Has Our Government Learned Its Lesson From The Afghan Withdrawal?

Many Americans, veterans and others still remember the images of the Taliban wearing American military gear with American equipment. However, with the war in Ukraine lasting longer than ‘military experts’ claimed and increasing demand to send more assistance, one has to ask if our government has learned its lesson from the Afghan withdrawal. Have we put measures in place to make sure American weaponry and equipment don’t fall into the wrong hands? They haven’t.

Earlier this week, CNN reported that the U.S. doesn’t have a great idea of what happens to the weapons and equipment funneling into Ukraine. The Javelins, Switchblades and Switchblades are particularly concerning.

Javelin Weapon System, a shoulder-fired antiarmor system. Switchblade 300 is lightweight drone equipped with small explosive warhead. While Javelins do have serial numbers, there isn’t a great way to track the transfer of this equipment once it gets in theater and out of American hands. Alarmingly a senior defense official told CNN, “We may never know exactly to what degree they’re using the Switchblades.”

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby also stated that the DOD doesn’t earmark the weapons it sends for particular units.

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There’s nothing new

It’s not that we are sending aid and equipment to Ukraine that causes me consternation. Instead, it’s the fact that we haven’t figured out a way to track this equipment.

Jordan Cohen, an analyst at the CATO Institute specializing in defense and foreign policy, stated that there is danger from the flow of arms into Ukraine. This could lead to a conflict with their plans.

This isn’t a new worry, nor is the concept of American weapons and equipment getting lost in the fog of war.

Al-Qaeda and Iran were among the many beneficiaries of weapons that had been sold to Saudi Arabia, UAE and other countries.

In case you are unfamiliar with Charlie Wilson (ex-Representative) and the film appropriately titled Charlie Wilson’s WarWe have been sending arms to Afghanistan for many decades. First, to arm the Taliban-affiliated mujahideen, and second, to provide support to Afghan forces fighting against the Soviet Army. Unfortunately, some weapons found their way onto the black market.

Afghanistan Debacle

A total of $88 billion was spent on the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. With the speedy nature of our withdrawal we discovered that the exact group we had expelled in the first conflict was now back at power. They are also more powerful and have better-equipped forces, due to the legacy we left.

Some of the things we left behind were assault rifles. Pistols. Machine guns. Missiles. Aircraft, helicopters. Armoured vehicles.

Although the argument goes that the majority of the equipment was not usable, it is important to remember there are more benefits to American military equipment beyond its utilitarian use.

These objects can serve as income-generating and propaganda props.

The Taliban used this opportunity to show the world the captured weaponry in a bid to reinforce their narrative about the defeat of U.S. National Forces.

This reinforces Taliban’s message that they can only protect Afghans and are their true allies.

These could cause Central Asian countries such as Tajikistan or Uzbekistan (or other Central Asian states) to have closer security ties than ever with Moscow and Beijing. To be open to diplomatically dealing with the Taliban, or worse.

Even though the argument is that weapons can be used as props and they are now destroyed, it’s not a good idea. We left more than weaponry behind.

Over 160,000 radios, communications equipment, and 16,000-night vision goggles have been seized by the Taliban from one location. More is involved in fighting wars, and inflicting suffering on others than just ammunition and missiles. This non-lethal form of military equipment can also be a game changer in the theater of operation.

Reported by: Trump has an idea for the Billions in Weapons Biden left For The Taliban

We Are Where We Are Today

Mark F. Cancian from the Center for Strategic and International Studies stated that nearly a third (33%) of Javelin rockets were supplied by us. Although it might sound fine to have two-thirds of the stock available, war planners prefer to keep a certain level of inventory in case there is a conflict with North Korea and other enemies.

Today, President Biden declared that he will approve $800 million more in assistance to Ukraine. According to him, we’ve provided close to $1Billion in aid for Ukraine within the last 2 months.

With inflation the main issue plaguing American voters and our terrible track record of making sure our weapons don’t wind up in the wrong hands, it is only natural that Americans should be concerned.

It’s hard not to want to send as much aid and assistance as we can to the brave Ukrainian people as they fight off a monster.

However, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that our government to figure out how to track what gets sent over and to where.

In a world where I can follow a purchase in real-time from the warehouse to my house, I find it odd we can’t track equipment that has serial numbers attached to them.