The Taliban in Afghanistan received $7.1 billion in US weapons after the American withdrawal in 2021. A new US DoD report reveals that the military aid for Afghanistan has never been properly categorized by the Pentagon, meaning the U.S. military has no idea how many weapons it “inadvertently” left to the Taliban when they left the country last year.
According to a new report by the Inspector General for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (SIGAR), the U.S. military provided only “limited, inaccurate and untimely information about the weapons it left behind.”
The report estimates that $7.1 billion worth of military equipment was left in Afghanistan which was previously supplied to the Government of Afghanistan and to the Afghan National Defense and Security Force (ANDSF). Since 2009, SIGAR and the Office of the Inspector General have warned about accountability gaps and tracking problems in Afghanistan.
The report states that the Pentagon “did not meet its own requirements for overseeing sensitive equipment and did not inventory 60 % of defense items with enhanced monitoring requirements — those containing sensitive technology — between May 2019 and April 2020 due to security restrictions and travel restrictions.”
In other words, the U.S. government doesn’t really know which equipment or how much of it was left in Afghanistan, but it cost at least $7.1 billion.
An August DoD report says that at the time the Taliban took power, ANDSF had in its stockpile about 316,000 small arms supplied by the United States since 2005.
This report also notes longstanding and well-known issues with the invertarization management system used to catalog stocks at bases in Afghanistan, including a chaotic Microsoft Excel spreadsheet system and even handwritten inventories used to circumvent the problem. Many of the bases either did not have access to the Internet or electricity.
SIGAR noted that at least 70 tactical vehicles (MRAP) and 80 aircraft were left behind at Hamid Karzai International Airport in August 2021 in the final weeks of the withdrawal.
The U.S. withdrawal was chaotic and catastrophic, as the U.S.-backed Afghan government failed to hold on to power against the Taliban attack long enough for U.S. forces to complete their withdrawal from the country.
After the Taliban seized power, the United States and much of the world cut ties with Afghanistan and refused to recognize the new government, leading to a complete collapse of Afghanistan’s already fragile economy and to humanitarian crisis.