It has been more than a year since the chaotic withdrawal of the US military from Kabul, and the Defense Department doesn’t actually have a clear idea of ​​how much US-funded military equipment has fallen into the hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan, according to a new report. of a high government observatory.

While an earlier Pentagon Inspector General report in August estimated that some $7.12 billion in US-funded military equipment was still in the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) inventory when the central government in Kabul collapsed, a new assessment by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) revealed last week that the Pentagon “has struggled for years to accurately account for the equipment it has supplied to ANDSF.”

The lack of accurate accounting resulted from the use of the Core Inventory Management System (Core IMS) despite “limitations with the usefulness and accuracy of such a system” reported by SIGAR since at least 2008. In fact, a DoD IG audit of the 2020 revealed that Core IMS was never used in more than half of Afghan-run arms depots across the country simply because they didn’t have constant access to electricity or the internet.

Additionally, U.S. military officials have concluded since at least 2014 that ANDSF personnel were “not entering information correctly into the system” and were maintaining inventory records using “paper records, handwritten records, and some Microsoft Excel spreadsheets “, according to the SIGAR report – the same system that created the conditions for “ghost soldiers”, or non-existent personnel created solely to funnel money and equipment to (often illicit) sources.

“Because of problems with the Core Inventory Management System and regularly documented problems with the Defense Department’s ability to account for equipment supplied to the Afghan government, it is unclear whether the $7.1 billion figure reported to Congress is accurate,” according to the SIGAR rating.

Translation: The United States doesn’t have a clear picture of how much military equipment it accidentally funneled into Taliban arsenals as the militant group spread across the country.

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As Task & Purpose previously reported, the $7.12 billion originally reported to Congress represents approximately 38 percent of the $18.6 billion allocated for military equipment procurement for ANDSF between 2005 and 2021, according to the August DoD IG report, a total that included military aircraft, aircraft ammunition, small arms and ground vehicles including Humvees, MRAPs and other tactical vehicles.

To be fair, US forces in the Afghanistan withdrawal process did their part to render larger pieces of equipment inoperable for incoming Taliban militants: their ad hoc demilitarization efforts “have included rendering 70 tactical vehicles protected against ambush resistant mines and 80 aircraft,” the SIGAR report states. “US Air Force personnel assisted in the decommissioning effort, which included plugging fuel lines, removing or destroying high-tech equipment, and physically damaging cockpits and avionics.”

But the August Defense Department report made clear that no matter how much more military equipment the Taliban has managed to acquire tactically (and continues to operate under severe maintenance and logistics shortfalls), the militants have certainly increased their arsenal of weapons. significantly light and heavy.

“Since 2005, the DoD has procured 427,300 weapons worth $612 million for the Afghan military and security forces, including 258,300 rifles, 6,300 sniper rifles, 64,300 handguns, 56,155 machine guns, 31,000 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and 224 howitzers,” according to the Defense Department’s IG Report in August. “OUSD(P) noted that 316,260 of these weapons, worth $511.8 million, were in stockpiles of Afghan forces when the previous government fell.”

And while the lack of equipment accountability under the DoD may not be surprising — “since at least 2009, SIGAR and the DoD’s Office of the Inspector General (DOD IG) have published reports noting accountability gaps and problems with the DoD’s processes.” DoD for tracking equipment in Afghanistan,” the report said — the dismissive attitude of US officials at the time toward the sudden arms transfer certainly was.

“We are always concerned about U.S. equipment falling into the hands of an adversary,” then-Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said during the fall of Kabul when pressed on the matter. “What actions we might take to prevent or prevent that, I just won’t speculate on today.”

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