America’s $300 Million Scrap Metal War in Afghanistan
America at War

America’s $300 Million Scrap Metal War in Afghanistan

© Erik de Castro / Reuters

Say it’s Saturday night in Kabul and you’re a $200-a-month Afghan soldier who’s a little short on cash. What to do?

One easy way to raise a few Afghanis, the local currency, is to jam a clip into your M16 or AK-47, blow off a bunch of rounds and sell the cartridge casings to a scrap metal dealer.

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And if you’re out for a really big night, fire off a few artillery shells.

A Reuters story today suggests that the cash-for-ammo-trash business is one reason why the U.S. spent more than $300 million on ammo for Afghan Security Forces last year.

Afghan Defense Ministry officials denied that there was a problem, but a commander in Helmand province said troops can fire off 10,000-20,000 rounds in a single night with no Taliban casualties to be found.