In a rush to end U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, the military has destroyed $200 million worth of vehicles and military equipment in what has been called the largest retrograde mission in history.
The destruction of $7 billion worth of equipment comes after a debate in the Pentagon over whether the disposal of equipment that was too costly.
Transporting twenty percent of the equipment the military chose to deport will cost $12 billion, according to Army reports.
The remaining eighty percent of military equipment will be shredded, crushed and sold for pennies in the Afghan scrap market. The scraps will be compounded at a base in Kandahar, where it will be sold for construction and spare parts. The workers call it gold dust.
The move is being called by some as fiscally irresponsible, with suggestions of gifting equipment to Afghans instead of destroying it.
However, complicated rules governing equipment donations to other countries might prevent the gesture. Additionally, equipment sold to allied countries may be irretrievable in the war zone.
Military officials have drawn little attention the idea, knowing that the plan appears wasteful and neglectful during a time when more Afghan troops are being killed than ever. However, Lt. Gen. Raymond V. Mason, the Army deputy chief of staff for logistics, believes scraping the equipment is the best thing the army can do.
“Frankly, in a lot of ways, the Afghan economy and military can’t absorb some of the things the Iraqis did,” Mason said, commenting on the United States’ donation of equipment to Iraq. “We don’t want to give [the Afghans] a lot of equipment that they can’t handle and could compound their challenges.”