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Corps of Engineers Builds Toward Terror-Free Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 14, 2004 – with the shells of their buildings, near bombed-out tanks, minefields and leftover munitions -- are scattered over the mountainous landscape in Afghanistan. For a country that has been at war for more than 20 years, it is an all-too-familiar scene.

Building modern-day facilities for the newly trained Afghan National Army has become a primary mission for the Afghanistan Engineer District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Supporting Combined Forces Command Afghanistan's efforts to win the war on terror, the Corps is spearheading a comprehensive infrastructure program for the reception and training of recruits, and subsequent stabilization of up to 70,000 ANA soldiers. Sites now being built and those completed since the start of the program provide facilities for 56,000 troops, at a cost of $575 million.

The program, which began in 2003, includes construction, rehabilitation and refurbishment of barracks, dining facilities, administration centers, clinics, motor pools, training ranges and support facilities. It also includes building a military hospital, military academy, entrance processing station, and training center. United States, Taiwan and the United Kingdom have funded the program to date.

"The Afghan National Army program is a critical component to our strategy to establish a safe and secure environment in Afghanistan that is free of terrorism," said Col. John B. O'Dowd, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Afghanistan District. "The all-volunteer ANA has proven in the field its dedication to the future of Afghanistan.

"The Corps is honored that our engineering experience, gained in the accomplishment of our civil works and military construction program back home" he continued, "is providing these dedicated soldiers with the quality facilities they deserve."

In addition to creating comfortable living conditions for the ANA, the Corps manages the construction of power plants, water supply and wastewater treatment facilities for each site. The new bases are located in key areas such as Kabul (Pol-e-charki, Darualman, Kabul Military Training Center), Herat, Gardez, Kandahar and Mazar-e Sharif.

Combined, the installations total 1,300 acres with more than 600 major structures. Seven sites are under construction.

"This is the first time in the history of Afghanistan that we have the infrastructure, the barracks and the headquarters in one installation," said Brig. Gen. Mohamad Akhtar Hamdam, the ANA's garrison commander at Darualaman. "We are very pleased to have similar facilities used by other military all around the world."

According to Hamdam, the approximately 3,000 ANA soldiers at his base are from all over the country, some from such remote and far places that they have never lived with running water or electricity. As commander, once the soldiers transition to Darualaman, he ensures they are trained on how to properly care for themselves and their new surroundings.

"Our government prepared all the facilities for complete use, so an incoming soldier does not have to worry about food, cold or heat," said Hamdam. "They are able to come here and just work.

"Our Army is here for serving the nation and the people of Afghanistan. It is all connected directly to each other," he said. "The infrastructure that serves the ANA serves the nation of Afghanistan."

Before starting construction, the Corps oversaw the de-mining and removal of unexploded ordnance left over at each site. According to the U.N. Mine Action Centre in Afghanistan, there are more than 872 square kilometers of suspected mined land and an additional 450 square kilometers of land thought to be contaminated by UXO, making Afghanistan one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.

(From a Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan release.)

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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