News: Doors open for Afghan Uniformed Police District HQ in Zhari
Story by Karla Marshall
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – The Zhari District of Kandahar province has seen its share of clashes since the war against al-Qaida and the Taliban began in late 2001. As part of the counterinsurgency efforts to improve security and stability throughout Afghanistan, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Afghanistan Engineer District – South constructed district headquarters compounds for the Afghan National Police with the latest compound completed at Zhari.
Originally part of a seven-site contract awarded in 2007, which was later reduced to six sites, the Zhari Uniform Police District Headquarters was the last to be finished and cost $1,047,749. The other completed district headquarters construction projects are at Spin Boldak and Takteh Pol in Kandahar province and Garmsier, Nad Ali, and Nahi Sirraj in Helmand province.
Adjacent to Forward Operating Base Pasab, which is approximately 30 miles west of Kandahar, the Zhari District Headquarters will play a pivotal role in the security of the area because it lies strategically along Highway 1 and locally it is adjacent to a newly constructed district shopping bazaar.
“The district has been a dangerous place for the residents until just last year,” said Col. Anthony C. Funkhouser, commander of AED-South and responsible for the design and construction of the compound. “A uniformed police presence here will enable Afghan citizens to have safe access throughout the district and especially to the bazaar so they can buy and sell produce and other goods. Anytime we can improve the security situation and facilitate economic growth, we move the country closer to stability.”
Getting the project started was challenging because of significant security conditions. “Construction was delayed because the project site presented a complex security situation,” said Jeffrey Usavage, program manager in AED-South’s Programs and Projects Management Division, Afghan National Security Forces Program. “Even though the contract was awarded in May of ’07, clearance to start construction did not come until October ’07.”
Usavage further explained that the contractor, KTR and its subcontractors were served a stop-work letter in May
2008 that was not lifted until August 2008. “Not only were our construction workers asked to stop working because of security, our own USACE employees couldn’t get to the site to oversee construction.”
To help expedite construction, the AED-South’s Helmand Area Office trained Afghan Quality Assurance (engineer) Abdul Mateen to step into a more challenging role at the Zhari site. He and other AQAs received refresher engineering and construction training as well as training in safety and quality control management. “By training these Afghans to be more aware of U.S. and international construction standards, we increased their knowledge, reporting proficiency and quality assurance skills,” noted Usavage, a native of Wellsboro, Pa. “Because we couldn’t be on site, having AQAs with the proper skills was reassuring.”
The completed complex consists of a two-story District Headquarters building that includes a dining facility, berthing areas, offices, holding cells and an armory. The building is surrounded by a reinforced perimeter wall, guard towers and entry control points. Site infrastructure, to include electrical, water and sewer completes the construction.
“We are glad to move this project to our completed projects list,” stated Usavage. “The AED-South team worked really hard to get it completed and the Afghan citizens need to see that the ANP is committed to providing security in their area.”
The ribbon cutting event drew many Afghan government officials and local leaders. Further, a group of young boys were present from the local area to listen to the uniform police who will serve as role models for them in the future. The district governor and the deputy district governor both spoke about the uniformed police using this facility to train so they can serve and protect the people of Zhari.
The District’s Police Chief, Masum Kahn, pledged to take care of the facility and to train his policemen.
Despite the many construction challenges, the project, like many USACE construction projects in Afghanistan, sees steady progress when AED-South engages battle space owners for support.
The battle space owner in this instance, the 10th Mountain Division’s Task Force Spartan, provided security and stability to the district, as well as trained and mentored the Afghan Uniformed Police. “We work closely with battle space owners to ensure USACE personnel, contractors, and building materials reach the project sites and are secure while there, said Funkhouser. “The relationship that we have built with battle space owners is critical to the timely completion of our projects in Afghanistan.”
This project was among the group of six that were the subject of SIGAR Audit 11-3 dated Oct. 27, 2010. All six of the district headquarter projects are now complete, occupied and being used for their intended purpose.