In helping Afghanistan build up security forces, U.S. trims the frills

Growing political concern in the United States over the high cost of the American mission has made for a blunt new imperative: The effort to build up the Afghan security forces, which cost the United States $11.6 billion this year, needs to get cheaper — fast, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

To this end, out are the pedestal porcelain sinks in the bases the United States is building for the Afghan army and police; in are communal metal troughs. Out: air conditioning. In: ceiling fans. Out: brick-and-mortar barracks. In: quick-rising steel “arch-span” buildings.

“If they can’t afford it and sustain it in 2014” — the year Afghan security forces are scheduled to be in charge of their own destiny — “we don’t build it,” Army Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell said in the Washington Post article.

The scope of the U.S.-funded building boom for Afghan security forces nevertheless remains immense. Contractors are about a quarter of the way through a $11.4 billion effort to erect 10,000 buildings — about 100 bases for the Afghan army and nearly 1,000 sites for the police — though a large number of projects are expected to be completed by spring, according to the Washington Post. They range from small police outposts to the $200 million National Defense University in Kabul.

To read more, see The Washington Post story.

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