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World Intel community defends itself after US was caught out by speed of Taliban takeover

06:05  19 september  2021
06:05  19 september  2021 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

Russia Gloats That its Government Lasted Longer in Afghanistan Than U.S. 'Regime'

  Russia Gloats That its Government Lasted Longer in Afghanistan Than U.S. 'Regime' "The regime created by the Americans tumbled down even before they left. That's a principal difference," said Zamir Kabulov, the Kremlin envoy for Afghanistan.Zamir Kabulov, the Kremlin envoy for Afghanistan, said that he and other Russians didn't anticipate such a quick collapse.

The speed at which the Taliban took over Afghanistan, despite claims from the Biden administration last week that the fall of Kabul wasn't imminent, has led to accusations the events of the past 72 hours represent a catastrophic intelligence failure, on top of a military and political one.

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera © Provided by Washington Examiner

In a speech from the White House on Monday, President Joe Biden admitted the collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban takeover happened "more quickly than we anticipated."

“The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,” Biden said. “So what’s happened? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight.”

Opinion: A kinder, gentler Taliban?

  Opinion: A kinder, gentler Taliban? The Taliban is promising peace and an amnesty, but it's instructive to look at what they did when they took control in Kabul in 1996, writes Peter Bergen. The Taliban imposed their ultra-purist vision of Islam on much of the country. Women had to wear the burqa and stay at home unless accompanied by a male relative. Music, television and even kite flying were banned. There was no independent Afghan media; only Radio Shariat that blared Taliban propaganda.In an unsettling echo of how the Nazis treated the Jews, the Taliban forced the country's miniscule Hindu population to wear distinctive clothing.

BIDEN TEAM FACES BIPARTISAN ANGER OVER CHAOTIC AFGHANISTAN WITHDRAWAL

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted Monday: “This administration was specifically told Afghan forces would surrender faster than our ability to exit. They decided to ignore these warnings & smugly tell everyone how smart & brilliant they are.”

The Taliban largely completed their sweep across Afghanistan on Sunday as they took the capital of Kabul amid a chaotic U.S. evacuation of its embassy following an ill-planned military withdrawal.

Just over a month ago, on July 7, Biden dismissed the chances of a Saigon-like situation.

“None whatsoever. Zero,” Biden said. “The Taliban is not the South — the North Vietnamese army … There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”

Who are the Taliban: The history — and present — of the group taking over Afghanistan

  Who are the Taliban: The history — and present — of the group taking over Afghanistan "When it comes to experience, maturity, vision, there is a huge difference between us in comparison to 20 years ago," a Taliban spokesman said.“Our nation is a Muslim nation, whether 20 years ago or now," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in his first news conference after the militants took control of the country on Tuesday, according to a translation by Al Jazeera. "But when it comes to experience, maturity, vision, there is a huge difference between us in comparison to 20 years ago.

a large body of water with a city in the background: A U.S. Chinook helicopter flies over the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. Helicopters are landing at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul as diplomatic vehicles leave the compound amid the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) Rahmat Gul/AP © Provided by Washington Examiner A U.S. Chinook helicopter flies over the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. Helicopters are landing at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul as diplomatic vehicles leave the compound amid the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) Rahmat Gul/AP

Biden added, “The likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was similarly dismissive when pressed on June 7 about the failure to evacuate Afghan interpreters properly.

“We are not withdrawing, we are staying, the embassy is staying,” Blinken wrongly claimed. “If there is a significant deterioration in security, that could well happen — we have discussed this before — I do not think it is going to be something that happens from a Friday to a Monday. So, I would not necessarily equate the departure of forces in July, August, or by early September with some kind of immediate deterioration in the situation.”

Mullah's rise charts Taliban's long road back to power

  Mullah's rise charts Taliban's long road back to power The Taliban's top political leader, who made a triumphal return to Afghanistan this week, battled the U.S. and its allies for decades but then signed a landmark peace agreement with the Trump administration. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is now expected to play a key role in negotiations between the Taliban and officials from the Afghan government that the militant group deposed in its blitz across the country. The Taliban say they seek an “inclusive, Islamic” government and claim they have become more moderate since they last held power.

The intelligence community has defended itself amid questions of how the U.S. predicted the unfolding of events so poorly.

“We have noted the troubling trend lines in Afghanistan for some time, with the Taliban at its strongest, militarily, since 2001. Strategically, a rapid Taliban takeover was always a possibility,” a senior intelligence official told the Washington Examiner, though the definition of “rapid” — days, weeks, or months — was not provided. “The question all along was whether the Afghan government and military would be cohesive enough and have the willpower needed to exercise its military capabilities to resist the Taliban. As the Taliban advanced, they ultimately met with little resistance.”

The official added: “We have always clear-eyed that this was possible, and tactical conditions on the ground can often evolve quickly.”

"Numerous officials" reportedly insisted that “key intelligence assessments had consistently informed policymakers that the Taliban could overwhelm the country and take the capital within weeks.” One anonymous U.S. intelligence official told ABC News that “leaders were told by the military it would take no time at all for the Taliban to take everything,” but “no one listened.” An anonymous senior congressional official said, “The intelligence community assessment has always been accurate — they just disregarded it.”

Once inmates, Taliban now in charge in a Kabul prison

  Once inmates, Taliban now in charge in a Kabul prison KABUL (AP) — Once, Kabul’s main prison was crowded with thousands of Taliban captured and arrested by the government. On Monday, a Taliban commander strolled through its empty halls and cell blocks, showing his friends where he had once been imprisoned. It was a sign of the sudden and startling new order in Afghanistan after the militant group swept into the capital nearly a month ago and threw out the crumbling, U.S.-backed government it had fought for 20 years. The Taliban now run Pul-e-Charkhi Prison, a sprawling complex on Kabul’s eastern outskirts.

