A look at the Air Force budget for Afghanistan doesn’t sound to me like we’re planning on leaving any time soon, if ever:
* $65 million for a close-air support apron and an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance apron at Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan.
* $61 million for a cargo helicopter apron and a tactical airlift apron at Kandahar.
* $13.8 million for a cargo terminal at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, according to Nick Turse at Tom Dispatch:
* In March, according to Pentagon documents, Contrack [International, an engineering and construction firm] was awarded a $23 million contract for “the design and construction of [an] Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance ramp, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.”
* In April, Contrack was awarded another $28 million contract for work on airfields — to be performed at unspecified sites in Afghanistan.
* In June, Florida-based IAP Worldwide Services was awarded a $21 million contract to enhance electrical power distribution at the U.S. Marines’ still-growing Forward Operating Base (FOB) Leatherneck in Helmand Province…”
* In October, according to government documents, the Army also began soliciting bids — in the $10-$25 million range — for construction of fuel storage and distribution facilities at FOB Dwyer. These…are not scheduled to be completed until sometime in 2011.
* In October, defense contractor AECOM Technology signed a $78 million 6-month extension contract with the Army to “provide general-support maintenance as well as the operation of maintenance facilities, living quarters and offices at two U.S. military bases as well as forward operating bases and satellite locations” in Afghanistan.
* In July 2009, [Fluor] was awarded a $1.5 billion contract for…services in Afghanistan…
* In July… DynCorp International along with partners CH2M Hill and Taos Industries received a one year $643.5 million order to “provide existing bases within the Afghanistan South AOR [area of responsibility] with operations and maintenance support, including but not limited to: facilities management, electrical power, water, sewage and waste management, laundry operations, food services and transportation motor pool operations”…With an eye to the future, the Pentagon has included four one-year options in the contract which, if taken up, would be worth an estimated $5.8 billion.
Turse sees two options. Either:
“…the U.S. military’s building boom in that country suggests that, in the ninth year of the Afghan War, the Pentagon has plans for a far longer-term, if not near-permanent, garrisoning of the country, no matter what course Washington may decide upon.”
“…it suggests that the Pentagon is willing to waste taxpayer money (which might have shored up sagging infrastructure in the U.S. and created a plethora of jobs) on what will sooner or later be abandoned runways, landing zones and forward operating bases.”
I’m betting on the former rather than the latter.