In Iraq, U.S. is spending millions to blow up captured American war machines

By Jason Fields
August 18, 2014

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Last week was a weird one for American military hardware.

In the United States, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs), AR-15s and camouflage body armor all made an appearance on the streets of a suburb in the heartland, helping to give a tense situation the push needed to turn into a week of riots. American citizens in Ferguson, Missouri, feeling they were being occupied by a foreign army, rather than their friendly neighborhood cop on the beat.

Riot police stand guard as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri

MRAPs didn’t get a better rap overseas, either. In what’s still being called Iraq — at least for the sake of convenience — the U.S. Air Force has resumed bombing missions in the northern part of the “country.” The aim of the missions is stated as being the defense of a minority group known as the Yazidis, who practice a religion unique to themselves and are under threat by the Islamic State, a jihadi group that controls a large chunk of territory in Syria and Iraq.

The extremist cadre Islamic State — which has declared itself to be the new caliphate, representing God’s will on earth — has had an incredible string of military successes over the last few months. They’ve taken a lot of territory. They’ve slaughtered a lot of people, including civilians. They’ve imposed what they say is Islamic law — though many Islamic scholars would beg to disagree.

And Islamic State’s  captured an enormous amount of U.S. weaponry, originally intended for the rebuilt Iraqi Army. You know — the one that collapsed in terror in front of the Islamic State, back when they were just ISIL? The ones who dropped their uniforms, and rifles and ran away?

They left behind the bigger equipment, too, including M1 Abrams tanks (about $6 million each), 52 M198 Howitzer cannons ($527,337), and MRAPs (about $1 million) similar to the ones in use in Ferguson.

Now, U.S. warplanes are flying sorties, at a cost somewhere between $22,000 to 30,000 per hour for the F-16s, to drop bombs that cost at least $20,000 each, to destroy this captured equipment.

That means if an F-16 were to take off from Incirclik Air Force Base in Turkey and fly two hours to Erbil, Iraq, and successfully drop both of its bombs on one target each, it costs the United States somewhere between $84,000 to $104,000 for the sortie and destroys a minimum of $1 million and a maximum of $12 million in U.S.-made equipment.

Of course we’re not alone in facing this kind of problem.

The Russians and Ukrainians are also facing off with tanks and guns and bombs and planes and uniforms all made in the same factories. They were the same country a mere 23 years ago. And even after they weren’t any more, they maintained close military ties until very recently.

Before Russia decided it couldn’t stand losing its friend in Kiev, Viktor Yanukovich, Russian President Vladimir Putin was happy to keep most of his navy in what was then Ukrainian territory: Crimea.

I guess that’s the thing about weapons. Once you make them, you never know who’s going to end up pointing them at whom.

TOP PHOTO: An M1 Abrams tank of the Iraqi security forces is seen during clashes with the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Ramadi, May 31, 2014. REUTERS/ Ali al-Mashhadani 

INSET PHOTO: Riot police stand guard as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

27 comments

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We need US Air Power to drop some tonnage on Ferguson.

Posted by Factoidz | Report as abusive

Shame GW Bush didn’t walk away from Maliki when he was advised to.

Posted by misterjag | Report as abusive

You can bet General Dynamics is cheering for both sides.

Posted by Celebrindan | Report as abusive

Pretty sure they are not using civilian AR-15s. But whatever, I’m sure you did your research.

Posted by ThatGuyFromTX | Report as abusive

Stock tip: buy weapons makers.

Posted by ruffsoft | Report as abusive

It’s a shame that America decided to support the jihadist fighters in Afghanistan against the old Soviet Union (now Russia)occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980′s. That started the daisy chain effect of war after war in the Middle East. Sorry not “war”. That’s the wrong word. “Military mission” after “military mission”. War was never declared. There were never sufficient grounds to declare war.

Posted by nose2066 | Report as abusive

GW Bush and anyone who voted for him…. got 4,000 American service members killed for nothing. 2 trillion taxpayer dollars wasted on top of that.

Told you so.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

should we be able to install some kind of self destruction device on these that can be controlled remotely?

If i can located and shut down my iphone, shouldn’t the US military, for a few $, b able to do the same?

Posted by GA_Chris | Report as abusive

It is cost without long term payoff for the USA going into the Muslim world except for a short term punishment raid (killing a lot of bad guys and whoever did not get out of their area when told) when attacked.

Posted by SamuelReich | Report as abusive

“It’s a shame that America decided to support the jihadist fighters in Afghanistan against the old Soviet Union (now Russia)occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980′s. That started the daisy chain effect of war after war in the Middle East. Sorry not “war”. That’s the wrong word. “Military mission” after “military mission”. War was never declared. There were never sufficient grounds to declare war.

Posted by nose2066″

It is incredibly short-sighted to think that war started in Afghanistan with the Russian invasion.

