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Monday, June 5, 2023

Pentagon’s top brass spill the beans on Afghanistan as they are grilled by the US Senators

Startling revelations by the military top brass about the fiasco in Afghanistan in a testimony to the senate armed services committee have laid threadbare Biden’s faux pas in the land locked country which has jeopardized the lives of the civilian population including Americans and Afghan allies who are still left behind apart from making it a terrorist launch pad.

Defence secretary Llyod Austin, chairman of the joint chief of staff Gen Mark Milley and commander  of US central command Gen Kenneth Mckenzie were in the line of fire as one senator after another took turns to shred the Biden administration’s defence of the sudden and hasty pull out in Afghanistan. 

General Milley put things in perspective when he termed the Afghan exit as “logistical success but a strategic blunder”, thus contradicting the President of the United States of America who had termed the Afghan exit as “an extraordinary success.”

Gen Mckenzie head of the central command while testifying  on the drone attacks of August  29 which killed  10 civilians  including  7 children said  he did not realize  until two days after the attack that it was an error.

All three service officers confirmed that they were of the opinion which was conveyed to the President that 2500 US troops should have remained in Afghanistan over seeing the evacuation, an advice which was obviously rejected by the President.

However the President is on record saying in mid August that he was given no such advice and that is what is creating ripples in the State department and the White House as all three Pentagon  personnel testified under oath in front of the Senate armed services committee on Tuesday. 

Defence secretary Austin pointed at the Doha agreement which had a demoralising effect on the  Afghan government and the Afghan forces and was a precursor to their sudden capitulation.

This was clearly an attempt to lay the blame at the outgoing President Trump’s door even when all terms of the Doha agreement except one were not honoured by the Taliban under the Biden Presidency so the President had every right to extend the August 31 deadline which would have resulted in a more orderly withdrawal and less loss of lives including those of the thirteen American service personnel.

Many are calling this  approach of the Biden administration where no one is ready to share the blame  as the “cascading buck pass.”

It is pertinent to note that the  then Afghan government was not a party to the Doha agreement which undermined their standing while lending credibility to the Taliban. Pentagon officers also contended that the fleeing of President Ashraf Ghani from Afghanistan also contributed to the sudden fall of the Afghan army and the Afghan forces.

The hearing has clearly established that the Pentagon and the State department were not on the same page on Afghanistan and that the President possibly ignored the advice of General Milley and Mckenzie on keeping 2500 US troops in Kabul.

But more than that the hurried and reckless withdrawal coupled with the total intelligence failure to comprehend the sudden arrival of Taliban  in Kabul in a matter of days contrary to claims of the Pentagon which was of the belief that Taliban would take 3 to 4 months to unsurp Kabul and the simultaneous  falling of the Ghani government like a pack of cards has put the entire region on the brink. 

Biden’s ratings according to the Gallop poll are below 50 percent  just eight months into his Presidency – which is the lowest for any President- as Americans across states are critical of manner in which the President exited from Afghanistan. 

As the Taliban  establish  their  stranglehold on Afghanistan and ride roughshod over civil rights , women  rights and what have you, making a mockery of UNHRC and the UN. 

The US under Biden has its work cut out in ensuring that the terror outfits like the Al-Qaeda, LET and the Hakaani networks don’t make it their  operating base for international terrorism. The unfolding  human rights  crisis coupled with the looming food crisis as the winter sets in is sure to test the Biden administration in the coming  months.

(Featured image source: Getty images)

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Aman Gupta
Aman Gupta
Political Editor, Samast Bharat magazine


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