President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan has a price tag: 75,000 military vehicles, 600,000 weapons, and 208 aircraft – not to mention the human cost of those who will be left behind.
According to White House National security advisor Jake Sullivan, all of the equipment has been lost to the Taliban, “and obviously, we don’t have a sense that they are going to readily hand it over to us at the airport.”
“We don’t have a complete picture, obviously, of where every article of defense materials has gone, but certainly a fair amount of it has fallen into the hands of the Taliban,” said Sullivan.
Speaking on Tuesday, Sullivan defended Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and appeared to pin the blame of the loss of the equipment on the Afghan military, stating that “those Black Hawks were not given to the Taliban. They were given to the Afghan National Security Forces to be able to defend themselves at the specific request of [Afghan] President [Ashraf] Ghani, who came to the Oval Office and asked for additional air capability, among other things.”
“So the president had a choice. He could not give it to them with the risk that it would fall into the Taliban’s hands eventually, or he could give it to them with the hope that they could deploy it in service of defending their country,” Sullivan added. “Both of those options had risks. He had to choose. And he made a choice.”
Government watchdog group Open the Books says that the U.S. military’s abandonment of its firearms and vehicles has turned the Taliban into “a major U.S. arms dealer for the next decade.”
“They now control 75,000 military vehicles. This is about 50,000 tactical vehicles, 20,000 Humvees they control about 1,000 mine-resistant vehicles, and even about 150 armored personnel carriers,” said Open the Books CEO Adam Andrzejewski.
Since entering the war in late 2001, the United States government has spent $83 billion on arming the Afghan security forces through training and equipment, he said.
“We built them a pretty amazing war chest and now all of it is in the hands of the Taliban,” said Andrzejewski. “We know that last month, as late as July, seven new helicopters were being delivered in the capital city of Kabul.”
The watchdog group said that even though it was able to provide a tally of the equipment abandoned by the U.S. military, the figures are incomplete.
“We found a Federal Audit that detailed up to $200 million worth of drones that had disappeared,” Andrzejewski said, noting that the equipment and weapons are worth billions of taxpayer dollars. “We don’t know where 600,000 weapons are within the country.”
“While it’s virtually impossible to operate advanced aircraft without training, seizing the hardware gives the militants a propaganda boost and underscores the amount of wasted funds on U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan over the last 20 years,” The Hill reported earlier this week.
“When an armed group gets their hands on American-made weaponry, it’s sort of a status symbol. It’s a psychological win,” said Elias Yousif, deputy director of the Center for International Policy’s Security Assistance Monitor. “Clearly, this is an indictment of the U.S. security cooperation enterprise broadly. It really should raise a lot of concerns about what is the wider enterprise that is going on every single day, whether that’s in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia.”
As Rebel News reported last week, numerous videos of the Taliban’s mass seizure of firearms and military equipment surfaced online amid their takeover of Afghanistan.