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The US Military Is Junking $7 Billion In Military Equipment On Its Way Out Of Afghanistan

Brian Jones and Michael Kelley

USMC Photo

The U.S. military is in the process of junking $7 billion worth of military equipment as it exits Afghanistan, Ernesto Londoño of The Washington Post reports.

The Pentagon found it would be too costly to ship the no-longer-needed equipment back  to the United States, and most of it can't be given to the Afghan government or an allied nation.

So the military is destroying most of it  and selling  it on the Afghan scrap market for a few cents per pound.

The excess equipment  amounts to more than 20% of all of the equipment the military has deployed to  Afghanistan.  U.S. military officials told Londoño that the colossal disposal effort is unprecedented.

New York Times writer Charlie Savage pretty much summed it up on Twitter: "So this seems insane."

Among the gear being destroyed are 2,000 mine resistant, ambush protected vehicles, or MRAPs, that the military hurried to produce in 2007 to combat the effect of improvised explosive devices and roadside bombs.

Last year a study found that the massive vehicles, which cost $1 million each, do not save more lives than cheaper alternatives and were a huge waste of money in the first place.

Officials  told Londoño  that the Pentagon "will no longer have use for about 12,300 of its 25,500 MRAPs scattered at bases worldwide."

The Post report notes the effort to rip apart the equipment at Kandahar Airfield, where Nepalese contract workers spend hours dismantling military vehicles and other gear.  Last month, the scrap yard produced and sold 11 million pounds of scrap. 

“We’re making history doing what we’re doing here,” Maj. Gen. Kurt Stein, the general in charge of the drawdown in Afghanistan, told the Washington Post. “This is the largest retrograde mission in history.”

The combined cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars is estimated to be between $4 and $6 trillion and  counting , in addition to total direct war casualties of at least 330,000, according to  the  Costs of War Project  by the  Watson  Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

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