Afghan airfields built for war seen as economic hubs - The Associated Press
KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — It is a striking vision for a country torn to pieces by war and jihadi insurrection: a series of airports, built by NATO to fight the Taliban, are being handed over to the Afghan government in a civil aviation upgrade that optimists hope will fuel not only regional trade but even tourism.
The eight airfields, worth an estimated $2 billion, are scattered around a landlocked and mountainous land whose lack of rail transport or decent roads makes almost every intercity journey a perilous adventure — even without factoring in attacks from Taliban militants.
Ex-lawmaker Mohammad Daud Sultanzoy, who is overseeing the project for the government, said the airfields — self-contained cities that housed thousands of foreign troops who are now pulling out — will amount to a latter-day "Silk Road" that "will connect Afghanistan internally and to South Asia and Central Asia, and beyond."
he billions of people living in Asia and the Middle East "can constitute a huge number of tourists and related other activities: cargo, passenger and export/import," Sultanzoy said.
Pessimists will have little trouble imagining the Taliban trying to shoot down planes as they land, but officials say the militants do not currently have that ability, making air travel a reasonable and safe option.
U.S. Maj. Gen. Todd Semonite, who oversees $5 billion in funding to Afghanistan's security sector, said the decision to transfer rather than close the airfields was made in conjunction with President Ashraf Ghani's government after he took power last year, in the belief they could help "jump start the economy."
Military teams are upgrading them ahead of an international roadshow organized by the Afghan and U.S. governments due to be held in Dubai next month. - Read More at the militarytimes