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U.S. trashes, sells its unwanted gear in Afghanistan

  • This Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo shows Afghan scrap collectors transport a load of destroyed U.S. equipment from the departing military in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. As the final withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops approaches at the end of 2014, the U.S. military is getting rid of equipment that is either too expensive to ship back to the United States or if it is sold as working equipment could be used by insurgents. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    This Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo shows Afghan scrap collectors transport a load of destroyed U.S. equipment from the departing military in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. As the final withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops approaches at the end of 2014, the U.S. military is getting rid of equipment that is either too expensive to ship back to the United States or if it is sold as working equipment could be used by insurgents. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 photo, scrap bought from the U.S. military has been mostly cleared from a local junk yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Many Afghan scrap dealers who buy junked equipment from the U.S. military sell it to factories in neighboring Pakistan. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 photo, scrap bought from the U.S. military has been mostly cleared from a local junk yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Many Afghan scrap dealers who buy junked equipment from the U.S. military sell it to factories in neighboring Pakistan. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, two Afghan men on a motorcycle drive by stacks of shipping containers belonging to the U.S. and NATO military in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Hundreds of shipping containers are being collected by Afghans, some of which will be eventually scrapped as U.S. and NATO troops prepare to withdrawal all its combat troops by the end of 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, two Afghan men on a motorcycle drive by stacks of shipping containers belonging to the U.S. and NATO military in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Hundreds of shipping containers are being collected by Afghans, some of which will be eventually scrapped as U.S. and NATO troops prepare to withdrawal all its combat troops by the end of 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013 photo, Afghan day laborers load crushed Hesco barrier walls once used by international troops for protection against would-be suicide bombers at a scrap yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. As the U.S. winds down its war in Afghanistan, it is selling off to Afghans equipment and material that is not worse shipping back to the United States. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013 photo, Afghan day laborers load crushed Hesco barrier walls once used by international troops for protection against would-be suicide bombers at a scrap yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. As the U.S. winds down its war in Afghanistan, it is selling off to Afghans equipment and material that is not worse shipping back to the United States. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, Afghans load pieces of a destroyed U.S military armored vehicle into their vehicle at a junk yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. The U.S. military is turning vehicles and other equipment into scrap before selling to Afghan traders. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, Afghans load pieces of a destroyed U.S military armored vehicle into their vehicle at a junk yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. The U.S. military is turning vehicles and other equipment into scrap before selling to Afghan traders. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, an Afghan worker inspects hundreds of shipping containers received by U.S. and NATO troops at a storage yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. This containers are often used to transport hundreds of pounds (kilograms) of scrap bought by Afghans from the departing U.S. military. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, an Afghan worker inspects hundreds of shipping containers received by U.S. and NATO troops at a storage yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. This containers are often used to transport hundreds of pounds (kilograms) of scrap bought by Afghans from the departing U.S. military. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013 photo, an Afghan day laborer loads crushed Hesco barrier walls once used by international troops for protection against would-be suicide bombers at a scrap yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Departing U.S. soldiers are getting rid off old and unwanted equipment ahead of the final withdrawal of all international troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.  (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013 photo, an Afghan day laborer loads crushed Hesco barrier walls once used by international troops for protection against would-be suicide bombers at a scrap yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Departing U.S. soldiers are getting rid off old and unwanted equipment ahead of the final withdrawal of all international troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, an Afghan scrap collector climbs over giant wheels removed from a U.S. military vehicle and sold as scrap to Afghan traders at a junk yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. In the last year the U.S. military has sold millions of pounds (kilograms) of junked equipment to Afghans. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, an Afghan scrap collector climbs over giant wheels removed from a U.S. military vehicle and sold as scrap to Afghan traders at a junk yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. In the last year the U.S. military has sold millions of pounds (kilograms) of junked equipment to Afghans. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, an Afghan crane operator stacks shipping containers used by U.S. and NATO troops at a storage yard in the outskirts of Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. These containers are often used to transport scrapped U.S. equipment from a nearby military base to junkyards. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, an Afghan crane operator stacks shipping containers used by U.S. and NATO troops at a storage yard in the outskirts of Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. These containers are often used to transport scrapped U.S. equipment from a nearby military base to junkyards. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, an Afghan crane operator peers through his grimy window as he stacks shipping containers used by U.S. and NATO troops at a storage yard in the outskirts of Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Many shipping containers are loaded with scrap material sold by the U.S. military to Afghan traders. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, an Afghan crane operator peers through his grimy window as he stacks shipping containers used by U.S. and NATO troops at a storage yard in the outskirts of Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Many shipping containers are loaded with scrap material sold by the U.S. military to Afghan traders. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 photo, Afghan workers are depositing at a local junk yard a truck load of wood scraps bought from the U.S. military in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. The U.S. military as it prepares to depart Afghanistan at the end of 2014 is selling off unwanted material to Afghan traders. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 photo, Afghan workers are depositing at a local junk yard a truck load of wood scraps bought from the U.S. military in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. The U.S. military as it prepares to depart Afghanistan at the end of 2014 is selling off unwanted material to Afghan traders. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, an Afghan scrap worker tries to remove parts of a vehicle received from the U.S. military at a junk yard Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Much of the scrapped U.S. military equipment ends up in neighboring Pakistan because of the lack of facilities in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, an Afghan scrap worker tries to remove parts of a vehicle received from the U.S. military at a junk yard Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Much of the scrapped U.S. military equipment ends up in neighboring Pakistan because of the lack of facilities in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, dozens of U.S. military canvas cots which are no longer usable are stacked by an Afghan scrap dealer for resale at a junk yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Hundreds of Millions of pounds (kilograms) of junked equipment is bought by the Afghans from U.S. military ahead of their departure from Afghanistan in 2014.  (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, dozens of U.S. military canvas cots which are no longer usable are stacked by an Afghan scrap dealer for resale at a junk yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Hundreds of Millions of pounds (kilograms) of junked equipment is bought by the Afghans from U.S. military ahead of their departure from Afghanistan in 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Sunday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, Afghan day laborers load crushed Hesco barrier walls once used by international troops for protection against would-be suicide bombers at a scrap yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Departing U.S. soldiers are getting rid off old and unwanted equipment ahead of the final withdrawal of all international troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.  (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Sunday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, Afghan day laborers load crushed Hesco barrier walls once used by international troops for protection against would-be suicide bombers at a scrap yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Departing U.S. soldiers are getting rid off old and unwanted equipment ahead of the final withdrawal of all international troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, an Afghan scrap dealer checks to see if a head light bought as junk from the U.S. military is functional a a yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Afghan traders are buying millions of dollars worth of junked material from the U.S. military ahead of their departure from Afghanistan in 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, an Afghan scrap dealer checks to see if a head light bought as junk from the U.S. military is functional a a yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Afghan traders are buying millions of dollars worth of junked material from the U.S. military ahead of their departure from Afghanistan in 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 photo, an Afghan worker unloads used oil drums bought from the U.S. military at a junk yard on the outskirts of Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. All kinds of material and equipment is being purchased by Afghan traders from the departing U.S. military ahead of the final withdrawal in 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 photo, an Afghan worker unloads used oil drums bought from the U.S. military at a junk yard on the outskirts of Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. All kinds of material and equipment is being purchased by Afghan traders from the departing U.S. military ahead of the final withdrawal in 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, Afghan scrap dealers try to load giant rubber treads of a U.S. tank received from the departing military as junk in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. As the U.S. military prepares to leave Afghanistan at the end of  2014 it is selling off old and unwanted equipment as junk to Afghans. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, Afghan scrap dealers try to load giant rubber treads of a U.S. tank received from the departing military as junk in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. As the U.S. military prepares to leave Afghanistan at the end of 2014 it is selling off old and unwanted equipment as junk to Afghans. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, Afghan scrap dealers try to load giant rubber treads of a U.S. tank received from the departing military as junk in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. As the U.S. military prepares to leave Afghanistan at the end of  2014 it is selling off old and unwanted equipment as junk to Afghans. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, Afghan scrap dealers try to load giant rubber treads of a U.S. tank received from the departing military as junk in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. As the U.S. military prepares to leave Afghanistan at the end of 2014 it is selling off old and unwanted equipment as junk to Afghans. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, an Afghan worker maneuvers a piece of junked equipment received from the U.S. military at a scrap yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Afghan traders are buying millions of dollars worth of junked material from the U.S. military ahead of their departure from Afghanistan in 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, an Afghan worker maneuvers a piece of junked equipment received from the U.S. military at a scrap yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Afghan traders are buying millions of dollars worth of junked material from the U.S. military ahead of their departure from Afghanistan in 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 photo, Afghan scrap dealers rest on a couch received from the German military in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan. Unlike the equipment and material that is scrapped by the U.S. military before being sold to Afghans, some equipment sold by the German military in northern Afghanistan is left intact. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 photo, Afghan scrap dealers rest on a couch received from the German military in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan. Unlike the equipment and material that is scrapped by the U.S. military before being sold to Afghans, some equipment sold by the German military in northern Afghanistan is left intact. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, multi-storied stacks of shipping containers wait to be used by U.S. and NATO troops at a storage yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Some of this containers will be packed with scrap sold to Afghans by the departing U.S. military. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, multi-storied stacks of shipping containers wait to be used by U.S. and NATO troops at a storage yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Some of this containers will be packed with scrap sold to Afghans by the departing U.S. military. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, an Afghan worker waits for the crane operator to move shipping containers stored at an open field outside of Kandahar. Some of this containers will be packed with scrap sold to Afghans by the departing U.S. military. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, an Afghan worker waits for the crane operator to move shipping containers stored at an open field outside of Kandahar. Some of this containers will be packed with scrap sold to Afghans by the departing U.S. military. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

