Three months before Canada announced it would remain in Afghanistan to train troops, the Afghan National Army announced “it reached the benchmark strength of 134,000 soldiers two months ahead of schedule.” (Big hat tip to Dr. Dawg and Prof. Amir Attaran) Another NATO document reports great strides in training and operational capability. With most, if not all of the heavy lifting in the training department accomplished, what will our Canadian troops have to do? It turns out, we’ve been buying Afghan real estate. Really expensive real estate.
According to the National Post, Foreign Affairs Canada has been on a real estate spending spree,with a “410% increase in its spending on real estate and capital works since Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power.”
Afghan real estate has been a high priority. Last year, Foreign Affairs spent $24.5 million on real estate or renovations in Afghanistan; the year before, Afghan real estate cost us $23.6 million. According to the National Post,
“Much of the money is being spent on Canada’s chancery in Kabul. Public accounts reports show an estimated $18.5 million of the spending over the past two years is related to the chancery, including architectural work, construction-site development, mine clearing, a seismic upgrade and installation of an elevator. Another $14.3 million was spent on buying staff quarters and additional chancery spaces in Kabul. Canada paid Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs $11.7 million for land in Kabul. And $1.7 million went to Canada’s Defence Department to buy additional offices and accommodations in Kandahar in 2008-09.”