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Thread: Scrapping Equipment Key To Afghan Drawdown

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    Default Scrapping Equipment Key To Afghan Drawdown

    Your tax dollars at work...

    Scrapping Equipment Key To Afghan Drawdown

    U.S. military contract workers tear apart an armored vehicle that is among the hundreds of such personnel carriers the Pentagon no longer has use for.

    June 19, 2013

    Facing a tight withdrawal deadline and tough terrain, the U.S. military has destroyed more than 170 million pounds worth of vehicles and other military equipment as it rushes to wind down its role in the Afghanistan war by the end of 2014.

    The massive disposal effort, which U.S. 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. Military planners have determined that they will not ship back more than $7 billion worth of equipment — about 20 percent of what the U.S. military has in Afghanistan — because it is no longer needed or would be too costly to ship back home.

    That has left the Pentagon in a quandary about what to do with the items. Bequeathing a large share to the Afghan government would be challenging because of complicated rules governing equipment donations to other countries, and there is concern that Afghanistan’s fledgling forces would be unable to maintain it. Some gear may be sold or donated to allied nations, but few are likely to be able to retrieve it from the war zone.

    Therefore, much of it will continue to be shredded, cut and crushed to be sold for pennies per pound on the Afghan scrap market — a process that reflects a presumptive end to an era of protracted ground wars. The destruction of tons of equipment is all but certain to raise sharp questions in Afghanistan and the United States about whether the Pentagon’s approach is fiscally responsible and whether it should find ways to leave a greater share to the Afghans.

    “We’re making history doing what we’re doing here,” said Maj. Gen. Kurt J. Stein, head of the 1st Sustainment Command, who is overseeing the drawdown in Afghanistan. “This is the largest retrograde mission in history.”

    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 massive trucks, known as MRAPs, came to symbolize the bloody evolution of wars that were meant to be short conflicts but turned into quagmires.

    The Pentagon has determined that it will no longer have use for about 12,300 of its 25,500 MRAPs scattered at bases worldwide, officials said. In Afghanistan, the military has labeled about 2,000 of its roughly 11,000 MRAPs “excess.” About 9,000 will be shipped to the United States and U.S. military bases in Kuwait and elsewhere, but the majority of the unwanted vehicles — which cost about $1 million each — will probably be shredded, officials said, because they are unlikely to find clients willing to come pick them up.

    “MRAPs have served us well in the current war, but we will not need all that we bought for Iraq and Afghanistan in the future,” Alan Estevez, the assistant secretary of defense for logistics and materiel readiness, said in a statement. “It is cost prohibitive to retrograde and reset MRAPs that we do not need for the future.”

    ‘Gold Dust’

    Those MRAPs that the Pentagon has deemed unnecessary have been arriving by the dozen at scrap yards at four U.S. military bases in Afghanistan in recent months. Toiling under the searing sun last week at this vast base in southern Kandahar province, contract workers from Nepal and other countries in the region wore fireproof suits and masks as they used special blowtorches to dismantle vehicles built to withstand deadly blasts. It takes about 12 hours to tear apart each MRAP.

    In another section of the scrap yard, a massive grinder gobbled slabs of steel, turning them into small scraps. The debris is packed into U.S.-owned shipping containers that also have been deemed unfit to return home.

    Last month, the Kandahar yard produced 11 million pounds of scrap that was sold to Afghan contractors for a few cents per pound, said Morgan Gunn, a Defense Logistics Agency employee who runs the site. Afghans use the scrap mainly for construction and as makeshift spare parts.

    “Gold dust is what they call it,” Gunn said.

    Military officials have drawn little attention to the scrapping operations, mindful that the endeavor might appear wasteful in an era of contracting defense budgets and misguided at a time when Afghan troops are being killed at a record rate. But officials argue that the effort is part of a withdrawal operation that is being carried out in a fiscally responsible, carefully planned manner.

    “One might ask: Why not give it to the Afghans?” Stein said as he toured the Kandahar yard. “It’s such a fast-paced operation, and most of it is trash. We don’t want to leave this in the battlefield.”

    As they have debated how much excess equipment to shred or sell, officials have considered whether the defense industry would suffer if the Pentagon unloaded tons of used equipment on the market at vastly reduced prices. Additionally, Pentagon policy requires that allied nations seeking to take ownership of excess U.S. equipment travel to Afghanistan to pick it up — an onerous task that few nations are likely to take on.

    When the U.S. military withdrew from Iraq, it donated much of its equipment to the Iraqis, who had access to cheap fuel, a robust defense budget and more sophisticated mechanics. The Pentagon also shipped a significant share to Afghanistan, where a troop surge was underway. But donating MRAPs to the Afghans would be more complicated and potentially counterproductive, military officials said.

    “Frankly, in a lot of ways, the Afghan economy and military can’t absorb some of the things the Iraqis did,” said Lt. Gen. Raymond V. Mason, the Army deputy chief of staff for logistics. “We don’t want to give [the Afghans] a lot of equipment that they can’t handle and could compound their challenges.”

    Military officials said they have spent billions of dollars equipping and building up Afghanistan’s security forces over the past decade, outfitting them with lighter tactical vehicles that are a better fit for the country’s rudimentary road networks.

    A Situation Unlike In Iraq

    The U.S. Army owns the lion’s share of the military equipment currently in Afghanistan. As of May, Mason said, $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 percent. Transporting that much will cost $2 billion to $3 billion, the Army estimates. And repairing the gear that comes back will cost $8 billion to $9 billion.

    Stein, the general overseeing the Afghanistan drawdown, headed the same process in Iraq, which turned out to be a far easier mission. For starters, the U.S. military had a relatively well-
    organized system in place to hand over bases and equipment to the Iraqi government 21 / 2 years before American troops pulled out entirely. Security was more permissive. And, crucially, the U.S. military could use its large bases in next-door Kuwait as a staging ground for items driven out of Iraq.

    “Kuwait was a lifesaver,” Stein said, noting that there are no neighboring U.S. bases where equipment leaving Afghanistan could be easily stored. “It’s very hard to get our stuff out of Afghanistan. In Iraq, we could drive it out to Kuwait, and it sat there for a year or two until the Army decided its disposition.”

    As the U.S. military reduces its footprint in Afghanistan from 150 bases to 50 by February, Stein’s teams are ramping up their efforts, finding more efficient ways of sorting through equipment to be shipped and drawing from lessons learned in Iraq.

    Until a few months ago, the military flew out the vast majority of the equipment it was sending back to the United States.

    In recent months, after Pakistan, a neighbor of landlocked Afghanistan, agreed to let the U.S. military use its roads to ship materiel out through its ports, most containers that don’t include sensitive materials or weapons are being trucked out by land. Shipping through Pakistan is by no means trouble-free — and officials recognize that the route could get shut down in the event of a new spat between Islamabad and Washington.

    “We continue to get delays. There’s still corruption, taxes, tariffs,” Stein said. “But our equipment is getting through.”

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    Default Re: Scrapping Equipment Key To Afghan Drawdown

    Good, don't bring that shit home and give it to the cops. lol
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    Default Re: Scrapping Equipment Key To Afghan Drawdown

    Military Dumps $34M Into Afghanistan HQ That US Forces Won't Use

    July 10, 2013

    The U.S. military has erected a 64,000-square-foot headquarters building on the dusty moonscape of southwestern Afghanistan that comes with all the tools to wage a modern war. A vast operations center with tiered seating. A briefing theater. Spacious offices. Fancy chairs. Powerful air conditioning.

    Everything, that is, except troops.

    The windowless, two-story structure, which is larger than a football field, was completed this year at a cost of $34 million. But the military has no plans to ever use it. Commanders in the area, who insisted three years ago that they did not need the building, now are in the process of withdrawing forces and see no reason to move into the new facility.

    For many senior officers, the unused headquarters has come to symbolize the staggering cost of Pentagon mismanagement: As American troops pack up to return home, U.S.-funded contractors are placing the finishing touches on projects that are no longer required or pulling the plug after investing millions of dollars.

    In Kandahar province, the U.S. military recently completed a $45 million facility to repair armored vehicles and other complex pieces of equipment. The space is now being used as a staging ground to sort through equipment that is being shipped out of the country.

    In northern Afghanistan, the State Department last year abandoned plans to occupy a large building it had intended to use as a consulate. After spending more than $80 million and signing a 10-year lease, officials determined the facility was too vulnerable to attacks.

    But some senior officers see the giant headquarters as the whitest elephant in a war littered with wasteful, dysfunctional and unnecessary projects funded by American taxpayers. A hulking presence at the center of Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province, it has become the butt of jokes among Marines stationed there and an object lesson for senior officers in Kabul and Washington.

    The top Marine commander in Helmand sent a memo to the U.S. headquarters in Kabul three years ago stating that the new structure was unnecessary. But his assessment was ignored or disregarded by officers issuing contracts for construction projects, according to senior military officials familiar with the issue.

    The building’s amenities also have prompted alarm among senior officers. A two-star Marine general who has toured the facility called it “better appointed than any Marine headquarters anywhere in the world.” A two-star Army general said the operations center is as large as those at the U.S. Central Command or the supreme allied headquarters in Europe.

    “What the hell were they thinking?” the Army general said. “There was never any justification to build something this fancy.”

    Both generals spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    In a letter sent Monday to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the special inspector general for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, John F. Sopko, called it “the best constructed building I have seen in my travels to Afghanistan.”

    “Unfortunately, it is unused, unoccupied, and presumably will never be used for its intended purpose,” Sopko wrote. “This is an example of what is wrong with military construction in general — once a project is started, it is very difficult to stop.”

    A Pentagon spokesman said Hagel’s office intends to provide a formal response to Sopko before commenting further on the project.

    The headquarters has its origin in 2009, when President Obama decided to surge more troops to southern Afghanistan to beat back Taliban insurgents. Army planners in South Carolina and at the Pentagon determined that Camp Leatherneck, which had been selected as the headquarters for Marine forces in the south, required a sophisticated command-and-control facility.

    When Marine officers in Helmand heard of the plans, they objected. The commander at the time, then-Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills, believed his plywood-walled headquarters was sufficient and made that clear to his superiors in Kabul.

    His assessment went unheeded. Staff officers in Kabul drafted specifications for the building and asked Air Force contracting officers to find a private company to construct it. The construction order went to a British firm, AMEC Earth and Environment, which began work in November 2011, according to military documents. By then, Obama had announced the end of the surge. The bulk of the withdrawal would occur in Helmand.

    As the Marine presence in the southwest went from 20,000 to about 7,000 in 2012, workers laid the foundation, placed the beams and strung electrical wire. The building was designed to accommodate about 1,500 personnel. There are now fewer than 400 headquarters-level staff on the base.

    Even after Obama decided to remove an additional 34,000 troops this year, the project continued apace. Cubicles filled the floor. Theater seats arrived. The contractor made modifications to address problems with emergency exits.

    It was not until this spring that U.S. generals in Kabul decided to call a halt to the project. The decision was made before additional millions were spent on computer gear for the building but not soon enough to cancel crates of furniture.

    “It’s terribly embarrassing,” the two-star Army general said.

    The Pentagon, Sopko wrote to Hagel, needs to determine “all of the facts on how we reached this $34 million dilemma and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.”

    The military, which has opened a formal investigation into the decisions that led to the contract, is considering two options for the building: demolishing it or giving it to the Afghan army. Although the handoff sounds appealing, U.S. officials doubt the Afghans will be able to sustain the structure. It has complex heating and air-conditioning systems that demand significant amounts of electricity, which, in turn, require costly fuel purchases for generators. The building is wired for 110-volt appliances, not the 220-volt equipment used by Afghans. And, the officials note, the U.S. military recently built a new headquarters building on the Afghan base that adjoins Leatherneck.

    “Both alternatives for how to resolve this issue are troubling,” Sopko said.

    Based on his conversations with military officials, he said one of the options now seems to be gaining traction: “The building will probably be demolished.”

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    Default Re: Scrapping Equipment Key To Afghan Drawdown

    Want to get pissed at government waste?

    Take a look at this...

    400 approx HMMVWs weighing approx.
    2,120,000 pounds total to be…See below

    Quantity in Lot:
    2120000 (View Details)
    Auction Type:
    Internet Auction
    Open Time:
    08/26/2013 12:00AM Eastern Time
    Close Time:
    08/28/2013 05:22PM Eastern Time
    Time Left:
    This lot is closed.
    Item Location:
    Fort Meade, MD
    Opening Bid:
    Current Bid:

    400 approx HMMVWs weighing approx. 2,120,000 pounds total to be delivered over a 6 month period. Property is Demil Code C; demilitarization is a condition of sale. HMMWVs are made from but not limited to: Steel, Aluminum, Stainless steel, other metals and foreign attachments. Each HMMWV measures 16 long X 7 wide X 6 tall. Fluids have been drained (except for torque converter and hub assemblies), and batteries removed. All parts must be destroyed including but not limited to: engine, transmission, axels, drive shafts, frame, body, wheels and tires. Method and Degree of Demilitarization: A. Demilitarization on government premises at DLA disposition Services at Ft. Meade. B. GL will transport the vehicles from the storage area to the demilitarization area C. Buyer must remove and demil the following items from the vehicles, to include but not limited to: ballistic glass, weapon mounts, engine, transmission, up-armor kits, any armor or armored components, and run flat tires. D. Buyer must completely destroy all material that will result in destruction of the item to prevent reuse, recognition or reconstruction of the item to the satisfaction of the government appointed verifier. Automated size reduction prior to shredding is allowed. E. Any items that cannot be processed as above, due to size or metal thickness, may be processed by shear with certifier and verifier concurrence. F. No Parts Removal. Harvesting of parts is forbidden. Precision cutting tools are forbidden. G. All military markings and data plates are to be destroyed. Buyer will supply all equipment required to perform the demil of all material. Equipment may include a mobile shear, scrap knuckle boom and appropriate PPE. Buyer must supply and use had surface to shear on top of and an impervious surface that can be placed under the shearing area and under demilled scrap storage to catch/contain any residual fluids and be cleaned as needed. Storage for demilled scrap is limited; buyer must remove as required by GL. Removal and Processing Time Frame: A. Hours of operation are 0730 hours to 1500 hours (Excludes weekends and Federal/National Holidays or any days the Fort Meade installation is closed). B. Demilitarization will begin no later than five workdays after EUC approval. Demil and removal operations will not begin each day until directed by Certifier. C. Property will be inventoried by the certifier and secured at Ft. Meade each day. D. Buyer is responsible for cleanup and removal of any environmental spills that may arise from the demilitarization and removal process and for any damages that occur to the facility; Buyer will provide all necessary clean up materials. Buyer must abide by Federal, State, Base and OSHA safety guidelines. Prior to start of work a post award conference will be held to include: the certifier, verifier, customer and GL agent to ensure demil procedures and sale terms are understood. Processing of property will not proceed until the aforementioned individuals clearly understand their responsibilities under the sales contract and surveillance plan. Preview will be held on August 27th and 28th by appointment only; appointments must be requested at least 24 hours in advance by contacting the site manager below. All scrap under this contract requires demilitarization and mutilation by the buyer prior to removal. Title to the material does not pass to the buyer until the scrap has been demiled and mutilated. POC: Justin Miller @ 301-677-3309

    About 400 (mostly) perfectly good trucks that have to be completely destroyed. Stupid...

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