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World Biden’s defense falls flat with Afghans still wondering if they will make it out before US leaves

05:55  19 september  2021
05:55  19 september  2021 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

A rare peek inside the Fort Bliss Afghan refugee camp, 'Doña Ana Village'

  A rare peek inside the Fort Bliss Afghan refugee camp, 'Doña Ana Village' An austere Army camp built in the 1960s to house 1,800 soldiers in training has expanded into a campus supporting nearly 10,000 Afghan refugees.An austere Army camp built in the 1960s to house 1,800 soldiers in training has expanded into a campus of dormitories and dining halls, community centers and soccer fields, as well as religious and medical facilities supporting nearly 10,000 Afghan refugees, nearly a third of them children.

ON THE DEFENSIVE: Under fire from all sides for the chaotic U.S. evacuation effort following the Taliban's takeover of Kabul, President Joe Biden helicoptered back from his Camp David vacation to defend his decision to end the American military mission in Afghanistan, while offering scant explanation for why the rapidity of the collapse of Afghan forces caught him off guard.

a close up of a book: DOD header 2020 © Provided by Washington Examiner DOD header 2020

“We planned for every contingency, but I always promised the American people that I would be straight with you. The truth is this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,” Biden said in a speech from the White House, offering that he had been assured by President Ashraf Ghani that the U.S.-trained and equipped Afghan troops would stand their ground. “Mr. Ghani insisted the Afghan forces would fight, but obviously he was wrong.”

Afghans plead for faster US evacuation from Taliban rule

  Afghans plead for faster US evacuation from Taliban rule WASHINGTON (AP) — Educated young women, former U.S. military translators and other Afghans most at-risk from the Taliban appealed to the Biden administration to get them on evacuation flights as the United States struggled on Wednesday to bring order to the continuing chaos at the Kabul airport. President Joe Biden and his top officials said the U.S. was working to speed up the evacuation, but made no promises how long it would last or how many desperate people it would fly to safety “We don’t have the capability to go out and collect large numbers of people,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters, adding that evacuations would continue “until the clock runs out or we

While blaming the Afghan army and its political leaders, Biden took no responsibility for the decision to abandon the sprawling Bagram Air Base just over a month ago, only to have to dispatch 6,000 troops to take over the smaller Kabul airport to carry out evacuations of Americans and U.S. friends and allies.

And while Biden said, “The scenes we're seeing in Afghanistan are gut-wrenching,” he made no specific mention of the horrific sight of desperate Afghans clinging to the wheels of a C-17, only to have two fall to their deaths when the plane took off. It’s an image destined to be the iconic coda to the chaotic and slapdash departure.

WHAT BIDEN SAID: “Over the coming days, we intend to transport out thousands of American citizens who've been living and working in Afghanistan. We'll also continue to support the safe departure civilian personnel, the civilian personnel of our allies who are still serving in Afghanistan.”

Fearing Afghan refugee influx, Turkey reinforces border

  Fearing Afghan refugee influx, Turkey reinforces border TATVAN, Turkey (AP) — Fearing a new refugee crisis, Turkey is sending soldiers to reinforce its border with Iran in order to stop a potential influx of Afghans fleeing the Taliban insurgency. Irregular arrivals are already up as Afghans who fled weeks and months ago show up at Turkey's rugged border area after a long trek across Iran. A group of Afghans encountered by The Associated Press near the border said they had deserted the Afghan military and fled the country as the Taliban offensive accelerated.“We came out of necessity.

With a semblance of order restored by some 3,000 U.S. troops, flights out of Kabul resumed this morning.

And the Pentagon said that two more refugee processing centers would be opened on U.S. military bases at Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, capable of providing temporary housing for 22,000 people.

WHAT BIDEN DIDN’T SAY: What the thousands of American citizens “sheltering in place” in Kabul, and tens of thousands of Afghans hoping for safe passage out of the country did not hear from Biden was any commitment for U.S. troops to remain in control of the international airport past his artificial Aug. 31 deadline.

What Afghans would have liked to hear would have been something along the lines of, “We will maintain control of the airport until we get every possible person out, if it takes weeks or even months.”

At the Pentagon, spokesman John Kirby refused to speculate on what would happen if the evacuation was not completed in the two remaining weeks. “Over the next few weeks, we're going to be as aggressive as we can and moving as many people as we can ... once we get the operation up and running well here, we could get conceivably up to 5,000 out a day.”

