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Not sure where this thread best fits, but I wanted to provide an overview of Combat Zone Bring Backs in the modern era - GWOT, Iraq, and Afghanistan. There's seems to be a lot of confusion and misunderstanding of the issue. I even saw one recent post in the Sniper forum that said the scarcity of bring backs was due "to a change in the officer culture since the 90s" - Ha!

In reality, the regulations that govern such actions are fairly clear (although not always clearly executed). Bring backs are governed by CENTCOM Reg 600-10, which generally reflects other common firearm related regulations. Also, they fall into a few different categories:

1. Antiques. Like other firearms, antiques do not fall under the purview of the Gun Control Act of 1968, and the CENTCOM reg says they can be shipped back stateside. Now I never remember seeing antique stuff in Iraq, but there's a ton of it in Afghanistan (whether real or a Khyber Pass copy). So, when you acquire an antique weapon, you fill out an affidavit form on what it is, get that notarized (usually through the JAG), and then take it to the Customs office to get it inspected. Now at the Customs office, you might encounter a wide variance of what the antique laws and regs actually are - I would usually bring a print out of the CENTCOM reg, just to make sure everything's clear. Customs then stamps your forms, and then you mail it back home (unfortunately, the reg mandates that you can only mail it back via USPS, and not with your other personal stuff). The forms that accompany the antique weapon look like this:

Font Paper Paper product Handwriting Document

Handwriting Font Material property Parallel Paper


2. War Trophies. This is probably the most common type of item that includes demilled items from the Combat Zone. Again the emphasis is demilled - pretty much any military use item must be demilled to go back. During my last trip to Afghanistan, a very popular combat bring back was an AC-130 105mm shell. To go back though, you were required to drill out the primer in the back of the shell (as if "Joe" was going to go home and start reloading 105 shells in his garage - ha!). Here's what that looks like. Of note, the Sea Bees had that laser etching machine, and could make you some really cool stuff!

Sleeve Wood Grey Art Font

Musical instrument Font Gas Circle Metal

Handwriting Font Paper Paper product Document

Now I don't know everything about War Trophies, and have only brought back a few of these 105 shells. I was talking to the Customs guys though, and they said that you could bring back a modern weapon if it was properly demilled, which I understand to mean having everything welded up so that it's just really a hunk of metal. Again, I'm not the expert on this. I'll also note that the Customs guys are definitely on the lookout for other stuff, like human remains (that's disgusting!), termite infested wood, ivory and so on. Oh, War Trophies can go back in your personal stuff, so no need to pay additional shipping charges.

3. Modern Firearms (not automatics). So according to the CENTCOM reg and the Customs guys I talked with, you can import a modern firearms (say a Makarov, SKS, or Garand) if you get an ATF approved Form 6. The Customs guys very clearly said - "Yeah, if you have an approved form 6, we'll sign off on it." The problem is, that to my knowledge, the ATF has never approved a Form 6 from a Service Member. One Customs NCO was at the end of his 1 year deployment, and told me that he'd never seen or heard about a Form 6 coming back.

Okay, I'm not sure if the above covers everything (there is also the subject of bringing back stuff on the unit property book), but hopefully it'll clear up some of the "Barracks Lawyer" rumors.
 

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I have a 105mm shell casing that has Air Force only use stenciled on the base. Bought it about 5 years back from Scharch who sells reloading supplies. Funny thing it's dated 1945. Would love to see how these casings were reloaded. Mine has a large crack on one side when it was inspected prior to being reloaded. I do have an ash tray made from a 5"54 shell casing and aquired it while on my ship. Spent the best part of our WestPac cruise sanding and polishing it. Course things were different back 50 some odd years ago. Frank
 

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I broke an AK-47 rear sight off to “disable” a captured rifle, as we were pretty sure the IPs were selling them back to the militias. Not that Iraqis were fond of aiming. It was the only part of a firearm I could bring back from OIF.
Not like you lucky OEF guys. Bringing back Martinis and muskets etc. I would have loved to get in on that! But glad I never took a tour in The Stan.
 

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I think it was who you knew and where you were? My son was in Stan for a couple tours, military and civilian contractor and he said that they had dried up, had only heard rumours. But then he hasn't the interest like I do :)
 

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I brought back a lot of oddball items from
Desert Storm to Iraq to Afghanistan. Some of the cooler items were pulled from BMPs when we downloaded them. I took the AT3 Saggar joystick from under the gunners seat…I think I have two of them. Also grabbed an Iraqi tankers helmet. Best item though was when we cleared Saddam’s palace next to the international airport (later became VBC) for 3rd ID HQ and one guy in my team re-enlisted in the dining room. There “was” a full set of silverware and China set in there before we showed up…I wonder what happened to it? Haha!

My buddy tried to sneak an AK back in his M4 case (beneath the foam) but talked too much and got busted when he tried to pick it up when it arrived stateside.
 

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Soldiers smuggled back all sorts of functional firearms from the Balkans during the '90s, I know that much. I'm sure their ingenuity extended far enough to allow them to ship plenty of off-the-books stuff back from Asia, as well...
 

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OP:

Excellent first-hand information. Thanks for posting. 👍
 
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I got my affidavit and customs declaration form for the Mle.1886 I was able to ship home. I handpicked this rifle at a bazaar on base they had at the time, I was able to take it apart to look at all the parts on it to see if I wanted it or not. The guy who was selling it was amazed at how fast I was able to take it apart for inspection. He had several there and this one was best of the lot he had. He had no idea I was collector of these firearms till after I purchased it. We haggled on the price of it but I finally got it for a very good price, we both walked away happy. I saw him again later at another bazaar where he was selling other firearms, tons of British firearms.

Patrick
 
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Am I alone in thinking that this thread seems austere without photos of some Gulf War bringbacks?

Here's a pair of Iraqi binoculars and a helmet that were brought back from Desert Storm in 1991:















I went a bit overboard buying Iraqi militaria in the early to mid '90s and have quite a few helmets, uniforms, and bits and pieces of gear. If anyone want to see more just say so. That's assuming of course that the OP doesn't mind me cluttering up his thread.
 

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The rules were pretty relaxed when I was deployed to Iraq in 2003. Obviously no weapons or ordnance could be brought back as well as no personal property of Iraqi soldiers. Everything else was good to go. I was a collector prior to going so I ended up sending quite a bit back home through the mail with no issues.
 

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Ive always thought any and all leaving the military should be able to purchase/gifted their personal issued weapons. Who would be better trained , vetted and a none threat to society?

Untill Desert Storm, taking home things pried from cold ,dead fingers has been a must for Warriors.
 

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Leaving Kandahar in April 2002 we were told that the MP's would be checking to see if we were taking any "Afghan National Treasures" which was just about anything. My bosses son was into collecting rocks, so I picked up a bunch of them. The MP Customs looked at the rocks, but gave me a "Pass" as we had trained them on the Vector Laser Range Finder. John
 

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I found some WW1-era Stahlhelms in a shop on Camp Eggers, which was (ironically) the ONE thing I was hoping to find while I was preparing to mobilize for OEF. All former ANA helmets (I believe the ANA used the Stahlhelms up until the 1970s or 1980s). I think the British provided captured German helmets as military aid to Afghanistan back in the 1920s or 30s.

I had one ANA officer offer me a more modern (Soviet?) helmet, but I passed (and now I kick myself for it). Otherwise, the pickings were mighty slim (this was 2009-10).
 
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