A reader writes:
The news from Afghanistan is hardly the first time the United States has scrapped military hardware on an industrial level. After World War II, a similar (and far more aggressive) scrapping took place. My own grandfather was in the Merchant Marine in August 1945, bound for the Philippines with a ship full of M4 Sherman tanks destined for the invasion of the Japanese home islands. When the ship learned of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the unconditional surrender, they were ordered to dump the tanks into the ocean and head home. Because it was cheaper than transporting them to the Philippines.
Is the waste we’re seeing stupid and sad and more than a little ridiculous? Yes. But it’s not especially indicative of America’s crumbling power.
Another has a bit of good news:
I have some knowledge of the logistics of getting some of the equipment back from Afghanistan (is the vague enough for you?). They’ve cancelled lunch at a lot of facilities and forward operating bases. There are so many MREs floating around the country and the best way to get rid of them is in American stomaches. It helps that it saves money on the cafeteria contract.
Another circles back to the Second World War:
It’s interesting that the US is going to the expense of actually destroying the excess equipment. There are other options. In WWII, we established a huge base on Santo Island in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu). At the end of the war they tried to sell the excess equipment to the British and French colonial authorities for ten cents on the dollar. But they refused, figuring they would get it for free when we left it there. Rather than do that, the US built a jetty and just dropped everything off the end into fairly shallow water. It’s now a famous scuba site called “Million Dollar Point” that has probably made more money for the locals in tourism than the value of the equipment. It’s eerie seeing all the jeeps, trucks, etc., rusting away 100’ underwater.
Photos here. Update from a reader:
One of those Google image results was not of military equipment. Well, not standard issue, anyhow.
Thanks for the laugh.