zaterdag 4 september 2021

Tanks, attack helicopters, drones: What U.S.-supplied arms mean for the Taliban

Tanks, attack helicopters, drones: What U.S.-supplied arms mean for the Taliban

Nabih Bulos

Los Angeles Times

When Taliban fighters rode triumphantly into Kabul airport early Tuesday, they did so on U.S.-supplied pickup trucks, wearing U.S.-supplied uniforms and brandishing U.S.-supplied M4 and M16 rifles. Then they spent hours examining the bonanza of materiel that American troops unintentionally bequeathed them in what had been the U.S.’ last redoubt in Afghanistan.

“This is ghaneema,” said one uniformed Taliban fighter: war booty. With a gloved hand, he snapped up the night-vision goggles on his ballistic helmet, looking like the very model of an Afghan soldier the U.S. had tried to help create to eliminate people like him. He walked inside a hangar and gawked with his squad mates at the U.S. Embassy helicopters gleaming under powerful overhead lights.

The choppers were just part of the Taliban’s haul. The group’s blindingly fast sweep through most of Afghanistan netted it billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. military equipment and weaponry given to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, which collapsed in the 11 days before the Taliban seized Kabul, the capital, on Aug. 15. Afghan soldiers who didn’t surrender shed their uniforms and gear and turned tail, following many of their military and political leaders.

For their effort, Taliban fighters reaped almost 2,000 Humvees and trucks; more than 50 armored fighting vehicles, including Mine-Resistant Ambush Protection vehicles, or MRAPs; scores of artillery and mortar pieces; more than a dozen aging but working helicopters and attack aircraft; a dozen tanks; seven Boeing-manufactured drones; and millions upon millions of bullets, according to a list compiled by the Oryx Blog, which tracks weapons used in conflicts.

Many of the items had been disabled by departing U.S. troops or are beyond the ken of Taliban fighters to operate. But a bitter irony of the chaotic Western withdrawal from Afghanistan is that the very group the U.S. ousted 20 years ago is not only back in power but better-equipped militarily than ever before to repel adversaries and enforce its brand of repressive rule.

Slightly less than one-third of the $83 billion Washington spent on the Afghan defense forces went toward materiel, estimates say. That it now lies in the hands of the U.S.’ erstwhile enemy is a source of embarrassment for the Biden administration, with former President Trump inveighing in a statement Monday that “ALL EQUIPMENT should be demanded to be immediately returned to the United States,” along with “every penny” of its cost.

The arms have transformed the Taliban into a skewed version of the army the U.S. wanted the Afghans to have. One commander in the Taliban’s elite Fateh Zwak group proudly showed off the brown-gray pickups once used by the CIA-backed National Directorate for Security, the Afghan government’s intelligence service. The only thing different was the insignias.

Many of the fighters acted the part too, demonstrating what Dan Grazier, who served as a Marine in Afghanistan and is now a defense policy analyst at the Washington-based Project on Government Oversight, said was behavior suggesting they had once been part of the Afghan security forces that had been trained by Americans.

“The stance, the way they’re holding the rifles, the trigger finger, how’s it’s flat and laying outside the trigger guard,” he said. “That’s hallmark American military training right there.”

The leftover U.S. gear is omnipresent in Kabul, where Taliban fighters wielding shiny black M4s on dark-green Ford Ranger trucks is a routine sight. Humvees protect bigger government buildings. (The U.S. gave the Afghan army almost 5,000 M4s and machine guns in 2017, according to reports from Washington’s Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.)

Less frequently seen — because they are not so easily usable — are the more lethal weapons, including the A-29 Super Tucano, a turboprop attack aircraft reminiscent of a World War II-era Mustang but with modern avionics, and helicopters such as MD-530s and Black Hawks.

U.S. troops “demilitarized,” or rendered inoperable, 73 aircraft left behind at Kabul airport, along with some 70 MRAP vehicles and 27 Humvees, U.S. Central Command said. The deliberate sabotage was evident Tuesday, when Taliban officials toured the airport grounds.

