“There Was No Indication of Afghanistan Collapse Within 11 Days” - Top US General
By Staff, Agencies
The top general in the US said no one predicted the sudden Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, speaking in a Pentagon press conference Wednesday.
"There was nothing that I or anybody else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said.
The US military and the administration of US President Joe Biden are under political attack domestically over the Taliban's defeat of the Afghan forces with little fight and the collapse of former president Ashraf Ghani's US-backed government last weekend.
"The intelligence clearly indicated multiple scenarios were possible: one of those was an outright Taliban takeover following a rapid collapse of the Afghan Security Forces and the government," Milley said. "Another was a civil war, and a third was a negotiated settlement."
But regarding the "timeframe of a rapid collapse, that was widely estimated and ranged from weeks, months, and even years following our departure," he said.
He said that, to his knowledge, no reports “predicted a security force of 300,000 would evaporate in 11 days, from 6 August to 16 August, with the capture of 34 provinces and the capital city of Kabul.”
"The Afghan security forces had the capacity, and by that I mean they had the training, the size, the capability, to defend their country,” he claimed. “This comes down to an issue of will and leadership.”
The speed appeared to catch the US government off guard and it launched a rapid evacuation operation for US citizens and Afghans granted special visas for their work for US forces.
Since Saturday, around 5,000 US troops have flown in to Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport to manage the evacuations of thousands.
Critics faulted the State Department, US intelligence, and the Pentagon for not anticipating the debacle and preparing earlier for the evacuation, which involves more than 10,000 US citizens.