Reports are breaking that the Biden administration is considering launching strikes in Afghanistan to destroy the larger pieces of U.S. equipment that was abandoned by the Afghanistan military and has since been seized by the Taliban following President Joe Biden’s botched exit from the country.
The news arrives as experts fret about billions of dollars worth of U.S. military equipment now sitting in the hands of terrorist groups such as the Taliban, with the potential to be sold off in Middle Eastern arms bazaars that often supply other Islamic terrorist groups.
Images have been spread online showcasing Taliban fighters posed in front of expensive military hardware such as attack aircraft and helicopters, humiliating the American and former Afghan governments. The images are unsettling to experts who fear that the massive supply of heavy weapons, grenades, and bullets will prove a boon to terrorists around the globe and used to fund the newly powerful Taliban regime.
It’s noted by some, however, that certain pieces of equipment only have short-term usefulness to the Taliban or others due to a lack of repair parts or specialized tooling necessary to maintain them.
The Soufan Group’s director of research and policy, Colin Clarke, said the he has “full confidence” in the fact that much of the equipment will find its way to “al Qaeda… other bad actors,” adding that the beneficiaries of the stolen equipment don’t “end with the Taliban.”
CNN reported several figures relating to how much weaponry might be at risk of Taliban seizure. 600,000 small arms, such as M16 rifles, 80,000 vehicles, like Humvees, tanks and armored transports, night vision equipment, long-distance radio, and other important military assets. Most recently, the Afghan military was supplied with (and since, lost), 7,000 machine guns, almost 5,000 Humvees, and over 20,000 grenades. There’s also an estimated 18 million rounds of ammunition for the small arms and machine guns that was sent in the past two years.
Jake Sullivan, the U.S. National security adviser was made to admit –though he understated the facts quite tersely — that the Taliban had acquired “a fair amount of,” U.S. military hardware, and added that he thought it unlikely that they would politely return it by dropping it off at the airport for us.
Author: Alicia Bowers