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Top US watchdog for Afghanistan reconstruction resigns

Washington: A top US official who was in charge of weeding out corruption in America`s reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan has resigned, amidst series of allegations from lawmakers about his incompetence and mismanagement.

President Barack Obama has received the resignation of retired Major General Arnold Fields as the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the White House said in a statement.

Fields tendered his resignation effective from February 4.

"I intend to use the next month to ensure a smooth transition of duties and protect the vital mission of the agency I have had the honor to establish," Fields said in his resignation statement.

Later, a bipartisan group of four senators — Claire McCaskill, Tom Coburn, Susan Collins and Charles Grassley — applauded Fields` resignation as head of SIGAR, which was responsible for investigating waste, fraud and abuse in Afghanistan.

"Mr Fields simply was not the right person for this very difficult job. I hope that his departure will allow the agency to turn over a new leaf and finally begin to do the important contracting oversight work we so desperately need," McCaskill said.

Over the past two years, these Senators had repeatedly raised concerns regarding Fields`s performance.

In September, the senators sent a letter asking the President to remove Arnold Fields as the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

"We will continue to work through SIGAR and with Congress to ensure that US programs in Afghanistan effectively and efficiently achieve their objectives," the White House said in a statement.

Shortly after being appointed SIGAR in June of 2008, Fields established offices in Washington and Afghanistan, and assembled a staff of more than 120 committed professionals.

His team has helped lead the effort to provide comprehensive and independent oversight of fiscal initiatives in Afghanistan, the White House said.

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