e-Ariana - Todays Afghan News
 Home 
 News 
 Articles 
 Cartoons 
 Feedback 
 Opinion  
 Contact Us  
 An Ariana Media Publication 10/23/2014
 U.S. nixes larger office for Afghan defense minister

The Washington Post
07/01/2012
By Joshua Partlow

[Printer Friendly Version]

KABUL - The United States is spending $92 million to build Afghanistan a new “Pentagon,” a massive five-story military headquarters with domed roofs and a high-tech basement command center that will link Afghan generals with their troops fighting the Taliban across the country.

But when Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak asked for a bigger office in the building — a change that would cost about $300,000 — he got a firm “no” in response. These types of changes cost time and money, U.S. military officials said, and in Afghanistan, both are in ever-shorter supply.

“We could do them, but we’re not going to do them,” Col. Andrew Backus, the director of engineering for the NATO command in charge of training and equipping the Afghan security forces, said of the Afghans’ proposed revisions. “What we’re going to do is finish the project with strict change control and turn it over to the Afghans. And if they want to change it, then they can change it.”

The military headquarters building is one of the most prominent public symbols of America’s ongoing financial commitment to Afghanistan. Even at this late stage of the war, with American troops beginning their withdrawal, the U.S. government is still working its way through a $10 billion menu of construction projects aimed at bolstering the Afghan security forces, more than half of which have yet to be completed.

In addition to the Defense Ministry headquarters, the United States is building a $54 million Kabul headquarters for the Interior Ministry, which oversees the Afghan police, as well as a $102 million base for the military’s 201st Corps in eastern Afghanistan.

But with strict timelines and eroding domestic support for the war, U.S. military officials say there’s little room for revising what remains to be done.

“We are taking a firm stance with a set of disciplined business rules on change control,” Backus said. “That’s our approach.”

That policy has already been tested at a high level with Afghanistan’s Pentagon. Rising amid Kabul’s dusty streets, the 516,000-square-foot edifice, still cloaked in scaffolds and cranes, dwarfs other buildings in town.

“Once it’s finished, it will be a permanent and a very significant illustration of the U.S. support for Afghanistan,” Wardak, the defense minister, said in an interview. “And we needed it.”

But Wardak said he asked for two changes to the plan, one involving a conference room and the other his office. The current configuration, with his staff situated in an adjacent room, would require dignitaries to wade through a crowd of people to get to him, he said. “I have 100 or something staff. They wanted all of them to be crowded near my office. I didn’t want them close,” he said. “That was one objection.”

U.S. military officials said the office planned for the minister — which had been agreed to by the Afghans — is about 1,400 square feet, and the proposed changes would have doubled its size, as well as given the minister direct access to an elevator. A more costly proposal, to expand the basement command center from 4,000 to 6,000 square feet, would have cost $4 million and delayed the completion, now expected for early next year, Backus said. “We’re resisting that change as well,” he said.

Wardak said he is not interested in a lavish setting. And after eight years in his job, and more than 30 years as a soldier — fighting the Soviets as an insurgent and the Taliban as a counter-insurgent — he doesn’t envision spending much time in the new building before he retires.

“I’m not somebody to be very luxurious or something like that. I have never sat on that chair,” he said, motioning to a throne-like leather chair behind his desk.

He has had some harrowing moments working here. In the adjacent room, bullet holes are still visible in the walls where a Taliban gunman snuck inside and shot up the ministry last year.

“I think that is not such a major issue, bigger or smaller,” he said. “I would be very happy with a room this size.”

Back to Top



Other Stories:


Has Afghan election fraud controversy been defused?
The Christian Science Monitor (06/25/2014)

Moscow’s Afghan Endgame
The Diplomat (06/25/2014)

Apologize to people, MPs asks Abdullah
Pajhwok (06/25/2014)

The Men Who Run Afghanistan
The Atlantic (06/23/2014)

After Karzai
The Atlantic (06/23/2014)

IEC secretary announces resignation
Pajhwok (06/23/2014)

IECC spurns Abdullah’s claim; hails UN intervention
Pajhwok (06/23/2014)

Afghan election crisis: 'stuffed sheep' recordings suggest large-scale fraud
The Guardian (06/23/2014)

Foreign spies trading on poll crisis: People
Pajhwok (06/22/2014)

Election commission office closed in Kunduz due to security threats
Khaama Press (06/22/2014)

Afghan Leader Backs U.N. Election Role
The New York Times (06/21/2014)

Tensions mount over Afghan vote, protest held in Kabul
Reuters (06/21/2014)

Hundreds protest alleged Afghan election fraud
The Associated Press (06/21/2014)

Afghan Presidential Election Takes Dangerous Turn
The Huffington Post (06/21/2014)

20,000 Heratis being sent to Iran for work
Pajhwok (12/27/2013)

At Kabul airport, exodus of U.S. aid goes on
The Washington Post (12/27/2013)

Haqqani Network leaders sexually abuse teenager boys
Khama Press (12/27/2013)

Unemployment, Crime Rising Ahead Of Troop Pullout
Tolo (12/27/2013)

British army head warns Taliban could retake key territory in south
Khama Press (12/27/2013)

Election Officials Emphasize Impartial Surveys
Tolo (12/27/2013)

A Complete US Withdrawal From Afghanistan Would Be 'A Complete Catastrophe' For Civilian Aid
Reuters (12/27/2013)

Facing Big Changes, Anxious Afghans Hope For The Best In 2014
NPR (12/27/2013)

Afghanistan, North Korea, and Somalia Are the World's Most Corrupt Countries, With China in the Middle
businessweek.com (12/04/2013)

Poetry of Betrayal: Afghan Elections and Transitional Justice
Beacon Reader (10/25/2013)

Couple beheaded in Helmand province for having love affair
Khaama Press (10/25/2013)

US senator says no aid for Afghanistan unless security deal finalized
Khaama Press (10/25/2013)

Would-be child bombers detained: NDS
Pajhwok (10/25/2013)

Afghanistan
PJ (10/24/2013)

The Afghan dead find a list
Inter Press Service (10/24/2013)

10 runners shortlisted in 2014 presidential race
Pajhwok (10/24/2013)


Back to Top