The Biden administration’s chaotic, last-minute scramble to evacuate Afghanistan has led to a massive boon for the Taliban, in the form of advanced American firepower.

The complete and total collapse of the Afghan military has left huge quantities of military equipment behind, including some of America’s advanced weapons systems.

While there appears to have been no plan or attempt to avoid this outcome, it also looks like there’s no plan at all to get any of it back. 

On Monday, Pentagon logistics specialist Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor was asked if the U.S. had a plan to make certain that the military hardware did not fall into Taliban hands, his response was, “I don’t have an answer to that question.”

The answer to Taylor’s question probably lies on social media, where users have shared dozens of videos purporting to show the Taliban’s capture of arms.

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Complete And Total Collapse

An official with the Defense Department confirmed to the Associated Press that the Taliban had secured vast amounts of equipment, and that the amount they now have in their possession is “enormous.”

Do a quick search of Twitter, and you’ll find videos of Taliban fighters with hundreds of guns in weapon caches, or untold amounts of body armor.

Some videos purport to show both Taliban with newly-acquired U.S. military vehicles like humvees, or alternately, Afghan military forces making a break for it in humvees. 

Worse – the helicopters and fighter planes and fighter jets now in Taliban hands.

And it’s not all leftovers or older weapons systems. Some of the most advanced, high-tech platforms have been reportedly seized.

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Sending The Wrong Signals

While the Biden administration is quick to lay blame on the Afghan forces, others are saying, ‘not so fast.’

Chris Miller, Acting Secretary of Defense at the end of the Trump administration, and who saw his own combat in Afghanistan in 2001, said the United States “used hope as a course of action.” 

Stephen Biddle, professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, and also a former advisor to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, says Joe Biden’s announcement in April of a withdrawal date set the catastrophe in motion.

“The problem of the U.S. withdrawal is that it sent a nationwide signal that the jig is up — a sudden, nationwide signal that everyone read the same way. Before April, the Afghan government troops were slowly but steadily losing the war. When they learned that their American partners were going home, an impulse to give up without a fight “spread like wildfire.” 

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The Cost Of War

So how much has America sacrificed in Afghanistan? In dollars and cents, according to Forbes.com, approximately $2 trillion. Broken down, that is around $300 million per day for 20 years. Or, $50,000 for each one of Afghanistan’s 40 million people.

Broken down further: $800 billion in direct war-fighting costs, $85 billion to train the Afghan army, and $750 million for U.S. taxpayers to pay the Afghan army.

The human costs are incalculable. 2,500 U.S. soldiers, 4,000 U.S. civilian contractors, plus 20,000 non-fatal casualties.

As for what should be added to the “gained” side of the ledger, you decide.

 

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