Taliban fighters are now feared to have access to up to 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft the US donated to the Afghan army.
Last week, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitted the US doesn’t have a ‘clear picture’ of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory could now be in the hands of the enemy.
But multiple outlets have shared worrying statistics, including 22,000 Humvees given to Afghan forces between 2003 and 2016. Taliban fighters have since been pictured riding atop the vehicles in Kabul.
Equipment given by US to the Afghan Army now likely to be in hands of the Taliban also includes 50,000 tactical vehicles, 1,000 mine resistant vehicles, 150 armored personnel carriers.
Aircraft likely left for the Taliban to use includes over 160 planes and helicopters including, four C-130 transport aircraft, 23 A-29 Super Tucano turboprop attack aircraft, 45 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and 50 MD530 choppers.
Experts say it is unclear if there is anyone within the Taliban’s ranks with the knowledge to successfully fly any of them, with fighters seen taking a Black Hawk for a flightless joyride on a runway Wednesday.
The US also donated at least 200,000 firearms to the Afghan army, including M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, mortars and rocket propelled grenades.
Between 2003 and 2016, the US bought the Afghan security forces 42,000 ‘light tactical vehicles’ – such as Ford Ranger pickups and cargo trucks – 9,000 ‘medium tactical vehicles,’ and over 22,000 Humvees.
Taliban fighters sit on an Afghan army Humvee on August 15. Much of the equipment the US has given Afghanistan has ‘fallen into the hands of the Taliban,’ according to a US official
Seven Black Hawk helicopters arrived in Afghanistan as late as last month
Footage has emerged showing what looks like a Taliban test of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter
Between 2004 and 2016, the US bought the Afghans more than 64,000 machine guns. Above, a Taliban fighter stands guard at a checkpoint in Kabul on Wednesday
The US spent about $2.13 billion in Humvees alone, based on an average price of $96,466 each.
Between 2007 and 2016, the US gave Afghan security forces 110 helicopters and 60 transport cargo airplanes, the according to a Government Accountability Office report published by transparency website
Afghan military officials are believed to have left the country in around 40 different US-supplied aircraft in the days leading up to its fall to the Taliban.
‘We don’t have a complete picture, obviously, of where every article of defense materials has gone, but certainly a fair amount of it has fallen into the hands of the Taliban,’ Sullivan told reporters last week.
Aid to Afghanistan was $3 billion this year alone.
The White House revealed Wednesday that over the last 24 hours, 42 American flights dealt with the bulk of evacuations – transporting 11,200 from Kabul – meaning the U.S. has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 87,900 people on U.S. military and coalition flights since the end of July.
The Afghan military has four C-130 transport aircraft, seen above. US-provided military equipment is now in danger of falling into Taliban hands as the group takes over Afghanistan
Between 2004 and 2016, the US bought the Afghan military more than 358,000 rifles, including M-16s and AK-47s. Above, Taliban fighters patrol Kabul on August 19
‘We don’t have a sense that they are going to readily hand it over to us at the airport.’
The Afghan Army also got 18 ‘intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance’ airplanes such as the PC-12, a cargo aircraft made by Swiss company Pilatus.
It goes for $5 million in civilian prices – which would make for a total cost of $90 million to the US military – but prices are often much higher when equipment is sold to the military.
Reports from the Government Accountability Office offer a glimpse into the total costs of the war in Afghanistan, which the US has spent $3 billion on just this year
Seven Black Hawk helicopters arrived in Afghanistan as late as last month, according to
They cost about $21 million each, according to
Recent footage shows what appears to be a
The US spent at least $268 million in M-16s and other similar weapons for the Afghan Army between 2004 and 2016. Above, a Taliban fighter patrols Kabul on Wednesday
The one-minute clip uploaded to
Two men watch the chopper complete a loop of the area which is believed to be Kandahar airfield, where two cars are also visible in shot.
‘Taliban testing a captured Afghan UH-60,’ the post accompanying the video read. At no point did the helicopter leave the ground.
It is not clear if the UH-60 is the same that was seized by the Taliban on August 14 when images and footage of members of the group operating the $6million piece of equipment were shared on social media.
The one-minute clip uploaded to Twitter shows a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, described as having been captured from Afghan security forces, moving along the tarmac at a seemingly otherwise deserted location
Earlier this month, a series of videos also showed insurgents flying captured Russian choppers around the city of Kandahar [File photo]
A Taliban fighter poses with a US-made Afghan air force Blackhawk helicopter at captured Kandahar airfield [File photo]
A series of videos shared on social media showed insurgents flying Russian-made aircraft around the city of Kandahar [File photo]
Sophisticated ‘new face’ of the Taliban
By Glen Keogh
TO the head of the British Armed Forces, they are simply ‘country boys’.
But in camouflage, body armor and sunglasses, these men are the new face of the Taliban – and appear a world away from a ‘disparate collection of tribespeople’, as described by General Sir Nick Carter last week.
In propaganda footage released on social media, the Taliban have been showing off their own ‘special forces’, complete with American weapons and equipment looted from Afghan soldiers as the country was seized.
Members of the ‘Badri 313’ unit are shown in uniforms, boots and balaclavas with US-made rifles including the M4. Some even have night-vision goggles. It is a far cry from typical Taliban fighters patrolling in traditional salwar kameez outfits, turbans and sandals, carrying old Kalashnikov rifles.
The insurgents released slow-motion videos of the elite unit – which they claim could amount to a few thousand soldiers – amid fears of an armed resistance in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley.
In one social media post, members of Badri 313 mocked a famed Second World War photo of US Marines hoisting the American flag on the island of Iwo Jima after it was captured from the Japanese.
The group created their own version of the image in which they plant a white Taliban flag while dressed in US-style military uniform.
They have also posed with captured Humvees and helicopters, although experts say the latter would be difficult for the group to operate and maintain.
The Taliban are feared to have plundered millions of pounds worth of military equipment from the US.
This year alone, America supplied Afghan forces with more than two million bullets for AK-47 assault rifles and 100,000 70mm rockets.
The fundamentalists are also likely to have gained A-29 light attack aircraft worth £17million, according to the Daily Mirror. The haul is likely to be much larger, given the amount of assets supplied to Afghanistan over 20 years.
Badri 313 is named after the Battle of Badr nearly 1,400 years ago, when the Prophet Muhammad supposedly defeated his enemies with 313 soldiers.
d the city of Kandahar.
The Afghan government pilots who fly the operational Russian helicopters were turned over to the Taliban, while the US helicopters were likely grounded by a lack of spare parts from the United States.
It came as evidence emerged that the Taliban had also seized American-made Black Hawk helicopters, made famous in the 2001 Ridley Scott blockbuster Black Hawk Down.
The Afghan military has more than 150 aircraft, according to a report published last month by the by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
It includes four C-130 transport aircraft, 23 Brazilian-made A-29 ‘Super Tucano’ turboprop ground-attack aircraft, 45 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, and 50 smaller choppers.
Afghan forces were also given more than 30 military versions of Cessna single-engine fixed-wing aircraft.
Earlier this year, aerospace manufacturer MD Helicopters secured two contracts valued at $43.9 million to support the Afghan Air Force with MD 530F Cayuse Warrior light attack helicopters, according to
In 2017, the US military lost $174 million in drones meant for the Afghan National Army. The ANA didn’t immediately use the drones and then lost track of them, according to
The White House has spent billions of dollars on supplying the Afghan military with the necessary weapons and equipment to wipe out the Taliban, but following the collapse of local armed forces, their investment is now effectively being used by the insurgents themselves.
Afghan security forces are reported to have left valuable equipment behind as they fled incoming Taliban fighters.
Journalist Hollie McKay told
‘On that road there is a lot of equipment that has been abandoned,’ McKay said.
‘It was sort of unclear to me whether (the vehicles) were already destroyed by the soldiers, or that they were functioning and that the Taliban hadn’t quite figured out how to use them. But there was certainly a good bunch of them along that single road into Uzbekistan.’
Between 2004 and 2016, the US bought the Afghan military more than 358,000 rifles, including M-16s and AK-47s, and more than 64,000 machine guns.
A common price of a M16 rifle is $749, according to the US Defense Logistics Agency, which handles equipment acquisitions for the military.
That would put the total cost of M-16s purchased for the Afghan military at $268 million for the years listed.
Social media in the lead up to the fall of Kabul was awash with clips of fighters seizing weapons caches, but the taking of such high profile helicopters represented a significant statement of intent.
The latest footage comes as countries continue to scramble to evacuate their citizens and others from Afghanistan before the August 31 deadline for the withdrawal of the United States.
On Tuesday, the Taliban announced it was closing the airport road for Afghans, who were told they could no longer flee.
Hours later, U.S. President Joe Biden said that evacuation efforts were ‘on pace’ to finish by the end of the month.
The White House said it believed foreigners and Afghans in need could still reach the airport.
The result has been continuing chaos around Hamid Karzai International Airport, where thousands of desperate people are seeking safety.
On Tuesday, the Taliban announced it was closing the airport road for Afghans, who were told they could no longer flee. Pictured: People are evacuated by the U.S. Air Force on Tuesday
There have been days of chaos around Hamid Karzai International Airport as people are trying desperately to flee the country