When the next major earthquake hits Afghanistan, could it leave the leadership of the Afghan military buried under five stories’ worth of rubble?

John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, does not rule it out. In an audit set for release Thursday, Sopko said the new $155 million Afghan military headquarters, funded by U.S. taxpayers, may not withstand the Big One.

“Although the building generally met contract requirements and appears well built, we found some construction deficiencies that may have safety implications . . . in the event of an earthquake,” the inspector general wrote to U.S. military leaders.

Sopko was referring to engineering standards that call for the foundations of large buildings to be segmented, allowing movement to be diverted in multiple directions. That would lessen the chance of large structures shaking to the point of collapse.

In this case, the new jewel of the Afghan military — a structure often referred to as the Afghan “Pentagon” — does not even meet the standards of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the report says.

The document is the latest question to be raised about how the United States spent more than $68 billion in funding for Afghan security forces­ since 2001, including $6 billion for bases­ and buildings. When the new Defense Ministry headquarters was proposed in 2009, it was slated to cost about $49 million.

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Image Courtesy of Washington Post