What a Waste: U.S. Military’s Unused $34 Million HQ in Afghanistan

Mike O'Brien

A U.S. military headquarters in Afghanistan that cost $34 million to build but remains unused has been cited as a prime example of throwing away money.

The empty 64,000-square-foot building may be turned over to the Afghan government, although officials believe it is more likely to be torn down.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week, the Office of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) called the project a "troubling example of waste."

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In the letter, IG John F. Sopko said that, whatever happens to the building, it raises grave questions about why the military carried on with the project when there were early concerns that there was actually no need for it.

Mr. Sopko admitted the building, situated in Helmand province, was impressive and said it perhaps the best built facility he has seen in Afghanistan.

But he added: "Unfortunately, it is unused, unoccupied and presumably will never be used for its intended purpose."

He also wrote about unnamed military officials who cited the project as an example of the pitfalls of military construction, saying "once a project is started, it is very difficult to stop."

The Army sought funding for the project in February 2010 and construction work began a year later.