Capturing the enemy’s weapons has been a accepted guerrilla tactic for centuries. The American Army could not accept succeeded adjoin King George III afterwards abduction the king’s aliment and armaments. It is one affair to abduction weapons and added materiel; it is addition to be accustomed the enemy’s accessory on a argent platter.
In the images of the Taliban fighters calamity the streets of Kabul, one detail attracts attention: the abridgement of the all-over Kalashnikov. Few Taliban actualization now backpack the signature weapon of anarchical fighters, the AK-47, and its endless variants from the handmade Pakistani versions to the adapted Russian AK-19. Most of the Taliban in Kabul’s artery seems to adopt American M4 carbines and M16 rifles with their abounding accessories attached, from big-ticket eyes to laser architect and flashlights, an aberrant account in adverse to aloof a few weeks earlier.
The acknowledgment to the catechism apropos the antecedent of these baby accoutrements is straightforward: war looting. Addition and added important catechism needs an answer: The fate of the all-encompassing aggressive armament that the U.S. larboard abaft during its abandonment or that which was in the easily of the Afghan armament that broiled so bound abroad as the Taliban advanced.
As a landlocked country, Afghanistan makes affective aggressive armament aback to the U.S. neither an accessible nor an economical endeavor. Abundant was removed anyway, and abundant handed over to Afghan government forces. What couldn’t be taken back, was left. Blowing up in situ ample quantities of war armament is cheaper than aircraft it out of Afghanistan. Still, that advantage creates baneful legacies that would affect the bounded citizenry for a continued time, as happened in Iraq.
Get abreast on the adventure of the week, and developing belief to watch above the Asia-Pacific.
Nevertheless, abridgement of time and absurd expectations on the survivability of the Afghan aegis armament bent the Pentagon by surprise. According to Joshua Reno, columnist of “Military Waste: The Unexpected After-effects of Permanent War Readiness,” recirculating weapons in the places a aggressive force leaves aback the action is over will augment the risks that baby accoutrements or added weapons are activity to ammunition and accent civilian war or instability.
According to a top Pentagon acumen specialist, there is no bright almanac of the abundance and affection of aggressive accessories larboard behind. National Aegis Adviser Jake Sullivan declared that the Taliban apparently would not accord such armament aback to the U.S. at the airport, abacus a agenda of absurdity to an already adverse situation. One of the actual abstracts fatigued from the less-than-optimal U.S. aggressive abandonment from Afghanistan is how the U.S. can abbreviate the affairs of approaching disasters stemming out of the Taliban’s use and barter of alone U.S. and Afghan aggressive materiel.
U.S. aggressive and intelligence had already absolved that aisle in the 1990s, afterwards the anti-Soviet mujahedeen pushed out the Soviet Union. The assignment at that time was to balance Stingers, awful adult carriageable apparent to air missiles. In adjustment to accept a adventitious adjoin the Soviet Union’s heavily armed beforehand helicopter Mil Mi-24, about a aeriform tank, the U.S. had able the mujahedeen with Stingers in the 1980s. As anon as the war concluded with the Soviet defeat, the achievability of those Stingers actuality active for agitator attacks or falling into adverse government easily afire a coursing to get the carriageable missiles back. The U.S. intelligence association accolade to buy them back, allegedly at $100,000 per unit, or admission the carriageable missiles by any means. Steve Coll in his acclaimed book “Ghost Wars,” mentioned that aback the Taliban bedeviled Kabul in 1996, an estimated 600 of the 2,300 Stingers provided by the CIA during the Soviet-Afghan war remained unaccounted for. Tehran was aggressive in the aforementioned chase to admission as abounding of the aberrant Stingers as possible.
Providentially, the blackmail of a agitator application a Stinger to shoot bottomward an American commuter alike did not materialize, nor did the Taliban beforehand a acknowledged anarchical anti-aircraft advance with the leftovers.
And yes, history repeats itself.
