It is a January sale with a difference. The American military is auctioning off millions of dollars of tankers, accommodation blocks, tents, generators and other "white goods" in Afghanistan ahead of next year's deadline for the end of combat operations.

In a tender document published on Friday, buyers are invited to offer a percentage of the equipment's original value by January 10 when sealed bids will be opened.

There is just one snag. According to the brochure, "all property listed therein is offered for sale 'as is' and 'where is'."

That means that successful bidders will have to collect their lots from some of the most dangerous terrain in the world - the forward operating bases used by US troops as they battled the Taliban.


The equipment includes everything necessary to keep a military camp running. As well as fortifications and barriers, that means water and sewage systems, laundry and kitchen facilities, including giant cooking ranges and water purification systems catering for hundreds of people.

Once a deal is done, the new owners will have just 96 hours to collect the kit, be it at Bagram airbase or one of the dozens of remote forward operating bases close to Taliban territory.

Possible buyers include the private security contractors who are picking up business as foreign forces leave, providing guards, logistics support and training to charities, embassies and the Afghan Government.

Alternatively, the bases could be dissembled and their component parts sold off for civilian uses.

Buyers will need deep pockets to bid for lots that originally cost up to 15 million ($29 million), (although the tender document says that all major credit cards are accepted). The sales even include "non-tactical vehicles". The documents make clear that term excludes "launchers and tanks".

Weapons and other reusable kit are being shipped home in a huge operation that logisticians call a "retrograde". It includes bringing back as many as 40,000 shipping containers of equipment, worth an estimated 20 billion.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the drawdown was ahead of schedule.

"We've got a long way to go, a lot of troops to move out yet, a lot of equipment to move out yet. But this is an issue that is as high on the priority list as any that we all have."

Remnants of battle
12 years since the Taliban was ousted from power
45,000 American troops are still in Afghanistan
25,000 troops from other coalition countries are there
400 bases have already been closed or handed to local troops
40,000 shipping containers of equipment have been sent back to the US