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World The anguish of US veterans as Afghan forces surrender to the Taliban

15:00  20 september  2021
15:00  20 september  2021 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

News Analysis: What went wrong in Afghanistan?

  News Analysis: What went wrong in Afghanistan? With the Taliban in control in Afghanistan's capital and the Biden administration under fire for a chaotic withdrawal, a look at what went wrong.Achieving that goal also included overthrowing the Taliban, and steadily the mission morphed into a vast, complicated experiment to reshape a society that few Americans understood.

IT’S OVER. IT’S ‘TALIBANISTAN’ NOW: After a weekend of stunningly fast-moving developments, the Taliban now control all of Afghanistan except for the airport in Kabul, where the United States and other foreign governments are ramping up a massive airlift effort to get their citizens and a small number of fortunate Afghans out of the country.

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The fall of Kabul came less than two days after the Pentagon said the city, the last remaining capital not conquered by the Taliban, was “not under an imminent threat of collapse,” and just before Afghan President Asraf Ghani fled the country with his wife and inner circle. The Taliban faced no resistance as they entered the city and were soon seen on television occupying the opulent presidential palace.

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.

The U.S. Embassy was abandoned after a frantic flurry of helicopter shuttle flights ferried the last diplomats and security personnel to the airport for evacuation flights home. The American flag was lowered and classified and sensitive material destroyed. Videos over the past 24 hours showed large crowds at the airport, desperate to board planes to safety.

AFGHAN PRESIDENT ASHRAF GHANI FLEES COUNTRY

MORE US TROOPS ON THE WAY: In a statement Saturday, President Joe Biden said he has authorized the deployment of approximately 5,000 U.S. troops to secure the airport and facilitate “an orderly and safe evacuation” of U.S. and allied personnel, as well as “Afghans who helped our troops.”

By yesterday, the authorized U.S. force had grown to 6,000, with 3,000 troops in place by today, On Saturday, the Pentagon said the lead battalion of the 82nd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, roughly 1,000 troops, would leave Kuwait to join the 3,000 troops ordered in last week, and yesterday, a second brigade of 1,000 troops were ordered to join them.

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.

On NBC yesterday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the evacuation effort would continue “over the coming days” and would not require permission from the Taliban. “Not a question of assurances,” Blinken said on Meet the Press. “We've been very clear with the Taliban that any effort on their part to interrupt our operations, to attack our forces, to attack our personnel, would be met with a very strong, decisive response.”

“Over the coming days, we will be transferring out of the country thousands of American citizens who have been resident in Afghanistan, as well as locally employed staff of the U.S. mission in Kabul and their families and other particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals,” the State Department and Pentagon said in a joint statement. The U.S. Embassy, which is now operating from the airport, has told American citizens to “continue to shelter in place,” register for an evacuation flight, and sit tight.

China accuses Washington of 'low political tricks' over Uyghur exhibit

  China accuses Washington of 'low political tricks' over Uyghur exhibit China accuses Washington of 'low political tricks' over Uyghur exhibitGENEVA (Reuters) - A U.S.-backed Uyghur photo exhibit of dozens of people who are missing or alleged to be held in camps in Xinjiang, China, opened in Switzerland on Thursday, prompting Beijing to issue a furious statement accusing Washington of "low political tricks".

THE BAD GUYS WON: Sunday was, to say the least, an ignominious end to America’s longest war in which more than a trillion dollars were spent, 2,448 U.S. troops died, and more than 20,000 were left with life-altering wounds, all in a failed attempt to create a stable democracy that would prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists and protect the rights of women and girls who had few rights under Taliban rule.

It has been a bitter pill for the thousands of American veterans of the two-decade war, who filled social media with posts that ranged from outrage to sadness, especially that there was not a more robust plan to save Afghans who worked shoulder to shoulder with the Americans.

One of the more poignant posts on Facebook came from Curtis Grace and Luke Coffey, two U.S. Army Afghanistan vets who produce the Panjwai Podcast.

