More than $7 billion in U.S. military equipment in Afghanistan will be destroyed and sold for scrap for pennies-on-the-dollar.
Pentagon officials said the more than 170 million pounds of equipment no longer was needed or too expensive to send home, a new report said.
The scrap operation amounts to a purge of about 20 percent of U.S. military equipment in Afghanistan as the United States winds down its mission there, the Washington Post reports.
“This is the largest retrograde mission in history,” Maj. Gen. Kurt J. Stein, head of the 1st Sustainment Command, told the newspaper.
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Among the more controversial aspects of the scrap operation:
- Considerations of whether unloading the equipment at reduced prices would harm U.S. defense manufacturers.
- The needs of U.S.-supported Afghan troops who are being killed every day in the continuing conflict.
- The fate and use of thousands of controversial Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles — or MRAPs — 2,000 of the nearly 11,000 MRAPS are being scrapped.
The MRAPS, costing $1 million each, are counterinsurgency vehicles used principally to place troops in hot spots in urban-warfare settings. There has been concern across the American blogosphere since the announcement earlier this year that some of them were being acquired for use by civilian police authorities in the United States, including the Department of Homeland Security.
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About 9,000 of the nearly 25,000 MRAPS worldwide will be shipped to the United States, to bases in Kuwait and to other locations, the report says.
Military officials fear that donating MRAPs to the Afghans might create more problems than it solves.
“Frankly, in a lot of ways, the Afghan economy and military can’t absorb some of the things the Iraqis did,” Lt. Gen. Raymond V. Mason, the Army deputy chief of staff for logistics, told the Post. “We don’t want to give [the Afghans] a lot of equipment that they can’t handle and could compound their challenges.”
The Army estimates that it will ship back “no more than 76 percent” of the $25 billion worth of equipment deployed in Afghanistan, the report said.
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