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Fort Drum surplus ends up in Hollywood, Morocco and state governments


FORT DRUM — Soldiers maneuver their Humvees over the sands of Iraq and up the mountains of Afghanistan, jamming the brakes to avoid landmines and then flooring the gas pedals to fly through insurgent gunfire.

If a vehicle somehow survives the daily pounding of a war zone, it is likely to end up here at an out-of-the-way maintenance lot, waiting for its second life to begin.

On this day, Robert C. DeLong walks past eight, nine, 10 Humvees before stopping at one in the middle of a long row. He steps into the Humvee and starts its engine. It turns over easily and revs loudly, signaling it’s ready for the next mission. The vehicle and 99 other Humvees and cargo trucks have been “frozen” for foreign military sale to Morocco.

“We’ll supply vehicles to other countries, friendly nations. Morocco and Israel are two of our biggest ones,” said Mr. DeLong, a spokesman for Fort Drum’s Disposal Service.

“Our job is to handle excess,” said Kenneth R. MacNevin, chief of public affairs for the Defense Logistics Agency, which handles surplus equipment no longer needed by active units.

And it’s that excess that brings movie makers, cops and even John Q. Public to It’s like the Rambo version of eBay for anyone looking for vehicles, generators, microwaves and a plethora of other items the military no longer wants. And the cost is highly reduced — sometimes it is zero — although the buyer must pay to remove the item from Fort Drum or any of the more than 40 Disposition Service locations around the world.

But there is a pecking order.

When the Army discards an item, it is first offered to a different military branch “because that money was designated for military spending,” Mr. McNevin said.

If no one in the military wants the item, dibs go to municipalities, school districts, fire departments and law enforcement agencies.

Last year, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department received a Humvee from Fort Drum. Sheriff John P. Burns said it is used as a rapid- response vehicle.

Most recently, the Chenango County Sheriff’s Department received a 1992 Humvee to aid in narcotics enforcement.

The towns of Philadelphia and Antwerp have also received items, Mr. DeLong said.

“One municipality got a $20,000 generator for $600. That’s an incredible savings,” he said.

“It’s really an amazing program where we are able to give back to our surrounding communities,” Mr. DeLong said. “If we can save those guys $30,000 for a vehicle they need, especially during these difficult budget times, then that is great. Even if it is an older vehicle they only have for three or four years, that’s three of four years of payments they don’t have.”

Civilians are not allowed to buy Humvees. But who would want a 10-foot-high cargo truck that would occupy all of any decent-size front yard?

“You’d be surprised at what some people collect,” Mr. DeLong said. “There is a large subgroup of people that are into military equipment. We also get a good amount of interest from people that will use them as movie props. They’ll fix them up accordingly and they could be used in movies.”

While Fort Drum is primarily moving vehicles, other items can be found nearby, Mr. DeLong said.

“The warehouse of stuff, that’s in Pennsylvania,” he said. “It’s the hub for the Northeast.”

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