Departing American troops left an abundance of military equipment and clothing at the Kabul airport. Responding to criticism of abandoned equipment, US General Kenneth McKenzie assured that US troops had “demilitarized” the weapons.
Shortly after the last U.S. soldier left Afghanistan aboard a C-17 cargo plane, Taliban fighters flew to Kabul airport, where they found piles of military clothing, from guns, helicopters and even fighter jets left behind by US troops. Soon, photos emerged showing the militants posing with military equipment and inside a cockpit of a cargo plane, which belonged to the Afghan Air Force.
Fighters in the Taliban’s special forces unit, called Badri, went even further, “step into the shoes” of their former opponents by donning American military fatigues and replacing their trusted Kalashnikovs with American guns to pose for a photoshoot while waving the Taliban White Flag.
At around the same time, a Taliban spokesperson gave a speech at the airport commenting on the departure of US troops: “Congratulations to Afghanistan. […] this victory belongs to all of us. [The defeat of the US is a] great lesson for the other invaders and for our future generation “.
The abandonment of tons of military equipment in the United States has been widely criticized by opponents of the current administration, but American General Kenneth F. McKenzie assured that all the equipment had been “demilitarized”, preventing its further use by activists. He said 27 Humvees, 70 anti-mine ambush-protected vehicles and 73 planes had been rigged never to fly again.
Recently released videos from Afghanistan, however, cast doubt on McKenzie’s words, as the Taliban were seen riding Humvees and are said to have flown at least one Black Hawk helicopter for patrol purposes. The Taliban had previously seized some of the American equipment (which had been supplied to the Afghan army) in other towns the group had captured before Kabul.
Militants entered the capital on August 15 without a fight, with NATO forces retaining control of Kabul airport to evacuate civilians. This process ended on August 30 although some Americans and Brits are still in the country. On the night of August 30-31, the last plane carrying American soldiers left the airport.