Yesterday, I listened to Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), a former Army Ranger with four tours of duty in Afghanistan, and current member of the House Armed Services Committee, say on CNN, “Nobody anticipated the speed of the collapse of the Afghan army and defense forces; I certainly didn’t. I knew that this would be a very difficult time as we ended our combat operations. I certainly didn’t anticipate the speed that we’re seeing right now. There’s going to be a lot of questions on a post-mortem that will have to be done to understand why that happened.”
Meanwhile, on the PBS NewsHour earlier the same day, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, NY Times correspondent in Kabul, said, “At its core, the Afghan military was built in the American military’s image, and that means complex logistics systems, different levels of integration, this expectation tha the Afghan military would kind of operate like the American military. But the American military has its own issues, and exporting that and expecting it to look the exact same without the litany of issues… it’s unrealistic. Not to mention, how long does it take for a military to become a military? Officers, generals, experienced non-commissioned officers, that’s not there. And then, couple that with poor leadership, widespread corruption, and other factors that have kind of led to this moment where soldiers and police on the front line have no faith in their government, they don’t trust their leaders, it’s just all dissolved as the Americans, who have provided air support for so long, and as soon as they kind of eased up on the gas, things started to come apart at the seams. And you know, that’s left the Afghan Air Force, which is a small but professional force, and capable, but not nearly big enough to cover the geographic spread of Afghanistan. And the commando units which have been well-trained, well-equipped, can fight moderately well, because they have core leadership that motivates other rank-and-file; again, it’s not big enough to handle what the Taliban have managed to throw at them.”
So… it seems to me that there are those who could have, and most likely did, anticipate the speed with which Afghanistan’s government would come tumbling down in the face of the relentless onslaught of the Taliban.
I wonder whether those who did piece two and two together were somehow excluded from the highest level discussions surrounding the US pullout from Afghanistan, or whether their concerns were given air, but nevertheless did not sway the argument against further endangering American lives in pursuit of an unattainable goal?
I wonder if we will ever quite understand the dynamics of these decisions.