Pentagon leaders on Tuesday admitted errors in judgment that led to a “strategic failure” in Afghanistan, with the Taliban winning without a strike after 20 years of war.
Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Chief of U.S. Central Command (Centcom) Gen. Kenneth McKenzie have publicly admitted for the first time advising Joe Biden to keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan to avoid a collapse of the Kabul regime, by explaining to the elected representatives of the Senate on the chaotic end of this war.
An opinion that the American president chose not to follow, and that he assured in August that he had never received. “No one told me that to my knowledge,” Biden said August 19 on ABC.
“The fact that the Afghan army, which we trained with our partners, collapsed – often without firing a bullet – took us all by surprise,” admitted US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
“We did not realize the level of corruption and incompetence of their high ranking officers, we did not measure the damage caused by the frequent and unexplained changes decided by President Ashraf Ghani in the command, we did not ‘we did not foresee the snowball effect of the agreements made by the Taliban with four local commanders after the Doha agreement, nor the fact that the Doha agreement had demoralized the Afghan army ”, he enumerated .
The government of Donald Trump signed on February 29, 2020 in Doha a historic agreement with the Taliban which provided for the withdrawal of all foreign soldiers before the 1is May 2021, in exchange for security guarantees and the opening of unprecedented direct negotiations between the insurgents and the authorities in Kabul.
“It’s a strategic failure,” commented General Mark Milley. “The enemy is in power in Kabul. There is no other way to describe it ”.
He also warned that the risk of a reconstitution in Afghanistan of al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group was “a very real possibility”.
As the Pentagon claims to be able to continue its drone strikes against al-Qaeda and the IS group from a distance, General McKenzie was asked about the chances of avoiding an attack on American interests launched from Afghanistan by jihadist groups. . “It remains to be seen,” he replied.
General Mark Milley noted that the decision to withdraw military advisers deployed to Afghan units from Afghanistan three years ago has contributed to overestimating the capabilities of the Afghan army.
“We were not able to fully assess the morale and the will of the command,” he explained. “You can count planes, trucks, vehicles, cars […] but you cannot measure the human heart with a machine. […] You have to be there. “
Differences arose between the chief of staff and the secretary, when an elected official asked them whether the reputation of the United States had been “damaged” by the withdrawal.
“I think that our credibility with our allies and partners in the world, as well as with our adversaries, is being re-examined very carefully”, declared the chief of staff. “Damaged is a word that can be used, yes. “
“I think our credibility remains strong,” said Mr. Austin on the contrary.