The lessons never learnt

The US’s contractors in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars were frequently embroiled in fraud and abuse. Now they are looking for business in the US.

Seated at a comfortable café in El Paso less than a mile from the United States-Mexico border, Josiah Heyman becomes exasperated speaking about the border security news du jour. Heyman, an academic at the University of Texas at El Paso, has followed the border security story for decades. He takes a sip of coffee, sucks some excess brew from his overgrown moustache and recaps the issue.

Smugglers often tunnel under the 1954 mile/3144 km-long border to bring drugs, weapons, and people into the US. In one of the most significant tunnel operations, US border enforcement agents seized 32 tons of marijuana. While many of the tunnels are basic, professional engineers construct some of the more advanced underpasses, which can cost several million dollars to build. In the last 25 years, about 170 tunnels have been found.

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Himal Southasian