The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 29, 2013

From MRAP to scrap: U.S. military chops up $1 million vehicles


MRAPs have a raised chassis, reinforced floors and suspended seats designed to minimize blast effects from explosions below. They are not a comfortable ride, especially on Afghanistan’s potholed roads and dirt tracks.

Even as 47,000 U.S. combat troops in Afghanistan prepare to return home by the end of 2014, MRAPs are still in use. They occasionally chug through Kabul’s worn streets, infuriating Afghans as the vehicles hog narrow roadways.

However, since U.S. troops have made the transition to a training role and Afghan forces have taken the combat lead, there are fewer MRAPs in action.

Disposing of excess MRAPs is part of an enormous $5 billion to $7 billion moving job that involves shipping U.S. vehicles, weapons, gear and equipment out of Afghanistan. By road and by air, the military plans to remove 35,000 vehicles and 95,000 shipping containers by the close of 2014, according to Army Maj. Gen. Kurt Stein. Excess equipment is being turned into scrap, sold or given to the Afghan military.

The U.S. military denied a Los Angeles Times request to photograph MRAPs being dismantled. But no one stopped Ashton B. Carter, then the U.S. deputy defense secretary, from snapping a souvenir photo of an MRAP being chopped during a recent visit to Afghanistan. Carter told The New York Times he sent the photo to Gates.

“Can’t believe it,” Carter said he told Gates. “They’re taking our babies apart.”

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