NATO closes 202 Afghan bases
KABUL (PAN): NATO officials on Sunday said the alliance had closed 202 bases in Afghanistan as part of its drawdown in troops and transferred more than that number to the Afghan government.
Another 282 bases of a similar size had been handed over to the Afghan government, NATO forces spokesman Lt. Col. David Olson told reporters in Kabul.
He said all the closed facilities were small ranging from isolated checkpoints to bases housing a dozen to as many as 300 soldiers. Most of the closures have been along the country's major highways and that they have been spread across nearly every province, he said.
That means international forces now operate about half as many bases in Afghanistan as in October of 2011, when they ran about 800 of them in the country.
Director of Material Enterprise Integration United States Forces-Afghanistan, Steven A. Shapiro, said that up to 20,000 small and big equipments costing $3 million had been handed over to the Afghan forces, a program that would continue until foreign forces’ complete withdrawal.
He said over 50 percent of the non-military equipments would be delivered to the Afghan security forces. “Up to 400 small and big compounds have been closed since October, 2011 and the equipments handed over to the Afghan forces. Up to 200 others bases would also be shut down and the equipments would be handed over to the Afghan forces this year”, he added.
“Foreign Excess Personal Property (FEPP) programme allows us to identify and redistribute excess property to US forces and US agencies in Afghanistan as well as the Afghan government,” Shapiro said.
Improved Afghan National Security Force capability and the adoption of the Security Force Assistance model is enabling Afghans to take on full security responsibilities, “as we go through the process of transition, which in turn allows ISAF to reconfigure forces and bases,” he said.
“As our ANSF partners take more responsibility for their own security through transition, more bases will be closing…. We recognize the importance of being good stewards of US taxpayer money and good partners with Afghan government.”
He said if a commander on a site identified some equipment that was no longer needed, a list of that equipment was being distributed throughout US forces to see if it was needed or could be used.
“If not, the list is circulated to US agencies and back to the national association of states, agencies for surplus property to determine if there is a requirement,” he explained, adding after being fully vetted throughout US forces and agencies, the excess property was then offered to their Afghan partners.
“We work in partnership with the Afghan government when equipment is identified to transfer to them,” he said, believing they could best decide where it could benefit them the most.
The entire equipments had been enlisted to be sent to the related states of America, but if the price of purchasing was more costly than the resending expenditure, then “We are compelled to submit them to the Afghan forces unless taking them out of the country”, he detailed.
The process would be more economical than repurchasing the equipments for the Afghans, as it was experienced in Iraq, he said, adding no payment would be asked for repairing from the Afghan side.
The Afghan authorities had asked for delivering the foreign forces equipments and facilities to the Afghan forces after their withdrawal from the country.