  • This Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo shows Afghan scrap collectors transport a load of destroyed U.S. equipment from the departing military in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. As the final withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops approaches at the end of 2014, the U.S. military is getting rid of equipment that is either too expensive to ship back to the United States or if it is sold as working equipment could be used by insurgents. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 photo, scrap bought from the U.S. military has been mostly cleared from a local junk yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Many Afghan scrap dealers who buy junked equipment from the U.S. military sell it to factories in neighboring Pakistan. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, two Afghan men on a motorcycle drive by stacks of shipping containers belonging to the U.S. and NATO military in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Hundreds of shipping containers are being collected by Afghans, some of which will be eventually scrapped as U.S. and NATO troops prepare to withdrawal all its combat troops by the end of 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013 photo, Afghan day laborers load crushed Hesco barrier walls once used by international troops for protection against would-be suicide bombers at a scrap yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. As the U.S. winds down its war in Afghanistan, it is selling off to Afghans equipment and material that is not worse shipping back to the United States. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, Afghans load pieces of a destroyed U.S military armored vehicle into their vehicle at a junk yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. The U.S. military is turning vehicles and other equipment into scrap before selling to Afghan traders. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, an Afghan worker inspects hundreds of shipping containers received by U.S. and NATO troops at a storage yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. This containers are often used to transport hundreds of pounds (kilograms) of scrap bought by Afghans from the departing U.S. military. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013 photo, an Afghan day laborer loads crushed Hesco barrier walls once used by international troops for protection against would-be suicide bombers at a scrap yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Departing U.S. soldiers are getting rid off old and unwanted equipment ahead of the final withdrawal of all international troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.  (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, an Afghan scrap collector climbs over giant wheels removed from a U.S. military vehicle and sold as scrap to Afghan traders at a junk yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. In the last year the U.S. military has sold millions of pounds (kilograms) of junked equipment to Afghans. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, an Afghan crane operator stacks shipping containers used by U.S. and NATO troops at a storage yard in the outskirts of Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. These containers are often used to transport scrapped U.S. equipment from a nearby military base to junkyards. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, an Afghan crane operator peers through his grimy window as he stacks shipping containers used by U.S. and NATO troops at a storage yard in the outskirts of Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Many shipping containers are loaded with scrap material sold by the U.S. military to Afghan traders. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 photo, Afghan workers are depositing at a local junk yard a truck load of wood scraps bought from the U.S. military in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. The U.S. military as it prepares to depart Afghanistan at the end of 2014 is selling off unwanted material to Afghan traders. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, an Afghan scrap worker tries to remove parts of a vehicle received from the U.S. military at a junk yard Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Much of the scrapped U.S. military equipment ends up in neighboring Pakistan because of the lack of facilities in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, dozens of U.S. military canvas cots which are no longer usable are stacked by an Afghan scrap dealer for resale at a junk yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Hundreds of Millions of pounds (kilograms) of junked equipment is bought by the Afghans from U.S. military ahead of their departure from Afghanistan in 2014.  (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Sunday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, Afghan day laborers load crushed Hesco barrier walls once used by international troops for protection against would-be suicide bombers at a scrap yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Departing U.S. soldiers are getting rid off old and unwanted equipment ahead of the final withdrawal of all international troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.  (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, an Afghan scrap dealer checks to see if a head light bought as junk from the U.S. military is functional a a yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Afghan traders are buying millions of dollars worth of junked material from the U.S. military ahead of their departure from Afghanistan in 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 photo, an Afghan worker unloads used oil drums bought from the U.S. military at a junk yard on the outskirts of Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. All kinds of material and equipment is being purchased by Afghan traders from the departing U.S. military ahead of the final withdrawal in 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, Afghan scrap dealers try to load giant rubber treads of a U.S. tank received from the departing military as junk in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. As the U.S. military prepares to leave Afghanistan at the end of  2014 it is selling off old and unwanted equipment as junk to Afghans. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, Afghan scrap dealers try to load giant rubber treads of a U.S. tank received from the departing military as junk in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. As the U.S. military prepares to leave Afghanistan at the end of  2014 it is selling off old and unwanted equipment as junk to Afghans. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 photo, an Afghan worker maneuvers a piece of junked equipment received from the U.S. military at a scrap yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Afghan traders are buying millions of dollars worth of junked material from the U.S. military ahead of their departure from Afghanistan in 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 photo, Afghan scrap dealers rest on a couch received from the German military in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan. Unlike the equipment and material that is scrapped by the U.S. military before being sold to Afghans, some equipment sold by the German military in northern Afghanistan is left intact. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, multi-storied stacks of shipping containers wait to be used by U.S. and NATO troops at a storage yard in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Some of this containers will be packed with scrap sold to Afghans by the departing U.S. military. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
  • In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 photo, an Afghan worker waits for the crane operator to move shipping containers stored at an open field outside of Kandahar. Some of this containers will be packed with scrap sold to Afghans by the departing U.S. military. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

