US defense officials have acknowledged miscalculation that led to a “strategic failure” in Afghanistan with the Taliban winning effortlessly after a 20-year war in Afghanistan.
The US Army’s chief of staff, General Mark Milley, and US Central Command official, General Kenneth McKenzie, said publicly for the first time that they had advised President Joe Biden to keep troops in Afghanistan.
During a Tuesday evening hearing before senators on the chaotic end of the war in Afghanistan, they admitted that they had advised US President Joe Biden to keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan to avoid the collapse of the Kabul regime.
But the US president chose not to take this advice, confirming in August that he had not received it, and Biden said during an interview with ABC television on August 19, “No one told me that as far as I know.”
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “The fact that the Afghan army, which we trained with our partners, collapsed, often without firing a shot, surprised us,” adding, “It would be false to claim otherwise.”
“We did not realize the extent of the corruption and incompetence of their senior officers, we did not appreciate the damage caused by the many unexplained changes that President Ashraf Ghani has decided at the leadership level,” he added.
For his part, General Mark Milley said that what happened constituted a “strategic failure” and warned that the risk of re-forming the ranks of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Afghanistan was “a very realistic possibility.”
Milley said that his country “has not conducted a comprehensive assessment of driving morale and determination,” adding, “A census can be made of planes, trucks, vehicles and cars, but the human heart cannot be measured by a machine.”
On February 29, 2020, the administration of US President Donald Trump signed a historic agreement with the Taliban in Doha, which stipulated the withdrawal of all foreign forces before May 1, 2021, in exchange for security guarantees and the launch of negotiations.
After Joe Biden assumed the US presidency and scrutinized the details of the agreement for months, he decided to implement it, but postponed the deadline for withdrawal to August 31.