Hostage crisis looming: Alarm over US-trained and equipped Afghan army and air force falling into Taliban hands

WASHINGTON: A hostage trade-off situation is developing in Afghanistan between the United States and Taliban amid growing concerns about the medieval mob that has overrun Kabul gaining access to sophisticated American armaments including Black Hawk helicopters and A-29 attack planes.
Thousands of Americans and their Afghan cohorts are stuck outside the Kabul airport perimeter, with Taliban controlling access and letting so few through that US evacuation planes are reporting to be flying out well below capacity. US President Biden, under attack at home for a botched withdrawal, said on Wednesday that the US was committed to evacuating every American out of Afghanistan, even if meant extending the military mission beyond his August 31 deadline for withdrawal.
While the Biden administration earlier this week froze Afghan government’s reserves held in US bank accounts, alarm is mounting in Washington over the cards Taliban hold: Thousands of US citizens who are stranded beyond the airport perimeter and a trove of US armaments and weapons that has fallen into the lap of the fundamentalists who’ve declared Afghanistan would be run as per Shariah law.
As per the inventory detailed in US administration reports, the Afghan air force operated 211 aircraft, including 23 A-29 attack planes, four C-130 cargo planes, 33 militarized versions of the Cessna Caravan, and an assortment of with UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter, armed MD-530s, and Soviet Mi-17 helicopters. While some of them were reportedly flown out to neighboring Tajkistan and Uzbekistan as the Taliban overran the country, it is unclear how many aircraft, besides other armaments and vehicles, have fallen the hands of militants. Pictures have surfaced of Taliban posing in front of military aircraft and other armaments.

“There’s no doubt that they’ve captured hundreds of Humvees and artillery and other equipment and aircraft…this should be deeply, deeply troubling to Americans, not only because we help fund those and provide those, but because how the Taliban could benefit,” a former Black Hawk pilot who served in Afghanistan told Defense News, amid shock and horror in Washington at the prospect of Taliban inheriting a US trained and equipped army and air force.
The pilot suggested that Biden administration should first evacuate all Americans and their Afghan partners from Afghanistan before destroying the US equipment, as well as all planes and helicopters left behind by the Afghan air force.
US strategists are also alarmed that an estimated $1 trillion in precious metals, including lithium reserves vital for the electric car and rechargeable battery industry, could come under Taliban control. A Pentagon memo some years ago called Afghanistan the Saudi Arabia of Lithium.

Meanwhile, President Biden is under attack from all sides for the botched withdrawal aggravated by an incoherent defense of what is unfolding in Afghanistan. In a train-wreck of an interview on ABC News on Wednesday, Biden said he could not recall if he was told to keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan by US military commanders.
He said there was ‘no consensus’ in intelligence reports or military recommendations that the Taliban would overrun the government, leading him to say last month that a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan was ‘highly unlikely.’
“The idea that the Taliban would take over was premised on the notion that the – that somehow, the 300,000 troops we had trained and equipped was gonna just collapse, they were gonna give up. I don’t think anybody anticipated that,” the US President said, amid reports that there were plenty of forewarning and red flags that this could happen.

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