U.S. Legacy in Afghanistan: Giant Prisons

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Common Dreams

U.S. Legacy in Afghanistan: Giant Prisons

by
Common Dreams staff

Despite claims to hand over control of the main U.S. detention center in Afghanistan to the Afghans, the U.S. military is instead investing millions to double the size of the facility.

Spencer Ackerman writes in Danger Room this morning:

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There once was a plan to turn over the main U.S. detention center in Afghanistan to control of the Afghans in 2011. That’s out the window. Instead, the military is offering millions to vastly expand the center’s inmate intake.

Specifically, $35 million will fund expansions necessary to house “approximately 2,000 detainees” at the Detention Facility at Parwan on the outskirts of Bagram Air Field, an hour’s drive from Kabul. The Army Corps of Engineers wants to expand “detainee housing, guard towers, administrative facility and Vehicle/Personnel Access Control Gates, security surveillance and restricted access systems,” according to a recent solicitation. A Turkey-based company received the contract in late January. [...]

And Parwan isn’t the only detention center on the grow: the U.S. is spending up to $100 million building jails across Afghanistan.

* * *

As Nick Turse noted last week, the "drawdown" in Afghanistan has been anything but:

Despite all the talk of drawdowns and withdrawals, there has been a years-long building boom in Afghanistan that shows little sign of abating. In early 2010, the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had nearly 400 bases in Afghanistan. Today, Lieutenant Lauren Rago of ISAF public affairs tells TomDispatch, the number tops 450.

The hush-hush, high-tech, super-secure facility at the massive air base in Kandahar is just one of many building projects the U.S. military currently has planned or underway in Afghanistan. While some U.S. bases are indeed closing up shop or being transferred to the Afghan government, and there’s talk of combat operations slowing or ending next year, as well as a withdrawal of American combat forces from Afghanistan by 2014, the U.S. military is still preparing for a much longer haul at mega-bases like Kandahar and Bagram airfields. The same is true even of some smaller camps, forward operating bases (FOBs), and combat outposts (COPs) scattered through the country’s backlands. “Bagram is going through a significant transition during the next year to two years,” Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Gerdes of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Bagram Office recently told Freedom Builder, a Corps of Engineers publication. “We’re transitioning... into a long-term, five-year, 10-year vision for the base.”

Whether the U.S. military will still be in Afghanistan in five or 10 years remains to be seen, but steps are currently being taken to make that possible. U.S. military publications, plans and schematics, contracting documents, and other official data examined by TomDispatch catalog hundreds of construction projects worth billions of dollars slated to begin, continue, or conclude in 2012.

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