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Afghanistan: The cost of clearing out

March 04, 2013

The U.S. must decide what to do with $36 billion in military equipment in Afghanistan as it exits the country in 2014.

There’s a plan to have most U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but no call yet on what to do with the 750,000 pieces of major military hardware in country – hardware worth $36 billion.

Planners have three basic options. Leave the equipment—or destroy it—in Afghanistan; move it to other U.S. military locations; or transfer it to another U.S. agency or another country. The estimated cost for the latter two: $5.7 billion.

We’re talking about aircraft, trucks, armored vehicles and more, mostly controlled by the Army.

Transport is hard in landlocked, mountainous Afghanistan. But leaving it behind intact means the wrong hands could get hold of it. So is it best to torch $36 billion in U.S. assets?

Click through our photo gallery for more on this expensive dilemma. See “What Do Others Say?” for more perspective, then add to the discussion below. What do you think the military should do?