Logistics: What Am I Bid For This Iraq War Surplus?


August 19, 2011: Israel is pressing the U.S. for a chance to make a bid to buy vehicles that American troops would otherwise sell to Iraq. There might even be an auction. This is all because, as the United States prepares to pull the last of its troops out of Iraq at the end of the year, there is still billions of dollars’ worth of equipment to be either brought home, or sold. Iraq was hoping for a windfall here, believing that the U.S. would donate a lot of stuff to them, rather than ship it home. The Iraqis were somewhat disappointed. The U.S. did give them $151 million worth of weapons and equipment, plus billions of dollars’ worth of bases which could not be moved. But much of the gear was taken away, or offered for sale.

The U.S. military is facing tighter budgets, and had early on decided that most weapons and equipment were to be shipped home, to be refurbished, or simply cleaned up and put back in service. A lot of gear was shipped east, to Afghanistan. The Iraqis got whatever was not worth sending in either direction. This included equipment (like air conditioners) that were not needed in Afghanistan (where living conditions are more austere) and were not worth the cost of shipping all the way back to the United States.

The Iraqis did do very well with all the base and infrastructure construction the U.S. left behind. These will ease a housing shortage for the security forces, and provide them with first class bases. That was something the Iraqi military never had before, and it's good for morale. It's also rather corruption-proof, as it's difficult to illegally sell a base or a building.

But much military equipment is also subject to corrupt practices, so the Israelis feel they have a shot at bidding on some of the surplus American gear. Even if they have to bid against the Iraqis, the Israelis feel they would get quite a bargain on American gear, and would then be able to ship it through Jordan, to Israel.




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