What do we know about the weapons left by the United States in Afghanistan

What do we know about the weapons left by the United States in Afghanistan

The US arsenal had been sold to the Afghan army and is now in the hands of the Taliban. The analysis of some Italian observers

A ScanEagle drone (image credits: TED ALJIBE / AFP via Getty Images) About forty military aircraft, including some Uh-60 Black Hawk helicopters, reconnaissance helicopters and ScanEagle military drones, over two thousand armored vehicles and much more equipment, more ammo. All made in the USA. This is the estimate of some of the weapons now in the hands of the Taliban made to Reuters by a US officer who asked to remain anonymous.

The rapid advance has allowed the Taliban to appropriate a lot of American technology, including devices for biometric identification. Whether they will be able to use all this and how, is all to be seen. "I believe that the drones in the hands of the Taliban are actually tactical and not strategic, I don't think it's Predator, just to be clear - Italian Army general Marco Bertolini, now retired but several times engaged in Afghanistan, tells Wired - . But even without armament they offer a significant advantage. I don't think they can give problems to other countries, but they can be used to control the population. I am thinking above all of the Panjshir area, where anti-Taliban opponents are concentrated ".

”The Taliban would now also have fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. You can't improvise driving an aircraft, but probably among them there are pilots who came from the former regular army, "Bertolini points out.

The role of training

One of the main tasks of our contingent was precisely to train the Afghan army. The same one that dissolved in a few days with the advance of the Taliban. “In Afghanistan we did not limit ourselves to training soldiers - continues Bertolini -. We "mentored" them, that is, we were with them, with groups of military advisers. We didn't teach them how to use weapons because they didn't need them, but we helped them plan operations ”.

According to the general, the fact that the regular army hardly resisted the Taliban depended on two factors: the demoralization due to the end of the twenty-year Western military presence and a possible "order from above". According to the general, they wanted to avoid greater bloodshed against a more determined and resolute army like the Taliban. Bertolini, however, is keen to praise the Afghan soldiers and officers, evaluating the possible presence of infiltrated Taliban absolutely minimal.

Afghan soldier in a moment of training by the Italians in Herat, 7 November 2018 (photo by Antonio Masiello / Getty Images)

Corruption as a weapon

For Francesco Valacchi, collaborator of 'Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) and expert on the subject of Afro-Asiatic countries for the University of Pisa, more than Taliban infiltrations, the Afghan army had already been largely "bought". In other words, the Taliban would have bribed a substantial number of military trained by NATO forces who would later join their ranks. Also because they could and can afford to pay them more.

In order to honor and appreciate the bravery and sacrifices of the ANDSF, His Excellency the president of Afghanistan has decided to increase the salary of all security and defense forces, especially the combat units, and will be implemented in the near future.

- Gen. Ajmal Omar Shinwari | جنرال اجمل عمر شينواري (@ANDSF_Spokesman) August 1, 2021

It has long been known that the wages of Afghan soldiers were as low as their morale. And just on August 1, an army spokesman tweeted that their salaries would be increased. "Westerners hoped to enter the hearts and minds of Afghan soldiers and instead the Taliban did, unfortunately," sums up the Vlachs succinctly: "There have been twenty years, but each soldier usually stayed there for no more than a year. For the Taliban that was and is their home ”.

Not all the Afghan military, however, have passed to the Taliban, quite the contrary. Also to Reuters, a US official said that between forty and fifty aircraft were flown to Uzbekistan by Afghan pilots seeking asylum. This did not please the Taliban, who started looking for uncooperative pilots to kill them.

Weapons sold, not abandoned

The question of American weapons in Taliban hands is starting to worry the administration of Joe Biden, which has aired the hypothesis of air raids to neutralize mainly helicopters . However, we must not think of a kind of forgetfulness of the United States. "The material was regularly sold to the Afghan army, it was not abandoned by US forces," explains Valacchi.

Neither him nor General Bertolini appears, however, that the Italians have left vehicles, armaments or ammunition in Afghanistan. “We are a relatively poor army and we cannot afford to leave even smooth tires”, Bertolini confesses with an ironic vein: “All weapons, ammunition, computers and sensitive materials have been taken away. The only things left were the housing modules we used ”.

The Italian budget

The presence in Afghanistan cost Italy 723 wounded and 53 dead. In monetary terms, on the other hand, there is talk of over 58 million euros, which however also served to build schools, roads, civil, health and water infrastructures. Since 2001 with the Enduring Freedom mission, then Isaf and finally Resolute Support, about fifty thousand soldiers in total have been engaged, with a maximum presence of five thousand units.

For Italy, the military mission in Afghanistan officially ended on June 8, 2021. The approximately 900 Italian soldiers were mainly engaged in the Herat base, a presence that is anything but irrelevant: Americans excluded (about three thousand units) the total of NATO's international contingent at the beginning of the year numbered seven thousand soldiers.

At the end of June our contingent substantially concluded the return operations, bringing the 228 Afghan collaborators to Italy. Even then, the Taliban were advancing inexorably and it was clear that, without the Western presence, anyone who collaborated with the occupying forces would risk their lives. The Ministry of Defense has announced that so far there are 3,804 Afghan citizens rescued. Of these, 2,662 arrived in Italy (of which 828 women and 901 children). The others are at Kabul airport, waiting to leave.

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Afghanistan Italy Middle East United States globalData.fldTopic = "Afghanistan, Italy, Middle East, United States"

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