Watch US Troops Trash Millions in Equipment to Stop It From Falling Into Taliban’s Hands Intact
15:21 GMT 03.09.2021 (Updated: 18:12 GMT 03.09.2021)
The United States completed the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan on Monday, with their departure bringing an end to a war, counterinsurgency operation and occupation which lasted nearly 20 years and cost hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.
Users on social media have been circulating footage showing US troops deliberately trashing military vehicles at Kabul airport in a desperate bid to make them inoperable before falling to the Taliban.*
The footage, filmed by Facebook user Michael Markland, thought to be a US soldier in Kabul, shows one trooper attempting to smash an armoured vehicle’s windshield with a makeshift tool of destruction, while another sits in the driver’s seat of the vehicle, ripping out radio equipment, destroying the onboard computer system and kicking the console with his boot. Additional footage shows a soldier using a rock to smash an SUV's windows, and another bashes a door inside a building, apparently to destroy its lock.
The viral clip is part of a longer, 8'18" video
posted by Markland showing the chaotic final days of the US military presence in Kabul. Sputnik cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video.
On Monday, US Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie assured reporters that US forces had disabled a number of armoured vehicles, aircraft and other equipment at the Kabul Airport before boarding the last flights out of Afghanistan. “We demilitarised those systems so that they’ll never be used again….They’ll never be able to be operated by anyone again,” the commander stressed.
McKenzie’s comments were echoed by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, who insisted that the only equipment still operable at the airport consisted of “a couple of firetrucks and forklifts so that the airport itself can remain more operational.” Kirby also said that US forces “made sure to demiliatarise, to make unusable, all the gear that is at the airport – all the aircraft, all the ground vehicles.”
Former President Donald Trump took to Telegram
to blast the military officials over these claims, posting a video of Taliban militants parading around in what look like US-made armoured vehicles while waving the white and black flags of their so-called ‘Islamic Emirate’ government. “There is nothing disabled about the equipment that the United States gave to the Taliban. Just more made up lies!” Trump said in a post accompanying the video.
At the same time, a Taliban spokesman accused US troops of “destroying” the airport, telling Turkish media that American forces had “poisoned” the armoured cars left behind with unknown chemicals.
Trump previously estimated that the Taliban had seized as much as $85 billion in US military equipment amid its whirlwind string of offensives, which culminated in the capture of Kabul on 15 August, and demanded that the Sunni militant group give the equipment back. The former president recommended that the US should either “go in with unequivocal military force” to get the equipment back, “or at least bomb the hell out of it.”
The Taliban became a major military power virtually overnight in the past month, with The Times estimating that during its 19+ year occupation of Afghanistan, the US delivered more than 22,000 Humvees, more than 600 M1117 armoured security vehicles, 150+ MaxPro mine-proof trucks, nearly 170 M113 armoured personnel carriers, 8,000 full-size trucks and up to 42,000 pickups and SUVs to the country. On top of that, the Afghan security forces were said to have received at least 109 helicopters and 65 fixed-wing aircraft, more than 358,000 assault rifles, tens of thousands of machineguns, more than 162,000 radios, 16,000+ night-vision goggle devices, and 176 artillery pieces. Much of this equipment is now feared to have fallen into the hands of the militant group.
The United States and its allies, most of them members of the NATO alliance, invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, on the pretext of the Taliban’s refusal to extradite al-Qaeda* leader Osama bin Laden. In the nearly 20 years since the invasion, the war has cost the lives of as many as 100,000 Afghan civilians, with 70,500 Afghan security forces personnel, tens of thousands of Taliban fighters, more than 3,500 western coalition troops, and 4,000+ western mercenaries. Brown University’s Costs of War project has estimated that the US war in Afghanistan cost taxpayers more than $2.2 trillion (or about $300 million per day for nearly 20 years).
Despite these costs, and the two decades that the US and its allies had to stabilise Afghanistan and to try to turn it into a western-style democracy, the western-backed Afghan government in Kabul collapsed just over four months after President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal, and just 10 days after the Taliban captured their first major city in early August.
* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.