Twenty-five U.S. senators have sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense expressing grave concerns about the threat posed by the U.S. military leaving behind in Afghanistan weaponry, such as UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, which have now fallen into the hands of Taliban forces and their terrorist allies. But, that’s just “what happens when you withdraw,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says.
The senators, led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), want a full accounting of the military equipment left behind, the equipment that is now in the Taliban’s hands and the Taliban’s ability to use, or learn to use with the help of America’s adversaries, the seized equipment.
“We were horrified to see U.S. equipment – including UH-60 Black Hawks – in the hands of the Taliban,” the senators tell the Defense Secretary.
“It is unconscionable that high-tech military equipment paid for by U.S. taxpayers has fallen into the hands of the Taliban and their terrorist allies,” the senators write. “Securing U.S. assets should have been among the top priorities for the U.S. Department of Defense prior to announcing the withdrawal from Afghanistan.”
“This is what happens when you withdraw. Some stuff, some equipment is left there,” Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday when asked by San Francisco CBS affiliate KPIX about the danger of leaving “tens of billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. military equipment in the hands of the Taliban”:
KPIX: “Those folks were all crucial to our effort there, but the U.S. withdrawal left tens of billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. military equipment in the hands of the Taliban. There were helicopters, guns, ammunition. How much does that raise the threat of future terrorist attacks as a well-armed Taliban?”
Speaker Pelosi: “Well, I do believe that the President's decision was based on one that reduced the prospect of any attack on our homeland. And the President has made it very clear to the Taliban: any assault on any American entity or person would be met forcefully.
“So, this is what happens when you withdraw. Some stuff, some equipment is left there. It was thought that that would be used – it was hoped that it would be used by the Afghan military to defend its own country. The fact that it did not and could not was all more the reason for us to leave.”
The full text of the senators’ letter is below.
Dear Secretary Austin:
We write with grave concern regarding the status of U.S. military equipment left behind in Afghanistan as a result of our poorly executed withdrawal from the country. As we watched the images coming out of Afghanistan as the Taliban retook the country, we were horrified to see U.S. equipment – including UH-60 Black Hawks – in the hands of the Taliban.
It is unconscionable that high-tech military equipment paid for by U.S. taxpayers has fallen into the hands of the Taliban and their terrorist allies. Securing U.S. assets should have been among the top priorities for the U.S. Department of Defense prior to announcing the withdrawal from Afghanistan. We therefore request detailed information on the following:
1. A full account of military equipment provided to the Afghan Armed Forces in the last year;
2. All military equipment, owned by either the U.S. or Afghan Armed Forces, that was removed or destroyed prior to the U.S. withdrawal, or is rendered inoperable without U.S. logistics personnel;
3. All U.S. military equipment that remains operational in Afghanistan;
4. A list of what military equipment has been seized by the Taliban;
5. An assessment of how long it will take the Taliban to use each of the captured equipment;
6. An assessment of the likelihood that the Taliban will seek to work with Russia, Pakistan, Iran, or the People’s Republic of China for training, fuel, or infrastructure necessary to utilize the equipment they do not have the capabilities to use on their own; and
7. Any efforts by the administration, planned or underway, to recapture or destroy equipment that remains in Afghanistan and is at risk of being used by terrorist entities.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.
U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jim Risch (R-ID), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rick Scott (R-FL), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Mike Braun (R-IN), John Hoeven (R-ND), John Barrasso (R-WY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Michael Rounds (R-SD), John Boozman (R-AR), Deb Fischer (R-NE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Roger Marshall (R-KS)