Vast quantities of American weapons are now in the hands of the Taliban as this week’s retreat of Afghan forces resembles a rout.
As of Saturday, the Afghan collapse was all but complete, with over half of the nation’s 34 provincial capitals in the hands of the Taliban, according to CNN. Foreign diplomats were scurrying to escape Kabul before it went the way of every other city the Taliban has attacked.
As the Taliban has swallowed chunks of Afghanistan, it is also gobbling up American military hardware that had been issued to Afghan forces in the hope that they would fight for their country, according to American Military News.
“The #Taliban not only seized appr. a hundred US humvees and (MaxxPro) MRAPs at Kunduz airport, but also several US ScanEagle drones. Billions of US tax payer $ going to Islamist extremists, thanks to the administration’s hasty withdrawal without a peace deal or follow up mission,” German journalist Julian Röpcke tweeted on Thursday.
The sheer amount of vehicles raises the question if anyone ever used them after they were paid and transferred by the US …
Now every Taliban fighter gets his own Ford, Toyota, Humvee or MRAP. pic.twitter.com/3wfSMt2VPR
— Julian Röpcke (@JulianRoepcke) August 12, 2021
“These captured systems will increase the mobility and lethality of the Taliban, making them a more formidable adversary,” said Bradley Bowman, the senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, according to the Washington Free Beacon. “We have already seen the Taliban using captured humvees to patrol Kunduz and Sar-e Pol.”
EHA News also tweeted images of U.S. weapons now in Taliban hands.
#Taliban equipped with #US-made weapons. Taliban has captured a massive stash of US-made weapons and drones as they tear towards #Kabul. The insurgents have added American howitzers and a helicopter to their inventory,” EHA News tweeted, although the helicopter, in particular, appeared to be missing pieces.
▪️Taliban has captured a massive stash of US-made weapons and drones as they tear towards #Kabul.
▪️The insurgents have added American howitzers and a helicopter to their inventory. pic.twitter.com/uo6RqhJhO3
— EHA News (@eha_news) August 13, 2021
It could be even worse.
As noted by Defense One, the city of Kandahar, which has fallen to the Taliban, was one of only two places from which the Afghan Air Force was still launching what missions it could. The other base is in Kabul.
Among the air assets that could potentially be lost are about two dozen A-29 Super Tucanos designed to provide close-air support to ground troops. The propeller-driven planes can fire laser-guided and other types of bombs.
“We are always worried about U.S. equipment that could fall into an adversaries’ hands,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Friday. “What actions we might take to prevent that or to forestall it, I just simply won’t speculate about today.”
Other air weapons at risk include 50 American-made MD-530 attack helicopters, UH-60 Black Hawks and Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters, as well as C-130 and Cessna transports.
Taliban has captured nearly 2,000 US made Humvees, MRAPs, ATVs, AFVs, & pick-ups, as well as tanks, heavy artillery & at least one helicopter. That makes #ISIS’s weapons seizures in #Syria & #Iraq in 2014 look trivial. Plus 1,000s released from 10 captured prisons. #Afghanistan
— Aleksandar “Ike” Djelosevic (@AlDjelosevic) August 14, 2021
“We have made commitments to help [the Afghan Air Force] improve their capabilities,” Kirby said. “Those commitments remain in place.”
Although capturing aircraft is not the equivalent of being able to fly them, the weaponry could make the Taliban even stronger against either any possible Afghan resistance or future external attack.
The U.S. could ensure the weapons do not fall into Taliban hands by destroying them, however, Kirby did not say what action the U.S. will take.
“I’m not going to speculate about … the destruction of property,” Kirby said. “Going forward, we are going to continue to stay focused on making sure they have the capabilities to use in the field.”
President Joe Biden has said that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which triggered the Taliban onslaught, will be completed by Aug. 31.
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