Biden Administration Defends Afghanistan Withdrawal Choices in New Report

On April 6, the White Home issued its account of the selections that preceded the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, as Congress is shifting to analyze President Joe Biden and his administration’s decision-making throughout the disaster.

The 12-page abstract largely blames the previous President Donald Trump’s administration for placing the U.S. in a weakened place with the Taliban. It additionally faults the Afghan authorities and its safety forces for permitting the nation to quickly fall into the palms of the enemy in August 2021.

The abstract, nevertheless, doesn’t focus on the suggestions from high army commanders that the U.S. retain 2,500 troops within the nation whereas making an attempt to barter a greater settlement. Nor does it word the evaluation by the Pentagon’s Particular Inspector Common for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) that the withdrawal of Western contractors hobbled the Afghan air drive because it struggled to carry the road in opposition to Taliban fighters.

Individually, the Division of Protection despatched its long-awaited categorized Afghanistan After Motion Evaluation to Congress.

The categorized after motion assessment has lengthy been accomplished however had not beforehand been shared exterior the chief department. Nationwide Safety Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby informed reporters neither the Pentagon doc nor one other categorized assessment by the State Division that was additionally despatched to the Congress can be made public.

The 21-year-old Afghan battle remains to be the topic of a politically charged debate. A 12 months and a half after the U.S. withdrawal, the Taliban stays in energy, girls and women have been barred from faculties, and the nation is mired in poverty.

The White Home abstract argues the U.S. completed its most important goal of defeating al-Qaida and the difficulties in Afghanistan accrued over a number of administrations.

“The president’s resolution to finish the conflict in Afghanistan was the correct one,” Kirby mentioned. “America had way back completed its mission to take away from the battlefield the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.”

Republicans, nevertheless, accused the Biden administration of mishandling the withdrawal and withholding info.

“President Biden made the choice to withdraw and even picked the precise date; he’s accountable for the huge failures in planning and execution,” Home Overseas Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R.-Texas) mentioned in an announcement. “It’s also unlucky it took my subpoena menace to immediate the administration to lastly present the categorized after-action studies from the Afghanistan withdrawal.”

The White Home doc was written by Biden’s Nationwide Safety Council. Kirby mentioned Biden supplied his private enter. As vice chairman, Biden was skeptical of the army’s push to ship reinforcements to Afghanistan. However the crux of the White Home’s case is that the brand new administration inherited a tough scenario.

“President Biden’s decisions for how one can execute a withdrawal from Afghanistan have been severely constrained by situations created by his predecessor,” the White Home doc states.

The U.S. solely had 2,500 troops within the nation when Biden took workplace. The White Home additionally notes the Trump administration had reached an settlement with the Taliban that pledged U.S. troops would go away the nation by Could 2021—an settlement made with out consulting the Afghan authorities.

Subsequently, when Biden took workplace “the Taliban have been within the strongest army place that they’d been in since 2001, controlling or contesting practically half of the nation,” the White Home doc states.

The White Home additionally argues the Afghan authorities was responsible for its defeat. “President Biden urged the Afghan authorities to take steps to harden the resolve of the Afghan forces,” the doc states.

However U.S. army consultants warned earlier than the withdrawal {that a} speedy and whole withdrawal of U.S. army and contractor help would undermine the Afghan army’s morale and its potential to make use of airpower in opposition to its foe.

“If we don’t present them some help they actually will collapse and that isn’t in our greatest curiosity,” Gen. Frank McKenzie, then-head of U.S. Central Command, informed the Senate Armed Providers Committee in April 2021, 4 months earlier than the withdrawal. “So I’m involved in regards to the potential of the Afghan army to carry on after we go away, the power of the Afghan Air Pressure to fly specifically after we take away the help for these plane.”

A scathing report from the SIGAR launched final month cited the dearth of contract upkeep help for the Afghan Air Pressure as a key blow that led to the Taliban gaining extra management because the U.S. dedicated to heading for the exits.

Whereas the White Home didn’t discover fault with its personal decision-making, it famous the intelligence neighborhood didn’t precisely forecast how occasions would unfold.

“As late as Could 2021, the evaluation was nonetheless that Kabul would in all probability not come underneath critical strain till late 2021 after U.S. troops departed,” the doc says.

“Clearly we didn’t get it proper,” Kirby mentioned. However “the aim of it isn’t accountability,” he added, however “understanding.”