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Government Surplus Military Vehicle Auctions: Where to Buy

During wartime the Government purchases huge quantities of supplies and equipment of all types. Afterward, there typically has been a major reduction in the size of the armed forces and much of the equipment is sold as surplus. Even during peacetime, items exceed their useful life or are replaced by newer types of equipment. There is a constant need within the military to clean house. Even if the military has no further use for it, an item may be interesting or valuable to you.

M-101A1 Trailer, Cargo, 3/4 ton for sale, US Navy Comnavmarinas Base, Guam
M-101A1 Trailer, Cargo, 3/4 ton for sale, US Navy Comnavmarinas Base, Guam.

Today in WW II: 24 Jul 1943 Start of the Battle of Hamburg [Operation Gomorrah], an eight day/night air campaign that destroyed large zones of the city by firestorm.  More 
24 Jul 1943 Gen. Patton's Seventh Army secures Palermo, Sicily.
24 Jul 1944 US forces land on Tinian.
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U.S. Government Surplus Sales & Auctions History

After World War II vast stocks of millitary equipment were liquidated all over the world. Many of the retail surplus stores (or "Army-Navy" stores) date to that era when mountains of clothing, web gear, hardware, trucks and jeeps, and other goodies were available at rock bottom prices. Government sales in the post-WW II period were by sealed bid with each activity (i.e. military base) having its own list of potential bidders who would receive sales notices by mail. It was a cumbersome process but did move the merchandise.

Wholesale dealers who bought direct from the government would then provide supply to the retail outlets or sell from their own locations. Mail order was another good distribution for catalog houses with military surplus inventory. Some large retailers, such as REI, got their start with surplus. Military vehicle dealers dotted the landscape, usually on the highways outside of major cities where they would have a big field full of trucks on display.

DRMS: Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service

In 1972 the sale of U.S. Government surplus to the civilian market was consolidated under the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS). DRMS was made responsible to find another use for surplus within the Defense Department (reutilization), to transfer or donate it according to policy, or to sell it off. DRMS (originally called Defense Property Disposal Service) was part of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), based in Fort Belvoir, VA. DRMS still manages the Dept. of Defense (DoD) surplus property sales program, as of 2006.

DRMS is a huge operation, reusing or selling billions of dollars worth of goods each year. DRMS has a worldwide presence within DoD, with disposal specialists in 12 foreign countries, two U.S. territories (Guam and Puerto Rico) and 39 states. The total DRMS work force numbers approximately 1,600 civilians and 14 military personnel. Of those, approximately 340 work at its Battle Creek, MI, headquarters.

DRMS provides direct support to the U.S. military at 26 sites in 13 nations and 21 time zones. It also supports military contingency missions in places such as Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, Kosovo or Uzbekistan.

GovernmentLiquidation.com Inc. Major Role

Another change took place on 3 July 2001, when Government Liquidation.com Inc. (a division of Liquidity Services, Inc.) was awarded a General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule Contract for Financial Asset Services. Headquartered in Washington, DC, Government Liquidation.com provides an online surplus exchange at GovLiquidation.com that links qualified buyers and sellers from over 100 countries, who buy and sell many millions of dollars worth of bulk-quantity consumer merchandise, business equipment, government and industrial assets.

This means that U.S. government surplus sales have been largely privatized. Many of the functions of the DRMS have been transferred to Government Liquidation.com except for a few categories of goods that are too hazardous or problematic.

GovLiquidation.com is the Source

The bottom line today is that most sales of U.S. surplus will be through Government Liquidation.com. They are dedicated to moving as much of the mountain of surplus as possible so they have made it fairly easy to participate. Instead of the old sealed bid system the Government used, GL sells most lots using an on-line eBay type system. To use Government Liquidation.com as your source for commercial or government surplus, you can register for a free Buyer account at their web site. You can become a buyer as an individual or as a business. The Olive-Drab page on Surplus Auction Tips & Techniques tells more on how to actually go about it.

Other Countries Surplus Disposal Systems

The information on Olive-Drab primarily refers to the US Government system for auctioning surplus property, vehicles in particular. Governments of other nations have similar systems and procedures. For example, in Canada government surplus is disposed of by the Crown Assets Distribution Centres and in the UK through the MOD Disposal Services Agency. (Thanks to Robin Craig for the Canadian information.). In the United Kingdom, a branch of Government Liquidation.com called UKSurplus.com has the contract for property disposal and they can be reached through the Government Liquidation.com web site.

Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

For good results, try entering this: government surplus auction. Then click the Search button.

Outside the U.S. or U.K. use Google to search for government surplus auctions in your country or contact your Ministry of Defense for information.

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