Armoured vehicles left by Danish mission in Afghanistan may give Taliban an edge, experts warn
The Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles formerly leased from the US in 2014 to provide mobility, protection and combat power for the Danish mission in Afghanistan are specially developed to deal with counter-insurgencies in cities and are resistant against roadside bombs.
At least 27 heavily armoured military vehicles have been left in Afghanistan during Denmark’s evacuation from the war-torn country amid the US-led coalition’s speedy withdrawal, Danish Radio has reported citing internal documents.
The MRAP-type vehicles (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) were leased from the US in 2014 to provide mobility, protection and combat power for the Danish mission in Afghanistan. The vehicles are specially developed to deal with counter-insurgencies in cities and are resistant against roadside bombs. The cars also feature a protected, rotating tower on the roof, where a machine gun can be mounted.
According to Danish Radio, a single MRAP costs up to DKK 6 million ($930,000). Denmark may thus have left equipment to the tune of DKK 162 million ($25 million).
Until the end of May this year, the armoured vehicles were used by the Danish escort and emergency services. However, the vehicles were returned to Kabul some ten weeks before the Taliban occupied the city and the Western coalition began its hectic evacuation.
The abandonment clearly goes against the motto “Leave nothing to the enemy” featured in a video published by the Danish Armed Forces, which shows rifles packed in boxes, monitors and keyboards packed in bubble wrap and phones broken for security reasons. Since then, footage has emerged showing triumphant Taliban* fighters parading in MRAPs resembling the ones Denmark had leased.
According to experts, the bulletproof vehicles weighing up to 18 tonnes could give the Taliban a military edge in Afghanistan’s internal power struggles. In a 2016 video from the Danish military’s Facebook page, a soldier described them as “damn good cars that can take a beating”.
“They can make a difference in a local conflict on land in Afghanistan. But they don’t pose a threat to either the US, NATO or Europe for that matter,” Defence Academy associate Peter Viggo Jakobsen told Danish Radio.
Fellow defence analyst Hans Peter Michaelsen argued that the vehicles may become handy for safely bringing warriors through shelling and roadside bombs.
According to Peter Viggo Jakobsen, though, the abandoned vehicles fit a pattern in which Denmark leaves the responsibility for “inflamed things”, as he put it, to other nations.
“We saw it in Iraq, where a feint was invented, so that Denmark did not hang on to the responsibility if something happened to arrested prisoners. The same applies to our interpreters, where it was the British who hired them and ultimately had the responsibility, even though the interpreters had worked for Danish forces. It is a method that allows us as a small nation to contribute to the operations,” Peter Viggo Jakobsen mused.
According to the experts, Denmark no longer has legal responsibility for the armoured vehicles – not even if they are used in a possible Afghan civil war.
The Danish engagement in Afghanistan dates back nearly two decades, with the first Danish soldiers deployed in 2002, peaking at 760 men. Overall, the Danish mission has cost millions of kronor, suffering 43 casualties and more than 210 injuries.