With the drastic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the Biden administration not only allowed the Taliban to return to power but also gave them a free hand to control American weapons of war and access to “secret technology” of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The idea of withdrawing the troops was not a bad one because it was bound to happen eventually, but the way the plan was implemented is what destroyed confidence in the Biden-Harris administration and generated a crisis in the Middle East.
Although it has been known for months that the U.S. military would abandon the war, it is unknown why the troops did not begin to dismantle the weapons, remove the technology and prevent the Taliban from taking control of the arsenal, which in addition to costing millions of dollars could become a dangerous boomerang for the United States.
For 20 years, the United States helped equip with modern weaponry an Afghan army that was supposed to serve to defend the government, but ended up falling into the hands of the radical Taliban.
Jake Sullivan, Biden’s National Security Advisor, said they did not have a “complete picture of where every item of defense material has gone,” but admitted that certainly, “a significant amount has fallen into the hands of the Taliban.”
“And obviously, it doesn’t look like they’re going to give them back to us voluntarily,” Sullivan added during a White House press briefing.
Joseph Humire, a global security expert and executive director of the Center for a Free and Secure Society, told El American that the enemies of the United States will now be able to analyze U.S. warfare technology and probe into how it was obtained.
He further noted that Afghanistan is one of the world’s centers of arms trafficking and has become a powerhouse in the arms business.
“Depending on how many weapons the United States left there, the Taliban can get their hands on the largest black market inventory of American weapons in the world,” he said.
American arsenal in the hands of Taliban: the largest inventory in the world
Walter Don, director of the Canadian Forces University’s Department of Security and International Affairs, said in an interview with EFE news agency that this poses “a major disaster and a threat to international peace and security.”
“We know from experience that lost American weaponry falls into private hands, the black market, and ends up being used in mass atrocities,” the expert said.
In videos uploaded to social networks by the Taliban themselves, it can be seen how they seized at least two Black Hawk helicopters painted with the colors of the Afghan Air Force and each of the aircraft is valued at 25 million dollars.
In addition to the helicopters, the Taliban now have in their possession multipurpose armored vehicles such as the Humvee, the MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected), the All Terrain M1117, and the Armored M113 armored vehicle.
Among other combat weapons with which the United States equipped the Afghan National Army are the M249 light machine gun and the M16 rifles, however, it is not known how many are in the hands of the Taliban and if they are already being used by them.
David Grantham, an American war veteran who in 2006 served as a U.S. Air Force counterintelligence officer in Afghanistan, told El American that reports indicate the Taliban now have control of 2,000 armored vehicles and 40 aircraft, including drones and helicopters.
“I would say we’re looking at between $10 billion and $20 billion in abandoned serviceable weaponry. This is based on reports that in 2017 the U.S. had supplied $28 billion in weaponry,” Grantham said.
American weapons: “An intelligence gold mine for US adversaries”
The fact that the Taliban with power now also control American weapons leaves serious consequences for global security since the arsenal may be used for terrorism, drug trafficking and could even end up in the hands of the United States’ main enemies who may have in-depth knowledge of warfare technology.
“The Taliban is now, effectively, one of the most well-armed criminal states in the entire world. They will likely wait to begin bartering with others with those weapons because they want to get the U.S. out. But once the dust settles and they have a firm grip, criminals and terrorists around the world will court the Taliban with deals to get some of those weapons,” Grantham explained.
“Criminals and terrorists the world over will be courting the Taliban with deals to get some of those weapons. I imagine this will fuel the heroin trade, terrorism, and the continued theft of cultural heritage as the Taliban trades and barters with all types of criminal groups and states,” he added.
“U.S. adversaries like China and Russia will exert diplomatic pressure or financial incentive so that they can examine all the U.S. equipment and see what technological insight they might be able to gain – whether that is developing countermeasures to U.S. equipment or attempting to replicate what they find for their own purposes. This is an intelligence goldmine for U.S. adversaries,” he said.