ARMING THE ENEMY: Billions of dollars in U.S. military vehicles, weapons and gear left behind in Afghanistan
09/04/2021 // Cassie B. // Views

With much of the coverage of the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal being rightfully focused on the inability of many Americans who have been in the country to return home, one matter that has been lost in the shuffle is the scale of the abandoned weapons, gear and vehicles that American military forces have left behind there.

Unfortunately, Taliban forces now have billions of American taxpayers’ dollars in their possession in the form of weapons systems, communications equipment, armored vehicles and other gear. It's hard to say just how much there is, however, because the Biden administration has taken steps to conceal the precise figures relating to these items.

This was the subject of a recent exposé in Forbes in which reporter Adam Andrzejewski described how audits of the military gear in Afghanistan had been pulled from the website of the Government Accountability Office. A GAO spokesman said the information was taken down due to a request by the State Department, who claimed they wanted the information removed “to protect recipients of U.S. assistance that may be identified through our reports and thus subject to retribution.”

While that excuse may sound reasonable on the surface, Andrzejewski pointed out that the reports only contain numbers and no information about the recipients. He also noted that American taxpayers paid not only for these audits but also the equipment itself and should therefore be able to “follow the money.” The only information available to the public is from 2017 and earlier, and we’re only aware of it thanks to the efforts of government watchdog to preserve and post it.


Thousands of expensive vehicles and aircraft left behind

According to a Government Accountability Office report posted on the site, the U.S. bought and furnished nearly 76,000 vehicles and 208 aircraft to Afghanistan’s army and security forces. This included 189 armored personnel carriers such as the $333,333 M577A2 post carrier and the $170,000 M113A2.

There were also 1,005 recovery vehicles costing as much as $880,674 apiece and 928 mine-resistant vehicles whose total cost is estimated at between $382 million and $711 million. There were 22,174 Humvees, including ambulance-type and cargo-type models. The utility Humvees generally cost around $90,000, but the 12,000lb troop transport model costs as much as $329,000.

In addition, there were nearly 9,000 medium tactical vehicles, or MTVs, including general transport trucks and 5-ton cargo vehicles priced at around $67,000, along with a family of MTV heavy vehicles priced at up to $724,820 each. Cargo trucks for transporting airlines cost $800,865. In the light tactical vehicles category, there were fast attack combat vehicles priced at just under $70,000, passenger motor vehicles at $65,500, and all-terrain 4-wheelers at up to $42,273.

Meanwhile, Department of Defense data shows that the U.S. funded 208 aircraft for the Afghan forces from 2007 through 2016, more than half of which were helicopters. Transport and cargo airplanes accounted for a quarter of the aircraft.

The Taliban seized Black Hawk helicopters and an A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft last month. A Black Hawk can cost as much as $21 million, and the Super Tucanos are believed to cost a similar amount. They also showed off dozens of U.S.-made armored vehicles and newly seized weapons in Kandahar in social media posts on September 1. In the images, fighters could be seen waving Taliban flags from armored SUVs and Humvees. They also put on an air display with a seized Black Hawk helicopter flying past militants along the road.

The U.S. has provided roughly $83 billion in equipment and training to Afghan security forces in the last 20 years, and now much of it has fallen into enemy hands. It’s just one of the many ways that Biden’s withdrawal approach has been nothing short of disastrous, and the human cost is even greater.

Sources for this article include:

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