The Taliban got their hands on US military equipment because we invaded Afghanistan, not because we withdrew – Reason.com
When a group of Taliban fighters stormed the hastily abandoned presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this week, transported A powerful symbol of changing times: American-made M16 and M4 rifles.
It is not just a propaganda coup. When the Taliban took full control of Afghanistan this week, they also claimed a large amount of military equipment, gear and weapons that had been supplied to the Afghan government by the United States. There is no way to determine how much US military equipment has ended up in the hands of Taliban fighters, but the “current intelligence assessment was that the Taliban are believed to control more than 2,000 armored vehicles, including US Humvees, and potentially up to 40 aircraft.” including UH-60 Black Hawks, ScanEagle exploration attack helicopters and military drones, “Reuters reported on Thursday, citing an unidentified US official.
Airplanes and drones are probably useless no training or support staff. But Humvees and small arms are exactly the kinds of things a new regime could use to impose its will on the people of Afghanistan. After nearly 20 years of fighting, the Taliban the United States is leaving behind are almost certainly better supplied than they were when the US military invaded in October 2001.
During the occupation, the United States transferred more than 600,000 weapons (including M16 and M4 rifles), 76,000 vehicles and 162,000 communication equipment to Afghan security forces, according to a 2017 Government Accountability Office (GAO). report (the report yourself it has apparently been removed from the GAO website).
Since those numbers are several years old, the actual totals are almost certainly higher.
“We don’t have a complete picture, obviously, of where every piece of defense material has gone,” said Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser. said Tuesday. “But certainly a good amount has fallen into the hands of the Taliban, and we obviously don’t have the feeling that they are going to deliver it to us at the airport.”
Be careful not to draw unrealistic conclusions about all this. After nearly 20 years of war in Afghanistan, there is no scenario in which the US military does not leave behind tons of weapons and other equipment. Despite what former President Donald Trump suggested in a declaration This week, developing a long military occupation of a foreign country is not as simple as taking out “all the equipment” and “then bombing the bases to pieces.”
It’s not that simple because a lot of American military equipment was already in the hands of the Taliban before the collapse of the US-backed Afghan army. A 2016 Pentagon audit found poor record-keeping was to blame for more than a billion dollars in small arms that disappeared during the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Many of the Western weapons and equipment distributed as candy to battlefield partners in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of the Global War on Terrorism have ended up in the hands of terrorists regardless of monitoring efforts,” military blog Task and purpose concluded in 2017 after reviewing the Pentagon audit.
Much more American military equipment would have fallen into the hands of the Taliban even if the Afghan army and government had managed to hold out for a few more weeks or months, as the Biden government seemed to expect.
In fact, after America’s (first) more orderly withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, there were numerous reports of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militias circling. in american vehicles Y using US-issued ammunition., including mortar shells Y M16 rifles like those now boasted by the Taliban. TO 2015 report Amnesty International concluded that most of the weapons used by ISIS militias came from “arsenals captured from Syrian rebels and Iraqi military allies of the United States” armed by the United States and its allies.
War is a disaster. Nation building is complicated, bordering on the impossible. Cleaning up after a decades-long occupation is out of the question, so the only way to prevent this kind of thing from happening again is to not trespass in the first place.