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USD 7 billion in gear US sent to Afghan will not return

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Rushing to wind down its role in by end of 2014, the US military has destroyed over USD 200 million worth of vehicles and other military equipment used by it in the war-torn country, in what has been described as "largest retrograde mission in history".

The massive disposal effort, which US military officials call unprecedented, has unfolded largely out of sight amid an ongoing debate inside the Pentagon about what to do with the heaps of equipment that won't be returning home, the Post reported.

Military planners have determined that they will not ship back more than USD 7 billion worth of equipment - about 20 per cent of what the US military has in - because it is no longer needed or would be too costly to ship back home.

"Therefore, much of it will continue to be shredded, cut and crushed to be sold for pennies per pound on the scrap market - a process that reflects a presumptive end to an era of protracted ground wars," the Post said.

The destruction of tonnes of equipment is all but certain to raise sharp questions in and the US about whether the Pentagon's approach is fiscally responsible and whether it should find ways to leave a greater share to the Afghans, it added.

"We're making history doing what we're doing here...This is the largest retrograde mission in history," Maj Gen Kurt J Stein, head of the 1st Sustainment Command, who is overseeing the drawdown in Afghanistan, was quoted as saying.

The report said the most contentious and closely watched part of the effort involves the disposal of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, the hulking beige personnel carriers that the Pentagon raced to build starting in 2007 to counter the threat of roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The US Army owns the lion's share of the military equipment currently in Afghanistan.

As of May, USD 25 billion worth of equipment was deployed with Army personnel. After an analysis of needs and costs, it has decided to ship back no more than 76 per cent.

Transporting that much will cost USD 2 billion to USD 3 billion, the Army estimates. And repairing the gear that comes back will cost USD 8 billion to USD 9 billion, the report said.

First Published: Thu, June 20 2013. 16:40 IST