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Investigation after US military spends $34 million on unused building in Afghanistan

An investigation is underway into why the U.S. military spent $34 million constructing a building in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, that has never been used. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Recon

An investigation is being carried out into why the U.S. military spent $34 million constructing a building in Afghanistan that has never been used - and may now be demolished.

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The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Sopko, sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and two top generals this week, requesting more information about the project in Helmand Province.

The 64,000-square foot building was commissioned by the Army in February 2010 to be the Command and Control Facility for Regional Command Southwest during the surge.

But, in May 2010, even before construction began, the Marine commander in the area submitted a request to U.S. Forces Afghanistan to cancel the project.

Despite that request, the following year, in February 2011, the Air Force issued an order to British-based AMEC Earth and Environment Inc. to construct the facility and, in November 2012, the U.S. government took over the facility.

In his letter, dated July 8, Sopko said the military knew the building would not be used for its original purpose well before construction began. He asked Hagel, as well as Gen. Joseph Dunford and Gen. Lloyd Austin, to explain why construction ever began.

Sopko also asked them to find out whether another facility had been built to replace the unused building.

And he questioned whether turning the building over to the Afghan government was possible, given that the Afghans might not have the technical capacity or money to maintain it.

Plastic covers are still on seats inside what was designed to be a command and control facility in Helmand Province. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Recon

"According to a senior U.S. military official, as the footprint of Camp Leatherneck decreases, the building could be outside the security perimeter, thereby making it unsafe for the U.S. military to occupy it. This leaves the military with two primary options -- demolish the building or give it to the Afghan government,” he said in the letter.

“Due to an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment at this time,” NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan replied when asked for comment about the investigation by NBC News. 

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said that the Pentagon was "viewing the report," and had nothing more to add to it.

He was not sure when Hagel would provide a formal response.

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