Afghan Soldiers Fire Weapons Just to Sell Spent Ammo for Scrap

Ammo that the US paid more than $300M for in 2015
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2016 2:53 PM CDT
Afghan Soldiers Fire Weapons Just to Sell Spent Ammo for Scrap
Afghan soldiers are reportedly firing off ammunition just to sell the casings to scrap dealers.   (AP Photos/Massoud Hossaini)

The US spent more than $300 million on ammunition for the Afghan army and police in 2015. So where'd that ammo end up? Mostly in scrapyards, apparently. Reuters reports Afghan soldiers and police are selling the casings from spent ammo to scrap dealers, from whom they can get more than $2.50 per kilogram. This might be an admirable recycling program if they weren't reportedly firing off rounds just to get the casings. "It's very clear they fire aimlessly and collect the shell casings for copper and sell them," one senior Afghan officer says. "We'll ask about casualties on our side or in the Taliban, and there isn't even a single injury." Soldiers in one area of Afghanistan fired 7,000 artillery shells in May. Elsewhere, units are firing up to 20,000 rounds per night.

Morale is a problem within the Afghan military and police. Soldiers earn around $200 a month and can serve for years without getting leave. Another Afghan officer estimates up to 80% of soldiers are selling casings to scrap dealers. Despite these claims, Afghan officials say there isn't really a problem. Plus, it could always be worse: Some soldiers and police are reportedly selling their weapons and ammo to the Taliban. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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