About 30 km south of Tirin Kowt on the border between Uruzgan and Kanahar Province, I am about to complete a $26 million dollar facility for the ANA’s 3rd kandak (battalion), of the 4th brigade, of the 205th Corps (3/4/205). Based on reports from my contractor and the rumor mill, the area is controlled by the “local” warlord, Matiullah Khan. Per several news reports (The New York Times and The Australian, for starters), Khan has a local militia of 2,000 and controls all access and movement along the major roadway through the area. He undoubtedly has at least business ties with the Taliban and possibly Al Qaida.
In spite of their abysmal current living conditions, the 205th Corps has been less than chomping at the bit to occupy the brand-new 3/4/205 kandak site. In fact, I have suspended progress at another site in the same AOR to motivate the Corps Commander to occupy and secure the site upon completion (for fear that the unsavory types will indeed take it over and waste our $26M investment).
A project manager on the construction site happens to be the cousin of Mattiullah Khan. Just a few days ago, the project manager hosted a site visit to show ANA representatives the facility they are about to take custody of. The leaders raved about the great quality and even stated, “this is the best we have seen and we will recommend to the US Command that they should give all projects in Uruzgan [Province] to [this contractor].” We do have another $150M of construction pending award in Uruzgan this summer.
“Khan” is the “Smith” of the U.S., but few would expect any given meeting to have 3 of 4 principle actors to have the name “Smith.” But, in fact, 4 out of 5 leaders at the visit to the 3/4/205 site were Khans (including the project manager mentioned above).
As far as the taxpayer goes, we have done what we can to ensure the facility is turned over to the Afghan National Army (ANA).
If it is not occupied by the “good guys”, at least we know where it is!