As part of its efforts to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan, the Pentagon built this 64,000 square foot installation at Camp Leatherneck. The “64K” building teemed with generators, offices, teleconferencing rooms, and an auditorium. No one ever needed it and it was never used.
In ProPublica’s terrific overview of the 64K “boondoggle,” the project is summed up as stupid from the get-go:
The 64K project was meant for troops due to flood the country during the temporary surge in 2010. But even under the most optimistic estimates, the project wouldn’t be completed until six months after those troops would start going home.
Along the way, the state-of-the-art building, plopped in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, nearly doubled in cost and became a running joke among Marines. The Pentagon could have halted construction at many points—64K made it through five military reviews over two years—but didn’t, saying it wanted the building just in case U.S. troops ended up staying. (They didn’t.)
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Some of the these photos, taken from a 2013 site visit by the Pentagon waste watchdogs of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), have been published previously. But the full camera roll was delivered to Gawker as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, and the full gallery—every unopened door, every un-sat-in chair, every non-generating generator—paints a bleak portrait of military waste. A fun exercise is, after each slide, repeat to yourself: “this cost $25 million.”
(Not counting the additional money, which ProPublica estimates at more than $20 million, spent on roads and other infrastructure to support the $25 million building that no one needed, but that is a lot to repeat to yourself.)