A new report indicates multiple federal websites have deleted audits pertaining to the costs of military weapons provided to security forces in Afghanistan since 2001 from their websites.
Forbes on Tuesday indicated they had obtained an “admission” to scrubbing the reports from the State Department.
At issue is the nearly $83 billion in military equipment and training costs outlined by the magazine last week. The equipment has been a point of contention for critics of the President who have noted much of it has reportedly been left behind Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal.
Meaning, in the hands of the Taliban.
Forbes however, finds the scrubbing of information pertaining to the weapons cache left behind suspicious.
“The War in Afghanistan has always been a black box,” they write, “but the Biden administration just made matters worse.”
A graphic circulating online has outlined the weapons involved in what Forbes describes as the “staggering costs” of funding Afghan security forces.
The $85 billion estimate has been disputed in part because the figure includes the cost of training and housing Afghan police over a 20-year presence in the country.
What has been determined by Forbes is that those costs do, however, involve 75,898 vehicles, 208 aircraft, and at least 600,000 infantry weapons.
Even knowing the amount is lower than the $85 billion, it appears the Biden administration does not want it known how those numbers break down regardless.
“Biden officials recently directed federal agencies to scrub their websites of official reports detailing the $82.9 billion in military equipment and training provided to the Afghan security forces since 2001,” Forbes writes.
Indeed, both the Special Inspector General For Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which had an audit of $174 million in lost drones, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which had a more complete audit of military gear provided, now lead to broken pages.
The SIGAR page containing the report shows a broken link on August 24th according to the internet archives, while it was still active on August 17th.
The GAO report was similarly inactive on August 24th according to a review of internet archives but was still active on August 13th.
Forbes points out exactly what the removed reports had provided to the American public in regards to weapons in Afghanistan.
“The scrubbed audits and reports included detailed accounting of what the U.S. had provided to Afghan forces, down to the number of night vision devices, hand grenades, Black Hawk helicopters, and armored vehicles,” they write.
They also report that the State Department “admitted to removing the reports but justified the move as a way to protect Afghan allies.”
“The safety of our Afghan contacts is of utmost importance to us,” a spokesperson claimed.
“The State Department advised other federal agencies of to [sic] review their web properties for content that highlights cooperation/participation between an Afghan citizen and the USG or a USG partner and remove from public view if it poses a security risk,” they added.
Or perhaps it’s because the extensive audits show what might currently be in Taliban hands. And the weapons, much of them, are in fact, currently in Taliban hands, whether they are “unusable” or otherwise.
“We don’t have a complete picture, obviously, of where every article of defense materials has gone, but certainly a fair amount of it has fallen into the hands of the Taliban,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.
SIGAR and GAO both confirmed with Forbes the State Department directive to remove the reports.
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