U.S. To Hand Over Iraq Bases, Equipment Worth Billions WASHINGTON -- With just over three months until the last U.S. troops are currently due to leave Iraq, the Department of Defense is engaged in a mad dash to give away things that cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars to buy and build. The giveaways include enormous, elaborate military bases and vast amounts of military equipment that will be turned over to the Iraqis, mostly just to save the expense of bringing it home. "It's all sunk costs," said retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who oversaw the training of Iraqi soldiers from 2003 to 2004. "It's money that we spent and we're not going to recoup." There were 505 U.S. military bases and outposts in Iraq at the height of operations, said Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq. Only 39 are still in U.S. hands -- but that includes each of the largest bases, meaning the most significant handovers are yet to come. Those bases didn't come cheap. Construction costs exceeded $2.4 billion, according to an analysis of Pentagon annual reports by the Congressional Research Service. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers alone was responsible for $1.9 billion in base construction contracts between 2004 and 2010, a spokesman told HuffPost. Rather than strip those bases clean and ship everything home, Defense Department officials tell The Huffington Post that over 2.4 million pieces of equipment worth a total of at least $250 million -- everything from tanks and trucks to office furniture and latrines -- have been given away to the Iraqi government in the past year, with the pace of transfers expected to increase dramatically in the coming months. THE U.S. BASES The most colossal relics of the U.S. invasion of Iraq will be the outsize military bases the Bush administration began erecting not long after the invasion, under the never explicitly stated assumption that Iraq would become the long-term staging area for U.S. forces in the region. As a recent Congressional Research Service report noted, the Department of Defense "built up a far more extensive infrastructure than anticipated to support troops and equipment in and around Iraq and Afghanistan." The biggest push came in 2005, with over $1.2 billion in base-building contracts signed in that fiscal year alone, according to CRS. "How did we come to be wasting that much money?" asked Heather Hurlburt, executive director of the progressive National Security Network. The answer, she said, is that dissenting voices weren't heeded when Bush administration officials were pushing their hugely overambitious agenda. "The problem that is often cited in the run-up to the war continued afterward," she said. "The political and media elite weren't paying attention."