Did the US leave behind military gear in Afghanistan worth billions of dollars?

Friday, August 20, 2021
By Austin Tannenbaum

Over the past two decades, the U.S. spent an estimated $83 billion training and arming Afghan security forces. After taking control of Kabul on Aug. 15, 2021, the Taliban effectively gained ownership of the forces’ military arsenal.

While it is unclear exactly how many weapons were obtained, a U.S. official told Reuters that intelligence assessments place the Taliban’s cache at “more than 2,000 armored vehicles, including U.S. Humvees, and up to 40 aircraft potentially including UH-60 Black Hawks, scout attack helicopters, and ScanEagle military drones.”

Retired Army Gen. Joseph Votel said that the large hardware are “more like trophies” given their intensive maintenance and training needs. There is more concern about the easier-to-use arms, which include assault rifles, machine guns, mortars, howitzers, communication equipment and night-vision goggles.

In 2014, the Islamic State group similarly gained firepower as it advanced in Iraq, capturing the Iraqi forces’ U.S.-supplied weapons.

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