Since the disastrous pullout from Afghanistan began, it is well known that the Afghan military let billions of dollars of American military equipment fall into the hands of the Taliban as it swept through the country. In their hasty retreat, the Afghan military left behind an estimated $28 billion in weaponry, though it should be noted that there has not been a full accounting of the totality of what the Taliban seized. 

1. Aircraft

The Afghan military had 211 aircraft. An estimated 40 advanced American aircraft were left behind, including UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, Scout Attack helicopters, and ScanEagle military drones. A silver lining around this type of equipment is some of these pieces of aircraft are too advanced for Taliban forces to operate or maintain as things currently stand. Some Afghan pilots have flown to other countries with their families, denying the Taliban these pieces of equipment. 

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2. Vehicles 

Intelligence suggests the Taliban now controls 2,000 armored vehicles, including American Humvees. Other vehicles include tanks, trucks, Jeeps, armored personnel carriers, and even bulldozers and excavators. These vehicles would have been used by the Afghan military to transport troops and equipment, mounted with guns and used in combat, or in the case of excavators and bulldozers, for construction of airports. They are now in the hands of the Taliban. 

Military vehicles transferred by the U.S. to the Afghan National Army in February 2021.   Afghanistan Ministry of Defense/via REUTERS

3. Weapons

The United States had supplied the Afghan military with 600,000 infantry weapons such as M16 assault rifles. Taliban fighters were seen clutching American made M4 Carbines and M16 assault rifles fresh out of the crates instead of their usual AK-47s. Hand grenades, grenade launchers, mortars and other weapons are also in their hands. For the Taliban, holding American made weapons is as much a trophy as it is a practical weapon. 

Taliban propaganda showcases US weapons and radios as captured war spoils

4. Communications Equipment

The Afghan military may have left behind the 162,000 pieces of communications equipment the United States has been supplying them with since 2003. Walkie talkies aren't all that the Taliban might have in their arsenal now; equipment like advanced radio rigs, intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance equipment are now in the hands of a group that wants to take Afghanistan back to the 6th century A.D. 

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5. Night Vision Goggles

The Taliban may now possess 16,000 night-vision goggles. Unlike complicated equipment like aircraft, night-vision goggles are simple to figure out how to operate, so the advantages of possessing such equipment are not hard to come by for a group without specialized training like the Taliban. 


After 20 years, trillions of dollars and the lives of thousands of Americans, the American taxpayer now has to watch billions of dollars in equipment they paid for fall into the hands of people who hate them. The Afghan people will have to contend with a newly well equipped Taliban, and there are still thousands of Americans and American allies trapped in Kabul frantically trying to evacuate with the Taliban harassing them on the way out.