US gives away billions in assets in Iraq
The United States Depart of Defense has found a nifty way of cutting costs in planning for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Rather than ship home millions of pieces of equipment from Americans bases abroad, the military is simply giving them away.
Nearly two-and-a-half million pieces of equipment, estimated at a cost of $250 million, have so far been given to the Iraqi government by the US military in the last year alone, reports The Huffington Post. As the DoD looks to empty out the bases that cost Americans billions of dollars towards erecting during the last decade, everything from air conditioning units to army tanks are being handed over to the foreign government in order to avoid the costly bill of shipping those supplies back to the States.
"It's all sunk costs," retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton tells HuffPo. "It's money that we spent and we're not going to recoup."
Meanwhile, as the US hands over millions, they are scraping their pockets in order to make ends meet domestically. Yet again, the government is being posed with a possible shutdown in the days ahead, lest lawmakers find a way to balance their ledgers.
The United States spent over $2.4 billion on building posts in Iraq, reports the Congressional Research Service, and nearly $2 billion of that came from contracts with the US Army Corps of Engineer between 2004 and 2010 — and more than half of those deals were inked in 2005 alone.
While President Obama urges lawmakers to allow for the building up of America’s own infrastructure, it looks as if the country invested billions in the last decade overseas. Now that troops prepare to come home, however, all of that is being marked up as a loss.
In addition to the bases being handed over, Maj. Gen. Thomas Richardson told reporters last month that the US had already given away equipment valued at a total of around $247 million in only the last year. Another $157 million in materials were also handed over in the time before President Obama’s withdrawal of troops officially began.
But that’s not to say that the US is simply throwing away millions because it doesn’t know what to do with it anymore. There are still investments to be made and infrastructure to be built overseas, of course. A report from the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from earlier this year revealed that the State Department is looking to spend upwards of $30 billion on Iraq over the next five years, and that diplomatic relations in the 2012 fiscal year alone with accumulate for around a tenth of that, which The Atlantic reveals is around one-fourth of the Department of State’s global operations budget. Even if troops prepare for withdrawal, the government is asking for an expansion of diplomatic facilities in Iraq over the next few years so that Washington will indeed still have a presence in Baghdad.
The US embassy in Baghdad already houses thousands of civilian officials and troops and contains 21 buildings in a space of over 100 acres. Of the 505 bases the US military once operated in Iraq, America holds onto less than 40 of them today.