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As troops withdraw, U.S. bases growing

  |   March 5, 2013 at 1:33 PM
KABUL, Afghanistan, March 5 (UPI) -- Some U.S. bases in Afghanistan are undergoing major expansion even as the United States continues to pull troops out of the country, military officials say.

The contradiction is occurring as U.S. outposts in remote parts of the country are closed and the soldiers there are resettled into a few larger bases in preparation for full withdrawal next year, McClatchy Newspapers reported Monday.

Some 800 U.S. and NATO bases were in Afghanistan in late 2011. More than 600 of them have been shut down.

One of the bases being renovated, Forward Operating Base Apache, is taking in troops from a half dozen front-line bases in Zabul province. It's adjacent to Camp Eagle, a large Afghan army base where U.S. troops are performing new tasks as advisers and trainers.

More than 5,000 soldiers led by the 555th Engineer Brigade are in charge of the construction work at FOB Apache, Camp John Pratt and a few smaller bases. Most of the remodeling needs to be done this year, as the drawdown will leave manpower substantially reduced next year.

Even bases that will be turned over to the Afghans are being remodeled. Wiring designed for U.S. electrical standards is being pulled out, as are water and latrine systems deemed too expensive for the Afghan government to maintain.

Another standard is also going bye-bye. Engineers are no longer designing buildings to last for five or 10 years. One season is now good enough.

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