Taliban is armed to the teeth by US and NATO
It is tempting for Taliban, but there are some issues with more advanced leftovers
The Taliban are showing their American-made weapons on social media. They can go years ahead with the arsenal that Western troops gave to the Afghan army. With the arsenal this size Afghanistan is better armed than most of the NATO members.
This is what Triumph looks like: Taliban fighters who drove dozens of armored vehicles through the southern city of Kandahar last week. Captured on American and Afghan men, now decorated with Taliban flags. The video of the parade was distributed by the movement through social media.
“A victor can show off everything he takes from his enemy. The confiscation of military equipment is a psychological blow,” says Elias Yousif, international security researcher at the think tank Center for International Policy in Washington.
Analysts like him want to know where the war trophies end up. And what happens to it. It is a difficult question, Yousif explains on the phone:
..it is unclear what material was in circulation in Afghanistan during the war on terror and in what quantities.
The captured Arsenal falls into two categories: the weapons and systems that the Afghan army had previously received from Western allies, and the equipment that those foreign armies left behind during the withdrawal.
The latter have tried to leave as few usable weapons as possible. For example, when General Mark Milley announced the last American flight from Kabul, the equipment used until the last minute in the evacuations “has been disabled”. When Taliban fighters entered the capital’s airport the following day, they did indeed find destroyed cockpits and burnt vehicles.
Previously, videos of Taliban-controlled Black Hawk helicopters were circulating on social media over Kandahar. However, many analysts doubt that these machines will last for a long time. Yousif:
It seems unlikely that the Taliban will benefit from high-tech systems in the longer term. They don’t have enough trained men or can’t maintain the equipment.
But Pakistan does indeed have the necessary skills. As does have China and Russia, on a pure hypothetical grounds.
Justine Fleischner warns of the “too tempting focus” on such large weapon systems. She works for the non-profit organization Conflict Armament Research (CAR), which conducts research on the origin of weapons used in conflict areas on behalf of the EU.
“The Taliban’s advance proves that military success can be achieved with smaller, less advanced weapons,” she says.
This more manageable material certainly made the Taliban loot not only in the last month, but already in the years before.
“It is clear that the Taliban have benefited from the weapons brought to Afghanistan by the United States and NATO.”