KABUL -- Senior Afghan officials have called on the United States to transfer $7 billion worth of excess military equipment to Afghanistan instead of Pakistan.
Military and senior civilian leaders have said that as a strategic ally and the lead supplier of the country’s security forces, Kabul expects Washington to help equip its military.
"[Washington] is either considering sending leftover military hardware back home or, as we now hear, is considering other options," Vice President Karim Khalili told Afghan army officers this week. "But we demand that [Washington] should handover all excess equipment to the Afghan forces. This is being demanded by the Afghan National Army and our people."
Afghan officials are making their grievances public after "The Washington Post" reported this week that Pakistani and American officials are discussing how to deliver excess military equipment to Islamabad that Washington would prefer not to send back home.
The Pakistani army is particularly interested in the U.S. Army's mine-resistant ambush protected (MARP) vehicles, which are considered too heavy to be shipped back to the U.S.
The two sides have yet to conclude a final deal, but Afghan officials are anxious.
Afghan Interior Minister Omar Daudzai said that Afghan security forces need a lot of equipment to defend their country and combat terrorism. "We are not happy with hardware we have received for the Afghan National Army. The equipment our police have received is even worse," he said.
He expressed disappointment at the prospect of U.S. military equipment being given to a neighboring country saying, "I hope they will not go ahead with such plans."
Zahir Azimi, spokesman for the Afghan defense ministry, said, "Our ministry has asked the United States to handover all equipment it does not want to take back home. This will bolster our struggle against terrorism."
He added that Afghan forces are now capable of handling hardware used by Western forces in Afghanistan.
Some Afghan military experts, however, say that Afghan forces might not gain much from inheriting U.S. military hardware.
"A lot of these [U.S.] vehicles are not designed for our terrain. We need lightweight vehicles capable of moving quickly and with lower fuel costs," former Afghan military General Amrullah Aman said. "In addition, we are not capable of repairing them and it will be difficult to find their spare parts."
Afghanistan currently has more than 350,000 security forces trained and sustained by Washington and its NATO allies. The country still lacks a proper air force and heavy armaments such as artillery and tanks. Afghan forces are armed with light weapons and rely on lightly armored vehicles and flatbed trucks for transport.
Written by Abubakar Siddique, based on reporting by Khan Mohammad Seend and Nasim Shafaq from Kabul Afghanistan.