US discloses value of weapons left in Afghanistan
US forces left behind military equipment worth more than $7 billion during their chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last August, the Pentagon has reportedly revealed in a long-awaited declaration.
Washington gave Afghan government forces $18.6 billion of weaponry from 2005 to 2021, and $7.1 billion of that gear remained in the war-torn country after the US withdrawal on August 30, CNN cited the Pentagon as saying on Wednesday.
The congressionally mandated report is yet another reminder of the severe losses incurred during the chaotic US pull-out, which resulted in 13 troop deaths and the abandonment of thousands of American citizens and Afghan allies. Critics of President Joe Biden’s administration have decried the Pentagon’s failure to keep US weapons from falling into Taliban hands.
“Nobody ever thought such stupidity as this feeble-brained withdrawal was possible,” said former President Donald Trump, who called for sending in troops to retrieve the equipment or bombing the gear to destroy it.
Some of the abandoned materiel, including 78 aircraft that were left at Kabul airport, was permanently disabled before US forces withdrew, the Pentagon report showed. More than $920 million worth of American planes remained in Afghanistan after Washington’s exit, as did 40,000 military vehicles.
Also left behind were communications gear, more than 300,000 weapons and almost all of the 42,000 pieces of specialized equipment that had been given to Afghan government forces. Those pieces included radio systems, encryption devices, transmitters, night vision goggles, surveillance gear and “biometric and positioning equipment,” the Pentagon said. Most of the 9,524 air-to-ground munitions that were left behind were non-precision explosives.
Ukraine was the beneficiary of some supplies that had originally been earmarked for Afghanistan. The report showed that five Mi-17 helicopters were officially transferred to Kiev this year after previously being sent to the former Soviet republic for maintenance work. Other equipment shifted to Ukraine included 37,000 howitzer shells, as well as rifle ammunition, grenade cartridges and 119,000 82mm mortar rounds.