Operation Junkyard: US scrapping ‘tons’ of equipment as Afghan exit looms

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As the US military prepares to complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan next year, it is deliberately destroying billions of dollars worth of sophisticated equipment, according to The Washington Post.

The US military is confronted with the logistical problem of what to do with millions of pounds worth of vehicles and other military equipment presently parked in Afghanistan, where the United States is winding down a nearly 12-year military operation.

Instead of donating the equipment to the fledgling Afghan security forces, who are expected to keep the peace following the US pullout, or perhaps selling the equipment to some third-party nation, the US will engage in a “massive disposal effort, which US military officials call unprecedented,” the Washington Post reported.

In total, the US military will not be shipping home “more than $7 billion worth of equipment — about 20 percent of what the US military has in Afghanistan — because it is no longer needed or would be too costly to ship back home,” the report continued.

The US military has already destroyed more than 77,000 metric tons of military equipment, it added.

According to the Post, donating all that military equipment to the Afghan contingency “would be challenging because of complicated rules governing equipment donations to other countries.” At the same time, there is concern that Afghanistan’s fledgling forces would end up shooting itself in the proverbial foot with all that lethal hardware lying around.

This begs the question: What is the purpose of US military advisers hanging around in Afghanistan after next year’s withdrawal if not to give advice on such crucial matters?

As for selling the equipment to “allied nations,” that possibility was also brushed aside because “few are likely to be able to retrieve it from the war zone.” But if Afghanistan is still considered to be a “war zone” why are US forces in such a hurry to exit?

That leaves the US military, Uncle Sam’s prodigal son, with just one option, which is a bit hard to fathom in the post-crisis age of belt-tightening austerity measures: Call in the Afghan scrap dealers to cut up and haul away the equipment that will eventually be sold for “pennies per pound on the Afghan scrap market.”

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