Taliban boasts of captured U.S. military equipment

Videos from the Afghan Ministry of Defense show the hundreds of U.S. vehicles left behind from the 2021 withdrawal.

Taliban authorities in Afghanistan are showing off their military capabilities to the world. The Afghan Ministry of Defense uploaded several videos and images of hundreds of American Humvee-type vehicles to social media. The vehicles were part of the military equipment available to the U.S. contingent prior to the rapid withdrawal ordered by Biden in 2021.

According to a Department of Defense document made public in 2022, the approximate cost of the material abandoned after the withdrawal from Kabul amounts to about $7 billion. This calculation does not take into account the investment in military infrastructure and procurement aid that the U.S. government left the Afghan government. Upon regaining power, the Taliban also took control of this material and thus almost all of these donated military assets.

Now it appears that the Taliban are further expanding their inventory by repairing new batches of armored vehicles and returning them to service. While U.S. troops tried to damage and disable as much equipment as possible, it has not stopped the Taliban from attempting to repair them. According to messages from the Afghan Ministry of Defense, they have recovered 150 Russian Kamaz trucks; 125 Humvees; two "assault tanks" and about thirty other vehicles.

Although the Taliban accompanied their messages with various photographs and a video, there is no further evidence to fully corroborate this information. The images do not show the two aforementioned "assault tanks.” Humvees can indeed be seen operating and transporting infantry troops. In addition, Ford trucks and AR-15 firearms can be seen in the hands of the Taliban troops.

Dangerous Air Force

Analysts at Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) gave an approximate count of the air assets that the U.S. was unable to evacuate from the famous Kabul airport, the main scene of the 2021 withdrawal. The reputable OSINT Oryx portal estimated in September 2021, with subsequent updates, that 28 aircraft and 45 helicopters were left by the Americans at the Kabul airport. Oryx shows geolocated images of all the equipment in its reports.

The aircraft include a dozen Embraer A29-Bs for light attack or training use and three Lockheed C-130 Hercules for transport. Among the helicopters, Oryx counts up to 12 UH-60A Blackhawks, several CH-46 transport helicopters and even 14 MD530F combat helicopters. The Taliban fleet is completed by a few more aircraft of Russian origin.

Republican Rep. Mary Miller denounced this alarming situation on social media. Miller recalled on Twitter that there were no resignations following the catastrophic withdrawal ordered by Joe Biden despite the fallout. A few weeks earlier, Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump's former secretary of state, appeared on Fox News to discuss the issue.

Earlier this month, Pompeo appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to shed light on the situation surrounding the withdrawal of troops and personnel from Kabul airport during which 13 American soldiers lost their lives.