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A boon in arms and equipment for the Taliban

There are dozens of key bases around Afghanistan which are now in the hands of the Taliban after the withdrawal of the international armed forces.

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As the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, they seized an arsenal of military equipment that in some cases exceeded parts of the inventory of Western armed forces such as the Canadian Forces.

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Taliban fighters staged a victory parade in Kandahar City on Wednesday, showing off dozens of US-made armored vehicles and other weapons they captured in their lightning victory over the Afghan army and police. An American-made Black Hawk helicopter, dragging a Taliban flag, also flew over the city to highlight the insurgents’ ability to use more sophisticated equipment.

As the United States retreated from Afghanistan, it attempted to deactivate at least some of the equipment.

General Kenneth McKenzie, head of the United States Central Command, told reporters that 70 armored vehicles, 27 Humvee trucks and 73 planes were deactivated before the troops left Kabul. “These planes will never fly again,” he said. “They can never be operated on by anyone. “

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Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told CNN that the only usable equipment remaining at the airport included fire trucks and forklifts.

But there are dozens of other key bases around Afghanistan that are now in the hands of the Taliban and, with that, tons of military equipment.

The Afghan army operated more than 600 armored vehicles, similar to the tactical armored patrol vehicles of the Canadian Forces. In contrast, the Canadian Forces have approximately 500 APRTs.

The Afghan army also had over 22,000 Humvee, 150 anti-mine vehicles, 8,000 transport trucks, 160 M113 armored vehicles, over 350,000 assault rifles, 64,000 assorted machine guns, 120,000 pistols and over 170 pieces of artillery, according to various reports. Also left behind 33 transport helicopters, over 30 Black Hawk helicopters and 40 other light helicopters. In addition, there were approximately 65 assorted fixed-wing aircraft. The current state of the arsenal is not known.

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The operating time of this equipment is subject to question. The United States spent more than $ 500 million on 16 military transport planes for the Afghan army. But in 2013, planes were abandoned in Kabul due to a lack of spare parts.

A Department of National Defense official said on Wednesday that there were only limited amounts of Canadian equipment left in Afghanistan and that was years ago. This did not include weapons or large vehicles.

But Canada continued to fund Afghan security forces even after the military’s official departure in 2014, earmarking $ 330 million for the initiative.

Canada's former military installation, Camp Nathan Smith, in Kandahar City, was handed over to Afghan security forces but abandoned in late 2013. DAVID PUGLIESE / Postmedia
Canada’s former military installation, Camp Nathan Smith, in Kandahar City, was handed over to Afghan security forces but abandoned in late 2013. DAVID PUGLIESE / Postmedia Photo by David Pugliese /Postmedia

The Taliban also now control large amounts of infrastructure built and paid for by Western taxpayers. Base Kandahar, which once housed thousands of Canadian troops, was captured intact.

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Canada spent about $ 50 million on the Dahla Dam project which the Canadian government declared a success. The dam is still not functioning properly and needs hundreds of millions of dollars to complete.

The Dahla Dam project was one of Canada’s most controversial aid programs in Afghanistan. Some $ 10 million from the budget went to security provided by an Afghan company whose owner was convicted of drug-related crimes and accused of being an interpreter for the Taliban.

When Canadian soldiers withdrew from Kandahar in 2011, they left Camp Nathan Smith – the former base of Canada’s Provincial Reconstruction Team – to the Americans. A year later, the United States handed it over to the Afghans. At the end of 2013, it was discontinued.

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A similar pattern followed the withdrawal of Russian troops from Afghanistan in 1989. The Soviets embarked on a much more ambitious aid program than the United States and NATO, building thousands of kilometers of roads, tunnels, bridges, schools, buildings and military bases.

But, with the Taliban in charge, much of the infrastructure has fallen into disrepair.

One of the bridges is however still intact. In February 1989, the Soviet Army used the “Friendship Bridge” connecting Afghanistan to Uzbekistan to complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan. Last week, NATO-trained Afghan National Army troops used the same bridge to escape the Taliban.

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Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.