The Biden administration is reportedly considering launching strikes against some of the larger pieces of U.S. Military equipment that were abandoned in Afghanistan, and have been subsequently seized by extremists, after Democrat President Joe Biden decided to pull out from the nation.
“The Biden administration is considering launching airstrikes against the larger equipment,” Axios reported. “They also fear that such a move could provoke the Taliban at a time where the U.S. is focusing on evacuating people from Afghanistan.”
The news comes as experts worry that the billions of dollars in equipment that was abandoned could fuel a regional arms bazaar that would supply Islamic terrorists.
In the chaos of the moment, however, it’s unclear to U.S. officials how much equipment the Taliban has seized and how much sits unattended on bases and small combat outposts across the country. That uncertainty over the status of a massive arsenal is sparking fears of a regional arms bazaar that could be a boon to terrorist groups and insurgents. …
The images that have spread across the world over the past week of Taliban fighters posing in front of captured helicopters and light attack aircraft have allowed the group to further humiliate the former Afghan and American governments. But these images don’t concern longtime extremism watchers as much as the proliferation of guns, bullets and grenades.
The report noted that a lot of the equipment will have a limited usefulness because those who seized the gear do not have access to repair parts and other tools needed to maintain it.
“I have full confidence that some of this equipment is going to end up in the hands of al Qaeda and other bad actors, it’s inevitable,” said Colin Clarke, director of policy and research at The Soufan Group. “This is not going to just end with the Taliban.”
Between 2013 and 2016, the US gave Afghan forces more than 600,000 light weapons, such as M16 and M4 rifles and nearly 80,000 vehicles, as well as night vision goggles, radios and more, according to a 2017 Government Accountability Office report. Even more recently, the US Defense Department supplied the Afghan military with 7,000 machine guns, 4,700 Humvees and more than 20,000 grenades between 2017 and 2019, a report from the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction found. (The GAO and the special inspector general removed these reports at the request of the State Department to protect any Afghans identified within.)
In the last two years alone, the US has also given the Afghan military more than 18 million rounds of 7.62mm and .50-caliber ammunition, according to a tally of the special inspector general’s quarterly reports.
“When it comes to U.S.-provided equipment that is still in Afghanistan and may not be in the hands of ANSF [Afghan National Security Force], there are several options that we have at our disposal to try to deal with that problem set,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said this week. “We don’t, obviously, want to see our equipment in the hands of those who would act against our interest or the interest of the Afghan people, and increase violence and insecurity inside Afghanistan.”
National security adviser Jake Sullivan admitted that the Taliban seized “certainly a fair amount of” the U.S. equipment left in Afghanistan, adding, “we don’t have a sense that they are going to readily hand it over to us at the airport.”
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