President Joe Biden’s top national security adviser conceded that a “fair amount” of United States defense equipment has fallen into Taliban hands after the insurgent group’s takeover of Afghanistan.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan was asked by reporters on Tuesday about the billions of dollars in equipment provided by the U.S. to Afghanistan, including guns, ammunition, helicopters, and more.
“We don’t have a complete picture of where every article of defense material has gone,” Sullivan said. “But, certainly, a fair amount of it has fallen into the hands of the Taliban, and obviously, we don’t have a sense that they are going to readily hand it over to us at the airport.”
The U.S. spent billions of dollars arming the Afghan National Security Forces over two decades, including support for an Afghan air force, before announcing its military withdrawal earlier this year. On Monday, ousted President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as the military crumbled and Taliban insurgents solidified control of Kabul. Afghan forces “are no longer operating as coherent entity,” Sullivan told the Washington Examiner, but he did not answer a question regarding the future of the U.S. relationship with the army it trained. Biden said Monday that the White House was surprised by the speed of the Taliban’s takeover.
Similar to the president, Sullivan echoed the view that Afghan forces “chose not to fight.” Still, Biden’s top national security aide defended the decision to provide sophisticated weaponry and armaments to the Afghan army, even as that equipment, such as Black Hawk helicopters, this month fell into Taliban hands.
“Those Black Hawks were not given to the Taliban. They were given to the Afghan National Security Forces to be able to defend themselves at the specific request of President Ghani” after the Afghan leader “came to the Oval Office and asked,” Sullivan said.
The president had a choice not to “give it to them, with the risk that it could fall into the Taliban’s hands,” or provide the requested equipment “with the hope that they could deploy it in service of defending their country,” he argued.
Washington has spent close to $83 billion training and arming Afghanistan’s army and police forces, according to the Associated Press.
Author : Katherine Doyle