Defense

GOP lawmakers press administration on US weapons left behind in Afghanistan

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Over two dozen Republican lawmakers are pressing the Biden administration on its efforts to recover U.S. weapons and supplies left behind after the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin dated Jan. 14, the lawmakers blasted the administration for missing a deadline to submit a report on the equipment, which was required under a government funding bill.

“It is with gravest concern that even after a three-month window to produce the required information, the DOD still has not given Congress an accurate accounting of United States equipment still in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan where terrorist groups are reconstituting,” the letter, led by Rep. Andy Barr (R-K.Y.), read. 

“This lack of information prevents Congress from being able to accurately and effectively conduct oversight over the tens of billions of dollars of equipment invested in Afghanistan over the past 20 years and creates vulnerabilities in our national security,” they continued.

Billions of dollars of weapons were left behind in Afghanistan after the quick collapse of the country’s government and security forces amid the U.S. withdrawal from the country.

U.S. forces had been in the country 20 years before a chaotic departure that included the deaths of American service members and Afghans. The Taliban gained control over the country at a rapid pace, prompting then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to flee. 

Photos that circulated after the collapse showed Taliban fighters with U.S.-made equipment like carbines, rifles and Humvees.

At issue in the letter is a report that was required under the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act, which was passed in late September and funded the federal government through Dec. 3. 

A provision of the bill stipulated that within 90 days of the bill’s enactment, the Pentagon was required to submit to Congress a report on “the disposition of United States property, equipment, and supplies, including property, equipment, and supplies” that were provided to Afghanistan’s security forces.

The fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, which President Biden signed into law in late December, included a similar reporting requirement on aircraft and equipment that was transported from Afghanistan to other countries.

“Congress should not have to wait until the NDAA’s March 2022 deadline to receive this critical information concerning Afghanistan. That is why Congress required your department to comply by December 29, 2021,” the lawmakers wrote.

“We urge that you work with your Service Secretaries and [U.S. Central Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie] to produce the required information for Congress immediately,” they continued.

The Hill has reached out to the Pentagon for comment. 

Tags Afghanistan withdrawal Andy Barr Joe Biden Lloyd Austin

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