NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan has denied reports that construction material and equipment being imported and transported through neighboring Pakistan are being used to establish a new army base in the conflict-hit country.
The English-language Pakistani newspaper DAWN reported Wednesday, citing official documents it claimed to have seen, that the imports are being used to construct a military facility by the name of “Camp Shaheen.”
“Recently, a vessel loaded with a huge quantity of construction material and allied equipment arrived at Karachi port. As per its import general manifestation, the imports were made by the United States Army Corps of Engineers Services,” the report said.
The imported material reportedly included a power generator of 22 megawatts, and a large quantity of cold- and hot-rolled steel sheets. Other equipment, such as plastic injection molding machines with standard accessories, also were supplied from different world ports.
Camp is used for training
But U.S. Army Captain Tom Gresback, the public affairs director at NATO mission headquarters in Kabul said, “Camp Shaheen is not a new camp, and it has been used as an ANDSF (Afghan National Defense Security Forces) training facility for many years.”
He told VOA the United States routinely works alongside local and international contractors who support sustainment and construction projects throughout Afghanistan.
“In the case of Camp Shaheen, there is an ongoing plan to save costs and reduce pollution by moving the base away from generated power to a grid power system,” the spokesman explained.
The United States and allied forces mostly rely on ground and air lines of communications through Pakistan for transporting supplies to about 13,000 foreign soldiers in landlocked Afghanistan. The numbers are expected to increase to more than 16,000 in the wake of pledges to implement a U.S. and NATO troop surge following President Donald Trump’s new Afghan strategy, which was announced in August.
Camp Shaheen is located in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif and serves as the headquarters for the Afghan army's 209th Corps. In April, the facility was the scene of the deadliest attack the Taliban have conducted on an Afghan military base during the past 16 years.
Attacks on Camp Shaheen
At least 10 heavily armed insurgents, wearing uniforms and driving military vehicles, stormed Camp Shaheen, killing about 150 soldiers,although local media put the death toll at more than 250. At least 160 other soldiers were injured.
Two months later in June, seven American soldiers were shot and wounded by an Afghan commando during a training session at the same base.
Officially referred to as “insider” or so-called “green-on-blue” attacks have posed serious problems for the NATO-led coalition that is made up mostly of U.S. soldiers. Taliban infiltrators or sympathizers have carried out such attacks that have claimed dozens of lives of American army officers.