White House says a 'fair amount' of US military equipment provided to Afghans is now in Taliban hands

  White House says a 'fair amount' of US military equipment provided to Afghans is now in Taliban hands "Obviously, we don't have a sense that they are going to readily hand it over to us at the airport," National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.WASHINGTON — National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Tuesday a "fair amount" of military equipment the U.S. provided the Afghan National Security Forces was seized by the Taliban in the militant group's quick route of Afghanistan.

“The mission is to evacuate our embassy personnel, American citizens, as well as Afghans who we can help. That's the mission set. The time frame that we're on right now is to — is to do that, complete that mission by Aug. 31,” Kirby said. “Beyond Aug. 31, it's just too difficult to speculate, and we wouldn't get ahead of decisions that haven't been made yet.”

‘THIS IS A DUNKIRK MOMENT’: President Joe Biden says he has warned the Taliban that any interference with the U.S. noncombatant evacuation operation would be met with a “swift and forceful” response with “devastating force if necessary.”

But retired Gen. David Petraeus, a former Afghanistan commander and CIA director, says the U.S. needs to do more in the desperate hour of need of Afghans who helped the Americans and now are terrified of retribution from the Taliban.

“This is a Dunkirk moment, and our decisions created it,” Petraeus said in an interview with the Cipher Brief, referring to the World War II evacuation of the British and allied troops from the French seaport of Dunkirk in 1940.

“And we should now act as if we do recognize the catastrophe that we have created for Afghans who supported us,” Petraeus said. “The White House should be decisive and announce that we will do everything humanly possible to take care of those who shared risk and hardship with our troops, spies, diplomats, and others.”

Biden’s defense falls flat with Afghans still wondering if they will make it out before US leaves

  Biden’s defense falls flat with Afghans still wondering if they will make it out before US leaves ON THE DEFENSIVE: Under fire from all sides for the chaotic U.S. evacuation effort following the Taliban's takeover of Kabul, President Joe Biden helicoptered back from his Camp David vacation to defend his decision to end the American military mission in Afghanistan, while offering scant explanation for why the rapidity of the collapse of Afghan forces caught him off guard. © Provided by Washington Examiner DOD header 2020 “We planned for every contingency, but I always promised the American people that I would be straight with you.

“The normal bureaucratic procedures should be vastly simplified, with decision-making delegated to those actually on the ground,” he said. “And our most capable military elements should be deployed with lots of drones and close air support available to help rescue as many Afghans as we can.”

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HAPPENING TODAY: In an effort to restore calm to the country, the Taliban have declared an “amnesty” and say women will be welcomed to join the government. Today, female newscasters were seen on TV, but many Kabul residents are skeptical, fearing it is only a matter of time before the Taliban impose a strict version of Sharia law.

Overnight Defense: Biden defends exit, blames Afghanistan leaders for chaos | US sending 1,000 more troops to Kabul as chaos reigns at airport | Taliban takeover scrambles U.S. evacuation efforts

  Overnight Defense: Biden defends exit, blames Afghanistan leaders for chaos | US sending 1,000 more troops to Kabul as chaos reigns at airport | Taliban takeover scrambles U.S. evacuation efforts It's Monday, welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.THE TOPLINE: A day after Kabul fell to the Taliban, the scramble was on in Washington to attribute blame and answer the question of what went wrong.Scenes of chaos at the Kabul airport as Afghans desperately tried to get on U.S. military evacuation flights also dominated airwaves and social media feeds.Even as criticism mounted, even from those that initially supported the withdrawal, that President Biden botched its execution, Biden stood by his decision.

Taliban fighters patrol the streets, and observers report military planes are taking off from the airport with no repeat of yesterday's chaos, in which at least seven people died, including two people shot by U.S. troops.

Sohail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, told CNN that the Taliban are not a threat to the U.S. military.

“They should trust,” Shaheen said. “When we signed an agreement with them, from the beginning up to now, we have not attacked the American forces. Not a single American soldier has been killed because of our promise and commitment.”

McMASTER’S REBUTTAL: Former national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster was on both Fox and CNN blaming both Biden and former President Donald Trump for the mess in Afghanistan.

McMaster said when he left the administration, a sound strategy for Afghanistan was in place, but he argued the February 2020 “peace” deal was more accurately a capitulation agreement that set the country on a course to disaster.

