A $500,000 shooting range for Afghanistan police officers fell into disrepair four months after its completion, according to a report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
The building was destroyed not by a bomb, earthquake, or other irregular unforseen disaster, but rather by water. This is because the center was built "mostly of sand" and had a roof that didn't properly drain, according to the report.
U.S. contracting officials visited the site on seven different occasions during construction but never noted a single structural issue in their reports. Someone finally pointed out the deficiencies in early 2013, months after the building was completed in October 2012. A report from the Regional Contracting Center (RCC) subsequently explained: "The facility is completely unsafe…It appears the contractor intentionally used different materials and construction standards to cut costs or/and fraud the government…It is recommended that the contractor completely deconstruct to the foundation and properly construct under close supervision."
At that time, the Afghan construction firm Qesmatullah Nasrat Construction Company (QNCC) was still under warranty and required to make things right. But instead of rebuilding the shooting range as recommended, it simply attempted a partial repair of the already-doomed building. During this process, U.S. officials were prevented from taking photos: QNCC demanded there be no cameras allowed at the site, and the Americans—incredibly—complied.
The attempts to address the range's deficiencies failed. By September 2014, according to the report, the sand bricks had melted into the ground and the entire facility needed to be reconstructed. By then, the warranty had expired, and QNCC was paid in full in 2012 so there's no getting the money back now.
It seems U.S. taxpayers spent $500,000 on a perfectly iconic metaphor for American investment overseas.