The Wall Street Journal said over the weekend that a U.S. official “dismissed the notion that only intelligence failures were to blame for the swift collapse of the Afghanistan government, saying a number of factors contributed to the miscalculation, including the speed of the Biden administration’s withdrawal and the fact that the military contractors left as well.”

Biden administration officials “say they have long known that a total capitulation of the Afghan government to the Taliban was a possibility, and they planned their withdrawal efforts accordingly.”

The outlet also reported on June 23 that the intelligence community concluded the week prior that the Afghan government could collapse within six months after the U.S. military withdrawal. The Washington Post reported on Aug. 10 the U.S. military assessed a collapse could occur within 90 days, while others said it could be a month. ABC News reported on Aug. 12 a new U.S. military analysis warned Kabul could be isolated within 30 to 60 days and could fall within 90 days. It fell Sunday.

“The trend lines that all of us see today are certainly troubling. The Taliban are making significant military advances — they're probably in the strongest military position that they've been in since 2001,” CIA Director William Burns said on July 22 when asked about estimates the Afghan government could fall six months after a full U.S. withdrawal. “There are a lot of possibilities out there. I mean, what I would say is that the Afghan government retains significant military capabilities. The big question, it seems to me and to all of my colleagues at CIA and across the intelligence community, is whether or not those capabilities can be exercised with the kind of political willpower and unity of leadership that's absolutely essential to resist the Taliban."

State's 'rosy' Afghanistan outlook at odds with grim intelligence before Taliban takeover

  State's 'rosy' Afghanistan outlook at odds with grim intelligence before Taliban takeover The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee pointed to the “rosy picture” the State Department had painted about Afghanistan as opposed to the increasingly “grim” intelligence community assessments in explaining why he believed the Biden administration miscalculated the Taliban takeover so badly. © Provided by Washington Examiner Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas told the Washington Examiner the Biden administration ignored the bleak assessments from the Pentagon and the intelligence community, and he critiqued the U.S.

In April, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence assessed: “The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan Government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support.

“Kabul continues to face setbacks on the battlefield, and the Taliban is confident it can achieve military victory.”

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction released a report on July 30 that said the Afghan news was "bleak” and assessed that "the overall trend is clearly unfavorable to the Afghan government, which could face an existential crisis if it isn’t addressed and reversed.” The report noted, “U.S. military contractors are also being withdrawn from Afghanistan,” and warned, “Their loss could significantly impact ANDSF sustainability, in particular their ability to maintain aircraft and vehicles.”

SIGAR assessed there were just over 300,000 Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. However, the report noted that it “does not reflect the loss of personnel to casualties, surrender, capture, or fleeing to other countries that occurred during the Taliban offensive from May through July.”

The report noted that “especially given its recent success on the battlefield, the Taliban may simply believe they can achieve military victory,” and the Taliban’s tone was "resoundingly triumphant in April and May following the announced withdrawal.”

SIGAR quoted Abdullah Abdullah, head of Afghanistan’s National Reconciliation Council, who said in June: “We are saying peace and [the Taliban] are nearing the capital of Afghanistan.”

‘No possible life’ under Taliban rule: Afghan women fear murder, oppression after US withdrawal

  ‘No possible life’ under Taliban rule: Afghan women fear murder, oppression after US withdrawal "If the Taliban returns to power, I along with other women who work in the government will either be stoned to death or executed in public."These memories are invariably the stuff of nightmares.

Pentagon watchdog Sean O’Donnell said in May, “The Defense Intelligence Agency said that the Taliban is very likely preparing for large-scale offensives against Afghan population centers and government forces.”

The inspector general’s report said, “The Taliban very likely prepared for large-scale offensives against provincial centers, complex attacks against the ANDSF’s installations, and degrading ANDSF capabilities.”

The report added: “While the Taliban increased its attacks this quarter, the ANDSF also conducted offensive operations. However, the DIA reported that these attacks did not accomplish anything of strategic value.”

A now-rosy assessment from February by the congressionally established Afghan Study Group said “experts” assessed that “a precipitous withdrawal could lead to a reconstitution of the terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland within 18 months to three years.”

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“My concern about leaving with a date certain is that after we withdraw ... is the ability of the Afghan military to hold the ground that they're on now without the support that they've been used to for many years, which, we’ve weaned them off direct support … to a point where now it’s intelligence, it’s fire support, it’s the enabling things that actually give them an edge over the Taliban — all that will be gone,” Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate in April. “So, I am concerned about the ability of the Afghan military to hold on after we leave, the ability of the Afghan air force to fly.”

When asked whether the Pentagon should continue spending billions supporting the Afghan military, McKenzie replied, “If we don’t provide them some support, they certainly will collapse.”

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Tags: News, Afghanistan, Intelligence Community, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Taliban, Marco Rubio, Antony Blinken

Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy

Original Location: Intel community defends itself after US was caught out by speed of Taliban takeover

The bursting 'Ka-bubble': Taliban extremism is remaking a once-cosmopolitan Kabul .
Restless Kabul residents ponder what remains and what changes in the Afghan capital after more than a month of Taliban rule.Some would say it was less a place than a feeling, the sense that this metropolis — supercharged by billions in Western assistance — was somehow insulated from the daily battles grinding outside the city gates. That wasn't entirely true. Bombings, assassinations and attacks echoed through the capital over the years. But unlike the provinces and hinterlands, this messy city of markets, mosques and green Ford Ranger pickup trucks felt like a relatively safe space in a battered nation.

usr: 1
This is interesting!