Murphy's Law: What Is Left Behind


October 7,2008:  Polish troops are leaving Iraq, and they aren't taking home everything they originally brought with them. One of the items left behind is a Mi-24D helicopter gunship that had broken down, and was not considered worth repairing, or shipping home. The Polish Army has 35 Mi-24Ds, leftover from the pre-1991 days when Poland was an involuntary ally of Russia. The Poles are not big fans of the Mi-24D, and decided it was cheaper just to blow this one up, rather than pay to have it shipped home. The Iraqis didn't want it either. The Poles asked some combat engineers from Kazakhstan, who were stationed nearby to come on over and blow the helicopter up. The Kazaks did, and that was that.

It's common for troops to destroy, or simply abandon unneeded military equipment when they return home from a distant place. This occurred on a spectacular scale at the end of World War II, as U.S. forces returned home from just about every part of the planet. Thousands of trucks, combat vehicles and aircraft were just left behind, some in remote areas where there was no one to use them. The U.S. Navy dumped perfectly good aircraft off the decks of aircraft carriers.

The U.S. built 324,000 aircraft during the war, and needed only about twenty percent of those for post-war uses. Most of the 24,000 transport aircraft built were in demand after the war, either for civil or military use. Some of the DC-3 transports are still flying in out-of-the-way places.

The 2.8 million trucks could be used in the civilian economy, but the 88,000 tanks and 257,000 artillery weapons could not. Many were disabled and left behind. Much of the stuff was transferred to local allies, but there was so much surplus, that a lot of it can still be found sitting in a jungle, remote forest or on the bottom of an ocean (or even lake or river.) Occasionally an old tank will be discovered underwater in a lake or swamp, and dragged out.


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