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: 29 May 1943 Remaining Japanese forces on Attu, Aleutian Islands, stage surprise suicidal banzai charge at Massacre Bay, one of the largest such attacks experienced in the Pacific.   

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. The agency is now called the DLA Disposition Services. It still manages the Dept. of Defense (DoD) surplus property sales program, as of 2014.

DLA Disposition Services is a huge operation, reusing or selling billions of dollars worth of goods each year. DLA Disposition Services supports the US military wherever they are called to serve, including active operational zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq (until 2014). They are part of the worldwide presence within DoD, with people serving in 16 foreign countries, two U.S. territories (Guam and Puerto Rico) and 41 states. The total DLA Disposition Services work force numbers approximately 1,455 people. Of those, approximately 332 work at its Battle Creek, MI, headquarters.

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 DLA Disposition Services have been transferred to Government Liquidation.com except for a few categories of goods that are too hazardous or problematic.

In 2014, a new contract split the work between GovLiquidation.com and GovPlanet.com. GovPlanet.com took over disposition of all "rolling stock" (trucks, trailers, etc.) while the balance of surplus categories will continue to be handled by GovLiquidation.com.

GovPlanet.com and GovLiquidation.com are Where you Go

The bottom line today is that most sales of U.S. surplus will be through GovPlanet and Government Liquidation. 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, these companies sell most lots using an on-line eBay type system. To use GovPlanet.com or GovLiquidation.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.com 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.com 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 GCSurplus, of Public Works and Government Services Canada and in the UK through this agent for all UK Ministry of Defence Vehicles.

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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