Tennessee Republican Sen. Bill Hagerty is demanding the Biden administration and the Pentagon devise and implement a plan to destroy the troves of U.S. military equipment left behind in Afghanistan that has since fallen into the hands of Taliban fighters.
In an interview with the Daily Mail ahead of a trip to the United Kingdom, where he hoped to convince U.S. allies that they can still rely on America for leadership despite President Joe Biden’s pullout from the country, Hagerty expressed angst over the tens of billions of dollars worth of military equipment and weapons left in the country.
“One of the greatest concerns I have right now is the fact that we have left behind billions of dollars of the world’s finest military equipment on the ground, in the hands of a terrorist organization known as the Taliban and their close allies al Qaeda, and ISIS, and others,” he said.
According to published reports, the U.S. supplied Afghan forces with 208 aircraft, nearly 76,000 vehicles, and more than 600,000 weapons between 2003 and 2017. In addition, U.S. military vehicles and weapons also had to be left behind during the hasty pullout.
Hagerty told the Daily Mail he planned to bring up the issue of weapons left behind with NATO allies in Europe and in London meetings.
“It’s something we definitely need to be talking about,” he said before arriving in the UK capital Thursday morning. “Not talking about it, I think, would be foolhardy.”
The Tennessee Republican went on to note that he has asked the Pentagon what, exactly, has been “left behind” in terms of equipment and weaponry and what plans, if any, there are to destroy it.
“I reached out to our secretary of defense for an inventory of what’s there, what’s been left behind and what the plan is to recapture, destroy or otherwise immobilize the equipment that’s on the ground. I’ve not yet received a response,” Hagerty said.
Reports online, as well as news broadcasts, have shown Taliban forces parading captured equipment through the streets of Afghan cities including Kandahar, where fighters rode in up-armored Humvees and other vehicles equipped with medium- and heavy machine guns earlier this week. Also, at least one Black Hawk helicopter has been seen flying above the city as well.
That said, U.S. forces reportedly made much of the equipment left behind inoperable before pulling out. In a separate report Thursday, the Daily Mail said U.S. forces “demilitarized” 73 aircraft before departing, which left about 48 operational.
An Al Jazeera reporter noted, however, that the Taliban “expected the Americans to leave helicopters like this in one piece for their use.”
“When I said to them, ‘Why do you think that the Americans would have left everything operational for you?’ They said because we believe it is a national asset and we are the government now and this could have come to great use for us,'” the reporter added.
The Taliban were disappointed to find inoperable planes and helicopters left behind by American forces on the military side of the Kabul airport. pic.twitter.com/HfmlwYNjO0
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) September 1, 2021
Still, however, there are hundreds of thousands of small arms that were captured by the Taliban, as well as all of the still-operational vehicles and some aircraft.
As for Hagerty, he hopes to convey to British members of parliament that the bond between their country and the U.S. endures.
“I think is also important just to be able to sit down and talk with British lawmakers who are quite rightly concerned about what occurred in Afghanistan, our resolve, and our will to lead right now,” he said.
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