Issue Brief: What We Know about the U.S. Arms Left Behind in Afghanistan
Security Assistance Monitor, September 2021
As the U.S. government comes to terms with what it means to lose a significant portion of the billions of dollars in arms, equipment, and other materiel the United States delivered to Afghanistan for U.S. and Afghan troops, a new SAM Issue Brief gives an overview of the arms left behind in Afghanistan and the risk they pose in Taliban hands.
The most complete public accounting of U.S. defense transfers to Afghan security forces has been captured in key reports from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) and Government Accountability Office (GAO). From those, and knowing that even before the Taliban acquired U.S. weapons, many had already become lost or damaged, we can begin to piece together the approximate size and makeup of the new weapons the Taliban has acquired.
Between 2003 and 2016, the U.S. government spent about $18 billion on equipment and transportation for Afghan security forces and funded the transfer of 884,311 pieces of equipment to Afghanistan. Although some of the largest pieces of equipment the Taliban has acquired, including aircraft, will be limited by their logistical, sustainment, and maintenance requirements, other equipment, including small arms, can be fielded easily and are likely to end up on the black market if Taliban fighters need to trade a portion of them for cash.
For SAM’s own accounting of what might be in the Taliban’s new arsenal and the pieces of most concern, check out SAM’s newest brief here.
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