Taking cues from the U.S. departure from Iraq and return of equipment to the proper parties after U.S. troops left the country, the Defense Department has issued drawdown preparations addressing the 750,000 weapons, vehicles and other items that have accumulated in Afghanistan over a 10-year period.
The total value of the items stands at more than $36 billion; the department estimates that transporting everything out of the country could cost $5.7 billion.
The Defense Department’s main takeaway from the report comes in the form of cost-benefit analysis. Items currently in Afghanistan, according to the department, can either be returned from Afghanistan to the department, transferred to another governmental agency or destroyed. It has recommended a cost-benefit analysis covering the cost of repair, handling, transportation and other factors when deciding if bringing certain items back from Afghanistan is ultimately worth the cost.
“Based on our analysis, this is particularly problematic when considering whether or not to return equipment that is excess to current requirements,” according to a summary of the report. “When an excess item is returned without consideration of the costs and benefits, there is increased risk of unnecessary expenditures on transportation and storage of unneeded items.”
Though light on specifics, the report does highlight the incredible logistical challenges involved in such an undertaking.
“In the area of transportation options, DOD has established and increased the potential capacity of transportation routes out of Afghanistan,” according to the summary. “However, some of the transportation options have limited operational capability for the return of equipment due to the region's complex geopolitical environment.” - Jon Ross