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Arms and ordnance collected from dead insurgents hint at one possible reason: Of 30 rifle magazines recently taken from insurgents’ corpses, at least 17 contained cartridges, or rounds, identical to ammunition the United States had provided to Afghan government forces, according to an examination of ammunition markings by The New York Times and interviews with American officers and arms dealers.
The examination of the Taliban’s cartridges found telling signs of diversion: 17 of the magazines contained ammunition bearing either of two stamps: the word “WOLF” in uppercase letters, or the lowercase arrangement “bxn.”
“WOLF” stamps mark ammunition from Wolf Performance Ammunition, a company in California that sells Russian-made cartridges to American gun owners. The company has also provided cartridges for Afghan soldiers and police officers, typically through middlemen. Its munitions can be found in Afghan government bunkers.
The “bxn” marking was formerly used at a Czech factory during the cold war. Since 2004, the Czech government has donated surplus ammunition and equipment to Afghanistan. A.E.Y. Inc., a former Pentagon supplier, also shipped surplus Czech ammunition to Afghanistan, according to the United States Army, including cartridges bearing “bxn” stamps.
Most of the Wolf and Czech ammunition in the Taliban magazines was in good condition and showed little weathering, denting, corrosion or soiling, suggesting it had been removed from packaging recently.