Defense Secretary Austin admits Afghan army collapse ‘took us all by surprise’ in Senate testimony

U.S. Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin (C) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Workers Gen. Mark Milley (L) and Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie (R) testify throughout a listening to earlier than Senate Armed Providers Committee at Dirksen Senate Workplace Constructing September 28, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Alex Wong | Getty Photographs

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon acknowledged Tuesday that the beautiful collapse of the Afghan military amid a fast Taliban advance contributed to the Biden administration’s chaotic exodus from the war-weary nation.

“The truth that the Afghan military we and our companions educated merely melted away, in lots of circumstances with out firing a shot, took us all abruptly,” Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin informed the Senate Armed Providers Committee.

“It will be dishonest to say in any other case,” added Austin, a veteran of the wars within the Center East.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Workers U.S. Military Gen. Mark Milley stated that whereas most of the American and NATO coalition-trained Afghan troops tried to carry their positions in opposition to the Taliban, the bulk didn’t.

“Many items did combat on the very finish however the overwhelming majority put their weapons down and melted away in a really, very quick time period,” Milley stated. “I feel that has to do with will and with management however I feel we nonetheless have to strive to determine precisely why that was,” he added.

“It’s clear, it’s apparent. The struggle in Afghanistan didn’t finish on the phrases, we needed. The Taliban, now in energy in Kabul,” Milley stated.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Workers Gen. Mark A. Milley speaks throughout a Senate Armed Providers Committee listening to on the conclusion of army operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations on Capitol Hill on September 28, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Patrick Semansky | Getty Photographs

Each Austin and Milley batted away criticism from lawmakers that the U.S. army’s colossal 17-day humanitarian evacuation from Afghanistan was general unsuccessful.

Austin stated that the U.S. army managed to maneuver greater than 7,000 folks every day.

“On army plane alone, we flew greater than 387 sorties, averaging almost 23 per day. On the peak of this operation, an plane was taking off each 45 minutes,” he stated, including that “not a single sortie was missed for upkeep, gas, or logistical issues.”

“Was it excellent? In fact not,” defined Austin.

“We moved so many individuals, so rapidly out of Kabul that we bumped into capability and screening issues at intermediate staging bases exterior Afghanistan. And we’re nonetheless working to get People out who want to go away,” he stated, including that the U.S. State Division can be making an attempt to evacuate Afghan allies enrolled within the Particular Immigrant Visa program.

When requested concerning the lasting impression amongst NATO allies within the wake of a hurried evacuation, Milley informed lawmakers that U.S. credibility was being “intensely reviewed” by allies and adversaries alike. Austin added that American credibility “stays strong” citing his interactions with U.S. allies because the withdrawal.

U.S. Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin speaks throughout a Senate Armed Providers Committee listening to on the conclusion of army operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations on Capitol Hill on September 28, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Patrick Semansky | Getty Photographs

When requested what number of U.S. residents stay in Afghanistan, Austin, Milley and U.S. Central Command’s Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie deferred to the State Division.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed lawmakers that less than 100 U.S. citizens seeking evacuation remain in Afghanistan.

At President Joe Biden’s route, the U.S. army mission in Afghanistan ended on Aug. 31 after the evacuation of roughly 125,000 folks overseas. Of that whole, about 6,000 had been U.S. residents and their households.

The U.S. started its struggle in Afghanistan in October 2001, weeks after the assaults of Sept. 11. The Taliban on the time supplied sanctuary to al-Qaeda, the group that deliberate and carried out the devastating terrorist assaults on the World Commerce Heart and the Pentagon.

Since then, about 2,500 U.S. service members have died within the battle, which additionally claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Afghan troops, police personnel and civilians.

After 20 years of funding, 4 U.S. presidents and 12 secretaries of Protection, the Taliban are but once more in energy.

Within the closing weeks of a deliberate exodus of overseas forces from Afghanistan, the Taliban carried out a succession of stunning battlefield features. On Aug. 15, the group captured the presidential palace in Kabul, triggering Western governments to speed up evacuation efforts of at-risk Afghan nationals, diplomats and civilians.

Following the Taliban takeover, Biden defended his resolution that the U.S. would depart the war-torn nation.

“I stand squarely behind my resolution. After 20 years I’ve discovered the onerous manner that there was by no means an excellent time to withdraw U.S. forces,” Biden said a day after Afghanistan collapsed to the Taliban.

“American troops can not and shouldn’t be combating in a struggle and dying in a struggle that Afghan forces will not be prepared to combat for themselves,” Biden stated. “We gave them each probability to find out their very own future. We couldn’t present them with the need to combat for that future.”

Biden ordered the deployment of thousands of U.S. troops to Kabul to help with the colossal humanitarian airlift and safe the perimeter of the airport.

Within the closing week of the evacuation efforts, terrorists from the group ISIS-Ok killed 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans in an assault exterior the airport. U.S. forces retaliated and launched strikes in a bid to thwart different assaults.

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