Moving Its War Machine Out of Afghanistan Will Cost U.S. $6 Billion, Even as Troops Remain

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Marines Special Operations vehicle (photo: David Gunn, U.S. Army

Fighting the war in Afghanistan was expensive. But so is pulling out of the conflict, even though the United States isn’t leaving entirely.


Logistics experts in the U.S. military are already packing up some of America’s enormous war machine to prepare for the 2014 deadline when American forces officially withdraw.


The cost of removing the thousands of tanks, trucks, Humvees and other equipment is expected reach at least $6 billion.


Afghanistan’s geography will make it costly for the U.S. to ship its military hardware home. Because Afghanistan does not have a port, American commanders must prepare to either fly home everything or drive it to Pakistan, where it can be loaded onto ships at Karachi. Another option is to use roads winding through northern Afghanistan, which the Soviets used for their withdrawal from the country in the late 1980s.


This preparation must be done without shortcutting the units still fighting in Afghanistan—some of which will remain beyond 2014.


General John Allen told the media this week that the U.S. and its allies will retain a significant presence in Afghanistan in order to support Afghan forces as they take on the brunt of combating the Taliban and other forces.


Allen did not say how many American soldiers would remain. Unofficial estimates peg the post-2014 U.S. force at between 6,000 and 20,000.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

US Faces $6bn Bill to Ship Equipment Home from Afghanistan (by Emma Graham-Harrison, The Guardian)

US Troops Will Stay in Afghanistan to Support Local Forces, Allen Insists (by Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian)

U.S. Wasting Millions in Afghanistan (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)        

U.S. Has Spent $642 Billion on Afghan War, Including almost $200 Billion for This Year and Next (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)                      

If U.S. Troops Are Leaving Afghanistan, Why Are New Barracks Being Built? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


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