News: US Forces - Afghanistan adjusts its $9.1 billion infrastructure program to meet Afghans' near-term needs
KABUL, Afghanistan - Over the course of a decade, the U.S. and its coalition partners initiated $9.1B in new construction projects intended to provide the Afghan National Security Forces adequate infrastructure and basing to protect the Afghan people. The U.S. Forces - Afghanistan (USFOR-A) maintains oversight of this investment by continually reviewing changes in coalition and Afghan operations.
As Afghan forces assumed the lead for security throughout the country, the coalition vacated hundreds of temporary facilities it no longer needed to occupy or maintain. Turning over some of these facilities to Afghan forces has enabled USFOR-A to meet the near-term basing needs of Afghan forces while decreasing expenditures in more expensive, permanent facilities that would take another year or two to finish constructing. Since January of 2013, USFOR-A’s actions have saved over $432,000,000 in planned U.S. and coalition funding, in part, by offsetting new construction with the transfer of existing coalition bases.
While USFOR-A has been leading the effort to adjust the Afghan’s basing strategy, the Afghan security ministries are beginning to take over this responsibility. As part of this transition, USFOR-A is helping the Afghan ministries develop a comprehensive view of their basing inventory, projected requirements and anticipated budgets. With this information, the Afghanistan government will be able to identify which new construction projects it should complete while identifying opportunities to assume control of coalition bases and realize substantial savings. This critical, ongoing process must continue as the Afghan government assumes more and more responsibility for sustaining a large inventory of infrastructure amid declining international donations.
As with any project of this magnitude, USFOR-A must continually adapt its infrastructure strategy in view of changes in requirements, priorities and funding. The large-scale construction projects are often planned four years ahead of initiation to obtain funding approval with actual construction started two to three years ahead of planned occupancy. The long lead times in construction have not kept pace with the changing security environment and operational needs of Afghan and coalition forces. As a result, USFOR-A acknowledges that the coalition has completed construction on a number of infrastructure projects that the Afghans are not fully using or occupying.
In light of these and other challenges, USFOR-A remains committed to being a good steward of valuable resources and has implemented a series of actions, such as quarterly review boards to adjust project delivery dates based on construction risk and requirements, while drawing upon lessons learned from a decade of construction in Afghanistan.
USFOR-A’s stewardship of taxpayer dollars is an active process to ensure resources are only expended on necessary projects. This process has not been perfect. However, USFOR-A understands its challenges and is incorporating lessons learned while implementing best-practice solutions. USFOR-A welcomes the insight and recommendations of outside organizations and will continue to refine our processes to ensure appropriate allocation of resources to support our Afghan partners.