I’ve seen lots of discussion lately about #Taliban-captured weapons in #Afghanistan, much of which is ill-informed. So, I’m going to discuss five myths about this topic in this THREAD. 1/n
(Note: The format for this was inspired by this excellent “five myths about the #Taliban” article by @a_a_jackson that you should also read) 2/n

Myth 1: The #Taliban have captured $88 billion worth of weapons & equipment.

Not true. That number is (according to @SIGARHQ) the sum total of funding appropriated (not all of which was spent) for security reconstruction (mostly, the #ANDSF) since 2002. 3/n
Some of that $ was used for weapons & military equip, but a major cost driver for the #ANDSF was salaries. Which means a good chunk of that $88B dissipated as paychecks into #Afghanistan’s economy (or was skimmed into offshore accounts by AFG’s corrupt security leaders). 4/n
In addition, a lot was spent on maintenance & sustainment of the weapons & equipment purchased (typically done via contractors). For a sample breakout of expenditures, see #DOD’s justification budgets (eg comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/Doc…) 5/n
& a lot of $ was spent on consumables like fuel. Last, a bunch of the weapons & equipment purchased by the US was destroyed in the course of fighting & some was previously pilfered & sold on the black market by corrupt members of the #ANDSF. 6/n
So, while I don’t have a solid $$ estimate of the total value of the #Taliban’s new arsenal, I can say w/confidence that it’s *definitely not* worth $88B—and it’s likely worth a small fraction of that. 7/n
Myth 2: The numbers.

I’m seeing infographics like this one floating around purporting to show how much stuff the #Taliban captured. They’re inaccurate. eg, This one appears to show the sum total of things the US provided to the #ANDSF. Per ⬆️, not all of this still exists. 8/n
As an example, according to @SIGARHQ, here’s how many aircraft were actually in #Afghanistan as of the end of June. Note, for example, only 3 C-130s. One of them was out of AFG for maintenance. 9/n
There have also been reports of #ANDSF pilots having flown aircraft to neighboring countries. The most credible of these is this report by @AlanCullison of the @WSJ who wrote that 46 aircraft were flown to #Tajikistan & #Uzbekistan. 10/n wsj.com/articles/afgha…
The best attempts at identifying how many aircraft the #Taliban have captured that I’ve seen are this by @oryxspioenkop: oryxspioenkop.com/2021/08/the-ta… 11/n
Myth 3: The #Taliban know how to use all the stuff they’ve captured.

They don’t. They do not, for ex, know how to fly a Blackhawk. Or a C-130. & it’s unlikely they’ll figure it out. They might be able to coerce or co-opt a trained #ANDSF pilot to do so, but organically? No. 13/n
Myth 4: The #Taliban don’t know how to use any of the stuff they’ve captured.

Untrue. They’ve already shown the ability to use M-16s, M-4s & other small arms. Also night vision devices. & mortars & D-30 howitzers (in direct fire mode). 14/n
As for vehicles, they’ve been using captured up-armored HMMWVs for years & are now using MRAPs & MSFVs for their security forces in Kabul. Given that I once drove an MRAP in #Iraq, anyone can do it. 15/n
IRT aircraft, the A/C-208s are simple (like Cessnas) & it’s likely the #Taliban could find someone w/basic pilot skills to fly them. A-29s a bit harder (turbo-props) but perhaps with some practice… 16/n
Here, the Mi-17s are most intriguing to me. Given their ties to #Russia & the use of these platforms by numerous Eastern European countries, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the #Taliban get them airborne, either via their own trained pilots or contracted ones (eg from Wagner) 17/n
Myth 5: The #Taliban can’t maintain any of the stuff they’ve captured.

