Taliban Awash in US Arms, Vehicles, Complicate Afghan War

Taliban Have Looted and Stolen a Lot of US Gear Over the Years

16 years into the US occupation of Afghanistan, the Taliban insurgency is better armed than ever, fielding an ever-growing array of US-made weapons and vehicles that they’ve procured, either looting them from Afghan forces or stealing them outright through the legendary levels of corruption in Afghanistan.

This is, after all, the same country whose military has massive levels of desertion, and where recruits regularly stick around for their first paycheck, take that and the assault rifle they’re issued, and vanish.

That’s a major problem for the US, which is used to having a major advantage in equipment and capabilities over their insurgent enemies, but increasingly are in up-armored Humvees fighting Taliban who have the exact same up-armored Humvees.

This is the result of many years of losses, as hardly a single “insider attack” happens which doesn’t end with a Taliban infiltrator clearing out the weapons and vehicles from a police or army checkpoint and disappearing into the countryside. Where the attacker goes, no one knows, but the weapons will be seen again on the battlefield.

CNN has attempted to distract from this, focusing instead on a handful of Russian weapons seen in Taliban videos and speculating that the Taliban is getting directly armed by Russia. Yet there’s no question Taliban are armed vastly more with US gear than Russian hand-me-downs, and there’s never a suggestion the US is deliberately arming them.

The reality is that generations of warfare, first against the Soviet Union and later against the United States, has made the Taliban extremely good at coming up with ways to get weapons, and the longer the war drags on, the more US war materiel is being lost to them, turning the Taliban into the best-armed terrorist outfit this side of Syria, a country where the US has been deliberately arming the insurgencies.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.