As of June, Army National Guard units had left overseas more than 64,000 pieces of equipment worth more than $1.2 billion, and the Army cannot account for more than half, said the report Thursday by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.
One can understand how the Guard would leave equipment in theater for the use of replacement troops. There's no sense shuttling the same kind of stuff back and forth from stateside. But the fact that more than half of that equipment is unaccounted for should be setting off alarm bells in the Pentagon.
But more disconcerting is the larger story behind the gear we've sent to Iraq. Of all the equipment the Guard, Reserves, and regular Army and Marines have taken in to that country, very little of it will ever return. Some of it, obviously, has been destroyed. Some has broken down due to age and/or lack of adequate maintenance. A lot of it, however, will be left behind because it simply isn't worth the expense or trouble of shipping back home.
And American taxpayers will foot yet another bill, lining the pockets of the military industrial complex to replace equipment abandoned in a war we shouldn't have fought in the first place.
How much will the tab be? Offhand, I'd guess tens of billions, but there's no way of really knowing unless you control the purse strings in the Pentagon. And don't hold your breath waiting for the Pentagon to tell us.