A brand-new U.S. military headquarters in Afghanistan. And nobody to use it. 


Washington Post  (h/t Susan K) The U.S. military has erected a 64,000-square-foot headquarters building on the dusty moonscape of southwestern Afghanistan that comes with all the tools to wage a modern war. A vast operations center with tiered seating. A briefing theater. Spacious offices. Fancy chairs. Powerful air conditioning.

Everything, that is, except troops.

The windowless, two-story structure, which is larger than a football field, was completed this year at a cost of $34 million. But the military has no plans to ever use it. Commanders in the area, who insisted three years ago that they did not need the building, now are in the process of withdrawing forces and see no reason to move into the new facility.


For many senior officers, the unused headquarters has come to symbolize the staggering cost of Pentagon mismanagement: As American troops pack up to return home, U.S.-funded contractors are placing the finishing touches on projects that are no longer required or pulling the plug after investing millions of dollars.

In Kandahar province, the U.S. military recently completed a $45 million facility to repair armored vehicles and other complex pieces of equipment. The space is now being used as a staging ground to sort through equipment that is being shipped out of the country.

In northern Afghanistan, the State Department last year abandoned plans to occupy a large building it had intended to use as a consulate. After spending more than $80 million and signing a 10-year lease, officials determined the facility was too vulnerable to attacks.

Afghanistan Qalat school

But some senior officers see the giant headquarters as the whitest elephant in a war littered with wasteful, dysfunctional and unnecessary projects funded by American taxpayers. A hulking presence at the center of Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province, it has become the butt of jokes among Marines stationed there and an object lesson for senior officers in Kabul and Washington.

The top Marine commander in Helmand sent a memo to the U.S. headquarters in Kabul three years ago stating that the new structure was unnecessary. But his assessment was ignored or disregarded by officers issuing contracts for construction projects, according to senior military officials familiar with the issue.

The building’s amenities also have prompted alarm among senior officers. A two-star Marine general who has toured the facility called it “better appointed than any Marine headquarters anywhere in the world.” A two-star Army general said the operations center is as large as those at the U.S. Central Command or the supreme allied headquarters in Europe.

“What the hell were they thinking?” the Army general said. “There was never any justification to build something this fancy.” Both generals spoke on the condition of anonymity. In a letter sent Monday to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the special inspector general for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, John F. Sopko, called it “the best constructed building I have seen in my travels to Afghanistan.”


“Unfortunately, it is unused, unoccupied, and presumably will never be used for its intended purpose,” Sopko wrote. “This is an example of what is wrong with military construction in general — once a project is started, it is very difficult to stop.” 

The headquarters has its origin in 2009, when President Obama decided to surge more troops to southern Afghanistan to beat back Taliban insurgents. Army planners in South Carolina and at the Pentagon determined that Camp Leatherneck, which had been selected as the headquarters for Marine forces in the south, required a sophisticated command-and-control facility.

When Marine officers in Helmand heard of the plans, they objected. The commander at the time, then-Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills, believed his plywood-walled headquarters was sufficient and made that clear to his superiors in Kabul.


His assessment went unheeded. Staff officers in Kabul drafted specifications for the building and asked Air Force contracting officers to find a private company to construct it. The construction order went to a British firm, AMEC Earth and Environment, which began work in November 2011, according to military documents. By then, Obama had announced the end of the surge. The bulk of the withdrawal would occur in Helmand.

As the Marine presence in the southwest went from 20,000 to about 7,000 in 2012, workers laid the foundation, placed the beams and strung electrical wire. The building was designed to accommodate about 1,500 personnel. There are now fewer than 400 headquarters-level staff on the base.


Even after Obama decided to remove an additional 34,000 troops this year, the project continued apace. Cubicles filled the floor. Theater seats arrived. The contractor made modifications to address problems with emergency exits. It was not until this spring that U.S. generals in Kabul decided to call a halt to the project. The decision was made before additional millions were spent on computer gear for the building but not soon enough to cancel crates of furniture.

“It’s terribly embarrassing,” the two-star Army general said.

The military, which has opened a formal investigation into the decisions that led to the contract, is considering two options for the building: demolishing it or giving it to the Afghan army. Although the handoff sounds appealing, U.S. officials doubt the Afghans will be able to sustain the structure. It has complex heating and air-conditioning systems that demand significant amounts of electricity, which, in turn, require costly fuel purchases for generators. The building is wired for 110-volt appliances, not the 220-volt equipment used by Afghans. And, the officials note, the U.S. military recently built a new headquarters building on the Afghan base that adjoins Leatherneck.


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  • Explosive Ordinance Disposal, known for their expertise at "blowing things up" very well, I might say....

  • The man in the oval office stated that he was dedicated to having an open Presidency. BH Obama said many things prior to his first election and right after he assumed office. However, his arrogant behavior is not inspiring confidence in his brand of leadership. He is like a small boy, with a sweet tooth, in a candy store with a buck in his pocket. Furthermore, the US Congress is not inspiriting the citizens with their dysfunctional behavior. Citizens can’t tell the democrats from the republicans. Fault finding reigns in Washington, DC. This leads me to believe that they are incapable of properly using the power that has been bestowed upon them by the voting citizens.

         BH Obama has had time to prove himself; he has failed. The US Congress has demonstrated that they do not know why they are in Washington, DC. The Constitutional violations are monumental. The scandals are numerous. It is time to put a stop to the charade. It is time to follow the courageous Egyptian citizens example.

  • I say it time to put the federal government on a strict budget,(shut it down) every American citizen should refuse to pay their taxes.  What will the feds do, throw everybody in prison?   I don't think so… when federal agents don't get paid I don't think they will report for work.  Do you think the parasitical politicians and bureaucrats will show up in D.C. if the cow quits giving milk?  The fraud waste and abuse has gone far enough.  Our forefather rose up and fought a revolution and won over a 3% tea tax.  Even if 75% of American tax payers stopped paying their taxes it would shut the government down and force them to reevaluate their spending habits.   Seriously I think it time for the second American Revolution, it time for the American citizens to take back our government.

    As Thomas Jefferson so aptly stated; “God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.... And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two?  The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure. “   

    Suggested reading:

    Not Yours to Give: Davy Crockett and Welfare
    • I agree it is time for the revolution to start it should have started along time ago  

    • I thinkthat is the only way we are going to be able to make a true statement to them....EVERYONE (well minus the fools that agree with this horrible man and crew of the left) TO NOT PAY TAXES, NOT TAKE OUT OBAMACARE, NOT DO WHATEVER IT IS HE IS DEMANDING AND REFUSE TO GIVE OUT INFO TO ANYONE WE DO NOT TRUST ETC......IT IS A PEACEFUL REVOLUTION THAT THEY CANNOT SHOOT US FOR!!!  NO GUNS NEEDED FOR US, NO TRAVELING SOMEWHERE TO EN-MASS MAKE A STATEMENT....JUST DO NOT COMPLY WITH ANYTHING HE IS SAYING...LIKE THE Republicans THAT TRY TO TELL THE MAN THAT THEY DO NOT AGREE!   WE HAVE TO STOP THIS TAKE OVER OF AMERICA to COMMUNISM AND THAT IS JUST WHAT IT IS ...ONE WORLD COMMUNISM AND THE PUPPETEERS OF OBAMA THAT ARE RUINING EVERYTHING!     THAT SAID; Remember we have been told that times would get really bad and that we must stand on our faith in God doing what we can to further the kingdom to those that do not know Him!!  SO,  put on the armor and fight the good fight!   I call standing up to tyranny fighting the good fight, as it is of satan.  God would not want us to give up or give into evil!!!!!!!!



  • In heaven they'll have to justify why they didn't use that money to help starving or oppressed civilians or injured veterans, or etc. I believe many helicopters have been downed recently so they could be replaced by the new ones from the Russian helicopter contract. Deals, deals, deals. Roads to nowhere.
  • While I am all for making things as nice as possible for our troops; this looks like it is for the brass not the boot on the ground and that makes me mad.....all that could have been used to make them all safer and more comfortable yet, here we are leaving such behind for the turbans!!  Makes me sick....too bad they did not stick to prefab and could take it down and back to the states as they leave!!!!  WHY has the government always replaced and rebuilt after we were at war with someone?...let them rebuild their own!   War is hell and not an architecture project for pete sake!!!!

  • Well the illegal is successful in breaking America.

    • We have EOD personnel in place, blow it all up before we leave.

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