NATO to pull $30 bn worth of gear from Afghanistan

Most of the American equipment will be shipped to military depots in the United States for refurbishment.

Kabul: As the drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan steps up in 2012, NATO military planners are trying to figure out the logistics of how to ship out the massive quantities of alliance vehicles, weapons and other equipment from the mountainous landlocked country.

The operation requires the removal of USD 30 billion worth of state-of-the-art military gear by the end of 2014, when US and other coalition troops are to end their combat role, a senior NATO official said today.

Most of the American equipment will be shipped to military depots in the United States for refurbishment and then redistributed to bases around the country, but some
assets will go to bases in Europe, primarily Germany, or in Asian nations such as South Korea.

"The stuff we have here is the very best the US has ever produced," the NATO official said. "It`s better than anything available (to military units) in the United States."

He spoke on condition of anonymity because the planning for the equipment pullout is still in its initial stages. Aside from the armored vehicles and trucks, other gear that will be shipped out includes large quantities of armor, communications and optical equipment, and large crew-served artillery systems.

In 2011, the US-led coalition began the withdrawal of nearly 140,000 foreign troops serving in Afghanistan, and 10,000 US service members have already pulled out. By the end
of this year, another 23,000 Americans are due to depart, along with thousands more allied soldiers, which will reduce the coalition force in Afghanistan to about 90,000.

The quantity of military equipment that was accumulated here by the United States and its allies in 10 years of war is formidable. Although small quantities have already been
removed, the planning is complex due to inherent complications ,of moving so much heavy gear out of a landlocked nation with problematic relations with some of its neighbors, said the official.

Only a relatively small amount of the tens of thousands of vehicles can be flown out by air, due to the massive weight of some, such as the as the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, and its all-terrain variety, the M-ATV.

Afghanistan`s neighbour Pakistan has shut down NATO`s main transit routes from the port of Karachi in November in response to a NATO aerial attack on a Pakistani border post
that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.