KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — 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 say, 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.