The Cost of Drawing Down in Afghanistan

From January 2010 to February 2015, the Defense Department got rid of $907 million in foreign excess real property—616 bases—in Afghanistan, mainly by donating the property to the Afghan government, according to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction. During the five-year period, DOD transferred 391 US bases to the Afghan government and six to other US government agencies, and also closed 219 bases, out of a total of 715. One of the largest donations was at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province, a base that had been controlled by US Marines and co-located with the British Camp Bastion. Camp Leatherneck is the site of a headquarters building that cost at least $25 million to build but was never used by US troops. The Pentagon said it donated about $236 million worth of property from that base to the Afghan government, and destroyed nearly $39 million worth. The DOD cannot sell FERP to the Afghan government, and if it is not transferred to another US military department, it must be abandoned, deconstructed, or donated, according to the report. The donation of $858 million worth of property “constitutes additional resources that the United States has made available in connection with the reconstruction of Afghanistan,” according to a letter signed by SIGAR John Sopko to congressional committees contained in the report.