Gear galore left in Iraq as last troops pull out

U.S. command says it’s not worth hauling back

If the U.S. military held a yard sale, the rummaging would look a lot like what has been going on in Iraq.

Troops are leaving a bounty of leftovers as they exit the country this month, abandoning dining-hall tables and chairs, tents, air conditioners and old vehicles.

Unlike a traditional American yard sale, the military bric-a-brac is free. The stuff likely would be dumped back home.

For an Iraqi force moving into once-bustling U.S. bases, the accouterments are just the thing to make the soldier’s life a little more comfortable as he takes on the full load of fighting insurgents against the government.

HOMEWARD BOUND: Soldiers with the 1st Cavalry Division show appreciation for the band Filter as they relax Thursday at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, where they await deployment home after leaving Iraq. (Associated Press)

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HOMEWARD BOUND: Soldiers with the 1st Cavalry Division show appreciation for the ... more >

The State Department, which inherits the lead U.S. role in Iraq on Jan. 1, also is accepting hand-me-downs, such as armored vehicles and surveillance electronics to protect its turf.

“We’ve gone through a very extensive review process to determine what we need to take back to the United States, what gets reconditioned, what we can afford to transfer to the State Department, or to state and local governments back in the United States, or to the Iraqi government,” said ArmyMaj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq.

“It’s really the leftover things we’ve transferred to the Iraq government.”

The command estimates that it has bequeathed to the Iraqi government more than 4 million pieces of this and that, valued at $580 million. However, the military is saving more than $1 billion in shipping costs.

Here is some of what Iraq is getting when it assumes control of all U.S. bases:

• Containerized housing units, air conditioners and gym equipment.

• Generators, water and fuel tanks, cars and stoves.

• Tables, washers and dryers, portable chemical toilets; and large, portable concrete walls and barriers.

“They take a crane and move around on flatbeds as they need it,” Gen. Buchanan said. “It’s certainly not worth the cost to us to to get all these pieces of concrete anywhere back to the U.S.”

With the sprawling Camp Victory complex that surrounds the country’s international airport, the Iraqis also are receiving prison cells, including the ones that held Saddam Hussein.

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