The Pentagon admits to having “overestimated” the Afghan army

They did not go all the way, and everyone takes it for their rank. 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. They explained in particular having “overestimated” the Afghan army, underestimating the corruption and the impact of the agreement negotiated by Donald Trump. And they contradicted Joe Biden, saying they advised him to keep 2,500 troops there to avoid a collapse.

The Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley, and the Chief of the United States Central Command (Centcom), General Kenneth McKenzie, have justified themselves before the Senate. According to them, Joe Biden chose not to take their advice, which the White House tenant claimed he did not receive. “No one told me that to my knowledge,” Biden said on ABC August 19.

” Taken by surprise “

“The fact that the Afghan army, which we formed with our partners, collapsed – often without firing a bullet – took us all by surprise,” admitted US Defense Minister 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 administration 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 May 1, 2021, in exchange for security guarantees and the opening of unprecedented direct negotiations between insurgents and authorities in Kabul.

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“Damaged” credibility

“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 ISIS from a distance, General McKenzie was asked about the chances of avoiding an attack on American interests launched from Afghanistan by jihadist groups. . “That 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. “We can count planes, trucks, vehicles, cars (…) but we cannot measure the human heart with a machine. (…) You have to be there. “

Differences arose between the chief of staff and the minister, when an elected official asked them if 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 that our credibility remains solid”, on the contrary judged Austin.

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