“The veterans of Afghanistan are not okay. They are struggling with deep, intrinsic questions about their purpose, and the validity of their efforts in the War in Afghanistan,” Grace and Coffey wrote Friday as it became clear that Afghanistan was lost. “Was it worth it? Was it all a waste? How am I supposed to feel about my brothers and sisters who lost their lives over there?”

'Nobody should be surprised': Why Afghan security forces crumbled so quickly to the Taliban

  'Nobody should be surprised': Why Afghan security forces crumbled so quickly to the Taliban Analysts say there were signs the Afghan military – unmotivated, disorganized and plagued by low morale – would struggle against the Taliban. "They were evident for a long time," said retired Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, a twice-deployed veteran of the war in Afghanistan. "Nobody should be surprised by these outcomes if they had been paying attention." More: A timeline of the US withdrawal and Taliban recapture of Afghanistan Unmotivated to fight for 'corrupt' government The U.S. pumped more than $80 billion in equipment and training into the Afghan security forces since the start of the war in Afghanistan, which the U.S.

“It was not a waste. It was not futile. You did your job,” they said. “You were a force to be reckoned with. You kept the villages in your area as safe as they had been in 20 years and safer than they likely will be for the next 20.”

“Your service was worth it, take from it the best of it and leave the guilt behind. What’s happening in Afghanistan now is the responsibility of the Afghan government that failed to prepare for this possibility for 15 years. Millions of dollars spent, hundreds of thousands of soldiers trained. What else could we possibly have done to help them? Nothing. This is on them.”

“I like to think of it this way. Those that we lost, would THEY care that Afghanistan is falling right now? Or would they care that you and I, and the rest of their brothers and sisters, are still here breathing and talking about it together?”

TALIBAN SET TO DECLARE THE ISLAMIC EMIRATE OF AFGHANISTAN

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‘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.

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HAPPENING TODAY: Despite the momentous events of the past 48 hours, no administration officials have any public events scheduled for today. Not President Joe Biden, who is huddled at Camp David. Not Secretary of State Antony Blinken or Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Biden is expected to address the nation in some format sometime this week, either in a speech or a news conference. In a statement released Saturday, Biden defended his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops, arguing, “One more year, or five more years, of U.S. military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country.”

“I faced a choice — follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies’ forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict,” Biden said, blaming President Donald Trump for boxing him in. “I was the fourth president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan — two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war on to a fifth.”

‘KABUL KIRBY’: We may hear from Pentagon press secretary John Kirby today. It’s been a rough week for the veteran public affairs officer, who has been in the unenviable position of trying to put the best face on what was obvious to even the most casual observer, a looming debacle.

Photos show turmoil and panic as Taliban enter Afghanistan's capital Kabul

  Photos show turmoil and panic as Taliban enter Afghanistan's capital Kabul The United Nations has cited continued reports of serious human rights abuses and violations in the communities most affected by the fighting. International aid groups have warned of a humanitarian crisis.U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed particular concern Sunday about the future of women and girls in the country, saying hard-won rights "must be protected" and "all abuses must stop.

“There's no intention right now to close the embassy or to close all the diplomatic presence in Kabul,” Kirby was still insisting late Friday. “This situation in Kabul is calm right now,” he said in an interview on CNN. “Yes, there's unease,” he told CNN’s Jim Acosta. “But as we looked at it from a military perspective, the city itself, as you and I speak, is not under an imminent threat of collapse at this point.”

Over the weekend, the retired rear admiral was dubbed “Kabul Kirby” by conservative radio talk show host Chris Plante, who compared Kirby’s overly optimistic assessment. “In the tradition of Baghdad Bob, the Biden administration’s Pentagon spokesman takes spin to an Orwellian level,” he tweeted.

“Baghdad Bob,” you may recall, was the name given to the spokesman for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who in 2003 claimed the Iraqi forces “crushed” invading U.S. troops, even while American tanks were seen rumbling through the capitol.

After a week of making upbeat pronouncements that the Afghan Army had the advantage, with 300,000 troops, better equipment, and an air force, by Friday, he had to admit it was all an illusion.

“What we couldn't predict was the lack of resistance that they were going to get from Afghan forces on the ground,” Kirby said. “But you can't, you know, money can't buy will, will has to be there.”

