By JUSTIN KATZ
Ground vehicles accounted for the lion’s share of the equipment left behind.
WASHINGTON — Nearly one year after the last US military aircraft departed Kabul, the Pentagon’s top watchdog says approximately $7.1 billion in US-funded planes, trucks and weaponry, all provided to the Afghan military, has been seized by the Taliban.
The breakdown includes $923 million in aircraft, $4.1 billion in ground vehicles and $511.8 million in weapons, according to a report published today by the inspector general for Operation Enduring Sentinel and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. The report was produced as part of the watchdog’s quarterly updates to Congress on the military campaigns.
The inspector general does not further itemize specific numbers of assets seized by the Taliban, but notes the range of vehicles from Hummers to MRAPs to other tactical vehicles, as well as the hundreds of thousands of small arms, including thousands of sniper rifles and pistols, the US purchased for the Afghan military over the years — much of which was still believed to be in the government inventory when Kabul fell.
In November, the Taliban held a military parade showing off what appeared to be US-made equipment, including armored security vehicles and small arms. Also of apparent concern in the report is other equipment believed to have been left in Afghan government stocks including “specialty ground munitions (such as mortar rounds), communications equipment, explosive ordnance detection and disposal equipment, night vision devices, and other surveillance equipment.”
The report says the materiel came from the inventory of the Afghan government when it fell, while US troops had “removed or destroyed nearly all weapons and equipment” they had used in the country during the US withdrawal. The distinction could matter. After CNN first reported the estimated $7.1 billion loss in equipment in April, a defense official told VOA that the equipment the Taliban had obtained was “not state-of-the-art stuff.”
“Everything that we provided to the Afghan forces was not on the same level as ours or those of our allies,” the official said.
Also, in perhaps a sliver of good news for the Pentagon, the report noted that the “operational state of Afghan military vehicles was unknown and likely to deteriorate without U.S. contractor maintenance.”
Elsewhere in the report, the IG discusses the terrorism situation in Afghanistan all these months after the withdrawal, including noting the recent airstrike that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri on July 31.
As far as another terror group is concerned, the Defense Intelligence Agency estimates there are some 2,000 ISIS-K fighters in Afghanistan, and their activity appears to be accelerating.
“ISIS-K claimed 80 attacks during the quarter, a 90% increase from the previous quarter,” according to the report, which covers April 1 to June 30 of this year. “Many of these attacks targeted Shia minority populations, including the bombing of a mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif that killed 31 and wounded 60… ISIS-K aims to undermine Taliban rule through destabilizing acts of violence.”