Camp Leatherneck in southern Afghanistan was not a particularly hospitable base for the tens of thousands of U.S. Marines and other troops who surged there towards the end of the last decade. Sandstorms regularly swept through the treeless landscape, and attacks on the base by Taliban forces claimed lives. The base’s initial name was “Tombstone.”
So it was perhaps understandable when the Marines declared an “operational need” in 2010 for a huge headquarters building at the site, to be outfitted with air conditioning, plush seating and comfortable offices.
But the decision to construct a 64,000-foot command and control facility has since come to exemplify the U.S. military’s careless waste in Afghanistan. After $34 million was spent on its construction, the tall, windowless building was never, ever used, except perhaps for target practice by the Taliban, according to U.S. officials. The facility was officially turned over to the Afghan Army last fall, but it remains empty and lies in a part of Afghanistan where U.S. personnel rarely if ever travel now. Continue reading