Afghanistan Hub Gets Half-Billion-Dollar Facelift

Southern Afghanistan is the initial focus of the military’s rapid, six-month troop buildup. And in recent months, Kandahar Airfield, the main logistics hub in southern Afghanistan, has seen a massive upgrade that will help accommodate the surge.

In response to a query from Danger Room, the International Security Assistance Force provided figures on new investments in Kandahar Airfield and the adjoining base. All told, NATO has authorized EUR 343 million — that’s around $500 million — in common funding for the upgrade or construction of new facilities at Kandahar Airfield. Improvements include new runways, a control tower, buildings for NATO command elements as well as expansion of the base power system.

“These works are not directly related to the plus-up but clearly have benefit,” said Capt. R.J.M. Hermkens of the Royal Netherlands Army, in an e-mail.

In addition to the common funds, Hermkens said individual member nations with troops stationed at Kandahar are also making separate investments in facilities, although he had no specific figures for those upgrades.

Either way, it’s a massive construction boom. By contrast, the U.S. military over the past year sank around $220 million into improving Bagram Airfield, the main hub for central and eastern Afghanistan.

Fun fact of the day: Kandahar’s airport and its modernist passenger terminal (pictured above) was built in the 1960s by the U.S. Agency for International Development. At the time, southern Afghanistan and Helmand Province were the focal point of massive U.S.-funded development schemes, including massive dam-building projects and the digging of irrigation canals.