Millions in Afghan base construction funding at risk

Washington Post
By Walter Pincus
January 24, 2011

More than $11 billion in U.S. funding to construct and maintain bases for rapidly expanding Afghan security forces is at “risk of being wasted” because the military has no comprehensive plan for the program, according to government investigators.

Only about one-quarter of the nearly 900 construction projects scheduled for completion by the end of fiscal 2012 has even been started, Arnold Field, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, or SIGAR, said in testimony Monday.

The Obama administration’s strategy for the withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops by the end of 2014 depends on the development of Afghanistan’s own security forces. End-strength goals for the army and police have tripled from 132,000 in 2006 to a projected 400,000 over the next few years.

About $8 billion remains of the total $11.4 billion requested for the construction program. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, one of four Defense Department agencies who manage reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, has requested expedited funding for the security force projects.

The construction of bases, training camps and headquarters for the Afghan forces is a little-discussed part of the coalition’s plans to secure the country. …