Although the A-29s were arranged neatly in their hangar, they stood amid a dump of sullied camo-patterned bags, socks, bullet boxes, grenades and discarded food packets. Their avionics bays were open, and electronic boxes that operate vital systems, including the starter for the motors, had been ripped out, their components bashed to bits. A C-17 transport plane parked outside squatted on one wheel, and the Black Hawks had their windows smashed and trash strewn inside bays that once carried vital supplies to Afghan soldiers or evacuated them, sometimes alive but often dead, back home.

Most ruined were the MD-530s. In flight, they were nimble helicopters, buzzing around and almost jousting with Taliban fighters assaulting government outposts. Now they were smooshed together in the hangar, as if a giant child had flicked them into each other. Their joysticks were cut at the handle.

The disarray left some Afghans angry, including one journalist who was no friend of the Taliban. But he was also unsurprised, he said.

“This is what we’ve come to expect from Americans,” he said.

Some of the Afghan Air Force fleet had also been taken by their Afghan pilots to the Panjshir Valley in northern Afghanistan, where the anti- Taliban resistance is bunkered, or to neighboring Uzbekistan. Authorities in Uzbekistan confirmed last month that some 46 Afghan military aircraft landed in the country.

Although quips on social media about a ” Taliban Air Force” are overblown, the group has managed to operate a few helicopters snatched from Afghan forces before they could destroy them. Dozens of Afghan Air Force pilots, many of them trainees, are still stuck in Afghanistan; some have been coerced into flying them for the group, said pilots interviewed by the Los Angeles Times.

Videos posted on social media from the southern city of Kandahar show a Black Hawk flying the Taliban’s white banner during a military parade this week. The occasional whump-whump of a Russian Mi-17 helicopter can still be heard over Kabul.

None of the aerial fleet left behind is cutting-edge, said a U.S. pilot and trainer who asked not to be named so as to comment freely. The aircraft, he said, were “stripped of every modern component.”

“They were sliced-up trucks, because the environment didn’t need the fancy stuff — they didn’t even have the standard self-defense systems,” he said, adding that the rules for selling the equipment to the Afghan Air Force required some demilitarization anyway.

Besides, whatever does fly now probably won’t be doing so in a few months, said an Afghan Air Force colonel who spoke on condition of anonymity because he recently escaped the country and still has family in Afghanistan. Even when the Afghan army existed, he said, it had no way of maintaining the aircraft without contractors and a steady pipeline of spare parts; bigger repairs required the aircraft to be taken to U.S. bases in the United Arab Emirates or Qatar.

“These aircraft aren’t flyable,” he said. “I’m happy they’ll try to fly them. They’ll kill a lot of Taliban when they do.”

Still, the Taliban is better off militarily than it used to be. There is also the public relations coup in commandeering U.S. materiel, said Damien Spleeters, deputy director of operations at Conflict Armament Research, a group that tracks arms transfers in conflict zones.

“Weapon systems that are noticeable, like anti-tank guided weapons or man-portable air-defense systems, or easily recognizable and associable with the U.S. offer propaganda opportunities even if they would be less favored in the field,” he said.

The greater concern, Spleeters said, is that the arms could filter through to other militant groups in Afghanistan — with or without the Taliban’s approval. He pointed to what happened in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, where arms that the U.S. supplied to proxy groups often wound up in the hands of factions hostile to the U.S.

“The bottom line is that once you supply weapons to parties in conflict you open a Pandora’s box. These weapons will eventually end up in other hands,” Spleeters said. “It’s like a blank check. Supplying weapons inevitably ends up in other actors than intended getting their hands on them at some point.”

©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Interview With Hannah Arendt


‘What’s essential is, I must understand’: a rare candid interview with Hannah Arendt

‘When others understand the same way that I have, that gives me satisfaction, like a sense of being at home.’

