Taliban rejoice their new US arsenal: Rifles, Humvees, ammo

The Taliban’s newfound American arsenal is very likely not restricted to small arms, as the team captured sizable stockpiles of weapons and motor vehicles held at strongholds at the time controlled by US-backed forces, including modern mine-resistant motor vehicles (MRAPs) and Humvees.

Initial estimates advise the Taliban could now also have a number of Black Hawk helicopters and other US-funded army aircraft, in accordance to a congressional source acquainted with early assessments provided by defense officers.

That perhaps consists of roughly 20 A-29 Tucano attack planes, the resource claimed, noting there are some indications that only a little variety of plane had been relocated from a base in Kandahar in advance of it was overrun by the Taliban.

“We are also involved that some might stop up in the hands of other individuals who assist the Taliban’s induce,” the congressional supply informed CNN. “My largest concern is that the innovative weaponry will be bought to our adversaries and other non-point out actors who intend to use it in opposition to us and our allies.”

It truly is unclear exactly how significantly products fell into Taliban arms through the collapse of the Afghan military, and the US is not likely to get a best and precise answer to that question because there is no for a longer period a US troop and intelligence presence throughout the region, two defense officers instructed CNN.

“There is no specific accountability on what is actually remaining,” 1 formal explained.

The Biden administration has confronted a wave of criticism for failing to anticipate the Taliban’s speedy takeover of Afghanistan and for the chaos unfolding at Kabul’s airport as hundreds of folks endeavor to flee the country.

Evacuation functions keep on being the administration’s major focus but officers at the Pentagon and the State Department are also starting to choose stock of the American weapons that have fallen into Taliban hands, an energy that resources inform CNN will likely get weeks or months owing to the sheer quantity of arms offered to Afghan forces more than the last two a long time.

In the interim, images and movies demonstrating Taliban fighters carrying US-equipped M4 carbines and M16 rifles are fueling queries about how substantially American firepower the militant group now has at its disposal just after seizing navy bases across Afghanistan.

Even though US officials anxiety it is much too early to present specifics about specific weapons and vehicles now underneath Taliban management, Pentagon officers have by now expressed considerations.

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“When it comes to U.S.-offered equipment that is still in Afghanistan and may possibly not be in the arms of ANSF [Afghan National Security Force], there are several selections that we have at our disposal to check out to deal with that problem set,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby claimed on Thursday.

“We really don’t, definitely, want to see our equipment in the hands of all those who would act from our curiosity or the desire of the Afghan individuals, and boost violence and insecurity within Afghanistan,” he included.

At the moment, there are no programs for the US to take any action to destroy the weapons by utilizing airstrikes or other implies, except some thing poses a direct danger to American troops at the airport, administration officers advised CNN.

The destruction and elimination of US machines in Afghanistan begun in earnest shortly after the Trump administration signed the Doha arrangement in February 2020, and the military commenced reducing its footprint from 8,500 troops to 2,500. But it began, at a slower rate, even just before that, when in 2018 US pressure stages dropped underneath 14,000.

Between 2013 and 2016, the US gave Afghan forces much more than 600,000 light weapons, these types of as M16 and M4 rifles and practically 80,000 automobiles, as very well as night eyesight goggles, radios and much more, in accordance to a 2017 Authorities Accountability Business office report. Even more recently, the US Defense Office equipped the Afghan military services with 7,000 machine guns, 4,700 Humvees and far more than 20,000 grenades concerning 2017 and 2019, a report from the particular inspector typical for Afghanistan reconstruction identified. (The GAO and the exclusive inspector standard eradicated these reports at the request of the Condition Office to guard any Afghans determined inside of.)

Taliban fighters in a Humvee  in Kabul on Monday, August 16, 2021.

In the very last two many years on your own, the US has also given the Afghan navy much more than 18 million rounds of 7.62mm and .50-caliber ammunition, in accordance to a tally of the exclusive inspector general’s quarterly stories.

Some of this no doubt fell into Taliban hands, officers say. In the closing weeks of the withdrawal, a quantity of the strikes the US carried out in Afghanistan were being developed to wipe out American products about to be overrun by the Taliban, two officials stated. The US did not ruin all of the products left for the Afghan armed service since it believed, right up until it was much too late, that Afghan forces would fight back.

Having said that, the fact that a substantial selection of weapons and cars were still left guiding is a symptom of the broader absence of setting up that went into the withdrawal by itself, in accordance to Invoice Roggio of the Long War Journal.

“There had been so numerous complications with the conclusion to withdraw, and as before long as the conclusion was produced by President Biden the military’s singular focus was to draw down,” he explained to CNN.

“He experienced no time to look at how to changeover — matters like how the Afghan would run on its own and sustain its very own aircraft. How the US would transition weapons techniques to the Afghans and to evaluate the viability of the Afghan security forces,” Roggio included.

Even ahead of Biden’s withdrawal announcement before this year, US officials acknowledged that even if the preliminary withdrawal deadline of May 1 were being extended, some gear might have to be wrecked or handed off to the Afghan military services — noting the latter carried an clear possibility of it becoming seized by the Taliban, according to a resource common with interior organizing conversations about Afghanistan at the time.

The Taliban have published a series of photographs of their fighters at an Independence Day parade brandishing US assault weapons.

Putting the proper equilibrium between leaving enough assets for Afghan forces to carry on battling and mitigating the risk of weapons falling into the mistaken hands was usually heading to be a complicated obstacle for the US armed forces, but it was compounded by the truth that the Biden administration was seemingly caught off guard by the speed of the Taliban progress — a little something the President and top rated officers have acknowledged publicly.

Whilst the Taliban can absolutely make rapid use of US-made tiny arms and armored autos, officers are skeptical they can turn American aircraft into a feasible battling unit.

“Our soldiers, sailors, and airmen expend months and months coaching to use their plane,” a single official explained. “The Taliban doesn’t.”

“The far more advanced weaponry is a significantly higher problem for the Taliban,” Roggio advised CNN.

“The helicopters and planes are likely to be really difficult for them to retain as practical more than a lengthy interval of time. Significantly less so the Russian plane, which they have far more practical experience with, and the Pakistanis could help with those as well,” he included. “They may be in a position to use the plane in the limited and medium expression but with out some kind of source chain it would make their daily life span fairly brief.”

“What they truly attained in battle energy is the armored autos and the mild armored cars and even some tanks and artillery pieces,” Roggio reported.

CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed to this report.