“Sadly, the Trump administration abandoned it prematurely, engaged in this, what I think was folly, in connection with these talks with the Taliban and this horrible, really, capitulation, agreement,” McMaster told Fox’s Martha MacCallum. “And then the Biden administration just doubled down on all those flaws, and what I think everybody knew, should have known, anybody with eyes could have seen this, the forthcoming disaster.”

BIDEN’S MISTAKES: On CNN, McMaster said Biden missed the mark in his address to the nation. “I think he should have said exactly the opposite of what he said,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I think the speech is based on really three things the president wants us to believe that are just fundamentally untrue.”

'They already looking for me': An Afghan interpreter on the last 24 hours

  'They already looking for me': An Afghan interpreter on the last 24 hours On Monday, I feared the worst. I had messaged Omid Mahmoodi, who worked as an interpreter for the U.S. military. But nothing. And then I had messaged Omid Mahmoodi, who worked as an interpreter and cultural adviser for the U.S. military for three years during the war.

McMaster took issue with Biden’s assertion that the collapse of the Afghan army was “sadly proof that no amount of military force would ever deliver a stable, united, secure Afghanistan,” arguing the broken morale of the Afghan army was a direct result of a “series of psychological blows that we delivered to the Afghan government and the Afghan people.”

“Remember when Secretary Blinken wrote a letter to Ashraf Ghani to ask him to do more for peace, as the Taliban were assassinating Afghans and committing mass murder attacks across the country?” he said. “We emboldened the Taliban, while we weakened the Afghan government and security forces on our way out by not insisting on a ceasefire, by forcing them to release 5,000 of some of the most heinous people on Earth.”

“What was most disheartening for me to hear today is to lay this at the door of the Afghan leadership and the Afghan security forces, which, as you know, I mean, tens of thousands of Afghans have given their lives, right, to preserve the freedoms they have enjoyed since 2001,” he said. “And what's so sad Jake is, it was a sustainable level of commitment, right? This ‘end the endless wars’ mantra — what you're talking about are 3,500 troops or maybe 8,000 troops.”

THE MYTH OF THE 300K ARMY: One of Biden’s talking points is that the U.S. trained and equipped a 300,000 strong Afghan military force. “We gave them every tool they could need. We paid their salaries, provided for the maintenance of their air force,” Biden said yesterday.

But on CNN yesterday, Anthony Cordesman, the Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Biden should have known better. “You have to wonder what the president was told,” Cordesman told CNN’s John King.

“Out of that 300,000, some 60% were police, which really couldn't fight at all. You had about a 25% turnover in the army, which means a large part was inexperienced and untrained. And out of the rest, you had a few actual combat units, all of which were dependent on contractors, which were not Afghan, on air support and forward advisers, which had been withdrawn in part even under the Trump administration.”

Photos: Fear and uncertainty loom over Kabul as the Taliban takes charge in Afghanistan

  Photos: Fear and uncertainty loom over Kabul as the Taliban takes charge in Afghanistan The Taliban swept into Kabul and seized power on Sunday after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

“To say that they were combat ready, you have to wonder who on earth had ever given that briefing?” he said. “Because certainly, no one I know of in Afghanistan would have believed it.”

AN EMOTIONAL MOMENT: One of the most heart-rending moments at yesterday's Pentagon briefing came near the end when cable networks had already cut away from their coverage. Afghan reporter Nazira Karimi was visible upset as she posed her question to John Kirby.

“Where is my president, former President Ghani? People expected that he bide by with the people, and immediately he runs away? We don't know, where is he? And we don't have a president,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion. “President Biden said that President Ghani knows he has to fight for his people. They have to do everything, and we were able to financially help them. But we don't have any president. We don't have anything. Afghan people, they don't know what to do.”

“I left from the Taliban like 20 years ago, now we — we go back to the first step again,” she said.

“We all understand the anxiety and the fear and the pain that you're feeling,” Kirby replied. "And nobody here at the Pentagon is happy about the images that we've seen coming out in the last few days. And we're all mindful of the kind of governance that the Taliban is capable of. So heartfelt respect to what you're going through.”

But he had nothing to offer on the whereabouts of deposed President Ashraf Ghani.

