In another demonstration of government waste, the US Government will be leaving about $6 billion worth of equipment behind as it withdraws from Afghanistan. The military has said it is cost-prohibitive to bring all equipment home and that it will either be sold in the Afghan market or will be sent to a scrap yard. Over 170 million pounds of gear, vehicles, and other equipment will be left behind once the United States leaves the region.
How much “stuff” is the United States military leaving behind as it withdraws from Afghanistan after 12 years of war? Try some $6 billion worth.
And much of it may yet end up in a junk pile.
That includes 850 MRAPS (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles which have been credited with saving countless lives from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on the road, but now will either be sold whole or for scrap on the Afghan market. Each cost about $1 million to build. But it would cost an additional $100,000 to ship each home, so military officials say they are leaving the oldest and least useful behind.
This calculation is being done over and over, as U.S. military officials weigh what to bring home and what to leave in the battlefield. As Afghanistan heads into elections this weekend, U.S. forces are preparing for a total, or almost total, withdrawal by the end of the year.
Ultimately, some 170 million pounds of vehicles, equipment and “white gear” — that’s all the non-military stuff that contractors have been using, like furniture, generators, chemical toilets, air conditioners, non-classified computers and more — are being left behind. What they cannot, or will not, donate or sell to the Afghans or to allies is being destroyed so that it doesn’t rot in place or fall into Taliban hands. Some reports indicate that most of the $6 billion worth of materiel will indeed be sold for scrap or thrown in the junkyard.
Pentagon officials would not confirm that, but consider this: in the month of February alone, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Disposition Services sold 34.7 million pounds of scrap from its own vehicles and equipment to local Afghan vendors, according to figures provided to FoxNews.com.
And in the past 12 months, the agency sold 387 million pounds of scrap, sending $46.5 million back to the U.S. Treasury.
Officials say it’s the only alternative to shipping everything back to the States, which by air or through dangerous land routes via Pakistan would be entirely cost-prohibitive.
“You don’t really have any great options,” said Lawrence Korb, a former assistant secretary of Defense under the Reagan Administration and now senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “At least in Iraq, you had Kuwait where you could have a place to store [vehicles and equipment]. They are making the best of no great choices.”