VI News Staff 2 years ago
VINStaff Verified #worldnews

No, the Taliban did not seize $83 billion of U.S. weapons

“ALL EQUIPMENT should be demanded to be immediately returned to the United States, and that includes every penny of the $85 billion dollars in cost.”

We don’t normally pay much attention to claims made by the former president, as he mostly just riffs golden oldies. But this is a new claim. A version of this claim also circulates widely on right-leaning social media — that somehow the Taliban has ended up with $83 billion in U.S. weaponry. (Trump, as usual, rounds the number up.)

The $83 billion number is not invented out of whole cloth. But it reflects all the money spent to train, equip and house the Afghan military and police — so weapons are just a part of that. At this point, no one really knows the value of the equipment that was seized by the Taliban.

The Facts

The $83 billion figure — technically, $82.9 billion — comes from an estimate in the July 30 quarterly report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) for all spending on the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund since the U.S. invasion in 2001.

In recent years, the spending has decreased. For fiscal 2021, about $3 billion was spent on security forces, which was similar to 2020.

Separately, the U.S. government spent about $36 billion on shoring up the Afghan government. The total bill for the Afghan project added up to more than $144 billion.

In any case, the $83 billion spent on the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) goes back two decades, including almost $19 billion spent between 2002 and 2009.

A 2017 Government Accountability Office report estimated that about 29 percent of the funds spent on the Afghan security forces between 2005 and 2016 went to equipment and transportation. (The transportation costs related to transporting equipment and for contracted pilots and airplanes for transporting officials to meetings. There appears to be no way to segregate transportation spending.)

Using that same percentage, that would mean the equipment provided to Afghan forces amounted to $24 billion over 20 years. The GAO said approximately 70 percent of the equipment went to the Afghan military and the rest went to the national police (part of the Interior Ministry).

That’s certainly a lot of money. Between 2005 and 2016, U.S. taxpayers paid for 76,000 vehicles (such as 43,000 Ford Ranger pickup trucks, 22,000 Humvees and 900 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles known as MRAPs), 600,000 weapons and more than 200 aircraft, according to GAO.

Of course, some of this equipment may be obsolete or destroyed — or soon may not be usable.

The SIGAR report shows that 167 aircraft out of an inventory of 211 were usable — but the Afghan Air Force (AAF) still lacked enough qualified pilots. One issue was that the Taliban targeted pilots for assassination.



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