What? US military pays $610 million in Afghan war 'late fees'

The US rented shipping containers for the Afghan war effort. Simply buying them would have been a lot cheaper.

By , Staff writer

The US military squandered more than $610 million in late fees over the past decade by failing to return rented shipping containers in Afghanistan on time, according to a data point buried at the bottom of a USA Today story.

The story notes the challenges ahead of removing materiel from Afghanistan. Among the stuff: 100,000 shipping containers, or large metal boxes that can be mounted on ships and trucks.

Assuming the 100,000 containers now in Afghanistan represent the military’s usual needs, the Pentagon would have saved taxpayers money on late fees alone by simply buying the containers outright.

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According to this website specializing in shipping container sales, the cost of a new 40-ft.-high cube runs $5,000 or more, with used versions starting at $3,000. A hundred thousand new containers would cost just north of $500 million, considerably less than the cost of the late fees – let alone the original cost of renting them.

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