A terrorist can actually specific himself with 5,000 metric tons of explosives. That’s exactly why specialised groups of U.S. troops and contractors in Afghanistan helped account for and safe large stockpiles of munitions saved at eight key websites throughout the nation.
However not anymore. These Individuals have already headed house, and any remaining people able to assuming the mission are withdrawing together with all the opposite Individuals ordered out by President Joe Biden.
The Afghan Nationwide Military (ANA) colonel left holding the bag and chargeable for this ammo is apprehensive. “What occurs when all the things turns dangerous,” he requested, “and these things leads to enemy arms?”
His outdated boss, ANA Basic Hotak, former Chief of Munitions Administration for the Afghan Ministry of Protection, could have offered the reply. “There are sufficient explosives right here to produce operations for the following twenty-five years,” he mentioned.
Retired U.S. Military Particular Forces Colonel Ron MacCammon agrees. “These items is all weak to Taliban advances and tribal and militia influences if the scenario deteriorates. A few of this ammunition might simply discover its manner into the arms of malign actors and switch up in world terrorist or prison networks.”
MacCammon ought to know. He spent years in Afghanistan instantly concerned in particular U.S. packages purposed to maintain these things out of enemy arms. After ten years of Soviet navy presence there and twenty years of American presence, it’s not shocking that the stockpiles, acknowledged and clandestine, are overwhelmingly of U.S. and Soviet origin.
The majority of the tonnage is of small arms ammunition, but additionally included are giant portions of different lessons of munitions, reminiscent of hand grenades, 82 mm and heavier mortars, RPGs and different mild anti-tank weapons, Soviet-era anti-tank landmines, and numerous different explosive compounds together with Composition C4. After all, that’s simply what’s on the books. The ANA has all the time maintained different munitions in different bunkers that they maintain off-limits to American eyes.
The areas of the eight main munitions storage websites are recognized to everybody, together with the Taliban. Situated at numerous factors alongside Afghanistan’s Ring Street, every web site comprises dozens of bunkers, depots, or 40-footlong containers. We all know the tonnages and forms of munitions at every main web site however one.
That one is near the capital, and the ANA are very reluctant to reveal the capabilities they maintain near the capital, in order that they haven’t informed us a lot about what they maintain there. It’s protected to say that its portions are substantial, and its forms of munitions embody “specialty gadgets.”
What are “specialty gadgets”? Issues like MANPAD floor to air missiles. Yeah, these. All informed throughout all websites we’re speaking almost 5,000 metric tons.
To make issues worse, with the departure of American experience, so went Afghan willingness to proceed utilizing the computerized munitions accountability system we helped set up. Now the state-of-the-art in munitions accountability for the ANA is a pencil and ledger system. No joke.
In equity, an skilled worldwide NGO supported by U.S. and E.U. funding is now offering munitions administration help to the ANA. The issue is members of this similar NGO, seemingly in concern of operating afoul of Taliban needs, have a reported historical past of refusing to clear IEDs emplaced by the Taliban. That doesn’t precisely encourage confidence the members of this NGO will resist Taliban needs sooner or later.
So it’s not like we don’t know that these things is weak. It simply appears we don’t care.
Right here’s once we WILL care—when a platoon’s price of next-generation shoe bombers get their arms on a number of hundred kilos of C4, for instance. C4 is 30 p.c extra highly effective than the so-called Mom of Devil, TATP, the explosive that Al Qaeda member Richard Reid utilized in his try and deliver down American Airways Flight 63 in 2001. In response to FBI sources Reid used solely 10 ounces. Think about how inventive Al Qaeda members could be ought to they take possession of 5,000 metric tons of explosives.
We will cut back the chance of such an atrocity and worse from occurring, and doing so is squarely in our nationwide curiosity, however doing so would require the honesty and the braveness to say, “You recognize what? I used to be reckless. We have to put sufficient American fight energy again on the bottom to safe these munitions till they are often destroyed or in any other case rendered protected.”
A person who is aware of greater than slightly about violence in Afghanistan is Ahmad Massoud, son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, former commander of the Northern Alliance who was assassinated by order of Osama Bin Laden two days earlier than 9/11. After I requested Massoud concerning the chance of those munitions discovering their manner into Taliban arms, he replied, “That’s sure, so we should always thank God that Afghanistan doesn’t have a nuclear weapon.”
Ernie Audino is a retired brigadier common, U.S. Military. He serves on the workers of U.S. Congressman Michael Waltz and is a Senior Army Fellow on the Gold Institute for Worldwide Technique and at Soran College within the Kurdistan Area of Iraq. He’s the one American common officer to have beforehand served a full yr on the battlefield embedded with Kurdish peshmerga forces.
Views expressed on this article are the opinions of the creator and don’t essentially replicate the views of The Epoch Instances.