Billions of dollars of U.S. weapons are now in the hands of the Taliban following the quick collapse of Afghan security forces that were trained to use the military equipment.
Among the items seized by the Taliban are Black Hawk helicopters and A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft.
Photos have also circulated of Taliban fighters clutching U.S.-made M4 carbines and M16 rifles instead of their iconic AK-47s. And the militants have been spotted with U.S. Humvees and mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles.
While it’s virtually impossible to operate advanced aircraft without training, seizing the hardware gives the militants a propaganda boost and underscores the amount of wasted funds on U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan over the last 20 years.
“When an armed group gets their hands on American-made weaponry, it’s sort of a status symbol. It’s a psychological win,” said Elias Yousif, deputy director of the Center for International Policy’s Security Assistance Monitor.
“Clearly, this is an indictment of the U.S. security cooperation enterprise broadly,” he added. “It really should raise a lot of concerns about what is the wider enterprise that is going on every single day, whether that’s in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia.”
The United States spent an estimated $83 billion training and equipping Afghan security forces over the last two decades.