“Armored trucks, televisions, ice cream scoops and nearly everything else shipped [to Afghanistan] for America’s war against the Taliban are now part of the world’s biggest garage sale” as the U.S. troop drawdown accelerates there, The Washington Post reports.
The U.S. is selling 12 million to 14 million pounds of its equipment on the Afghan market every week. Bringing the equipment back to the United States is prohibitively expensive, U.S. officials say. The remaining $7 billion worth of supplies is a “would-be boon to the fragile Afghan economy,” the Post notes.
But there’s one catch: The equipment is being destroyed before it’s offered to the Afghan people — to ensure that treadmills, air-conditioning units and other rudimentary appliances aren’t used to make roadside bombs.
“Many non-military items have timing equipment or other components in them that can pose a threat. For example, timers can be attached to explosives. Treadmills, stationary bikes, many household appliances and devices, et cetera, have timers,” said Michelle McCaskill, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency.
That policy has produced more scrap metal than Afghanistan has ever seen. It has also led to frustration among Afghans, who feel as if they are being robbed of items such as flat-panel televisions and armored vehicles that they could use or sell — no small thing in a country where the average annual income hovers at just over $500.