Like so many Americans, I was stunned by the thoughtless way in which the United States conducted its withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The most difficult part for me is the ripple effect.
That single act of moving a few thousand U.S. forces out of a far-away country will impact the safety and security of the world for years to come. Most significantly, that single act will eradicate all U.S. human intelligence in unfriendly places.
Here’s why: Standard operating procedure is for a CIA handler or an intelligence handler from any other U.S. intelligence agency to oversee a few dozen assets.
These assets regularly deliver information — aka intelligence.
Most of the information is irrelevant, but it's live and on the ground.
The information is not culled by analysts sitting 10,000 miles away reading newspapers or watching the local news. It is obtained right there, and in real time.
After watching the U.S. abandon their assets and their translators, after the inevitable occurs, those people are beheaded by the Taliban and those killings are broadcast globally.
Thus, there will never be enough to incentivize or enough money to convince a local person, living in an unfriendly country, to help the United States.
Russia. China. Almost the entire Mideast. Swaths of South America; These are all places where the U.S. always depended on locals for intelligence.
The U.S. can depend on them no more.
They will all shut their doors, their mouths, and their pockets when the U.S. comes calling.
Stories of harassment of those locals who aided America have emerged from Afghanistan. There are the interrogations and most are pretty simple and formulaic.
In one instance, Afghani interrogators kept asking a U.S. translator to speak English.
The translator kept insisting that he didn't. Finally, he broke down, giving in, he spoke English. With a swift flash of the sword, he was decapitated.
Also significant—very significant—is the military equipment.
Over $80 billion of equipment was abandoned in Afghanistan. Yes, abandoned.
There is no other descriptor to use.
People were abandoned. Equipment was abandoned.
The White House can split hairs over, or dispute the word—but abandonment is exactly what happened, and exactly the decision they made.
That vast amount of weaponry will not remain with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
For a price, they have more than enough military might to suit their own needs and to supply any of their terrorist compatriots who want or need the best U.S. military equipment money can buy. It's a "treasure trove" in the classical sense of the term and the treasures will be dispersed in several directions.
The Taliban will take what it wants.
They will then sell to other terror groups and countries who want various weapons.
But that’s not the worst of it. Worse still is that U.S. weaponry will go straight into the hands and labs of China and Russia. The equipment will be reverse engineered. And then China and Russia will take what they learn, using it to improve their own weaponry and to militarily take down the United States.
This is a close approximate list of what the Taliban now have.
Consider the total number of weapons and hardware. Now consider that the estimated core strength of the Taliban is approximately 75,000 units or fighters.
It will take your breath away. The United States abandoned:
637 MIII7 vehicles
155 MXX Pro mine-proof vehicles
169 armored personnel carriers
42,000 pickup trucks & SUVs
64,363 machine guns162,043 radios
16,035 night vision goggles
358,530 assault rifles
176 artillery pieces
33 MI17 helicopters
33 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters
43 MD-530 helicopters
4 C-130 transport planes
23 Embraer EMB 314/A29 Super Tucano planes
28 Cessna 208s
10 Cessna AC-208 strike aircraft
Abandoned and left for the enemy to pick up and distribute: 16,035 night vision goggles.
What will happen if/when they get into the hands of Hezbollah? Hamas? al-Qaida?
In 1915 the British, the Australians and New Zealand battled against the Turks and the Germans at Gallipoli. It was a bloody battle. It was trench warfare at its worst.
Nearly 500,000 people were killed or wounded. After 11 months of battle, the British pulled all their forces out of the battle.
This is what German General Viktor Karl von Sanders reported in his biography entitled Five Years in Turkey:
"The booty at the south group was extraordinary. Wagon parks, automobile parts, mountains of arms, ammunition and entrenching tools were collected . . . most of the tent camps and barracks had been left standing in part with all their equipment.
"Many hundreds of horses lay in rows, shot, or poisoned, but quite a number of horses and mules were captured and turned over to the Turkish artillery … the immense booty of war material was used for the Turkish armies. Many shiploads of conserved, flour and wood were removed to Constantinople. What the ragged and insufficiently nourished Turkish soldiers took away, cannot be estimated."
That was then—and it was horrific.
Afghanistan is now—and it is much worse.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.
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