KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Facing a tight withdrawal deadline and tough terrain, the U.S. military has destroyed more than 170 million pounds of vehicles and other military equipment as it rushes to wind down its role in the Afghanistan war by the end of 2014.
The massive disposal effort has unfolded largely out of sight amid an ongoing debate inside the Pentagon about what to do with the heaps of equipment that won't be returning home. Military planners have determined they will not ship back more than $7 billion worth of equipment -- about 20 per cent of what the U.S. military has in Afghanistan -- because it is no longer needed or would be too costly to send home.
That has left the Pentagon in a quandary about what to do with the items. Bequeathing a large share to the Afghan government would be challenging because of complicated rules governing equipment donations to other countries, and there is concern Afghanistan's fledgling forces would be unable to maintain it. Some gear may be sold or donated to allied nations, but few are likely to be able to retrieve it from the war zone.
Therefore, much of it will continue to be shredded, cut and crushed to be sold for pennies per pound on the Afghan scrap market -- a process that reflects a presumptive end to an era of protracted ground wars.
Closer to sainthood
VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul II has moved a step closer to sainthood.
A Vatican official said a commission of theologians approved a miracle attributed to his intercession, clearing a key hurdle. The case now goes to a commission of cardinals and then Pope Francis. John Paul's canonization is possible in autumn to coincide with the 35th anniversary of his election.
X-ray terror charges
ALBANY, N.Y. -- U.S. authorities accused two men of assembling a portable X-ray weapon they intended to use to secretly sicken opponents of Israel.
The indictment charged 49-year-old Glendon Scott Crawford and 54-year-old Eric J. Feight with conspiracy to provide support to terrorists with the weapon.
Investigators said Crawford approached Jewish organizations last year looking for funding and people to help him with technology that could be used to surreptitiously deliver damaging and even lethal doses of radiation against those he considered enemies of Israel. The device was inoperable and nobody was hurt, authorities said.
-- from the news services