KABUL — A never-used U.S. military base in southern Afghanistan will likely be demolished, a government watchdog reported Wednesday.
Some $34 million was spent on the construction of the full-fledged military facility, it said.
"Based on these preliminary findings, I am deeply troubled that the military may have spent taxpayer funds on a construction project that should have been stopped," John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said.
"Unfortunately, it is unused, unoccupied, and presumably will never be used for its intended purpose.
"One senior US military official told me that this facility was designed for a military division that was never deployed and, subsequently, a decision was made not to construct the facility, but inexplicably the building construction started and is now complete," Sopko said in the report.
“In addition, I was told that the US military officials expect that the building will be either demolished or turned over to the Afghan government as our military presence in Afghanistan declines and Camp Leatherneck is reduced in size,” the report said.
Both alternatives for how to resolve this issue are troubling: Destroying a never-occupied and never-used facility, or turning over what may be a “white elephant” to the Afghan government that it may not have the capacity to sustain, it said.
“According to a senior US military official, as the footprint of Camp Leatherneck decreases, the building could be outside the security perimeter, thereby making it unsafe for the US military to occupy it,” it said.
“This leaves the military with two primary options – demolish the building or give it to the Afghan government.”
NATO, coalition and US forces have destroyed hundreds of small and medium-size military camps and bases as they prepare to withdraw.
Many bases have been handed over to the Afghan government, but concerns remain over whether the Afghan military can maintain the larger bases.