Defense Sec Austin admits US ‘didn’t understand’ how quickly Afghanistan would fall into Taliban hands
Secretary of Defense Austin admits US ‘didn’t understand’ how quickly Afghanistan would fall into Taliban hands and blames local soldiers for ‘just melting away’ and refusing to fight
- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday that the Biden administration “didn’t understand” how quickly the country would fall into the hands of the Taliban.
- He spoke at a hearing on Capitol Hill about the withdrawal of Afghanistan
- Said: ‘The fact that the Afghan army we and our partners trained just melted away, in many cases without firing a shot, surprised us all’
Lloyd Austin said Afghanistan’s fighters were responsible for the disappearance when the Taliban took over, and said the Biden administration “didn’t understand” how quickly the Islamist militant group would overcome the Afghan government and military.
“The fact that the Afghan army that we and our partners have trained simply melted away, in many cases without firing a shot, has taken us all by surprise – and it would be unfair to claim otherwise,” the defense minister said during a statement. hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
‘Did we have the right strategy? Did we have too many strategies? Did we put too much faith in our ability to build effective Afghan institutions – an army, an air force, a police force and ministries?’ Lloyd questioned in his opening statement.
He added: “We helped build a state, Mr. Chairman, but we couldn’t forge a nation.”
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Generals Mark Milley and Austin, appeared Tuesday at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which focused on events surrounding the failed withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan last month.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday at a Capitol Hill hearing on Afghanistan’s withdrawal that the Biden administration “didn’t understand” how quickly the country would fall into the hands of the Taliban.
Austin claimed a presence in Afghanistan until September “would have put our people and our mission in grave danger” after Biden set an August 31 deadline.
“The Taliban made it clear that their cooperation would end on September 1 — and, as you know, we face serious and growing threats from ISIS-K,” Austin said on Tuesday.
“Had we stayed longer than we did, it would have been more dangerous for our people and the number of evacuees we could have left would not have changed significantly,” he continued.
Austin defended the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw and their handling of the situation, instead accusing the Afghan military and former President Ashraf Ghani of their failure to prevent the Taliban from taking power.
He then said Biden’s leaders at the Pentagon must now “consider some inconvenient truths” regarding the 20-year mission in Afghanistan.
“We didn’t quite understand the depth of corruption and poor leadership in the higher ranks,” Austin explains. That we failed to understand the damaging effect of President Ghani’s frequent and inexplicable rotations of his commanders. That we had not foreseen the snowball effect caused by the deals the Taliban commander made with local leaders in the wake of the Doha accord. And that the Doha agreement itself had a demoralizing effect on Afghan soldiers.’
Austin also said Defense officials would be lying if they said they weren’t “surprised” that the Afghan military they helped build “just melted away, in many cases without firing a shot.” Above: Taliban fighters patrol Kabul . on Tuesday
And finally, that we didn’t understand that there was only so much for whom and for whom many of the Afghan armed forces would fight,’ he concluded.
Biden’s approach to troop withdrawals from Afghanistan has been widely criticized by Democrats and Republicans.
Amid the chaos of those trying to evacuate from Kabul last month, 13 US servicemen were killed in an ISIS-K suicide bombing near the airport where the evacuation flights departed.
After the last troop set foot off Afghan soil, news began to surface that hundreds of American citizens and their families — and possibly thousands of Afghan allies — had been left behind.
US officials say they are still aware of about 100 US citizens and legal permanent residents stranded in Afghanistan and ready to evacuate nearly a month after the withdrawal.
A senior State Department official told reporters the work continued to save them.
Veteran-led groups leading private rescue efforts for Americans and Afghan allies are questioning State Department figures, claiming they believe many more than 100 American citizens have been left behind — more like 400-500.