In a move that could anger a vital ally in the war in Afghanistan, the Pentagon on Wednesday awarded a major jet fuel contract to Mina Corp., a secretive company that has declined to reveal its ownership but has nonetheless become a trusted partner with the U.S. military.
The contract, which may be worth more than $600 million, covers supplies for a U.S. Air Force base in Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished former Soviet republic where public anger over alleged corruption in jet fuel deals has helped topple two presidents in the past five years. All American troops entering and leaving Afghanistan pass through the American base outside the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. The base is also home to aero-tankers that refuel U.S. aircraft operating over Afghanistan.
The Pentagon's dealings with Mina and an associated firm, Red Star Enterprises, have been under investigation for the past six months by the House subcommittee on national security and foreign affairs. Since the Afghan war began, the companies have come from nowhere to win Pentagon contracts worth about $3 billion.