Full disclosure: Chris and I covered the Pentagon together as a team for CNN for six years, and as my producer, was responsible for many of the scoops we reported in the late 90s and early 2000s.

THE BLAME GAME: The last 24 hours have been filled with statements from lawmakers and others, with Republicans generally blasting Biden and Democrats blaming Trump for the chaotic and humiliating end to the war. Here’s just a small sample:

Donald Trump, former president: “What Joe Biden has done with Afghanistan is legendary. It will go down as one of the greatest defeats in American history! ... It is time for Joe Biden to resign in disgrace for what he has allowed to happen to Afghanistan ... It shouldn’t be a big deal, because he wasn’t elected legitimately in the first place!”

After two decades and billions spent, Afghan government collapses as Taliban takes Kabul

  After two decades and billions spent, Afghan government collapses as Taliban takes Kabul The Taliban, which for hours had been in the outskirts of Kabul, announced soon after they would move farther into a city gripped by panic.Embattled President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as the Taliban entered the capital city of Kabul, and American troops scrambled to evacuate thousands of U.S. diplomats and Afghans from the U.S. Embassy.

Antony Blinken, secretary of state: “We would have been back at war with the Taliban. And we would have been back at war, with tens of thousands of troops having to go in, because the 2,500 troops we had there and the airpower would not have sufficed to deal with the situation, especially as we see, alas, the hollowness of the Afghan security forces.”

Mike Pompeo, former secretary of state: “I wouldn't have let my 10-year old son get away from this kind of pathetic blame-shifting ... it's worth noting this did not happen on our watch. We reduced our forces significantly, and the Taliban didn't advance on capitals all across Afghanistan. So, it's just a plain old fact that this is happening under the Biden administration's leadership.”

ONCE AN AREA OF AGREEMENT, BIDEN AND TRUMP TRADE BLAME ON AFGHANISTAN

Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican: “While Afghanistan falls to jihadi militants, our Afghan allies are on the verge of slaughter, and America gets humiliated, President Biden hides out at Camp David. It’s unacceptable. The mission at this point ought to be simple: bolster American troops and firepower until we can get flights running around the clock. The Taliban must not dictate when every last American, our courageous Afghan partners, and their families are off the tarmac.”

Rep. Liz Cheny, Wyoming Republican: “Absolutely President Biden bears responsibility for making this decision. But there is no question that President Trump, his administration, Secretary Pompeo, they also bear very significant responsibility for this. They walked down this path of legitimizing the Taliban, of perpetuating this fantasy, telling the American people that the Taliban were a partner for peace. President Trump told us that the Taliban was going to fight terror. Secretary Pompeo told us that the Taliban was going to renounce al Qaeda. None of that has happened.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican: “The decision by President Biden to fully withdraw is a calamity for the people of Afghanistan, a disaster for the American people, and shows a lack of understanding as to the threats that still emanate from the War on Terror. The long-term consequences for America flowing from this debacle in Afghanistan are enormous. America will be seen as weak in the eyes of our enemies and unreliable in the eyes of our allies.”

Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas, ranking Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee: “I think it's an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions. And I think the president -- this is going to be a stain on this president and his presidency. And I think he's going to have blood on his hands for what they did.”

Rep. John Garamendi, California Democrat: “Beginning way back in 2001 and beyond, every year beyond that, we did not appreciate the reality of Afghan culture, Afghan religion, and all of the ethnic diversity that existed within that country ... But ultimately, what happened now is what was a foregone conclusion. The moment that Trump announced the withdrawal of American troops on May 1st, the Taliban simply ceased to negotiate and began to establish themselves and prepare for what is now happening.”

Rep. Mike Waltz, Florida Republican, former Green Beret: “This is a repeat of the Obama administration yanking us out of Iraq too soon, too quickly, recklessly that led to the rise of ISIS, a Caliphate the size of Indiana and attacks across Europe and inspired attacks on the United States. That is all going to happen again, but this time, it is going to be far worse because now the Taliban are armed with troves of heavy weaponry, artillery, armor, machine guns, you know, ammunition, you name it, that we are going to have to fight our way back through to get at al Qaeda, and we have no bases in the region with Afghanistan surrounded by Russia, China, and Iran and a bunch of former Russian client states.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma, ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee: “My heart is breaking for the people of Afghanistan, who are being forced to reckon with the consequences of President Biden’s mistake. Although it’s hard to fathom how the country fell so quickly, no one can say this wasn’t expected. I’m not happy to have been right about this, but that’s nothing compared to those experiencing a humanitarian crisis or what we’ll feel when we see the reemergence of terror networks.”

