If You Build It, They Will…Well, Not Sure What They’ll Do

by Sunny in Kabul on 2/20/2013

This week on the blog we’ve been looking at the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) and some of Sopko’s recent findings in Afghanistan. An infographic here, an interview there, and now I think, kids, you’re ready for something really scary. Not Lindsay-Lohan-wants-to-open-a-restaurant scary. But scary. One of the keys to ISAF getting out of here and turning off the lights is the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Comprised of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP), in theory they’re going to be ready to take over the security of Afghanistan from coalition forces by the end of 2014. One of the components of the ANP that will always be more-or-less on the front line against the insurgency is the Afghan Border Police (ABP), one of the organizations that falls under the ANP umbrella. So it’s a good things we’re building them great big shiny new barracks, yeah?

A $7.3 million base camp built to house 175 Afghan Border Police was sitting virtually empty two months after it was handed over to Afghan authorities, and some equipment like wood-burning stoves had been dismantled, U.S. inspectors reported on Tuesday.

Now to be fair, it’s supposed to hold 175. So how many people would have to be there for it to be “virtually empty”?

Inspectors who visited the site to ensure construction by Omran Construction, Consulting and Engineering Co was carried out according to contract found only a dozen Afghan personnel at the camp and nearly all of the buildings locked, SIGAR reported.

Yeah that would probably cover the “virtually” part.

The inspectors found no major construction quality issues, the report said, but they were only able to inspect three of the buildings because the caretakers did not have keys for most of the site. The 12 Afghan personnel said they were not aware of any plans to move additional staff to the facility, SIGAR said.

Here’s where I get a little perplexed, though: you inspected 1/4 of the total buildings on site, but you’re certain that there are no major issues? Seems a bit of a random sampling, doesn’t it? And what about all those people that somehow disappeared? That’s got to be part of some well-thought ISAF/NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) plan. Naturally.

The NATO Training Mission for Afghanistan said in response that the Afghan Border Police had decided to reduce the size of its force in the area to 59 by the time the camp had been completed. Most of the force would be dispersed throughout the region for daily operations, so the camp would rarely be at full capacity, the report said.

So we went ahead and built a facility three times the size of what the Afghans themselves decided that they wanted. Because we make such great, amazing plans. Which we’ll gladly demonstrate when we present our maintenance projections.

“There is neither an operation and maintenance contract nor a plan to train Afghan personnel to operate and maintain equipment,” the SIGAR report concluded. “This raises questions about the Afghan government’s ability to sustain the facility.”

So we:

  1. Built it without consulting the Afghans
  2. Built it too big
  3. Failed to come up with an operations and maintenance plan

Nope. No idea why we haven’t been super duper successful here.

Until next time…sunny side, y’all.

Source: Sunny in Kabul


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This post was written by...

– author of 15 posts on Registan.net.

Happily married, cynic, and I long to drink the Kool-Aid. Two tours in Iraq, once as an Infantry officer, once as a Civil Affairs officer supporting a PRT. Now it's civilian development work in Afghanistan since 2009. I want to believe, it's just that the lies are so laughable.

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