Fact Check: U.S. Forces Did NOT Leave Behind $85 Billion Worth Of Weaponry And Equipment In Afghanistan

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: U.S. Forces Did NOT Leave Behind $85 Billion Worth Of Weaponry And Equipment In Afghanistan False Figure

Did the U.S. leave $85 billion worth of weaponry and equipment in Afghanistan after U.S. forces left the country? No, that's not true: The figure more closely reflects the cost of total security funding -- ranging from training to counter-narcotics programs -- allocated to Afghanistan rather than the specific cost of weaponry and equipment, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

The claim appeared in an Instagram post (archived here) published on August 30, 2021. It features a video of armed forces in an air hangar with text that reads:

NOW - Taliban fighters inspect Chinook helicopters at Kabul airport after the U.S. leaves Afghanistan.

The caption of the post reads:

The fact that we won't destroy the 85 billion dollars worth of weapons and equipment now in terrorist hands tells you one thing: this was all planned. Anybody who disagrees with that is so blind that they need a walking stick.

This is how the post looked on Instagram on September 2, 2021:

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Thu Sept 2 19:06:35 2021 UTC)

According to a SIGAR quarterly report to Congress published on July 30, 2021, the U.S. government dedicated more than $88 billion to security in Afghanistan, including money spent on counter-narcotics programs and training -- not just on military equipment. A screenshot of the chart sharing the figure is included below (acronyms mentioned in the screenshot and report sections that follow include: ASFF -- Afghanistan Security Forces Fund; ANDSF -- Afghan National Defense and Security Forces; ANA -- Afghan National Army; and ANP -- Afghan National Police.):

chart for afghanistan spending.PNG

(Source: SIGAR report screenshot taken on Thu Sept 2 18:20:25 2021 UTC)

Not all of this money was dedicated to weaponry or equipment. Another section of the report reads:

Congress established the ASFF in 2005 to build, equip, train, and sustain the ANDSF ... A significant portion of ASFF money is used for Afghan Air Force (AFF) aircraft maintenance, and for ANA, AAF, and Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF) salaries. The rest of ASFF is used for fuel, ammunition, vehicle, facility and equipment maintenance, and various communications and intelligence infrastructure.

As for the allotment of funds toward weaponry and equipment for Afghan forces specifically, an earlier report published in June 2019 reads:

Since 2002, equipping the ANDSF has been a key component of U.S. efforts to develop effective security forces capable of providing security to the Afghan people and preventing the reestablishment of terrorist safe havens. To equip the ANDSF, the United States has spent over $18 billion--representing the second largest expenditure of all Afghanistan Security Forces Fund allocations. Of this $18 billion, approximately $13.7 billion has been used to equip the ANA and approximately $4.7 billion has been used to equip the ANP.

Lead Stories reached out to SIGAR for more information about the amount of money allocated toward weaponry and equipment in Afghanistan. In a September 2, 2021, email, a spokesperson at SIGAR corroborated the numbers in the SIGAR quarterly report published on July 30, 2019.

Additionally, the Instagram post's claim that weaponry and equipment were deliberately left undamaged by U.S. forces does not appear to be true. Al Jazeera reported that the Taliban was angry that the U.S. forces intentionally disabled many pieces of weaponry and equipment that they left behind.

Lead Stories previously debunked claims about things left behind in Afghanistan by U.S. forces here and here.

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  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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