Investigators this week called the military to task for paying Afghan contractors half a million dollars to construct a training base "made mostly of sand" that melted in the rain four months later, calling the now-demolished project "not only an embarrassment, but, more significantly, a waste of U.S. taxpayers' money."

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)—who, like his onetime Iraq counterpart, is charged with the interminable task of tracking fraud, waste, and abuse in America's war zone—completed its report Sunday on the very short life of the Afghan police's "dry fire range" in Wardak Province, which was intended to replicate "a typical Afghan village" and be used "to conduct simulated police search and clearance exercises," but ended up dying prematurely and needing to be completely rebuilt:

SIGAR found that within 4 months of completion, the DFR's buildings began to disintegrate. These "melting" buildings were the direct result of the construction contractor, Qesmatullah Nasrat Construction Company (QNCC), failing to adhere to contractual requirements and using substandard bricks and other building materials. Unfortunately, this problem was compounded by poor oversight on the part of the responsible U.S. government officials.

The $456,669 "adobe-style" complex used bricks "made mostly of sand" and its builders "did not properly slope the roof to allow water to drain," among other egregious errors, and it "needed rebuilding because it deteriorated to the point that it was unsafe," much like the country itself.

[Photo credits: Department of Defense/SIGAR]