Sen. Bill Hagerty demands destruction of Taliban air force

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A GOP senator is pushing the Pentagon to destroy the new Taliban air force feared to include dozens of helicopters and planes — as the insurgents complain that the US didn’t leave behind even more working aircraft.

The US military said it “demilitarized” equipment before leaving Kabul’s airport on Monday, but the Taliban possesses some operable aircraft, including Black Hawk helicopters believed to have been abandoned by the Afghan military.

“‘I reached out to our secretary of defense for an inventory of what’s there, what’s been left behind and what the plan is to recapture, destroy or otherwise immobilize the equipment that’s on the ground. I’ve not yet received a response,” Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) said in an interview with the Daily Mail.

The British paper interviewed Hagerty — a former US ambassador to Japan — as he embarked on a trip to Europe, including the UK, to discuss the aftermath of the chaotic US withdrawal.

The Pentagon declined to comment.

The Taliban’s swift final victory over US-allied forces in the 20-year war resulted from the Afghan military’s collapse, after President Biden provided extra equipment ahead of the anticipated onslaught.

Senator Bill Hagerty.
Sen. Bill Hagerty said he reached out the the Defense Department for an inventory of what was left behind in Afghanistan but has not received a response.
Stefani Reynolds/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
The Taliban seemingly seen showing off a black Hawk helicopter they acquired from the US.
The Taliban seemingly seen showing off a black Hawk helicopter they acquired from the US.
Twitter

The Afghan Air Force had 167 aircraft provided by the US — 46 of which were flown to Uzbekistan to prevent them from falling into the Taliban’s hands. It’s unclear how many remained fully operable and whether any working US planes or helicopters also remained behind enemy lines.

This week the Taliban flew a Black Hawk helicopter above Kandahar with the group’s flag waved from the chopper’s door.

Prominent Taliban leader Anas Haqqani complained about the US destroying some aircraft before leaving.

Bomb defuser robots could be seen dismantled after Taliban fighters take control.
The US military said it “demilitarized” equipment before leaving Kabul’s airport, but the Taliban possesses some operable aircraft, including Black Hawk helicopters.
Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Polaris
Taliban fighters take control and secure the Hamid Karzai International Airport, along with all the equipment and weapons left behind after the full U.S. military withdrawal from the country
Taliban fighters take control and secure the Hamid Karzai International Airport, along with all the equipment and weapons left behind after the full U.S. military withdrawal from the country.
MARCUS YAM / LOS ANGELES TIMES

“They have destroyed our national assets,” Haqqani reportedly complained after inspecting smashed-up US machinery at Kabul’s airport this week.

Taliban propagandists and some media outlets published images of helicopters with bent blades and damaged electrical wiring.

“They can look all they want but they can’t fly them,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a Tuesday interview with CNN regarding aircraft left in Kabul.

A helicopter displaying a Taliban flag.
The Taliban flew a Black Hawk helicopter above Kandahar with the group’s flag waved from the chopper’s door.
Javed Tanveer/AFP via Getty Images
A helicopter flies over Taliban supporters as they gather in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Sept. 1, 2021.
A helicopter flies over Taliban supporters as they gather in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Sept. 1, 2021.
EPA/STRINGER

But the Taliban says they have pilots and experts who weren’t evacuated by the US and that they plan to rebuild.

“We have all that spare parts of the helicopters which have been broken. The technition [sic] are on the way to repair it all,” a prominent Taliban social media personality claimed on Twitter Wednesday.

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