March 27, 2014
The U.S. military is denying what it calls "inaccurate media reports" that armored vehicles and extra military equipment leftover from the war in Afghanistan could be provided to neighboring Pakistan—after Kabul opposed the move described in the press.
"These reports are not correct," the military said in a statement Thursday. The U.S. military in Afghanistan "does not provide or intend to provide any such equipment, including MRAPs, from Afghanistan to Pakistan."
The military is trying to get rid of equipment it does not want or need—and would be expensive to transport home—as its draws down troops in Afghanistan. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that the Pentagon was considering giving Pakistan some of the $7 billion worth of excess military equipment, and that Islamabad was particularly interested in the Army's mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs.
But the Afghan government had opposed this move. "Afghan security forces need this type of equipment and that as a strategic partner, the U.S. needs to consult with Afghanistan before making such a decision," a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai told Voice of America's Afghan service.
The U.S. is still waiting for Afghanistan to sign a security agreement that could allow a contingent of troops to remain in the country past the end of the year—the deadline for the end of formal combat operations. Since the future partnership between the two countries is in limbo until the agreement is signed, it's no surprise the U.S. is seeking to reassure Afghanistan's security forces of its support as it waits for a new Afghan president to be elected this spring.
"Our commitment to the Afghan people and the Afghan National Security Forces is unwavering," Gen. Joseph Dunford, who commands the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, said in the statement. The U.S. military "remains committed to completing the transformation of the [Afghan National Security Forces] into a professional fighting force capable of meeting their security challenges."
The military statement also ran through a laundry list of equipment the U.S. has given Afghanistan's security forces. Over 12 years, the U.S. has provided $53 billion in equipment and support; 160 aircraft; 100,000 vehicles; 500,000 weapons; and 200,000 pieces of communications and night-vision equipment, with more still being delivered.
Whether Afghanistan's worries are eased or not, Pakistan is not likely to react well. The U.S. is counting on Pakistan to crack down on militants within its borders after this year. Islamabad, which has deployed some 150,000 soldiers along the border with Afghanistan, wanted the armored vehicles to better protect its troops from roadside bombs.
March 27, 2014