US urged to give Afghans military gear
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Ministry of Defence and some lawmakers on Tuesday urged the US to hand over its military vehicles to Afghan forces instead of giving them to Pakistan. Afghan forces were in dire need of such tools to counter the insurgency, they argued.
The issue raised after reports on Monday that the US may dispose $7 billion in military equipment by handing it over to Pakistan.
The Washington Post reported that the potential move could be, "part of an effort by the Pentagon to unload excess military supplies to US allies at no cost". Discussions on this issue have been taking place over several months between American and Pakistani officials. The report said the US does not want to pay to ship out leftover military hardware from Afghanistan.
The report says although a final decision on the issue has not been taken, Pakistan has particular interest in acquiring the US Army’s mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles.
The MRAP vehicles could be used by Pakistan's military in its fight against Taliban insurgents within its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
The WP report describes the MRAP as,"the backbone of the US military’s vehicle fleet in Afghanistan...designed to protect American troops from explosive devices".
Afghan officials have repeatedly asked the US and NATO forces to hand over their military equipment to Afghan forces, but US officials believe the Afghan forces lack the capacity to use these facilities.
MoD spokesman Gen Zahir Azimi told Pajhwok Afghan News “I don’t believe the Afghan forces are not capable of using the equipment.”
He said the Afghan security forces could be trained on equipment they might receive from foreign counterparts. He said the Afghan forces were in serious need of advanced technology in combating the insurgency.
About the US military equipment possible handover to Pakistan, Azimi said “Afghanistan as an ally of the United States is expecting the equipment to be handed over to the Afghan National Army (ANA). This issue has both military and political aspects.” Azimi said the Afghan forces were fully capable of using the equipment against militants.
A number of senators expressed their concerns over the proposed handover of the US military equipment to Pakistan.
A representative from Farah province in Meshrano Jirga, Balqis Roshan, said if America handed over the equipment to Pakistan, it would mean the Americans were not sincere in friendship with the Afghans. “Was Afghanistan a laboratory for America over the past 12 years to test its military equipment and then give the same to Pakistan?” Balqis asked.
In response the USFORCE Afghanistan says: "The United States has provided the Afghans both new equipment through appropriated Afghan Security Force Funding and used equipment that is excess to military requirements. Excess equipment - including base operating support equipment, forklifts, generators and other materiel - are provided to the Afghans at no cost."
The U.S. has invested more than $53 billion in equipment and support to the ANSF, and has provided more than 160 aircraft, 100,000 vehicles, 500,000 weapons and 200,000 pieces of communications and night-vision equipment. They said in statement sent to PAJHWOK.
"It is important to note that no decision has been made regarding the number of MRAPs that will be available and that decisions on what equipment to provide to the ANSF are made in concert with the Afghan government." The statement added.
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