Taliban’s U.S.-funded war chest
August 25, 2021 - From 2002, the U.S. gave the Afghan military an estimated $76 billion in weaponry, including aircraft, armoured vehicles and guns. Much of this military materiel is now in the hands of the Taliban.
The extensive weaponry left behind by the U.S. and abandoned by Afghan government forces can now be seen in the hands of Taliban militants on the streets of Kabul.
Many have swapped the ubiquitous Kalashnikov assault rifle for American M16s or newer M4 carbines. They travel in U.S. Humvees and communicate using Datron VHF tactical radios supplied to the Afghan army -- PRC-1077 man-pack and HH7700 handheld models.
In an attempt to hide the extent of the U.S.-funded weapons handed on a plate to the insurgents, the Biden Administration has removed audits on Afghan military equipment -- paid for by U.S. taxpayers -- from federal websites.
Since 2002, more than $76 billion has been appropriated or allocated for various DOD and State programmes to support Afghan security, according to an August 2017 Government Accountability Office report.
Between 2003 and 2016, the U.S. purchased and provided 75,898 vehicles and 208 aircraft to the Afghan army and security forces.
Since 2003 the U.S. gave Afghan forces at least 600,000 infantry weapons, including M16 assault rifles, 162,000 pieces of communication equipment, and 16,000 night-vision goggle devices, according to the GAO report.
Most of the high-end hardware captured by the Taliban is not equipped with sensitive U.S. technology, according to General Joseph Votel, the former head of U.S. Central Command.
U.S.-funded weapons such as machine guns, mortars, and artillery pieces could give the Taliban an advantage. Especially against resistance from strongholds such as the Panjshir Valley, northeast of Kabul, Votel told Reuters.