World Biden said he had 'trust' in the Afghan military. Weeks later, it's facing total defeat and a Taliban takeover.
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- Biden said in July that a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan was "highly unlikely," but the Taliban is surging.
- He said he had "trust" in the capability of the Afghan armed forces, which are being routed nationwide.
- The Pentagon says 'no outcome has to be inevitable here," but the situation is rapidly deteriorating.
In early July, President Joe Biden vehemently rejected the notion that withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan meant a Taliban takeover of the country was "inevitable."
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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. © 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.
"The likelihood there's going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely," Biden said during a news conference on July 8, underscoring that the Afghan armed forces were "as well-equipped as any army in the world."
"I trust the capacity of the Afghan military, who is better trained, better equipped, and ... more competent in terms of conducting war," the president said at the time, responding to questions about whether withdrawing the roughly 2,500 remaining US troops would precipitate a civil war or a Taliban victory.
On July 21, amid grim predictions that the security situation in Afghanistan would deteriorate,that none of the 34 provincial capitals had been seized and that "a negative outcome - a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan - is not a foregone conclusion."
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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.
A little over a month since Biden's press briefing, his "trust" in Afghan forces increasingly appears misplaced as the Taliban makes rapid gains - capturingin the past week alone - and raising the likelihood of the entire country falling to the Taliban.
The insurgents now control over two-thirds of the country, as well as major cities like Herat and, Afghanistan's second-largest city and the birthplace of the militant Islamist group.
The US military assesses that Kabul, the capital, could be isolated within the next 30 to 60 days and captured within 90,
The Biden administration has consistently maintained that it is up to the Afghan government and military to ward off the Taliban and insisted the Afghan military has the capacity and capability to do so. Speaking to reporters Friday,that while Taliban actions are "deeply concerning" at the moment, "no outcome has to be inevitable here."
'Intelligence failure of the highest order' — How Afghanistan fell to the Taliban so quickly
"While the end result and bloodletting once we left was never in doubt, the speed of collapse is unreal," one Afghan War veteran told CNBC.After nearly two decades of war, more than 6,000 American lives lost, over 100,000 Afghans killed and more than $2 trillion spent by the U.S., the outlook for the country's future was still grim, with regional experts assuming the Taliban would ultimately come to control most of Afghanistan once again.
Though the security situation has deteriorated with blistering speed, Biden on Tuesday told reporters he does not regret ordering the withdrawal.
Video: "Help us, please": Afghan who assisted U.S. Marines faces Taliban threat, beseeches Biden (MSNBC)
"Look, we spent over a trillion dollars over 20 years. We trained and equipped with modern equipment over 300,000 Afghan forces," Biden said. "And Afghan leaders have to come together. We lost thousands - lost to death and injury - thousands of American personnel. They've got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation."
But the US-trained and equipped Afghan forces have consistently proven to be eitherto keep the Taliban at bay. As Afghan troops have surrendered, the Taliban has forcing the to stop the Taliban from turning it on the Afghan forces.
Biden in July said that there would be no moment akin to the desperate evacuation of the US embassy in Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.
Afghanistan updates: Chaos at Kabul airport amid struggle to flee
United States troops have taken control of the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, and world leaders are responding after the Taliban took control of the country. As the crisis intensifies, President Joe Biden on Monday cut his time at Camp David short and headed back to the White House to address the nation this afternoon on Afghanistan -- his first in nearly a week to speak publicly on the subject.
"The Taliban is not the south - the North Vietnamese army. They're not - they're not remotely comparable in terms of capability," Biden said at the time. "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."
Fast-forward to this week, and the US has moved to pull much of its civilian personnel from the US embassy in Kabul,. The Biden administration has insisted this does not qualify as an "evacuation" even as reports emerge of US officials beginning to destroy classified materials.
-Katy Tur Reports (@KatyOnMSNBC)
American veterans of the war in Afghanistan have expressed dismay at the situation on the ground - and criticized the US government's handling of the withdrawal - as provincial capitals fall like dominoes and
GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, a US Air Force veteran who served in Afghanistan, inresponding to the news of the evacuation of the embassy in Kabul said the "devastating developments" in the country "are hard to watch, and were entirely avoidable."
"I think one of the lessons for us here is there's a difference between arming, equipping, training and giving resources to an army - and actually that army's and that force's will to fight," Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, a former Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan,during a CNN interview on Friday.
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The Taliban blitz exposes the failure of the 20-year Afghanistan war and portends terrorism threats, say former defense secretaries Panetta and Hagel.Afghan security forces, trained and equipped at the cost of $83 billion, wilted before Taliban fighters. With few exceptions, the Taliban rolled through provincial capitals without a fight despite a force of Afghan troops that was supposed to number more than 300,000. In reality, there were far fewer Afghan forces because of desertions and commanders who reportedly pocketed the pay of ghost soldiers they had kept on rolls. For those who remained and fought, there wasn't enough ammunition and food, to say nothing of pay.
Crow and other lawmakers in Washington have been especially critical of the slow pace at which Afghan translators and others who helped the US throughout the conflict have been evacuated from the country. The Taliban has targeted and brutally murdered Afghans who assisted the US.
Speaking with Politico last month, Crow said the evacuations should've began the moment the withdrawal was announced. "We're out of time. People are dying now,"
But there are also those in Washington who continue to agree with Biden that it was time to pull US forces out of the longest war in the nation's history.
"The rapid advancement of the Taliban isn't a reason to reverse course and stay," Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said inon Sunday. "It's a reminder of the continued American hubris that leads us to believe that we can mold foreign armies into our own image."
What Happens If the Taliban Takes Control of Afghanistan? .
One analyst told Newsweek that a Taliban-run Afghanistan could have devastating ramifications for civilians, especially women and girls.Given the recent withdrawal of allied forces and how quickly the Taliban has increased its hold on swathes of the country, officials are concerned that the militants may eventually seize total control of Afghanistan.