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Pompeo: President Trump told the military, ‘Don’t leave a single piece of equipment’ in Afghanistan

John Wesley Reid /

Former CIA Director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed his dissent towards the current administration’s handling of the Afghanistan crisis and how it left powerful weapons in the country that have since been acquired by the Taliban. Pompeo noted how former President Trump told the military, “Don’t leave a nail, don’t leave a single piece of equipment,” in regards to the Afghanistan exit strategy.

Pompeo said it would be “tragic” if the military-grade equipment left behind in Afghanistan were to be used in the future to harm or kill Americans and said it was the result of the Biden Administration’s lack of discretion during the pull-out.

Reid: So, on a similar topic. We’re seeing a lot of pictures and graphics of military equipment — U.S. military equipment — in the hands of what appears to be Taliban. I know there’s many layers there. There’s been talk about it being…we didn’t just leave it for them, we left it for the Afghan military, or we left it because it was inoperable and it wasn’t worth taking home. Do you mind providing some clarity on that, Mr. Secretary?

Pompeo: Well, some of that may well be true. They may have been inoperable or in fact left for the Afghan National Security Force. That is possible. I know what President Trump directed our military to do was:  We drew down from roughly 15,000 to about 8,600. We measured, we evaluated the conditions. We did the same at about the 4,500-4,600 level, and then again when we took our final measure of departure, which was down to about 2,500. Each time, the president looked the military dead in the eyes and says: “Don’t leave a nail. Don’t leave a single piece of equipment.” So, they had begun to plan, knowing full well this would take time to deliver an outcome that would actually get the high-end equipment out of Afghanistan. I don’t know the reality — I’ve seen some pictures, and I hope they got that high-end equipment out, and I hope that which was left behind, there is a plan to destroy it. It would be tragic to have an American one day killed by American equipment that was left in Afghanistan in a way that didn’t have to be because President Biden chose to put a date certain on the map and no discretion, no moving the dates — said we’re going to get out and if we leave Americans behind or American equipment behind, so be it. That’s not in the finest tradition of the United States.

The removal of troops just before midnight on August 31 marked the first time in 20 years that the United States military was not occupying Afghanistan, coming right before the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Most Americans believed that the time had come for the American troops to come home, and for Afghanistan to chart its own future. 

And yet the chaotic way in which the troops were pulled out and military assets left behind (not to mention, more tragically, American citizens and Afghan allies) will leave an indelible and bitter taste for Americans for years, if not decades, to come.

Even before the last plane left, there had already been numerous photos, graphics, and videos circulating through social media showing large numbers of United States weapons being used and shown off by Taliban soldiers, including rifles and other firearms, as well as Humvees and aircraft. With this new arsenal of firepower, the Taliban has much at their disposal to maintain their stronghold on the country, terrorize its citizens, and help fund and supply other terror groups with designs on increasing their territory and influence around the region and the world.