Molly Montgomery, deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs: “Woke up with a heavy heart, thinking about all the Afghan women and girls I worked with during my time in Kabul. They were the beneficiaries of many of the gains we made, and now they stand to lose everything. We empowered them to lead, now we are powerless to protect them," Montgomery wrote in the since-deleted tweet.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

The Rundown

Washington Examiner: Taliban set to declare the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

Washington Examiner: Taliban enters Kabul ready for ‘peaceful transfer’ as US tries to evacuate personnel

Washington Examiner: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani flees country

Washington Examiner: China likely to recognize Taliban as Afghan rulers with fall of Kabul

Washington Examiner: 'Gunfire at the airport': US officials evacuate embassy as Taliban enters Kabul

Washington Examiner: Blinken: US Embassy personnel in Afghanistan relocated to airport to 'operate safely and securely'

Washington Examiner: Pentagon authorizes another 1,000 troops to Kabul

Washington Examiner: Once an area of agreement, Biden and Trump trade blame on Afghanistan

Washington Examiner: Former CENTCOM commander says US 'may have underestimated' Taliban's 'planning capabilities'

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Russia wages a paranoid war on hypersonics scientists

Military.com: 'We Lost Everything': As Kabul Falls And More U.S. Troops Rush To Aid The Evacuation, Time Runs Out For Afghan Interpreters

Washington Post: ‘Why did my friend get blown up? For what?’: Afghanistan war veterans horrified by Taliban gains

Military Times: ‘What’s Happening Now Is Worse’: Midway Skipper Who Pushed Choppers Off Deck In Fall Of Saigon

The Cipher Brief: The Painful Lessons of Afghanistan by General Joseph Votel (Ret.)

The Cipher Brief: Book Review: What History Books Have Taught Us About the Afghan Quest by former Senior British Diplomat Nick Fishwick.

Washington Post: The U.S. says humans will always be in control of AI weapons. But the age of autonomous war is already here.

Stars and Stripes: Navy Displays ‘Air Wing Of The Future’ On Upgraded Carrier Off Hawaii

AP: Russia And China Launch Joint Military Drills

Air Force Magazine: USSF’s Space Systems Command Stands Up

Air Force Magazine: With Troops ‘Orphaned’ by the Air Force, Florida Guard Boss Calls for Space National Guard

Air Force Magazine: USAF Will be Able to Airlift ‘Thousands’ from Afghanistan as More Troops Arrive in Kabul

19fortyfive.com: Why America Was Destined to Fail in Afghanistan

19fortyfive.com: NATO is Dead Man Walking After Afghanistan Debacle

19fortyfive.com: Don’t Ignore the CIA’s Intelligence Failure on Afghanistan

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

“Your service was worth it, take from it the best of it and leave the guilt behind. What’s happening in Afghanistan now is the responsibility of the Afghan government that failed to prepare for this possibility for 15 years. Millions of dollars spent, hundreds of thousands of soldiers trained. What else could we possibly have done to help them? Nothing. This is on them.”

U.S. Army Afghanistan veterans Curtis Grace and Luke Coffey, co-hosts of the the Panjwai Podcast

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Tags: National Security, Daily on Defense

Original Author: Jamie McIntyre

Original Location: The anguish of US veterans as Afghan forces surrender to the Taliban

After two decades and billions spent, Afghan government collapses as Taliban takes Kabul .
The Taliban, which for hours had been in the outskirts of Kabul, announced soon after they would move farther into a city gripped by panic.Embattled President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as the Taliban entered the capital city of Kabul, and American troops scrambled to evacuate thousands of U.S. diplomats and Afghans from the U.S. Embassy.

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