WASHINGTON — Retired Major General Arnold Fields, the US official in charge of rooting out corruption in Afghanistan, announced his resignation yesterday, just days after firing two of his top deputies.
Key members of Congress urged President Obama to dismiss Fields, saying he failed to oversee the $56 billion that the United States has poured into Afghanistan to rebuild schools, roads, and other facilities.
Fields took the job as the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction in 2008 when the job was created. His resignation is effective Feb. 4. At the time of the firings, Fields said he said he did not dismiss his top deputies in order to save his own job.
Also yesterday, NATO’s top commander in Afghanistan said a recent pledge by a southern Afghan tribe to stand up to the Taliban shows the military push in the country’s most violent region is making headway and stifling the insurgents’ “central nervous system.’’
General David Petraeus said in the southern Afghan city of Lashkar Gah that a shift in thinking by the Afghanistan government and NATO means that the tribe’s risky move is being embraced rather than ignored. And that brings the hope that others may follow suit, he said.
Later yesterday, Petraeus was in Kabul to greet Vice President Joe Biden, who made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to assess progress toward the key objective of handing over security from international forces to Afghans.
In a separate development, Mitt Romney met yesterday with Karzai in Afghanistan, as part of a weeklong overseas trip that could bolster the former Massachusetts governor’s foreign policy credentials.
Romney, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, is visiting Afghanistan, Israel, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates.