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Spending on U.S. Mil. Bases in Afghanistan Surges

May 19, 2010

“More Spending for Bases in Afghanistan Raises questions of Permanency and Executability,” is the headline of one chapter in a new study by the Congressional Research Service points (hat tip to Bridget for pointing this out).

The study points out that part of the administration’s war spending bill that Congress is marking up this month includes an additional $521 million for military construction. That figure would bring the total spending on military construction in Afghanistan just in this fiscal year to $1.9 billion — a number  that is double the spending level of last year. And spending last year nearly equaled the total spent on construction between FY2003 and FY2008. Wow.

The Congressional Research Service writers then add that this spending

raises questions about whether DOD is building facilities to support the temporary stationing of warfighting troops or creating permanent bases in Afghanistan.

Good question? We at FCNL first proposed the Congressional language to ban permanent bases in Iraq back in 2005. With the help of then Senator Joe Biden, Congress enacted such a ban in 2007 and has inserted similar bans into legislation every year since then. In 2009 we worked with Rep. Barbara Lee and others to persuade Congress to pass a similar ban on permanent bases in Afghanistan.

As the CRS authors note, the FY2009 war supplemental included language stating that none of the funds “available by this or any other Act shall be obligated or expended by the United States Government for the purposes of establishing any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Afghanistan.”

You can read the CRS report for details on which bases and spending on what. The quote I found most interesting was this one

“A fundamental issue for Congress, expressed in legislation over a number of years, is whether spending on construction signals a long-term, indefinite U.S. troop commitment to Afghanistan.”

All the more reason that for all of us to work to build Congressional support for an exit strategy from Afghanistan.

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