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The Rundown

Washington Examiner: Biden: 'I stand squarely behind my decision' on Afghanistan

Washington Examiner: Biden team faces bipartisan anger over chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal

Washington Examiner: White House defends Afghanistan strategy in talking points to Democratic Party allies

Washington Examiner: Afghanistan debacle shows foreign policy split among GOP 2024 contenders

Washington Examiner: Trump administration officials highlight one specific 'failure' in Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal plan

Washington Examiner: These prominent Republicans loved Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal plan. Until they didn't

Washington Examiner: George W. Bush and wife Laura break silence after Afghanistan falls to Taliban

Washington Examiner: Pentagon insists chaotic Kabul airport evacuation operation not a 'failure'

Washington Examiner: Pentagon watches for ‘reconstitution of terrorist networks’ in Afghanistan

Washington Examiner: DOD to house up to 30,000 Afghan refugees on US military bases

Washington Examiner: China eyes economic opportunity in Taliban-run Afghanistan

Washington Examiner: German evacuation plane forced to land in Uzbekistan amid Kabul airport chaos

Washington Times: Biden taps emergency funds to try to help Afghans flee

AP: Costs of the Afghanistan war, in lives and dollars

The Hill: Afghanistan will be Asia's first narco-state

Talk Media News: It started with people jumping to end their lives; it ends with people clinging to save their lives. Both wound up falling to their deaths.

Air Force Magazine: Contracts Advance Skyborg Toward Becoming Program of Record on Time

The Cipher Brief: David Petraeus: This is a Dunkirk Moment and Our Decisions Created It

The Cyber Brief: Opinion: War is the Realm of Uncertainty by Walter Pincus

Washington Examiner: Opinion: The buck stops nowhere here

19fortyfive.com: Opinion: Why Joe Biden's Afghanistan Speech Was a Disaster

19fortyfive.com: Opinion: 3 Reasons China Won’t Invade Taiwan—And 1 Reason Why It Will

19fortyfive.com: Opinion: Joe Biden Must Counter the Growing Military Drone Threat

Calendar

TUESDAY | AUGUST 17

8 a.m. 401 West Pratt Street, Baltimore — National Defense Industrial Association 2021 CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) Defense Conference and Exhibition, with Max Rose, COVID adviser to the defense secretary; Former Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Chemical and Biological Defense Chris Hassell, senior science adviser at the Health and Human Services Department. https://www.ndia.org/events/2021/8/16/2021-cbrn

8:30 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “What's Next for Cross-Strait Relations? Trends, Drivers, and Challenges,” with Chiu Chui-Cheng, deputy minister of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council; and Jude Blanchett, chair in China studies at CSIS. https://www.csis.org/events/whats-next-cross-strait-relations

2 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “Rethinking Homeland Defense: Domain Awareness, Information Dominance, and Decision Superiority,” with Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command; and Tom Karako, director of the CSIS Missile Defense Project. https://www.csis.org/events/rethinking-homeland-defense

5 p.m. — Washington Post Live discussion with Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Washington Post congressional reporter Marianna Sotomayor. https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live

8 p.m. — Asia Society of Northern California virtual book discussion on Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World, with author and former national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster. https://asiasociety.org/northern-california/events

WEDNESDAY | AUGUST 18

8 a.m. 401 West Pratt Street, Baltimore — National Defense Industrial Association 2021 CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) Defense Conference and Exhibition, with Brandi Vann, acting assistant Defense secretary for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs; and Army Col. Chris Hoffman, performing the duties of the deputy assistant Defense secretary for chemical and biological defense. https://www.ndia.org/events/2021/8/16/2021-cbrn

THURSDAY | AUGUST 19

1 p.m. — George Washington University Project for Media and National Security Defense Writers Group conversation with Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, U.S. Navy surgeon general. https://nationalsecuritymedia.gwu.edu

2:30 p.m. — Center for a New American Security event: “Against the Clock: Saving America's Afghan Partners,” with Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass; Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state; Richard Fontaine, CEO, Center for a New American Security; Lisa Curtis, senior fellow and director, Indo-Pacific Security Program, Center for a New American Security. https://www.cnas.org/events

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The Republicans have failed you, and the Democrats have failed you. The last president failed you on Afghanistan, and this one is failing you on Afghanistan.”

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

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Tags: National Security, Daily on Defense

Original Author: Jamie McIntyre

Original Location: Biden’s defense falls flat with Afghans still wondering if they will make it out before US leaves

Photos: Fear and uncertainty loom over Kabul as the Taliban takes charge in Afghanistan .
The Taliban swept into Kabul and seized power on Sunday after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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