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Pics/Videos: US gave $85 billion in weaponry to Afghans – now the Taliban has tons of it

An Afghan National Army Commando squad conducts live fire exercises during training at Camp Pamir, Kunduz province, Afghanistan, Feb. 13, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes)
August 20, 2021

With the collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan government, hundreds of thousands of weapons, tens of thousands of ground vehicles, and hundreds of aircraft have been left up for grabs and the Taliban have taken control of much of it.

The Hill reported, based on a 2017 Government Accountability Office report, that between 2002 and 2016, the U.S. gave Afghan government forces 75,898 vehicles, 599,690 weapons, 162,643 pieces of communications equipment, 208 aircraft, and 16,191 pieces of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment.

Further, a 2020 report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found that between 2017 and 2019, the U.S. gave Afghan forces an additional 7,035 machine guns, 4,702 Humvees, 20,040 hand grenades, 2,520 bombs and 1,394 grenade launchers, along with other equipment.

WFLA reporter Josh Benson tweeted a photo of Taliban fighters in a U.S. Humvee. “MADDENING. Taliban fighters patrolling in an American taxpayer-paid Humvee. About $250K.”

The Hill reported the total cost to train and equip the Afghan military came out to about $83 billion, while the Washington Post put the number at more than $85 billion.

The exact number of U.S.-donated vehicles and aircraft the Taliban possess is unclear

One Twitter user said, “#Taliban inspects U.S.-made armored vehicles in #Kabul. Taliban are believed to control 2,000 armored vehicles, including U.S. Humvees, and up to 40 aircraft, potentially including UH-​60 Black Hawks, scout attack helicopters, and ScanEagle military drones.”

A U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, separately told Reuters, “Everything that hasn’t been destroyed is the Taliban’s now.”

A video shared by a western contractor in Kabul purports to show stockpiles of weapons left unattended at the Kabul airport.

“Contractor in Kabul details the weapons and gear being left behind at the airport,” Townhall reporter Julio Rosas tweeted.

Among the aircraft the Taliban have seized are Black Hawk helicopters and A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft. The Hill reported at least 46 of the aircraft the U.S. donated to the Afghan government are now in Uzbekistan after more than 500 Afghan troops used them to flee the country.

Military Times editor Kyle Rempfer tweeted, “Planet Labs pictures show dozens of Afghan Air Force planes and helos parked at Termez Airport in Uzbekistan Cessna 208B Caravans, A-29 Super Tucanos, Pilatus PC-12 ISR aircraft, and UH-60s spotted here.”

Other pictures shared from Afghanistan purport to show Taliban fighters in possession of A-29 Super Tucanos and other aircraft.

“The Taliban now has an air force..including the A-29 Super Tucano and their array of [precision-guided munitions],” one Twitter user said.

Another Twitter user provided a breakdown of the potential munitions left behind for the A-29 Super Tucanos. The picture identified 2.75-inch Hydra 70 rockets and rocket pods, GBU-58 250-pound laser-guided bombs, GBU-12 500-pound laser-guided bombs, GBU-29 250-pound GPS-guided bombs and Mk 81 250-pound “dumb” bombs.

“Probably outdated info, and someone already did this, but with the #Taliban taking over #Kabul in #Afghanistan, the images of them obtaining A-29 Super Tucano’s started going around, and i figured to take stock of what weapons we see on screen. (texts in grey = i’m not sure of).”

Another Twitter used shared video purporting to show Taliban members examining a UH-60 Black Hawk left in a hanger at the Kandahar airport, with other Black Hawk helicopters visible in the distance.

“#Taliban seized Blackhawks on #Kandahar airport.”

On Monday, arms research group Calibre Obscura shared a video of hundreds of U.S.-donated weapons that the Taliban had since taken possession of. “#Afghanistan: Not exactly sure where, but rows upon rows of M4 Carbines, M16A2/A4, quantities of kit, Beretta M9s, and other materiel gathered neatly by the #Taliban- presumably recently captured. Regional Arms Markets are warming up as I type.”

Calibre Obscura further reported that with the growing number of rifles flooding the Afghan market, the costs of those captured weapons have dropped by more than a third.

“#Afghanistan I have enquired as to the value of an M16A4 such as this on the (offline) black market,” Calibre Obscura tweeted. “Jun 18th 2021: $2410 July 2nd 2021: $2375 Aug 14th 2021: $1500 37.75% price drop in the value of fresh rifles in ~2 months. Been most dramatic in past 3ish weeks.”

Taliban fighters have also been photographed in American-style body armor and rifles.

“#Taliban special forces ‘Badri 313’ controlling the presidential palace. They’re Equipped with latest #american machine gun m4, m16,” a Twitter user said, referencing the Taliban’s claimed special forces fighters. “All these weapons were captured from the #America during the battles. #Afghanistan.”