Hannah Arendt is most famous for her landmark book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963), which chronicles the notorious Nazi official Adolf Eichmann’s war crimes trial in 1961. Conducted at the height of her influence, Arendt’s unusually candid interview with the German journalist Günter Gaus in 1964 is a revealing window on to her biography, process and worldview. The sprawling conversation covers topics including her youth as a German Jew amid the Nazi Party’s rise; why she eschewed the label ‘philosopher’ in favour of ‘political theorist’; and how her work was driven by a need to understand rather than a desire to make an impact. The discussion provides an appropriately complex portrait of the famed thinker, placing her rigorous intellectual work in the context of her life and times.


How Completely And Utterly Insane Our Society Has Become

7 Examples That Show How Completely And Utterly Insane Our Society Has Become

Tyler Durden's Photo
FRIDAY, SEP 03, 2021 - 08:20 PM

Authored by Michael Snyder via,

Reading the news has become like going to a freak show.  You never know what you are going to see each day, but it is almost certainly going to be nutty.  Some of the things that I am going to share with you in this article are weird, others are infuriating, but they all point to the same conclusion.  From the very top to the very bottom, America is going crazy.  And I mean that in the worst way possible.  We truly have become an “idiocracy”, and it seems like those that are the most incompetent of all are often rewarded by being elevated to the top of the food chain.  Meanwhile, those of us that still try to approach things rationally are increasingly being pushed to the fringes of society.

 If you don’t understand the point that I am trying to make, hopefully things will become clearer by the time you complete this article.

The following are 7 examples that show how completely and utterly insane our society has become…

#1 At a time when global food supplies are getting tighter and tighter, Joe Biden wants to pay farmers to not grow anything in order to fight climate change…

President Joe Biden wants to combat climate change by paying more farmers not to farm. But he’s already finding it’s hard to make that work.

His Agriculture Department is far behind its goal for enrolling new land in one program that has that goal, with participation being the lowest it’s been in more than three decades.

Thankfully, relatively few farmers are grabbing the cash that Biden is offering, because prices for agricultural commodities have soared as global supplies have tightened.

So in a desperate attempt to get more farmers to sign up, the Biden administration has “more than doubled key incentive payments”

Even though the USDA this summer more than doubled key incentive payments for the program that encourages farmers and ranchers to leave land idle, high commodity prices are keeping it more worthwhile for growers to raise crops.

On top of that, the plan, known as the Conservation Reserve Program, takes land out of production for only 10 to 15 years — so those acres could release carbon into the atmosphere if the land is planted again and thus cancel out its environmental benefit.

Considering where global trends are heading, paying farmers not to produce food is one of the stupidest things that our government could possibly be doing at this moment.

#2 We are now learning that the chaotic evacuation in Afghanistan could have been conducted much, much differently.  According to the Washington Post, the Taliban actually offered a deal to the Biden administration that would have allowed the U.S. to secure the entire city of Kabul…

In a hastily arranged in-person meeting, senior U.S. military leaders in Doha – including McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command – spoke with Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of the Taliban’s political wing.

“We have a problem,” Baradar said, according to the U.S. official. “We have two options to deal with it: You [the United States military] take responsibility for securing Kabul or you have to allow us to do it.”

Can you imagine how much more orderly the evacuation of Americans and allied Afghans could have gone if U.S. forces had actually secured all of Kabul?

Needless to say, ISIS forces would have likely never gotten close enough to bomb the airport.

But instead of accepting the opportunity to secure all of Kabul, U.S. officials decided to hand Kabul to the Taliban and crowd everyone that needed to be evacuated into the airport

On the spot, an understanding was reached, according to two other U.S. officials: The United States could have the airport until Aug. 31. But the Taliban would control the city.

It is hard to believe that our officials could actually be this incompetent, but nobody will even be held accountable for this decision because we really do live in an “idiocracy”.

