A Republican senator is demanding that President Biden hold somebody within his administration accountable after the Taliban seized a trove of U.S.-made arms, armored vehicles and military aircraft abandoned following the sudden collapse of Afghanistan's military.
In a letter addressed to the White House, Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., called on Biden to launch an investigation after the Taliban captured a stockpile of modern military equipment after it toppled the U.S.-backed Afghan security forces.
"Taliban militants are now threatening innocent civilians and restricting evacuee movement using U.S. military equipment, which they obtained through a hasty withdrawal of U.S. forces," Daines wrote.
The GOP lawmaker urged Biden to identify someone within his administration who's ultimately responsible for the "profound and preventable loss" and asked the president how he intends to prevent the equipment from being used for future terrorist attacks by the Taliban.
"I ask you to explain to the American taxpayer your plan for preventing this equipment from being used for terrorist acts, propaganda, and funding; and to mitigate sensitive equipment from falling into the hands of our adversaries for intelligence or reverse-engineering purposes," Daines said.
Between 2003 and 2016, the U.S. sent nearly 600,000 small arms, 76,000 vehicles and 208 airplanes to Afghanistan’s military and police, according to a 2017 Government Accountability Office report.
In its most recent quarterly report, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAP) revealed the U.S. had provided the Afghan National Army with $212 million in "major equipment items," including 174 Humvees, nearly 3 million rounds of ammunition and about 100,000 rockets
Of the roughly $145 billion the U.S. government spent trying to rebuild Afghanistan over the past two decades, an estimated $83 billion went to developing its army, SIGAP reported.
"We don't have a complete picture, obviously, of where every article of defense materials has gone, but certainly, a fair amount of it has fallen into the hands of the Taliban," national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters last week. "Obviously we don't have a sense that they are going to readily hand it over to us at the airport."
In a letter sent Wednesday to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, 25 GOP senators requested a complete account of U.S. military equipment provided to the Afghan military over the last year, the amount destroyed or removed prior to U.S. withdrawal and all military equipment within the nation that remains operational.
"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," the lawmakers wrote. "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."