More than 40 per cent of Britain’s Afghan military equipment may not return to the UK, according to Government exit strategy plans.
Millions of pounds worth of resources are expected to be scrapped, sold or given away following the withdrawal of troops under proposals drawn up by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The plans – which are still to be finalised – have raised fears hi-tech material could end up in the hands of the Taliban.
Government estimates suggest about 11,000 containers worth of equipment are currently in theatre, including around 3,000 vehicles. Of these, military chiefs plan to bring back some 6,500 loads, at a cost of tens of millions of pounds. It would leave around 4,500 containers (40.9 per cent of kit) to be disposed of in Afghanistan, according to plans revealed to the Press Association under the Freedom of Information Act.
The MoD has not disclosed the quantity or value of equipment it intends to hand to the Afghan state. It said decisions would be made “on a case-by-case basis” as experts questioned the reliability of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and warned kit could be passed to the enemy.
Dr John Louth, of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) defence think tank, said leaving 40 per cent of equipment was not unusual following an overseas conflict but suggested there was a “risk to leaving things behind”.
“What is benevolent today could be quite nasty tomorrow,” he said. “If people have equipment that they wish to sell, they will sell it. It is naive to think that won’t occur, particularly given the nature of society and communities in that part of the world. It is a life of trade and absolutely everything is tradable.”
The MoD said it was reviewing its policies to ensure any equipment handed over was done so in line with Parliamentary, Treasury and National Audit Office rules.