Today’s abundance and affection of weapons that the Taliban are accession back their lightning beforehand will arguably accept adventitious abrogating after-effects far from Afghan borders. Sales to adverse governments and on the atramentous bazaar may accommodate added acquirement to the Taliban and admission ambiguity and alternation not alone in Central Asia but beyond. Active organizations such as the Haqqani network, already in Kabul, acquire the adequacy to bootleg weapons from Afghanistan to the Middle East, the African continent, and alike to Southeast Asia.
Possible scenarios ambit from baby accoutrements acclimated to advance alternation in the arena or night eyes goggles and military-grade advice accessories extensive added active groups, including the Islamic State. Added cogent items now in the easily of the Taliban, such as helicopters, can neither be maintained nor aureate due to a abridgement of Taliban pilots and accomplished aliment crews. The materiel, however, could be handed over to countries absorbed in acute U.S. technology, and that account is not short. The war annexation includes armored Humvees, aircraft, and beforehand helicopters, as able-bodied as aggressive advance drones. Most of the Afghan Air Force’s aircraft were acclimated by Afghan pilots to escape into adjoining Central Asian countries as Kabul fell, but the cardinal still anchored on Afghan airfields is unknown.
The abatement of Kabul, predictably, has been compared with the abatement of Saigon. Most of the analogies point to helicopters abrogation the roof of the American Embassy. However, addition affinity account referencing is accompanying to the North Vietnamese political commissars’ scrambling to ability the ARVN and South Vietnamese police’s athenaeum to locate the account of intelligence admiral and collaborators. In an era of Big Abstracts and databases stored in the cloud, there is a abrupt ability that deleting abstracts from the servers and smashing adamantine drives is not a bulletproof solution. Moreover, there are astringent apropos that hundreds of aggressive biometric devices, alone in U.S. bases, larboard a agenda breadcrumb aisle that the Taliban will use to locate and ambition above aegis admiral and government supporters. Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment, in abbreviate HIIDE, accessories are meant to digitally analyze accompany from foes via a biometric reading, adjoin databases with fingerprints, iris scans and characteristic facial features.
Similarly, amusing media users in Kabul larboard a agenda aisle not alone on their adaptable phones but additionally on the internet. It’s now agenda affidavit that can be acclimated adjoin them aback the Taliban feels assured of their anchor on ability and bounded media control. Discounting the Taliban’s capabilities in accessing actionable agenda intelligence could be a mistake. Besides the apparent abutment that the Taliban could accept from adopted intelligence services, it is not astute to abuse the adeptness of active groups in harnessing low-tech schemes to adverse high-tech weaponry. An archetype is provided by the case of pro-Iranian militants in Iraq application $26 off-the-shelf software to ambush alive video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially accouterment them with advice they charge to adviser the unblinking eyes of U.S. drones.
The blackmail of insurgents intercepting bombinate video feeds has been patched with encrypted communication; however, examples of low-tech appropriate efficiencies abound. Back a decade ago, the Taliban accept been application off-the-shelf bartering drones to shoot advertising films and accommodate aeriform aloof and to adviser kamikaze aeriform bombs. This is a playbook adopted by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The contempo Taliban abduction of Boeing ScanEagle drones, developed for surveillance, could add a new adequacy to the fighters’ growing arsenal. Also, their appropriate use could advance into another and baleful options.
From a advertising perspective, the videos of Taliban fighters affectation in Afghan cities with their U.S. war trophies admission the criticism of the Biden administration’s abandonment decision. Although it charcoal cryptic how the Taliban will administer Afghanistan, the advertising amount of their white flags bouncing in the wind from the top of U.S.-made Humvees inspires added jihadist and abolitionist Islamist groups to imitate the Taliban’s actions. The acumen of aggrandized action capabilities provided by the war annexation could additionally advance Central Asian countries to strengthen their mutual aegis ties with Moscow and Beijing, no amount what, in the face of a Taliban with avant-garde equipment.
Sun Tzu, the admired columnist of the “Art of War,” quoted accept to accept with von Clausewitz in abreast Western aggressive PowerPoint presentations, states that the aureate aphorism is to apperceive your enemy. Apparently 20 years were not enough.
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