As plans for US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 begin to fall in place, questions have arisen about what do with $36 billion worth of arms and equipment that were brought in to the country since 9/11. If the issue is not properly managed, this equipment can end up fuelling the civil war that may follow the withdrawal.
The most sensitive US weapons that fall under its export control restrictions, are obviously not going to stay. According to George Washington University, US has the option of leaving the other less sensitive types of weapons and equipment in Afghanistan or simply destroying the material that is not cost effective to return. The other alternative being, moving these items to a US base in a third country. This move is estmated to cost around $5.7 billion.
Pakistan and Karzai government have both shown keen interest in acquiring NATO and US equipment to be left behind. The issue has also become a hot topic associated with US withdrawal, between US and Pakistan.
In a latest twist, the Commander of US Central Command, Gen James Mattis, told members of the House Armed Services Committee that the nation intends to transition the surveillance drones to Afghanistan to monitor the borders.
“The Afghans do not have that capability yet. It’s one of the enablers that we are trying to build into them before we leave,” Gen Mattis said.
This move is unlikely to go well with Pakistan.