Since Alexander the Great, war has been brought to the Afghan people.

It is without factual knowledge, to think our support for the Mujahedin against the Russians was the beginning of anything.

The Russians were carpeting Afghanistan with bomblets disguised as toys, to maim and kill Afghan children, war crimes of genocide worthy of the lowest form of brutal animals.

Your opinion is woefully uneducated, and incomplete of the salient facts of history.

Posted by Celebrindan | Report as abusive

My writer’s mind wonders: is ISIS a CIA project? They need a new boogeyman to keep us frightened, and now, here comes an organization whose public utterances sound like they were written in a Hollywood bungalow.

Posted by RIghtBehind | Report as abusive

@GA_Chris LOL remote destruction – giving hackers the ultimate edge? Too bad we aren’t the best in this category.

Posted by Whatsgoingon | Report as abusive

If only internet ‘opinion’ writers ran the world… I’m sure everything would be perfect.

Posted by dd606 | Report as abusive

What a perfect scenario of military sales to the USA. Bomb away – each drop is money in the bank.

Posted by Butch_from_PA | Report as abusive

why don’t they develop self-destruction weaponry?

Posted by cristinairina23 | Report as abusive

Reply to Celebrindan: Following the Russian retreat from Afghanistan, there was a free-for-all fight amongst all of the local warlords in Afghanistan to decide who would control the country. In that chaos, the Taliban, supported by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia took control of the government.

Within Taliban controlled Afghanistan, the jihadists set-up training camps to train fighters to fight against Israel. Bill Clinton had the American military bomb those camps. Apparently in retaliation for those bombings, the jihadists attacked the twin towers in New York City in the 9-11 attacks.

So does that now provide a “more complete” history of the recent wars in the Middle East?

Posted by nose2066 | Report as abusive

Meh..that’s nothing new. The US spent millions investigating an intern who was blowing (up) a sitting US President.

Posted by Ice9 | Report as abusive

“Russian President Vladimir Putin was happy to keep most of his navy in what was then Ukrainian territory: Crimea.”

Actually, far less than “most of his navy” was based on Crimea. Russian Navy is based mostly in the Arctic Ocean (particularly in Murmansk and nearby) and in the Pacific Ocean. The Russian Baltic Fleet and Black Sea Fleet are substantially smaller, because there is no much sense for Russia to have a big number of bigger ships or submarines in the small seas accessible only through narrow straits completely controlled by NATO countries.

Posted by yurakm | Report as abusive

What exactly is the reasoning for tying the Missouri riots with blowing up usa/iraqi military hardware?

Posted by notveryamused | Report as abusive

A tasteless soup made with boring ingredients by a bad cook.

Posted by Nietzschele | Report as abusive

As a wise man once said, “Life is like a box ‘o chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Posted by fdesruis | Report as abusive

Thanks for the insight. Now I know where my tax money goes. Whats that saying….. the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over & expecting something different. I must remember that when I go to vote.

Posted by rikfre | Report as abusive

. . . and the problem is? . . . . .

Posted by WestFlorida | Report as abusive

Limited Wars, as 20th Century Military History demonstrates, have no Military solution. The use of military force by limited means can only create the conditions for the opposing sides to meet around the conference table and achieve a diplomatic solution. The non-involvement of the home base directly in the conflict inevitably leads to victim fatigue and loss of political support in Western countries thereby allowing the weaker side to negotiate disproportionate conditions for an armistice. So i might is Right, Total War should be waged by the strongest state and involve the home base. Let opposing ideologies in conflict state engage in a civil war in their sanitised boundaries until one ideology prevails over the other i.e let the people decide.

Posted by beejaym09 | Report as abusive

Have you seen the list of military hardware they have taken? Tanks, apc, humvees not to mention advanced weapons with night vision tech, missile launchers, etc. This is not a little ‘oops’ moment on behalf of the American military, this is a cluster@uck of historical proportions.
ISIS/ISIL is making more than a million dollars a day from captured oil wells, and they stole almost half a billion dollars (plus an unknown amount of gold) from the Mosul bank alone. Then add in the priceless artifacts from historical sites.
The incompetence that allowed this to happen is going to echo in history for quite some time. Tell us again how many experienced military generals quit or were dismissed by Obama? This is what happens when someone with no experience fires those that do and then surrounds himself with ‘yes’ men.

Posted by stambo2001 | Report as abusive

@ stambo2001

“Then add in the priceless artifacts from historical sites.”

so we know they are hard up when they start the auctions, better wait em out

Posted by DarkShroom | Report as abusive

Watching today’s endlessly repeated video clip of one of our heroic sorties bombing a freaking pickup truck. At a cost of $85K-104K.

Just send in some creepy salesman from a local used car lot and offer the bandit in charge $20K cash on the spot for his truck – and we’re in business – making the world safe for capitalism.

Posted by Eideard | Report as abusive