- Tony Robinson El
🎧(#URRTHEBUZZFEED)🎧 - $80 Billion In Weapons Just Laying Around... #kabul #joebiden #trumpwasright
Updated: Aug 30, 2021
The U.S. government has provided an estimated $83 billion worth of training and equipment to Afghan security forces since 2001. This year, alone, the U.S. military
aid to Afghan forces was $3 billion.
Putting price tags on American military equipment still in Afghanistan isn’t an easy task. In the fog of war – or withdrawal – Afghanistan has always been a black box with little sunshine.
Not helping transparency, the Biden Administration is now hiding key audits on Afghan military equipment. This week, our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com reposted two key reports on the U.S. war chest of military gear in Afghanistan that had disappeared from federal websites.
#1. Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit of U.S. provided military gear in Afghanistan (August 2017): reposted report (dead link: report).
#2. Special Inspector General For Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) audit of $174 million in lost ScanEagle drones (July 2020): reposted report (dead link: report).
U.S. taxpayers paid for these audits and the U.S.-provided equipment and should be able to follow the money.
After publication, the GAO spokesman responded to our request for comment, “the State Department requested we temporarily remove and review reports on Afghanistan to protect recipients of US assistance that may be identified through our reports and thus subject to retribution.” However, these reports only have numbers and no recipient information.
Furthermore, unless noted, when estimating “acquisition value,” our source is the Department Logistics Agency (DLA) and their comprehensive databases of military equipment.
Vehicles and airplanes
Between 2003 and 2016, the U.S. purchased and provided 75,898 vehicles and 208 aircraft, to the Afghan army and security forces, according to a Government Accountability Office report.
Here is a breakdown of estimated vehicle costs:
Armored personnel carriers such as the M113A2 cost $170,000 each and recent purchases of the M577A2 post carrier cost $333,333 each.
Mine resistant vehicles ranges from $412,000 to $767,000. The total cost could range between $382 million to $711 million.
Recovery vehicles such as the ‘truck, wrecker’ cost between for the base model $168,960 and $880,674 for super strength versions.
Medium range tactical vehicles include 5-ton cargo and general transport trucks were priced at $67,139. However, the family of MTV heavy vehicles had prices ranging from $235,500 to $724,820 each. Cargo trucks to transport airplanes cost $800,865.
Humvees – ambulance type (range from $37,943 to $142,918 with most at $96,466); cargo type, priced at $104,682. Utility Humvees were typically priced at $91,429. However, the 12,000 lb. troop transport version cost up to $329,000.
Light tactical vehicles: Fast attack combat vehicles ($69,400); and passenger motor vehicles ($65,500). All terrain 4-wheel vehicles go up to $42,273 in the military databases.
This month, the Taliban seized Black Hawk helicopters and A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft. As late as last month, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense posted photos on social media of seven newly arrived helicopters from the U.S., Reuters reported.
Black Hawk helicopters can cost up to $21 million. In 2013, the U.S. placed an order for 20 A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft for $427 million – that’s $21.3 million for each plane. Other specialized helicopters can cost up to $37 million each.
The Afghan air force contracted for C-208 light attack airplanes in March 2018: seven planes for $84.6 million, or $12.1 million each. The airplanes are very sophisticated and carry HELLFIRE missiles, anti-tank missiles and other weaponry.
The PC-12 intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance airplanes use the latest in technology. Having these planes fall into Taliban control is disconcerting. Civilian models sell new for approximately $5 million each and the military planes could sell for many times that price.
Basic fixed-wing airplanes range in price from $3.1 million to $22 million in the DLA database.
Of course, helicopter prices also range widely depending on the technology, purpose, and equipment. For example, according to the DLA, general purpose helicopters range in price from $92,000 to $922,000. Observation helicopters can cost $92,000 and utility helicopters up to $922,000.
Even if the Taliban can’t fly our planes, the parts are very valuable. For example, just the control stick for certain military planes has an acquisition value of $17,808 and a fuel tank sells for up to $35,000.
In 2017, the U.S. military lost $174 million in drones that were part of the attempt to help the Afghan National Army (ANA) defend itself. But the ANA didn’t immediately use the drones and then lost track of them.
This week, the SIGAR audit on the $174 million drone loss disappeared from its website.
Weapons, communications equipment, and night vision googles
Since 2003 the U.S. gave Afghan forces at least 600,000 infantry weapons, including M16 rifles, 162,000 pieces of communication equipment, and 16,000 night-vision goggle devices, according to the GAO report.
The howitzer is the modern cannon for the U.S. military and each unit can cost up to $500,000; however most are in the $200,000 price range. At the higher end, there’s GPS guidance on fired shells.
A common price of a M16 rifle is $749, according to DLA. Adding a grenade launcher can push the price of the M16 to $12,032. M4 carbine rifles are slightly more expensive with unit prices as high as $1,278.
Just the sights on night-vision sniper rifle scopes can run as high as $35,000, however, most vary in price between $5,000 and $10,000.
Here are the costs of other types of weaponry provided to Afghan forces:
Machine guns, i.e. the M240 model, were priced between $6,600 and $9,000 each.
