$7.3 million camp for Afghan police found empty: US inspectors

US inspectors

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, US inspectors reported on Tuesday.

The facility, located in Kunduz Province, consisted of 12 buildings, including a dining hall, that were contracted by the Army Corps of Engineers and completed Sept. 3, 2012, according to a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

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.

"These findings are similar to a July 2012 inspection of Afghan Border Police facilities in Nangarhar province, where we noted that $19 million was spent to construct four Border Police sites, yet the facilities were unoccupied or not being used as intended," SIGAR reported. "As a result, we question the need to construct a site of this size and design at this location."

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.

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.

The inspectors said most of the buildings "appeared unused" and wood-burning stoves made of brick near the base dining facility had been dismantled. The SIGAR report included a photo of piles of bricks outside the empty building where the stoves had stood two months earlier when the camp was completed.

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