A group of Republican senators called on the government to perform a full accounting of all U.S. military equipment left in Afghanistan after the nation's hasty withdrawal. The call comes after numerous videos and images surfaced online showing Taliban forces flaunting several military assets and hardware - including Black Hawk helicopters.
In a letter addressed to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the group of senators said they were "horrified" to see the images and videos of U.S. military equipment falling into the hands of Taliban militants. The lawmakers urged the Pentagon to conduct an accounting of the equipment that was left behind.
The lawmakers said it was "unconscionable" of high-tech military equipment, which was paid for by U.S. taxpayers, to be used by the Taliban and its terrorist allies. The letter said the U.S. Department of Defense should have made securing the military assets one of its top priorities before leaving the country.
Taliban's arms seizures embarrass US. Social media images show Taliban fighters carrying M4 and M18 assault rifles and M24 sniper weapons, driving around in iconic US Humvees and, in one video, apparently wearing US-style special forces tactical uniformshttps://t.co/lvewOdiylt pic.twitter.com/vGwtU9UZfJ — AFP News Agency (@AFP) August 19, 2021
The Republican senators said there should be a full accounting of all equipment given to Afghan security forces and those known to have been seized by the Taliban. The senators also called on an assessment on whether the U.S. should seek the assistance of other countries for the return or destruction of its military assets.
Over the past decades, the U.S. has spent billions of dollars buying military equipment, most of which were given to Afghan security forces to help them defend their own country.
The letter was signed by Senators Marco Rubio, Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, Ron Johnson, and Rick Scott.
During a press conference Wednesday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley declined to comment on the military equipment left behind in Afghanistan. Milley instead shifted the question to the military's effort in evacuating U.S. personnel that are still in the country.
"On the equipment, we obviously have capabilities, but I'd prefer not to discuss any operations other than what we're doing right now," Milley said.
Earlier in the week, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan admitted substantial amounts of military equipment were left behind and are now in Taliban hands. He said that it is not yet clear if the Taliban are willingly going to hand the equipment back over to the U.S.