The withdrawing U.S. military is destroying most of the equipment it is leaving behind in Afghanistan after 13 years of war, selling the scrap for millions of dollars to those willing to buy it.

The policy stands in stark contrast to the Americans’ withdrawal from Iraq, when they donated or sold still-usable items worth about $100 million.

The equipment is being trashed, U.S. officials said, because of fears that anything left behind in Afghanistan could fall into the hands of insurgents and used to make bombs. Leaving it behind also saves the U.S. billions of dollars in transportation costs.

Afghans are angry at the policy, arguing that even furniture and appliances that could improve their lives is being turned into useless junk.

“They use everything while they are here, and then they give it to us after breaking it,” said Mohammed Qasim, a junk dealer in the volatile southern province of Kandahar. He gestured toward the large yellow frame of a gutted generator, saying it would have been more useful in somebody’s home, given the lack of electricity in the area.

The twisted mounds of metal, steel and industrial rubber scattered over a vast field had once been armored vehicles, trucks and huge blast walls that protected troops from suicide bombers. Giant black treads were pulled from tanks. Even air conditioners, exercise machines and office equipment were crushed and stuffed into multicolored shipping containers piled on top of each other in the junkyard.

In the last year, the U.S. has turned equipment and vehicles into 387 million pounds of scrap that it sold to Afghans for $46.5 million, according to Mimi Schirmacher, a spokeswoman for the military’s Defense Logistics Agency in Virginia.

The scrapped material was too worn out to repair or not worth the expense of carrying it back to the U.S., officials said.

Not everything in Afghanistan was destroyed. Coalition forces have handed over $71 million in equipment intact to the Afghans, said Col. Jane Crichton, a public affairs officer for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. She said $64 million of that came from the U.S.

“We work closely with the Afghan National Security Forces to determine what equipment they need, if it is in good condition, and ensure they are capable of maintaining it,” Crichton said in an email.

Spokesmen for President Hamid Karzai said the government has “repeatedly” asked U.S. officials to neither destroy nor remove its military equipment from Afghanistan when its combat troops leave.

“We oppose the destruction of any of the equipment and hardware that can be of use by the Afghan security forces,” deputy presidential spokesman Fayeq Wahedi told the Associated Press in an email.

Between September 2012 and the end of 2014, when most U.S. troops will have left, the Americans will move an estimated 50,000 vehicles – tens of thousands of them hardened to make them resistant to mines.

They will also ship an estimated 100,000 metal containers – each about 20 feet long. Placed end-to-end, the containers would stretch nearly 400 miles.

The military faced a similar logistics dilemma when it pulled out of Iraq in 2011, but it left most of the equipment with the government, including water tanks, generators, furniture and armored vehicles. Nearly $100 million in equipment was donated or sold to the Iraqis as of 2010, military officials said at the time.

Crichton said the Iraqis were better prepared to receive and maintain the equipment.

“Iraq had a higher number of military and police personnel, and they had a more developed infrastructure at the end of operations to support the equipment,” she said.

The lessons learned from Iraq included how to save money by dismantling, relocating and disposing of equipment it didn’t want to ship home, she said, as well as earning money by selling it as scrap to the locals. The U.S. deployed an estimated $33 billion in equipment to Afghanistan.

In southern Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban where a stubborn insurgency still flourishes, the policy is having unintended consequences.

At a junkyard less than a mile from the sprawling Kandahar Air Base where tens of thousands of NATO and U.S. soldiers were stationed at the war’s peak, ethnic Pashtuns grumble at getting scrap instead of working equipment.

Schirmacher, the Defense Logistics Agency spokeswoman, said a big reason for trashing the equipment before selling it to the Afghans is to remove its potential to be used for bombs.

Even the most innocuous piece of equipment, like a treadmill, a stationary bike or household appliances, have timers or copper wiring that can be used to make roadside bombs, she said.

“Removing those timers or other potentially dangerous internal components renders the property inoperable, and so it is scrapped,” she said, adding that her agency sells the scrap to three Afghan firms. The U.S. military decides what gets turned into scrap, Schirmacher said.

Inside the junkyard office, a half-dozen men sipping green tea scoffed at the concern, saying insurgents can get cheap timers and other bomb-making material in any village marketplace.

“These timers can be bought over there,” dealer Mir Ahmed said, pointing out a grimy window to a row of electrical shops.

“They can buy them cheap. They can buy a bunch of cheap watches with timers for nothing, but even if they have lots of money and are using this equipment to make bombs, what about the washing machines? What can they do with those?” he said.

“These are things we can use at home with our families or in our business. But instead they turn everything to junk and then they give it to us,” he added.

Ahmed, who said he has paid as much as $4,000 for a large container of junk, said the contents can be kind of a lottery.

Daoud Shah, a rotund man with a long gray beard, compared the impending pullout of U.S. and NATO combat troops with the 1989 Soviet military withdrawal after a 10-year occupation.

“The Russians were better. At least they didn’t leave us junk. They didn’t destroy everything and then leave,” he said, removing his turban and scratching his bald head.

Shah said he had fought as a mujahedeen, or holy warrior, against the Soviets in a war that was heavily funded by the U.S. and other Western countries.

“But now we’re in even worse shape,” he added.

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