The New York Post:
It was quite the handover at Kabul airport this week. The last American troops to exit Afghanistan reportedly left facing an ‘elite unit’ of the Taliban. In a season finale that the most dystopian screenwriter would have struggled to invent, the elite Taliban unit was itself bedecked in US military gear. That is, they were not only wearing uniforms and protective gear provided by the fleeing US army, but were parading the airport with US-provided guns in US-provided vehicles.
This was the culmination of a two-week period that the White House is still trying to present as a success. One of the biggest airlifts in history, they insist. In reality the Biden administration has pulled off a feat few of us thought possible: A military-political defeat that gets worse the more you look at it.
Take the issue of the gear that the Americans have left behind. I’m sure by now everyone has seen the lists of armaments that the US left with the swiftly dissolved Afghan army that America and its allies struggled to train for two decades.
The Taliban inherited that defeated army’s equipment in its entirety. That entirety includes 33 Black Hawk helicopters, 43 MD 530 helicopters, 32 Mi-17 helicopters, 23 A-29 light attack planes, at least 33 other attack planes and three gigantic Hercules aircraft thrown in for good measure. Thanks to the largesse of the American taxpayer, the Taliban now has more attack helicopters than the UK, and is better armed than almost every NATO country, apart from the US.
When these facts emerged this week, a portion of the commentariat tried to pretend this was no great shakes. These last defenders of the President insisted it didn’t matter that the Taliban had control of all these Black Hawks. For how could a group of goat-herders, who have barely learned to operate their rusty old Soviet motorcycles, be expected to retrain as helicopter pilots? As if they were listening, right on cue, the Taliban began flying one of their new Black Hawks over the skies of Kabul. That was quite the F-you: top equipment, in new hands, only one previous owner, hardly used.