, current inmate Randy “Duke” Cunningham.  Egland has since then made a forceful case that earmarks not only costing us billions, they can actually cost lives.  Read more here

Let’s hope that we don’t see that sort of criminal corruption again, but the truth is that taxpayers should be very concerned.  The final numbers are not in yet on earmarks for the 2010 fiscal year, but CAGW is already seeing hundreds of anonymous earmarks crammed into the Defense Appropriations bills and news reports are beginning to creep out, strikingly similar to the Duke Cunningham tale.