Billions of U.S. arms may fall into the hands of the Taliban
2021-08-22 09:25:04Source: Xinhua News Agency
During the defeat of the Afghan government forces, a large amount of weapons and equipment provided by the United States fell into the hands of the Taliban. Senior U.S. government officials admitted that the Taliban had acquired a “significant amount” of U.S.-made weapons.
The Taliban previously posted videos on social media to show off the captured weapons and equipment, including rows of military vehicles, boxes of brand-new firearms, helicopters and drones.
In some images, Taliban fighters are holding American M-4 carbines and M-16 assault rifles, instead of the AK-47 assault rifles that were frequently used previously.
“Everything that has not been destroyed is now in the hands of the Taliban.” A US official who did not want to be named told Reuters.
Jack Sullivan, the National Security Affairs Assistant to the President of the United States, said on the 17th that it was not clear where each weapon and equipment went, “but undoubtedly a considerable number has fallen into the hands of the Taliban.”
According to the US “Capitol Hill” daily report on the 19th, weapons and equipment worth billions of dollars have fallen into the hands of the Taliban. During the war in Afghanistan, the United States spent approximately $83 billion to train and equip the Afghan security forces. According to a report issued by the US Government Accountability Office and the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan’s Reconstruction, from 2003 to 2016, the US provided Afghanistan with nearly 76,000 vehicles, approximately 600,000 weapons, and more than 160,000 pieces of communication equipment. From 2017 to 2019, the United States provided more than 7,000 machine guns, more than 4,700 “Humvee” military vehicles, more than 2,500 bombs, more than 1,300 grenade launchers, more than 20,000 grenades and other weapons and equipment. As of the end of June this year, the Afghan government has 211 aircraft provided by the United States. The US Department of Defense said in July that it will provide Afghanistan with 35 “Black Hawk” helicopters and 3 propeller attack aircraft.
Another U.S. official who did not want to be named told Reuters that based on current intelligence assessments, the Taliban has acquired more than 2,000 “Humvees” and other armored vehicles, as many as 40 aircraft and helicopters, including “Black Hawk” and “Scan Hawk”. “The drone.
The Taliban’s acquisition of a large number of weapons has caused worries in the United States.
More than 20 Republican senators from the US Congress sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on the 18th, asking for information on the supply of weapons to Afghanistan in the past 12 months, how many weapons and equipment were seized by the Taliban, and how to retake or destroy them. “In the process of the Taliban regaining this country, we saw pictures from Afghanistan and were surprised to find that American equipment, including the’Black Hawk’ helicopter, fell into the hands of the Taliban.” They said in the letter.
Michael McCall, a Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Reuters: “We saw Taliban fighters equipped with U.S.-made weapons seized from the Afghan government forces. This is a serious threat to the United States and our allies.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on the 18th that during the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, they “very carefully” studied which weapons and equipment will be destroyed, which will be left to the Afghan government forces, and which will be deployed to other parts of the Middle East.
Several U.S. officials who did not want to disclose their identities disclosed that the U.S. government is very worried about the Taliban’s acquisition of U.S. weapons and is considering various options. It does not rule out the possibility of destroying helicopters and other large equipment by air strikes. At the same time, it is worried about evacuating personnel from Afghanistan at this stage. On the occasion, this approach will anger the Taliban.
The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milly, said at a press conference on the 18th that the main task of the US military now is to evacuate personnel. However, “we obviously have the ability” to destroy those weapons.
Many former and current US government officials believe that although the Taliban’s acquisition of aircraft and helicopters is worrying, the use of such weapons and equipment requires training and maintenance, and it is not easy for the Taliban.
Elias Youssef, an expert at the Center for International Policy Research of the United States, told the “Capitol Hill” Daily that for the Taliban, the greater significance of the capture of large advanced equipment such as airplanes lies in propaganda and “psychological victory.”
Former U.S. Central Command Commander Joseph Votel believes that compared to aircraft and helicopters, the Taliban are more likely to use captured machine guns, mortars and other light weapons, and howitzers and other weapons in future operations against anti-Taliban forces. (Hui Xiaoshuang) (Special Article by Xinhua News Agency)