An Afghan National Army soldier holds a position while patrolling the village of But Khak on the outskirts of Kabul May 15, 2012. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani/File Photo
Zahir Jan, a scrap metal dealer in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, pays about 175 Afghani ($2.55) per kilo of spent cartridge casings and has no trouble finding supplies from poorly paid soldiers and policemen looking for extra cash.
If they don't have enough on hand, he says they're happy to fire off their weapons for 5-10 minutes until he has what he needs.
"This is a good business now and there are buyers waiting in different areas," he said.
Along with official and media reports that some soldiers and police even sell weapons and ammunition to the Taliban, the issue illustrates a problem for commanders trying to improve controls on vital supplies like fuel and ammunition.
A senior Afghan officer in the army's technical and weapons branch, who didn't want to be named as he is not authorized to speak publicly, said troops in Helmand and the northern province of Kunduz fired 7,000 artillery shells in May alone.
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WNU Editor: Why am I not surprised.