One of the most dramatic incidents during the United States’ military withdrawal from Afghanistan is the United States soldiers leaving Bagram Military Base without telling the Afghan military commander on July 5th, 2021. The Associated Press has posted pictures of rows and rows of abandoned vehicles in Bagram, waiting for any comers, mainly the Taliban, to take over.
After a two-decade stay, the United States’ contribution lasted little support for the Afghan military in defending against the Taliban independently. As soon as the United States military was withdrawn, the Taliban seized control of the majority of Afghanistan and breached Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, on August 15th.
“We provided our Afghan partners with all the tools—let me emphasize: all the tools, training, and equipment of any modern military,” said the United States President Joe Biden in July.
However, with the worsening situation in Afghanistan, the weapons that the United States has provided for the Afghan military are end up in the hands of the Taliban.
Indeed, many Afghan soldiers have surrendered to the Taliban without putting up a resistance, usually because of the Afghan soldiers’ low morale after seeing the U.S. withdraw while Taliban’s fast advancement. The weapons that the Taliban have seized from the Afghan military, mostly originally supplied by the United States, have given the Taliban a “massive boon,” said Raffaello Pantucci, senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, according to France 24.
Many pictures taken by the Taliban regarding seized weapons and military vehicles have been posted on social media. Counting from the Taliban’s pictures alone, after July, at least 700 more armored or military vehicles are now in the Taliban’s control, according to Forbes.
In addition, a Taliban commander told Sky News that in July, his fighters have taken “70 sniper rifles, 900 guns, 30 Humvees, 20 army pickups and 15 articulated military trucks,” besides other equipment such as ammunition and satellite phones. Over the weekend of August 14th and 15th, the Taliban also released footage of them seizing UH-60 Black Hawk and Mi-17 military helicopters.
The Taliban has also presented shipping containers’ of ammunition, satellite phones, and other auxiliary equipment for war, according to Sky News. In a Taliban-controlled mosque, Sky News also showed that AK-47s, bullets, as well as computers, have lined the walls.
“Hundreds of weapons, vehicles and ammunition were seized,” said a Taliban statement after capturing the governor’s office and other important facilities of Logar province, according to CNN.
Ironically, on many weapons seized by the Taliban, there is the label of “Property of USA Government,” according to Sky News. The weapons that the United States provided have finally been turned against them and the Afghan people.
In the United States, Army Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, a logistics specialist on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was being asked whether the United States has “taking any sort of steps to prevent aircraft or other military equipment from falling into the hands of the Taliban?” The general only responded with “I don’t have information,” according to the transcript of a press briefing provided by the US Department of Defense.
As of August 16th, 32 out of 34 Afghan provinces are under the Taliban’s control, according to Long War Journal’s war-time graph.