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Posted at 08:45 AM ET, 06/28/2011

Leaving Afghanistan soon? Not exactly


(MIKHAIL METZEL/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
The United States may be planning to reduce its troop levels in Afghanistan over the next three years, but new construction contracts at Bagram Air Field serve as a reminder that current plans call for a significant continuing American military presence there.

Bagram, an old Russian air facility, now houses some 30,000 U.S. Army, Air Force and NATO personnel. The base has always been seen as the hub of the current and future American military presence in Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $14.2 million contract to a Turkish company to construct an eight-building barracks complex for troops. The facility is expected to house more than 1,200 personnel, and it’s not scheduled to be completed until the fall of 2013, one year before the Afghan army is scheduled to take over security across the country.

Other Bagram construction projects have either just been completed, or are still being lined up.

In March, construction was completed on an $18 million two-bay hangar for C-130 transport planes at Bagram, almost two years after it was begun. The hangar is approximately 60,000 square feet.

“This facility will help boost the C-130 sortie rate and mission performance by allowing maintenance to continue working during inclement weather,” said the colonel in charge of the transport unit.

Last month, meantime, a pre-solicitation notice went out for a new “Entry Control Point” at Bagram that is expected to cost more than $5 million and take a year to finish, which would put completion into late 2012.

In an interview last month with the Daily Iowegian, Lt. Col. John Perkins, whose Iowa National Guard unit has provided support at Bagram since November 2010, said addition space for buildings would be needed. 

By  |  08:45 AM ET, 06/28/2011

 
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