The U.S. military failed to stop construction on a $14.7 million warehouse facility in southern Afghanistan, despite delays in the project that made it clear it likely would barely be used by coalition forces, according to a new report by the top U.S. watchdog for Afghanistan reconstruction.
The facility was built at Kandahar Airfield and includes four warehouses with a combined 173,428 square feet of storage space, an administration building and other unspecified supporting facilities. It was designed for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), which supplies equipment to U.S. troops at home and overseas.
DLA did not accept delivery of the facility until Feb. 3, 2014, and never used it. “With a few minor exceptions,” the rest of the U.S. military never has, according to the report, which was issued by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
“Although the $14.7 million DLA warehouse facility was well built, lengthy construction delays led to the facility never being used for its intended purpose,” SIGAR said. “Had the facility been completed on schedule, DLA would have been able to use the warehouse facility for more than 2 years before its mission ended in Kandahar.”
It’s the latest in a series of SIGAR reports highlighting how U.S. taxpayer dollars were wasted in Afghanistan. In another case, the U.S. military failed to stop construction at a $36 million headquarters building at Camp Leatherneck, in Helmand province, despite a U.S. general saying in 2010 that it wasn’t needed.
Specifications for the warehouse project in Kandahar were first developed in 2009. The Army Corps of Engineers issued a $13.5 million contract in September 2010 to YDA AFCON Joint Venture, a collaboration between two Turkish construction firms. It was supposed to be completed by August 2011, but the firm was slow to complete work and pay subcontractors, SIGAR found.
The military partially canceled the contract with about 92 percent of the work done in April 2013. The Army Corps of Engineers issued a $844,526 contract the following month to complete the project by that August, but eventually modified it to include clean-up services, a more expensive fire suppression system and more employees to test a fire pump system and fire pump controllers. That boosted the overall cost to $14.7 million.
The building wasn’t turned over to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) until Feb. 3, 2014. By then, the U.S. military already was well into cutting down the number of troops and civilians deployed.
SIGAR recommended that Gen. Lloyd Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command (Centcom), direct U.S. Forces-Afghanistan to identify who made the decision to allow contract modifications that boosted the project’s price tag after the decision was made in August 2013 to end DLA’s mission in Kandahar.
A Centcom official, Army Col. Scott A. Petersen, wrote in a letter to SIGAR that the organization concurred with the watchdog’s findings that the warehouses were well built, but well after deadline. Finding out why the Army Corps of Engineers modified the contract to cost more will require an investigation, but he did not indicate whether Austin will order one.
U.S. Forces-Afghanistan had no comments for the report, according to a letter it sent to SIGAR.