The Truth Will Set You Free .....
For sale: one dumper truck, a mobile laundry packed inside a shipping container and enough tents to house an army. Literally.
As British troops head home from Helmand, their headquarters is being sold off piece by piece.
The fate of Camp Bastion, a city once buzzing with 30,000 people, is still undecided. It could yet be taken over by neighbouring American forces, handed to Afghan troops or simply be allowed to return to the desert.
While thousands of shipping containers will be used to bring lethal or expensive kit back to the UK, that still leaves millions of pounds worth of desks, wardrobes, air-conditioning units, computer monitors and hospital equipment which is simply not worth bringing back.
Potential bidders are invited to register their interest through a new website, Afghan Disposals.
It could all fetch as much as £12m and follows similar sell-offs by departing American, Canadian and Australian forces.
Chris Murray, of Agility Defense & Government Services, which is running the sale, said: “If they had to take everything back the cost would be extraordinary: $8-10,000 to get a 20ft box back to the UK.
On top of that there is the risk of travelling on roads through Pakistan, the expense of storing gear once it is back home and then disposing of equipment that might not even be needed.
The total cost is about eight times more than the resale value of gear itself, added Mr Murray, a former director of the Royal Logistic Corps and the final commander of British forces in Bosnia, when troops flew home in 2007.
Bastion was the biggest British overseas camp built since World War Two, with an area comparable with Reading.
It has its own water bottling plant and a hospital recognised as a world leader in trauma surgery.
Its future depends in part whether Afghanistan signs a security deal with the US, enabling about 10,000 American troops to stay behind. Either way, British combat operations are due to finish by the end of the year.
The number of British troops in Helmand has already dropped from more than 10,000 at their peak to about 5000 now. That will reduce further to about 2,500 in the summer.
Some of their most-sophisticated kit will return home, some will be given to Afghan security forces and the rest sold.
Among the gear are VIP tents, complete with their own offices.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said “war-like equipment” and anything that might be used for human rights abuses was prohibited from entering the local market.
“Redeployment is being carried out to achieve good order and value for money,” he said.
“There are some cases where we will sell, scrap or gift items which are beyond economic repair or not economical to return to the UK, such as surplus storage containers, deployable laundry units and surplus JCB off-road forklift trucks.”