With the last service people now gone from Afghanistan, we have left behind millions of dollars in high-tech weapons and military hardware that is now in possession of the Taliban. But Democrats are trying to spin the Taliban takeover of US weaponry and military gear as “no big deal.”
For example, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., attempted to spin reports of Taliban militants showing off their newly acquired US weaponry, arguing that the equipment was actually “property of the Afghan government” when it was seized during the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
“Almost all of the American military equipment was removed from Afghanistan prior to this mission of evacuating from the Kabul airport,” Garamendi, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, told MSNBC on Monday. “Now, that equipment is gone.”
“There’s often the misunderstanding here about other American equipment,” he continued. “The US has armed the previous Afghan government, 300,000 soldiers, and all of the equipment that goes with it. We have been doing that for the last 20 years. With the collapse and total disappearance of the Ghani government, that equipment fell into the hands of the Taliban, and they now have it. Indeed, it is American equipment, but it was the property of the Afghan government.”
The US has provided an estimated $83 billion worth of training and equipment – including aircraft, armored vehicles, rifles, and tactical gear – to Afghan security forces since 2001. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces surrendered many of those weapons as the Taliban made their way through Afghanistan. After the central Afghan government collapsed to the Taliban on Aug. 15, pictures and videos have shown militants admiring their newly acquired weaponry.
“We don’t have a complete picture, obviously, of where every article of defense materials has gone, but certainly, a fair amount of it has fallen into the hands of the Taliban,” President Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Aug. 17.
Garamendi said, “almost all of the American military equipment” was removed from Afghanistan, despite multiple reports saying the US military equipment Taliban acquired was worth billions of dollars. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was called out earlier this month for attempting to spin similar reports, saying, “This is what happens when you withdraw.”
The US evacuation effort at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, concluded Tuesday, more than two weeks after the capital’s collapse on Aug. 15.
“With regard to equipment and machinery that was brought in to deal with this particular evacuation, yes, that will be able to be evacuated. Some of it already is,” Garamendi said Monday.
Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said some of the equipment had been “demilitarized,” essentially rendered inoperable. Troops probably used thermite grenades, which burn at temperatures of 4,000 degrees, to destroy key components of the equipment, according to a defense department official who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Some pieces of equipment probably were blown up. Another defense official, also not authorized to speak publicly, acknowledged that a blast heard last week at the airport was related to destroying equipment.
According to USA Today, all told, the Pentagon left behind tens of billions of dollars worth of equipment given to Afghan security forces. The US government spent $83 billion to train and equip the Afghan army, according to the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction. The Pentagon and White House had maintained that Afghan army ranks totaled 300,000 soldiers, but in reality, there were far fewer. In the weeks and months before the Taliban takeover, facing the withdrawal of support from US support, many Afghan troops stopped fighting for a corrupt, ineffective government.