It’s a small, half-million dollar drop in the over $US700 billion bucket that is the US war in Afghanistan. But the fate of a firing range constructed for the Afghan National Police’s training center in Logar province still offers jarringly literal proof of the US-led coalition’s difficulties in building anything of lasting value during a 13-year military presence in the troubled central Asian country.
According to a report released this week by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a firing range built in 2012 with $US456,669 in US funds literally began to dissolve back into sand just four months after the US government accepted the contractor’s proposal.
The report says that by early 2013, water penetration caused the walls of the firing ranges’ various buildings to “begin disintegrating,” an obvious sign that the range was “not constructed according to contract requirements.”
SIGAR found evidence that the contractor was cutting back on building materials and deliberately defrauding the US.
According to the report, one of the US-led coalition’s “[Regional Contracting Center] acquisition analysts” found that “the facility is completely unsafe … It appears the contractor intentionally used different materials and construction standards to cut costs or/and fraud the government.”
The dollar amount is relatively small compared to other instances of US waste that SIGAR has uncovered, including the likely payment of non-existent Afghan police officers with American funds and the billions spent on failed poppy eradication programs in the country.
But it’s another instance in which the US and its allies attempted to build local capacity in order to leave the Afghan government with infrastructure and institutions that could outlast the US-led combat mission, which ended last month.
This particular effort melted back into the ground. With Afghan forces suffering unsustainable casualty rates in the fight against the Taliban and the reduction of the US’s military presence in the country it remains to be seen if this becomes a larger metaphor for Afghanistan’s future trajectory.
Pierre Bienaime contributed to this report.
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