The U.S. is
expanding Bagram, its major base in Afghanistan, by a third. Back in 2001, a
base was established at the Soviet built Bagram air base (outside Kabul) for
housing 3,000 American troops. Within a year, that was increased to 7,000. The
living and working facilities have increased since then to support 13,000
military personnel. The new expansion will provide facilities for 17,000
troops. The U.S. currently has 25,000 military personnel in Afghanistan, and
many stay at smaller bases all over the country. But Bagram is the center for
everything (air transport, warplanes, logistics, medical care and so on.) About
5,000 Afghans work at Bagram. This has more than tripled in just two years.
Unlike Iraq, where too many of the locals have divided loyalties, most civilian
jobs in Afghanistan are done by Afghans. There have been no serious security
problems although, like American military bases everywhere, theft is always a
problem. American bases in poor countries are full of goodies that are very
tempting for the light fingered and poverty stricken.
The new expansion will put up
more permanent structures, which will eventually be turned over to the Afghans.
It may be a while before the Taliban problem is solved, as this involves tribal
politics, which has bedeviled the region for thousands of years.