Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 09/2014

Not only "Containerspotting" - NATO's Redeployment from Landlocked Afghanistan

Heidi Reisinger

October 2013

NATO Defense College


On 31 December 2014, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, the largest military mission of NATO, will be history. In line with the political decision taken at NATO's Lisbon Summit in 2010, ISAF troops will be leaving. With them will go all their equipment: a range of items, from weapon systems and armored vehicles to chairs, kitchens and fitness centers used by more than 100,000 troops and approximately the same amount of civilian personnel. This is a gigantic project. If one thought getting into Afghanistan was difficult, getting out is a lot harder. It represents the biggest multi-national military logistical challenge in modern history. Millions of tons of material have to be de-militarized, dismantled, handed over, sold, scrapped, recycled, donated to the Afghans and/or third nations, or transferred home. More than 125,000 containers and 80,000 military vehicles have to be disposed of or brought back home to NATO nations and NATO partner countries. If the containers and the vehicles were placed one after the other, end to end, they would form a line as long as the distance from Berlin to Paris.