#3 One of the hottest new social media trends is to show off the fact that your body is inhabited by multiple “beings”

Several TikTok and YouTube accounts of such broken people, who refer to themselves as a “host” or “system” of multiple beings, have millions of online followers. They exhibit their various personalities for online notoriety in the guise of “educating” and “promoting awareness.”

One TikToker who says she has DID explains in a Q&A about her personalities, “I can’t force anyone [inside me] to come out but I can communicate very well within the system and ask someone to come out, but sometimes it’s very involuntary.”

Why in the world would “millions of online followers” want to watch these people manifest their various “personalities”?

And can’t most of those “followers” actually understand what is really going on with these people?

#4 A 43-year-old man took his parents to court after they threw out his porn collection.  Instead of laughing the case out of court, a judge in Michigan has awarded him more than $30,000 in damages

A judge has ordered a western Michigan couple to pay $30,441 to their son for getting rid of his pornography collection. U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney’s decision this week came eight months after David Werking, 43, won a lawsuit against his parents.

According to NBCDFW, He said they had no right to throw out his collection of films, magazines, and other items. Werking had lived at their Grand Haven home for 10 months after a divorce before moving to Muncie, Indiana. The judge followed the value set by an expert, reported.

The value of the collection was “set by an expert”?

What kind of sick credentials does someone need to become “an expert” in that field?

#5 After denying a transgender student the ability to use a particular bathroom, a school board in Virginia has been forced to pay out over 1.3 million dollars

A Virginia school board will pay more than $1.3 million to the American Civil Liberties Union after losing a court battle involving a transgender student who sued the school over its bathroom policy.

According to the Virginian-Pilot, the Gloucester County School Board on Thursday agreed to pay the ACLU the full amount of costs and fees associated with its representation of one of its former students, Gavin Grimm, marking the end of a lengthy six-year legal fight.

As word of this case spreads around, schools all over the nation will be deathly afraid to ever tell anyone what bathrooms they can or cannot use.

Nobody will want to be the next victim to get hit with a million dollar lawsuit, and it probably won’t be too long before the “boys” and “girls” signs on school bathrooms disappear entirely.

#6 When I was growing up, the American flag was proudly displayed in our classrooms and we said the Pledge of Allegiance every day.

But today the American flag is being taken down in classrooms all over America, and one public school teacher in California is urging her students to pledge allegiance to a new flag

A Southern California public school teacher was caught admitting to encouraging her students to pledge allegiance to the LGBT pride flag as an alternative to the American flag, bragging of the indoctrination on her own TikTok account.

The teacher, identified as Kristin Pitzen of Newport Mesa School District in Orange County, recounts taking down the American flag, an then pointing to the LGBT flag as an alternative.

We do have a flag in the class that you can pledge allegiance to,” said Pitzen when a student asked about the American flag that she had removed from the classroom “because of COVID.”

#7 In recent days, Joe Biden has been encouraging officials all over the country to impose extremely strict vaccine mandates.  Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is insisting that “no one should be forced to get a jab”

“Vaccination is the main weapon against the spread of the virus. Importantly, no one should be forced to get a jab. Pressure, where people may lose their jobs, is even less acceptable. People must be convinced of the need to get the vaccine,” he said.

When even Vladimir Putin is significantly less tyrannical than the guy that is running your country, you have got a major problem on your hands.

When I was growing up, people would risk everything to flee the Soviet Union so that they could experience true freedom in the western world.

Could we soon get to a point where Americans are actually fleeing to Russia so that they can “live free”?

It seems like such a bizarre question to ask, but this is how bad things have gotten in the United States.

We live in a society where up is now down, good is now bad, and lies are now truth.

Our nation has become a giant circus, and the crazies are running the show.  It will be entertaining to watch for a little while, but it won’t be too long before the entire thing comes crashing down on top of all of us.

*  *  *

It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “7 Year Apocalypse” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.

Consortium News


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