Selling U.S. weapons has become a booming business in Afghanistan. From Kabul to Kandahar and smaller cities and towns in between, war booty is available to anyone off the street.
Among the enormous stock left behind are the items that once equipped Afghan security forces. For years, it remained an open secret that the gamble to equip Afghanistan’s army and police was a farce.
A Cascading Collapse
Some local forces fought bravely for the U.S.-backed government during the Taliban’s final offensive. Still, more lay down their arms, defected or capitulated from a sense of helplessness brought on by years of corruption.
Fearing the worst, soldiers and police officers began selling their equipment as soon as the Taliban launched its summer offensive.
According to The New York Times, dozens of Afghans have opened gun shops after buying U.S. weaponry the Taliban regime deemed unessential. These include small arms, binoculars and night vision goggles. Significantly, one arms dealer said that dealers had even sold anti-aircraft guns.
The National Interest adds:
Of course, it isn’t just the guns and military hardware that is now for sale. In local markets, everything from construction material to metal trays that were salvaged from former Afghan military bases is being offered for sale. Then there are the Humvees, armored personnel carriers (APCs), and at least one functioning Black Hawk helicopter offered for sale.
It is likely that some of these weapons will find their way to militias as well as terrorist groups. Some may have ties to the Taliban, while others could use the caches of firearms and equipment in the potentially impending civil war.
Ironically, the Taliban claims to have closely monitored and inventoried its U.S.-made war chest. Henceforth, the United States needs to do a better job of this to keep its supplies from going to waste.
U.S. Weapons Flooding the Streets
Some gun merchants have run U.S. equipment to neighboring Pakistan where the demand is also strong. Shopkeepers there have placed placards outside their stores, saying “Ameriki Fauj Ka Maal-e-Ganimat” (war booty from U.S. Army).
Meanwhile, ret. U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who commanded United States Central Command from 2016-2019, told Reuters that most the high-end weapons the Taliban seized had sensitive U.S. technology removed. Yet critics convincingly argue even inoperable equipment will give adversaries like China a window into our capabilities.
In contrast, some officials don’t believe any weapons the Taliban shares with China will reveal secrets. They argue Beijing has already acquired them.
The consequences of the Afghanistan withdrawal have gravely damaged President Biden.
As a candidate, he successfully portrayed himself as a steady hand amid chaos. Most voters don’t feel like they’ve seen much of that lately.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of American Liberty News.