When the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, they also grabbed a stockpile of weapons worth tens of billions of dollars that had been left behind by the United States.
According to a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report published in July, the United States invested nearly $83 billion in supporting the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, with more than $24 billion of that amount going toward funding weapons, vehicles, and other equipment. In 2017, the Government Accountability Office estimated that around 70% of the investment went towards other budget items such as training.
Taliban soldiers are believed to have taken dozens of aircraft, including Blackhawk helicopters, and thousands of vehicles, communications equipment, and weaponry in the aftermath of the swift take over of the Afghan government last month. The Biden administration was pressed to come up with a number representing the amount of equipment that was in the Taliban's possession. Meanwhile, Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee-sponsored legislation are pushing for the White House to disclose such information with Congress.
“No one has any accounting of exactly what survived the last weeks of the collapse and fell into Taliban hands, and even before the collapse, SIGAR had publicly reported no accounting was possible in many districts,” the Center for Strategic and International Studies analyst Anthony Cordesman told The Washington Post.
“In rough terms, however, if the ANDSF could not sustain it without foreign contractors, the Taliban will have very serious problems in operating it,” he continued. “That covers most aircraft and many electronics and heavier weapons.”
In total, the United States has provided more than 599,690 arms to the ANDSF since 2004, including rifles, pistols, machine guns, and rocket-propelled weapons, as well as more than 16,191 pieces of surveillance equipment, such as night-vision goggles and radio monitoring systems, and more than 208 aircraft, including helicopters, cargo planes, fighter jets, and surveillance drones. According to the July SIGAR assessment, 80 percent of the aircraft provided to the ANDSF were in operable condition.
— Nabih (@nabihbulos) August 30, 2021
“The stance, the way they’re holding the rifles, the trigger finger, how it's flat and laying outside the trigger guard,” Project on Government Oversight defense policy analyst Dan Grazier told the LA Times. “That's a hallmark American military training right there.”