Well, they may not technically be formal “parades” at this point, but close enough. Either way, today brought us more discouraging news out of Afghanistan.
This morning we looked at the deteriorating situation in the United States embassy in Kabul and at the international airports. While there is no way to know how long the situation will hold, at least for the time being we have some measure of security and defensive capabilities. Also, while some looters and rogue militants were stirring up some trouble, particularly at the now-abandoned Bagram airfield, the embassy itself is still holding strong. Also, the Taliban seemed to be remaining out in the more rural provinces that they’ve retaken and not gathering strength right on our doorstep.
All of that changed in less than eight hours. NBC News has been following some reporters who are embedded in various areas of Afghanistan and it turns out that our old negotiating “partners” in the Taliban have indeed been on the move. And they aren’t skulking around in the shadows, either. They have invited reporters to look at collections of weapons and military vehicles they have seized from the abandoned provinces and bases. We’re not talking about strategic missiles or anything of that nature, but still, a pretty good haul compared to what they’re normally forced to work with. And they’re doing it very nearly on the doorstep of Kabul.
The Taliban have showed off containers full of weapons and military hardware seized from the Afghan military as American forces withdraw from the country and the militants march across the country.
The weaponry includes 900 guns, 30 light tactical vehicles and 20 army pickup trucks, according to NBC News’ U.K. partner Sky News, which was granted access to the Sultan Khil military base in the Wardak province close to the Afghan capital, Kabul.
District after district has fallen to the Taliban. The militants have seized 120 districts since May 1, according to an ongoing assessment by the Long War Journal. The map is a moving patchwork, but at last count the Taliban controlled 193 districts and contested 130, while 75 were under the control of the government or are undetermined, according to the publication, which reports on the global war on terror and is a project of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hawkish Washington think tank.
So they’ve collected nearly one thousand of our military rifles and other firearms to distribute to their fighters. They also have dozens of light tactical vehicles and Army trucks. Not enough to launch an attack on Washington, DC, but it’s certainly a boost to their own forces.
And where are they doing all of this showing off? In Wardak Province. Click through and look at this map of Afghanistan which is zoomed in and has Wardak highlighted. They are on the eastern border of Kabul with a lot of manpower and now, thanks to the stuff our supposed allies left behind (and probably some of our own, to be honest) they have some new firepower to boot.
This still doesn’t add up to enough muscle to launch a direct attack on the embassy (at least not yet), and probably not the airport either. Or at least I certainly hope not. But the more they build up and the more of our people that leave, it seems inevitable that the point will come where they will feel like they could pull it off.
So how did they get all of these weapons and vehicles? The Afghan troops we trained and equipped have been walking off of their posts in droves after literally raising white flags and leaving the equipment behind. Then the Taliban accept their surrender, come in and start scooping up the hardware. I’ll confess that this is at least a slightly more humane approach than I was expecting from them.
At this point, the Biden administration claims that it is still “working on” plans to evacuate translators and other civilians who helped us, but they aren’t even answering requests for comment from NBC News this week. The idea that we’re “working on” plans to get those people out now is obscene. That needed to be set in stone by the Trump administration, and it wasn’t. And if Biden inherited a situation where we couldn’t get them out, the withdrawal should have been delayed until such plans were finalized.
We’re not at the point yet where this is definitely going to turn into the Fall of Saigon Part Two, but as of this evening, it’s definitely getting closer.