Grenade launchers cost between $1,000 and $5,000 each; however, in 2020, the manufacture sold 53 for $15,000 each.
Army shotguns were acquired for only $150 each, according to DLA.
Military pistols cost $320 each, such as the .40 caliber Glock Generation 3.
Each Aerostat surveillance balloon has a average cost of $8.9 million dollars
. Each ScanEagle drone costs approximately $1.4 million according to recent procurement news. Even as late at 2021, U.S. appropriations for the Wolfhounds radio monitoring systems approached $874,000.
Night vision devices: The total cost for the 16,000 night-vision goggles alone could run as high as $80 million. Individually, the high-tech goggles were priced between $2,742 and $5,000 by the DLA. Other equipment like high resolution image intensifiers are commonly priced at $10,747 each; however, sophisticated models run as high as $66,000 each.
Radio equipment: the cost of equipment adds up – receiver-transmitters ($210,651); sophisticated radio sets ($61,966); amplifiers ($28,165); repeater sets ($28,527); and deployment sets to identify frequencies run up to $18,908.
However, if the Taliban doesn’t have the expertise or technologies to program the equipment, it will become obsolete quickly. Or it could be sold off to other countries who wanted to acquire U.S. technology.
And there’s more… years 2017 through 2019
From 2017 to 2019, the U.S. also gave Afghan forces 7,035 machine guns, 4,702 Humvees, 20,040 hand grenades, 2,520 bombs and 1,394 grenade launchers, according to the since removed 2020 SIGAR report, reported by The Hill.
An unnamed official told Reuters that current intelligence assessment was that the Taliban took control of more than 2,000 armored vehicles, including American Humvees, and as many as 40 aircraft that may include UH-60 Black Hawks, scout attack helicopters and ScanEagle military drones.
“We don't have a complete picture, obviously, of where every article of defense materials has gone, but certainly a fair amount of it has fallen into the hands of the Taliban,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday, from The Hill reported. “And obviously, we don't have a sense that they are going to readily hand it over to us at the airport.”
Republican Senators have demanded that there be a full count of U.S. military equipment left in Afghanistan.
In a letter to SoD Llyod Austin, the lawmakers said they were "horrified" to see photos of Taliban militants taking hold of military equipment, including Black Hawk helicopters.
"It is unconscionable that high-tech military equipment paid for by U.S. taxpayers has fallen into the hands of the Taliban and their terrorist allies," the lawmakers said in the confirmed letter. "Securing U.S. assets should have been among the top priorities for the U.S. Department of Defense prior to announcing the withdrawal from Afghanistan."
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Procurement prices can vary widely over a 20-year period. Factors influencing prices include when the item was purchased, quantities, and other acquisition details.
The U.S. military removed planes, heavy weapons and sophisticated military equipment as it began winding down its operations in Afghanistan in the spring. But it couldn't take home 20 years of accumulated hardware and instead left much of it to the Afghan military.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan acknowledged as much earlier this week.
"We don't have a complete picture, obviously, of where every article of defense materials has gone, but certainly, a fair amount of it has fallen into the hands of the Taliban," he said.
A report last month by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) indicates that the U.S.-backed Afghan military possessed more than 150 aircraft.
Where Are Taliban Officials Getting The Money To Run Afghanistan?
This includes four C-130 transport aircraft, 23 Brazilian-made A-29 "Super Tucano" turboprop ground-attack aircraft, 45 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, and 50 smaller MD-530 choppers. In addition, Afghan forces were given more than 30 military versions of Cessna single-engine fixed-wing aircraft.
It's not clear how many of those aircraft are still in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan says that hundreds of Afghan troops fled there last weekend with 22 military planes and 24 helicopters.
There's a challenge in flying a Black Hawk
There's a big difference between having a Black Hawk helicopter and learning to use it effectively.
"It's not something that you can do in a week or a month," says Bradley Bowman, a former Black Hawk pilot in the Army who is currently the senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
"Someone could get in there, maybe find some operating manuals and figure out how to get the engine started, the rotors turning and get it up in the air," he tells NPR. "But they'd probably be more of a danger to themselves than to anyone else at that point."
Made back in the U.S.S.R.
Asked what weapon he thinks is the most lethal in the Taliban's new arsenal, Schroden doesn't name an American system, but a Russian one — the D-30 howitzer, a 122-mm towed artillery piece.
He says the weapons are lethal and "it's clear the Taliban know how to use them."
And the Taliban can always just sell off anything they can't learn to use or maintain themselves.
On the Black Hawks and A-29s, for instance, "presumably there is some avionics, communications equipment, other things on those aircraft that they could sell," Bowman says.
Iran might be interested, as might China or Russia, if for no other reason than to "humiliate America," he says. Despite the sectarian divide between the Sunni Taliban and Iran's Shiite government, there are some signs of cooperation
Schroden agrees, pointing to high-tech "sensor balls" on the front of some aircraft.
"They have sophisticated electro-optics, optical equipment, as well as signals intelligence type stuff in them," he says. "Those things might be of interest to other countries as well."