WASHINGTON, Dec 25: The United States is committed to fighting insurgency in the Muslim world for 25 years, says a report released by the US Joint Forces Command.

Besides this general commitment to fighting insurgency, the United States is building permanent military structures in Afghanistan to indicate its plans for a long-term stay in the war-ravaged country.

Earlier this week, the US Corps of Engineers sought bids for some of these projects. One such project in Kandahar could cost as much as $500 million while three separate projects for housing facilities for the US troops will cost at least $100 million each.

Last week, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who retains his office in the next administration, assured the Afghan government that the United States was making a “sustained commitment” to that country. “You will see a continuing American commitment to defeating the enemies of the Afghan people during the administration of the president-elect” as well, he added.

On Saturday, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that by next summer, up to 30,000 US troops would join the 31,000 already in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, the official Voice of America radio quoted Mr Gates as saying that the United States was preparing to fight “irregular wars” across the Muslim world for years to come.

The VOA report was based on a study by the US Joint Forces Command saying that the United States was prepared to confront insurgencies and small-scale threats for the next 25 years.

Rear Admiral John Richardson said the study attempting to project global threats over the next 25 years pointed mainly in one direction.

“We see that the future will contain irregular types of threats,” he said. “And we need to be able to respond to those threats and be as superior in the irregular warfare area as we are in the conventional warfare area.”

The VOA report said that Mr Gates firmly supported a deeper US commitment to counter-insurgency in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.

What the Pentagon calls “irregular warfare” covers everything from limited conventional war, with tanks and artillery, to urban warfare fighting insurgents, and includes the need to help foreign governments with everything from army and police training to building electrical grids, water systems and effective bureaucracies, the report added.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the Pentagon planned to invest up to $300 million in construction projects at the Kandahar base, in order to house more than 5,000 additional American forces expected to arrive there soon.

The Pentagon plans to send four additional brigades to Afghanistan early next year. One brigade, consisting normally of around 3,500 soldiers, is due to arrive in January. Two more brigades would be sent by spring.

Earlier this week, the US Army Corps of Engineers for military sought bids for three contracts in Afghanistan for housing US troops. Each could cost up to $100 million, with two of the three scheduled for completion by late next year.

The most recent of these solicitations came this week, when the Corps of Engineers sought bids on design and construction of two barracks to hold 2,000 members of a future army brigade.

The Post reported that the project also included constructing guard stations and towers and perimeter fencing around the barracks area; putting in vehicle inspection areas; renovating a building to house administration offices; and constructing a separate office building and a cold-storage warehouse. The proposal, which was updated on Monday, also allows for the winning contractor to offer an “optional” bid on constructing a third barracks for another 1,000 troops – something that was not part of the original proposal, the report noted.

The contractor would have a year to complete the project from the time it is awarded, and the new barracks would be fully occupied by the end of 2009.

Another project, put out for bid earlier this month, involves construction of a new power plant for the Kandahar base, as well as electrical and water distribution systems and communications lines. In addition, it calls for relocating housing for the approximately 1,500 personnel who sustain the systems, a headquarters building and other storage, maintenance shops, warehouses and other supporting infrastructure. Scheduled to be awarded at the end of February, that project also is supposed to be completed by the end of 2009.

At another section of the Kandahar air field, the US Corps of Engineers is proposing an installation to house a corps support battalion, adjacent to an Afghan National Army garrison. The structure will initially house 665 soldiers, but eventually, according to the notice, 1,640 will live there.

Another indication of the Pentagon’s expanding, long-term involvement in Afghanistan comes in a pre-solicitation proposal from the Corps of Engineers to supply operation and maintenance services for Afghan National Army installations around the country. The contract could run as high as $500 million over five years, beginning next October.

The Post quoted the Army Corps as saying that it was looking for qualified firms that would provide all public works functions for the Afghan National Army at its bases, even to the point of keeping its utilities and other infrastructure fully operational.


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