House Republicans Demand Answers From Pentagon on US Military Equipment Seized by Taliban

By Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq
August 24, 2021 Updated: August 24, 2021

Two top Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are requesting the U.S. Department of Defense explain its plans to prevent billions of dollars worth of U.S. weapons from being used by the Taliban.

“As a direct result of the Biden Administration’s poorly planned and executed U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban is now armed with a significant arsenal of U.S.-made weaponry. Worse, it would appear the Biden Administration has no clue what or how many weapon platforms are now owned and operated by the Taliban,” the GOP lawmakers wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The letter was sent by Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the top Republican on the committee, and Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), the ranking member on the National Security subcommittee, as news reports document the large numbers of weapons and U.S. military equipment that were seized by the terrorist group when the United States and allies withdrew earlier this month.

Photos have circulated of Taliban members holding American M4 carbines and M16 rifles rather than AK-47s or AKMs. Other images and videos showed the Taliban surrounding U.S. Black Hawk helicopters and A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft.

Comer and Grothman say they are concerned about the seizure of biometric equipment that can scan irises or fingerprints to identify people, citing an article published by The Intercept last week.

“It is likely this information will be used to attack U.S. allies,” the two lawmakers wrote.

The Pentagon didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment about the letter.

Military
Military vehicles transferred by the United States to the Afghan National Army in February 2021. (Afghanistan Ministry of Defense/via Reuters)

“I don’t have an exact inventory of what equipment the Afghans had at their disposal that now might be at risk, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said at an Aug. 23 press briefing. “Obviously, we don’t want to see any weapons or systems to fall into the hands of people that would use them in such a way to harm our interests or those of our partners and allies.

“But I don’t have any policy solutions for you today about how we would or could address that going forward.”

Kirby went on to say there was equipment that was drawn down starting with the Trump administration and some during the Biden administration.

“An awful lot of equipment, weapons, resources were drawn down, even in the last years and months of the previous administration, as President Trump decided to move down to a force of 2,500. … And then after the president’s decision in mid-April to complete this drawdown, … a very big part of the retrograde was the disposition of weapons and equipment and systems and vehicles,” he said.

“Some of them were destroyed, some of them were brought back home, some of them were redeployed into the region, and yes, some were turned over to the Afghans. And we’re working through right now to try to get a better sense of what that would look like, but I don’t have any specific solutions for you in terms of what we can or will do going forward on this.”

The Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, established by Congress in 2008, has said that about $83 billion was spent on developing and sustaining the Afghan police and army over two decades. Between 2003 and 2016, the United States transferred nearly 600,000 weapons, 76,000 vehicles, 163,000 communication devices, 208 aircraft, and surveillance and reconnaissance equipment to the Afghan forces, according to a 2017 Government Accountability Office report.

Between 2017 and 2019, the United States provided Afghan army forces with 4,702 Humvees, 2,520 bombs, 1,394 grenade launchers, 20,040 hand grenades, and 7,035 machine guns, stated the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Comer and Grothman are requesting a full account of U.S. military equipment, including a complete list of all U.S. military equipment provided to the Afghan National Security Forces and the amount of military equipment that has since been decommissioned, as well as “documents and information regarding planned or current efforts to recapture, destroy, or decommission the military equipment.”

“We are left wondering if the Biden Administration has a plan to prevent the Taliban from using our weapons against the U.S. or its allies, or selling them to foreign adversaries, like China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea,” they wrote.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq