It looks as if withdrawing all our military equipment from Afghanistan - let alone our hundreds of thousands of troops - is going to be a monumentally expensive exercise. Aviation Week has just reported on the likely costs. A few examples:
- Shipping a standard 20-foot ISO container from Afghanistan to Britain will cost between US $8,000 and $19,000, while moving it by air over the same distance could cost anywhere between US $16,000 and $50,000.
- Costs to ship a similar container all the way back to the USA would be at least similar, perhaps higher. According to Aviation Week, "The total U.S. military presence in Afghanistan has a footprint of some 20,000 containers of equipment, and 30,000-40,000 vehicles of all types".
- Air Force transporters won't be able to handle so huge an airlift on their own. Key civilian aircraft such as the Antonov An-124 (already chartered by the USA to move equipment to and from Afghanistan) are in short supply. There are only about two dozen of them available for hire, and NATO nations will be competing with each other to charter them - along with Formula One teams, Chinese exporters and others who rely on their services.
If we work on an average transport cost of $25,000 per container (which is probably conservative), plus a similar cost per military vehicle, it seems the USA alone is looking at a cost of well over a billion dollars just to get our equipment out of Afghanistan - and that doesn't include the expenses that will be incurred by our allies.
Financial crisis? What financial crisis?