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Just days after the US withdrew from Afghanistan, critics of the operation seized on the false claim that the Biden government left a $ 83 billion arsenal of high-tech weapons for the Taliban. Worse still, critics say the equipment is of intelligence value to America’s enemies such as Russia and China. In reality, the value of the dozens of airplanes, thousands of ground vehicles, and hundreds of thousands of small arms is questionable at best and would likely be of no interest even to a technology-hungry adversary like Iran.
President Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan left many Americans behind and the Taliban acquired a US taxpayer-funded arsenal worth $ 85 billion. Congress must exercise its powers of control and investigate this violation of our national security. pic.twitter.com/A7g4SH0Whe
Those numbers sound impressive. According to the graphic, the Taliban inherited 22,107 Humvees, 789 wheeled armored vehicles, 169 tracked armored vehicles, and 50,000 light commercial vehicles and trucks. They also received more than half a million machine guns, assault rifles and 176 artillery pieces. In the field of military electronics, 162,043 radios and 16,035 night vision goggles came into their hands.
Airplanes were also left behind in large numbers. This includes 109 helicopters of US and Russian origins, four C-130 Hercules transporters and more than 60 light transporters, trainers and ground attack aircraft.
The US provided all of this equipment to the Afghan security forces, including the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and Afghan Air Force. Given that the Taliban now have total control of the country, it can be assumed that the new rulers are now in complete control of this vast amount of equipment. (There are a few exceptions, including Afghan government forces who have fled to neighboring countries and pockets of resistance in the Panjshir Valley that may still be holding out.) Let’s first take a look at the ground vehicles. The 22,174 Humvees are ordinary transport vehicles and have value as armored transporters at best. The same applies to the 155 MaxxPro mine patrol vehicles and the 634 M1117 Guardian armored vehicles. While the armor on these vehicles can stop small arms and shrapnel, together they are unable to throw off weapons such as anti-tank missiles or even ordinary rocket-propelled grenades. The 50,000 trucks and SUVs have little to no armor protection. The vehicle fleet is large, but hardly able to act really aggressively.
The small arms category is more alarming with 126,295 pistols, 358,530 assault rifles and 64,363 machine guns. That is enough to equip the active service component of the US Army. The problem for the Taliban is that most of these weapons use US-made parts and ammunition. Although the Taliban captured large stocks of government ammunition, there is no domestic source of 5.56- and 7.62-millimeter projectiles to feed the weapons. Once the “liberated” ammunition is gone, the weapons are useless.
The new Taliban air force – which the new government could use to keep control of the country and even wreak havoc in the region – has an even worse future. Private Western contractors serviced most of the aircraft under contract – and these people have long since fled the country. Most of the former Air Force pilots have also largely fled the country for fear that the Taliban will hunt them down and kill them for supporting the American side. The lack of maintenance and the pilots who fly them will likely put the Afghan Air Force on the ground within a few weeks.
The ~ $ 80 billion figure refers to * all * of the ANSF’s financial support since 2002. Only 29% was for equipment, much of which was destroyed long ago. The majority of the aircraft in the Afghan Air Force are now in Tajikistan or Uzbekistan. The Taliban don’t have $ 80 billion worth of equipment. pic.twitter.com/5RhBxuW4xu
All of these devices don’t add up to $ 83 billion either. As the tweet above states, only 29 percent of the $ 83 billion in military aid to Afghan forces since 2002 has been in the form of equipment. The rest went into training, salaries and additional costs.
By the way, this is a secret service gold mine for the Chinese, Russians and Iranians. They buy many of these pieces from the Taliban, take them apart to understand them, test their weapons on the armor, and so on. https://t.co/Eaq710TEM1
Finally, there is the question of intelligence value for America’s adversaries. A Twitter account with 440,000 followers claims that the equipment is a “secret service gold mine” for our opponents. It’s easy to imagine Chinese, Iranian, and Russian spies parachuting into the country with suitcases full of cash to buy up abandoned American equipment. But as Rob Lee – a naval and graduate student at King’s College of London who specializes in tracking Russian events – tells Popular Mechanics, “it’s clear that we armed them to fight insurgents, not a conventional one Military. “
” The most sensitive equipment we have, “explains Lee,” is designed for conventional warfare with an equal opponent – fighters, bombers, cruise missiles and strategic equipment – none of which we give to the Afghan security forces have given. Russia and China got their hands on all American military equipment; in 2011, Iran confiscated a crashed RQ-170 stealth drone, and China was allowed to see the wreckage of the Black Hawk helicopter used in an attack on Osama bin Laden was killed – much more sensitive than anything we’ve given Afghanistan. “
So what’s the last word? Well, the loss of billions in military equipment is unfortunate, but it won’t be the Taliban really help become a threat to their neighbors, let alone America.The real loss is 38 million people to the Taliban and its repressive policies.