U.S. Senators ‘Horrified’ as Taliban Captures Major American Weapons Caches Including Large Air Fleet

Following its capture of the capital Kabul, the Taliban has established itself as the effective government of Afghanistan after almost 20 years of conflict with the U.S. and a broad coalition of its Western allies drove the Islamist group from power. 

This came in the wake of a U.S. military withdrawal from the country which was widely criticized both in Washington and internationally as chaotic and poorly planned, allowing the Taliban to make rapid gains against the poorly motivated U.S. aligned government forces and take the country faster than most had expected. 

The insurgent group has since acquired very large quantities of U.S.-made arms which were provided to the previous Afghan government at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer, and which were intended to help ensure that the Taliban would remain out of power long after Western forces had withdrawn. American armaments in the Taliban’s hands are believed to include hundreds of thousands of handheld weapons including heavy weapons, as well as night vision equipment, sniper rifles, more than 2,000 armored vehicles including hundreds of Humvees, and possibly close to 100 aircraft.

 These include not only drones such as the ScanEagle surveillance platform, but also many of the Afghan Military’s over 150 helicopters including UH-60 Black Hawks and, as well as possibly Russian Mi-35s supplied by India which formed the elite of the country’s fleet. The Afghan Military also fielded 24 A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft, although only 18 of these were in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over. 

A group of 25 Republican senators wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Austin Lloyd demanding an accounting by the Biden Administration accounting for American military equipment captured by the Taliban. "As we watched the images coming out of Afghanistan as the Taliban retook the country, we were horrified to see US equipment – including UH-60 Black Hawks – in the hands of the Taliban," they wrote. 

They called for “an assessment of the likelihood that the Taliban will seek to work with Russia, Pakistan, Iran, or the People’s Republic of China for training, fuel, or infrastructure necessary to utilize the equipment they do not have the capabilities to use on their own.” Former President Donald Trump meanwhile claimed that the Taliban would likely sell American arms to rival arms manufacturers for reverse engineering, although none of the equipment used by the Afghan Military is thought to be particularly sensitive in terms of its technological value. 

A number of reports indicated that the possibility of airstrikes to destroy weapons caches and deny them to the Taliban had been considered. The Taliban has offered an amnesty to those who worked with NATO and the former government and may seek to recruit technically trained individuals to help operate its newly acquired hardware. The possibility also remains that much of it will find its way onto black markets across the world. 

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