Kabul, Afghanistan — I just love Christmas! All of the happy faces, the Christmas cheer, and-let’s not forget-the generous gifts!
Now, one of the things that I have had issues with is that whole “naughty-or-Nice” thing. I mean, seriously, where’s the context? What were my motives? Who determines what constitutes “Naughty? Are there degrees? Extenuating circumstances? Ethnocentrism? Will I EVER be forgiven for “The Great Gerbil Incident of 1972?”
SO, leaving all of these concerns aside, let’s see what good old “Uncle Sugar” has in his bag of goodies for our buddies in the Taliban.
In a matter of weeks, the Taliban has seized most of Afghanistan, as well as any weapons and equipment left behind by fleeing Afghan forces.
Video showed the advancing insurgents inspecting long lines of vehicles and opening crates of new firearms, communications gear and even military drones.
Current and former U.S. officials say there is concern those weapons could be used to kill civilians, be seized by other militant groups such as Islamic State to attack U.S.-interests in the region, or even potentially be handed over to adversaries including China and Russia.
Now where in the world could they possibly get that idea from?
- Afghan schoolgirls dead after May attack, which left 90 dead,
- Massacre of 22 Afghan commandos in June as they were surrendering,
- Taliban fighters taunting an Afghan police officer, as they kill him for the crime of making videos.
- Public torture of a woman for having a romantic affair
While I didn’t do a full inventory of Santa’s bag of goodies, the general assessment is that the Taliban are gleefully unwrapping more than 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.
“We have already seen Taliban fighters armed with U.S.-made weapons they seized from the Afghan forces. This poses a significant threat to the United States and our allies,” says Representative Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
The speed with which the Taliban swept across Afghanistan is reminiscent of Islamic State militants taking weapons from U.S.-supplied Iraqi forces who offered little resistance in 2014. Too bad we didn’t learn our little lesson back then.
Between 2002 and 2017, the United States gave the Afghan military an estimated $28 billion in weaponry, including guns, rockets, night-vision goggles and even small drones for intelligence gathering.
But aircraft like the Blackhawk helicopters have been the most visible sign of U.S. military assistance, and were supposed to be the Afghan military’ biggest advantage over the Taliban.
Current and former officials say that while they are concerned about the Taliban having access to the helicopters, the aircraft require frequent maintenance and many are complicated to fly without extensive training.
“Ironically, the fact that our equipment breaks down so often is a lifesaver here,” a third official said. Seriously, “it breaks down“ is our defense here??!?
Retired U.S. Army General Joseph Votel, who oversaw U.S. military operations in Afghanistan as head of U.S. Central Command from 2016 to 2019, said most of the high-end hardware captured by the Taliban, including the aircraft, was not equipped with sensitive U.S. technology.
But what happens if our Taliban buddies need to do a little reconnaissance after ol’ Sol takes a nap? Fear not, Santa has you covered!
Since 2003 the United States has provided Afghan forces with at least 600,000 infantry weapons including M16 assault rifles, 162,000 pieces of communication equipment, and 16,000 night-vision goggle devices.
“The ability to operate at night is a real game-changer,” one congressional aide told Reuters.
Votel and others said smalls arms seized by the insurgents such as machine guns, mortars, as well as artillery pieces including howitzers, could give the Taliban an advantage against any resistance that could surface in historic anti-Taliban strongholds such as the Panjshir Valley northeast of Kabul.
The expectation was that most of the weapons would be used by the Taliban themselves, but it was far too early to tell what they planned to do — including possibly sharing the equipment with rival states such as China.
Andrew Small, a Chinese foreign policy expert at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said the Taliban was likely to grant Beijing access to any U.S. weapons they may now have control over. Oh, goody.
Afghanistan received little attention in the annual threat assessment released in April by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; but the brief discussion was dire, noting the Taliban were confident they could achieve a military victory.
“The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support,” the report said.
“I am not that surprised it was as fast and sweeping as it was,” said Lisa Maddox, a former C.I.A. analyst. “The Taliban certainly has shown their ability to persevere, hunker down and come back even after they have been beaten back. And you have a population that is so tired and weary of conflict that they are going to flip and support the winning side so they can survive.”
Current and former officials said that while it was true that the C.I.A. predicted a collapse of the Afghan government but it was often hard to get agency analysts to clearly predict how quickly that would occur, especially as Mr. Trump and then Mr. Biden made decisions on how fast to draw down troops. Read that again: we KNEW that the Afghan government was going to fall, and YET WE STILL LEFT THEM WITH OUR EQUIPMENT.
Now, Darth Cheeto is under a lot of heat for setting up the withdrawal, but Santa DOES need to point out that Old Joe promptly undid via presidential edict a BUNCH of things Trump set up previously- the argument that “he didn’t have a choice” doesn’t hold water. Nope, this one is on Biden.
In fact, it appears ol’ Santa is in a bit of competition as far as the gift department.
Because it appears that this was not a mistake. Thank you Joe Biden.
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