One of Karzai’s favorite subjects is the U.S. approval of contracts “with [Afghan] warlords who use the money for their own gains,” according to his spokesman, Aimal Faizi. While one of the U.S. complaints about the Afghan government is its corruption, Karzai has repeatedly said that corruption is “imposed on us, and it is meant to weaken our system.”
A glance at the contracts awarded or offered in the first week of January shows how deeply committed the U.S. operation is in Afghanistan.
Construction contracts alone awarded last week totaled $41.3 million to build various facilities for elements of the ANSF and other government agencies. The largest was for $14.2 million to build a national fire training academy near Kabul that would be “for a population of 350 personnel to include students, instructors, mentors, administration and support staff,” according to the award notice.
Also awarded were contracts to construct a $3.4 million Afghan Border Police headquarters in Farah province; a $3.3 million Class B fire station for the Afghan National Police (ANP) in Ghor province; a $4.3 million expansion of Afghan army facilities in Helmand province; a $5.6 million supply facility for the ANP in Baghlan province; a $6.8 million expansion of facilities for the Afghan army and air force combined wing in Kandahar province; and $3.8 million to expand facilities at Camp Zafar in Herat province, which I wrote about last week.
New contracts also were in the offing. For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking a contractor to upgrade the Afghan army’s Khair Khot garrison in Paktika province. The work, to involve 25 structures, would include “a new compound for a Transient Kandak [Afghan battalion of about 600], an Operations Coordination Center, additional barracks and latrines for existing units already fielded, two literacy training classrooms and utility upgrades,” according to the government notice.
Remember, this was just the first week in January, and the United States is planning to be in Afghanistan 51 more weeks this year. It would be much better for Obama and Karzai to end their meeting with a specific list of what exactly will be involved rather than empty words saying they will continue to support each other in the fight against terrorists.
For previous Fine Print columns, go to washingtonpost.com/fedpage.