US scraps tons of gear as it leaves Afghanistan

The US military has destroyed more than 77,000 metric tons of military equipment — including mine-resistant troop transport  vehicles — as it prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan in late 2014, the  Washington Post reported Thursday.

More than $7 billion worth of military equipment is no longer needed, or  would be too expensive to ship back to the United States, and much of it is  being shredded and sold locally as scrap metal, the Post reported, citing US  military officials.

Donating the gear to the Afghan government is difficult because of  complicated bureaucratic rules, plus US officials do not believe the Afghans  could maintain the gear.

Plus, it would also be too expensive to sell or donate the gear to allied  nations because of the cost of getting the equipment out of Afghanistan.

Items being shredded by contract workers from Nepal and other countries for  sale as scrap metal include mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles, the Post  said.

More than 24,000 MRAPs were built for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan starting  in 2007 in a crash program that cost some $45 billion, according to Pentagon  figures.

The MRAPs’ V-shaped hulls help deflect the force of explosions, and the  vehicle’s higher chassis keeps troops further from the main force of the blast  from improvised explosive devices.

US commanders believe the MRAPs helped save thousands of soldiers’ lives, and  cite figures that show the number of casualties from IEDs dropped more than 80  percent after the vehicles were introduced.

Some 2,000 of the 11,000 MRAPs in Afghanistan have been labeled “excess,” the  Post reported.

“We’re making history doing what we’re doing here,” Major General Kurt Stein,  who is overseeing the Afghanistan drawdown, told the newspaper. “This is the  largest retrograde mission in history.”

When the US military withdrew from Iraq it drove much of its gear across the  border into Kuwait, sent it back home on ships, or donated it to the Iraqi army, which has  the infrastructure to maintain vehicles with complicated mechanics.

US officials however told the Post they do not believe the Afghan army could  maintain such vehicles or other sophisticated equipment.