They cost about a million dollars a piece to manufacture—and the Department of Defense is going to end up shredding thousands of special, mine-resistant vehicles used in Afghanistan.
During the height of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, when insurgents discovered America’s military was vulnerable to roadside bombs, the Pentagon quickly developed a new, heavily-armored vehicle known as the MRAP (short for “Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected”).
The MRAPs were costly to build, about $1 million for each one, but they proved more effective in protecting soldiers from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) than Humvees.
But now the U.S. is on a tight deadline to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, and bringing home all 11,000 MRAPs from the conflict would not be cost effective, military experts say. Leaving them with the Afghan military also appears out of the question, due to concerns that the Afghans wouldn’t be able to maintain them.
So, it’s on to the scrap yard. About 2,000 of the vehicles will be shredded and their metal sold for pennies on the pound on the Afghan scrap market.
“The destruction of tons of equipment is all but certain to raise sharp questions in Afghanistan and the United States about whether the Pentagon’s approach is fiscally responsible and whether it should find ways to leave a greater share to the Afghans,” Ernesto Londoño wrote for The Washington Post.
A recent report from the Center for Naval Analyses, a government think-tank, said IEDs could be used again in future conflicts against American soldiers, given how easy and cheap they are to make. So then why destroy so many MRAPs that cost so much money to build when they might be needed down the geopolitical road?