Sure they can. If they don’t already know how to maintain US small arms, there’s Google & YouTube. The US trained quite a few HMMWV, MRAP, & MSFV maintainers via the Ground Nat’l Maintenance Contract. 18/n
To think the #Taliban couldn’t entice any of them to come back to work is ridiculous. What about spare parts? Sure they’re unlikely to get any from the US, but they have tens of thousands of small arms & vehicles. Cannibalization alone will last them for years. 19/n
IRT aircraft, the Mi-17s seem maintainable to me—we trained a bunch of Afghan maintainers + they could contract for help on these. UH-60s & C-130s much harder. But there’s always capitalist mercenaries like Erik Prince… 20/n
So there are your 5 myths. The net total of which are this:
- The #Taliban have a sizable new arsenal, but…
- It’s not worth $88B
- It’s not as large as people are saying
- They can’t use all of it
- They can use a lot of it
- They can maintain the bulk of it

They’ll struggle w/US-made aircraft. But even w/o those, they’re still now a *much much* better equipped & very effective ground force facing internal adversaries w/no air power. This stuff helps them a lot. What they can use, they will. What they can’t, they’ll prob sell. 22/22
CODA: One point I forgot to make—we’re likely to see this gear on the ground in #Afghanistan for years to come. But given the region’s notorious smuggling networks + #Taliban relations w/other groups, we’re also likely to see it popping up in Kashmir, the ME, Africa, SE Asia…

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More from @JJSchroden

24 Aug
Given recent events in #Afghanistan & my focus on that country since 2008, I’ve been engaging in a lot of professional reflection of late. I'm going to share some results of that in this (long) THREAD. 1/n
To do this, I went back and re-read everything I’ve written publicly on #Afghanistan over the past two years, as well as a few pertinent older pieces. I’ll post links to these articles as I go. 2/n
I’ll start w/this article I wrote in @WarOnTheRocks in 2016. In it, I described how the #Taliban were steadily encroaching on key rural areas of #Afghanistan & how the #ANDSF were struggling to stop them. 3/n
Read 67 tweets
14 Aug
A parable. 1/n
There was a man, who developed a rash on his hand. It wasn’t debilitating, but he desired to be rid of it. So he went to a doctor.

The doctor prescribed a cream & told the man to apply it every day. 2/n
This the man did. The rash receded, but did not disappear. The man kept applying the cream. Some time later, the rash began to expand again. Slowly, but discernibly, it was growing. 3/n
Read 5 tweets
13 Aug
I was asked today "what does the future hold for #Afghanistan?"

Rather than hazard a prediction, I went back to two of Colin Powell's questions for intel analysts: What's known? And what's unknown? 1/n
In regards to what's known, I'll assume you're familiar w/events of the last week & won't rehash it all. Suffice to say, we know the govt is in *serious trouble*

2/n Image
We also know that, despite what else they may say, western countries have concluded the collapse of Kabul is at least possible, if not probable & imminent


Read 8 tweets
12 Aug
As an analyst, I do my best to look at the available data & devise analytic frameworks to organize & make logical & transparent sense of it. This is, however, not math. The answers aren't firm. There are no scientific laws on which to rely. Much has to be assumed. 1/n
I do my best to keep track of my assumptions, to revisit them, to test them, & to gauge the risk associated with them being wrong. In this case, I assumed the #ANDSF would recognize that its advantages were in defending the cities. That they could dig in around them. 2/n
That when the #Taliban massed to take cities, the AAF could decimate them from the air. I wasn't sure how long the #ANDSF could withstand a siege & repeated assaults on the cities, but I assumed it would at least be thru this year. Those assumptions now look like poor ones. 3/n
Read 5 tweets
12 Aug
Comments on #Afghanistan from yesterday's #DOD presser w/@PentagonPresSec in this THREAD. 1/n defense.gov/Newsroom/Trans…
MR. KIRBY: I have seen lots of press reporting this morning about assessments coming out of #Afghanistan. I know you're all interested in that, let me tell you, I am not going to talk specifically about intelligence assessments one way or the other... 2/n
...We continue to monitor the situation in #Afghanistan closely. We are mindful of the deteriorating security situation. And our focus right now remains on supporting the Afghan forces in the field where and when feasible we can from the air, as well as completing ... 3/n
Read 105 tweets
11 Aug
Comments on #Afghanistan from yesterday's #DOD presser w/@PentagonPresSec in this THREAD. 1/n defense.gov/Newsroom/Trans…
@PentagonPresSec Q: The air strikes that the U.S. has done thus far over the past three or four weeks with some regularity, how much difference have those air strikes made on the ground, in terms of the battlefield? 2/n
@PentagonPresSec & secondly, I'd like to ask you about @SecDef's thinking on this question about the utility of limited air strikes in #Afghanistan. So as you get to Aug 31st, what is his view about, do air strikes alone by the U.S. make a decisive – can they make a decisive difference? 3/n
Read 49 tweets

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