A group of senators being led by GOP Marco Rubio of Florida is asking for answers from Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin, writing in a message that: “As we witnessed the videos coming out of Afghanistan as the Taliban took over the nation, we were horrified to find out that United States equipment – including Black Hawks – were now in the hands of the Taliban.”
It is now being widely said that the Taliban has “billions of dollars worth of US weaponry” in their possession as the lighting fast collapse of the American-backed national government happened this past Sunday and into Monday. The Pentagon is still looking at what is known about the Black Hawk helicopters and a A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft.
Of course, it is another question for them to actually operate such advanced military hardware, also without ongoing mechanical maintenance. Over the past week the Taliban has been filmed flying Russian-made helicopters which were taken from the Afghan army, but a Black Hawk is a more advanced system. Possibly it could be used presuming United States trained Afghan pilots may have defected to the Taliban, bringing their piloting skills with them.
Numbers reviewed in The Hill reveal an astounding amount of US weapons given to Afghanistan over the previous two decades:
Between 2003 and 2016, the U.S. gave 75,898 vehicles, 599,690 guns, 162,643 pieces of comm equipment, 16,191 pieces of surveillance equipment and 208 aircraft to the Afghan military.
This confirms that the Taliban does actually now have what is essentially a small air force. It is really only some time before at least some of them are used – again given the possibility that the Taliban will be able to find pilots with the know-how.
— Ali Özkök (@Ozkok_A) August 14, 2021
As of June 30th, Afghan forces possessed 211 aircraft, a separate SIGAR report stated. At least 46 of these are now inside Uzbekistan after over 500 Afghan troops took advantage of them to leave as the Kabul government collapsed.
But this still leaves more than 100 American-made aircraft in Taliban hands, to say nothing about Russian-made helicopters in the nation. Over the years the United States sent in $83 billion into propping up the Afghan military.
How it started How it’s going pic.twitter.com/Nb3WMjrtJL
— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) August 11, 2021
US defense leaders confirmed this week that all of this equipment has now gone toward helping the Taliban in the end.
Author: Blake Ambrose