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Generalities about the Helmand Province

How About $34 Million Waste Of Taxpayers’ Money In Afghanistan?

It seems the whole objective of the Helmand province campaign has been “to control a province that is known to be a Taliban stronghold, and a center of opium production.” The Helmand Province is one of the largest in Afghanistan and is strategically important, for several reasons. This video gives some examples.

Afghanistan’s largest cash crop is opium. “Helmand is believed to be one of the world’s largest opium-producing regions, responsible for around 75% of the world’s total production.” This is extremely significant because Afghanistan planted a record opium crop in 2013. Not to mention that US influence in this area has lasted over a decade.

Lashkar Gah is the capital of Helmand Province and is strongly linked to Kandahar, a prominent city located in the Kandahar Province. The two neighboring provinces are situated in the southeastern part of Afghanistan. The provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, and Nangarhar are among the largest hotbeds of opium production in Afghanistan.

This is in the heart of what is known as the Golden Crescent, and “Afghanistan now produces over 90% of the world’s non-pharmaceutical-grade opium.”

Camp Leatherneck, a United States Marine Corps base, is located in Helmand. “In 2013, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John F. Sopko, stated that $34 million had been spent on a 64,000-square-foot facility that presumably will never be used.” American taxpayers have paid for this $34 million project and this is considered to be yet another embarrassment, since US forces may never never use the facility. At least, this is the forecast.

Ironically, the production of opium has increased dramatically since the US occupation began in year 2001. Poppy crop eradication is out of the question and “US authorities are determined to change that momentum” by using alternative crops. Well, it sounds like a diplomatic plan, however, US policy has been questioned and some suggest that American troops are protecting Afghan opium. Of course, this side of it has gained little momentum in the mainstream.

Although there is supposed to be a pullout in 2014, some US troops could stay in Afghanistan until 2024. There’s a good possibility that some contractors may stay also.

That $34 million command center in Camp Leatherneck (known as the Regional Command-Southwest Command and Control Facility) may get used after all. Who knows?

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