U.S. Defense Secretary Arsepoel Austin said the U.S. had expected the Taliban to take full control of Afghanistan months to two years after the withdrawal of U.S. troops, but no one expected the U.S.-backed Afghan government to collapse in just 11 days, ABC and other U.S. media reported.
On ABC’s “This Week” sunday, Austin said the fall of the Afu government was a very rapid, rapid, fast-paced evolution that took place in about 11 days.
Austin said U.S. intelligence estimates vary widely on how long the Afghan government will be able to fight the Taliban after the withdrawal, saying: “The initial assessment is one to two years, you know, or months, but it’s a general assessment as the Taliban begin to make progress.” Then we see that in some cases, the fighting has decreased, surrendered more, and more troops have evaporated, all over an 11-day span, making it difficult to predict accurately. No one expected the Afghan government to collapse in 11 days. ”
Austin also said the U.S. military will look for every possible way for U.S. citizens, third-country nationals and special immigrant visas (SIV applicants) to travel to and enter Kabul airport, a move that will last until the last day before the U.S. military has to leave.
Austin said the U.S. military’s goal is to complete the evacuation by August 31, but hinted that the deadline could be delayed. “If we were given more time, then we would make every effort to make the most of it,” he said. ”
Biden announced in April that U.S. troops in Afghanistan would withdraw by September 11 to end the longest war in U.S. history. In July, he announced that U.S. troops in Afghanistan would complete their withdrawal by August 31.
But his decision to withdraw was largely criticized as a military and intelligence failure, since many Americans and their allies would have nowhere to run once the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan.
Asked if Biden’s withdrawal plan was acceptable and appropriate, Austin argued that the Biden administration had no choice because it inherited a peace deal between the trump administration and the Taliban as soon as he took office and faced a May 1 deadline to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan.
He also said Biden faces a situation where there is no better choice and can only make decisions based on a “thorough analysis of the situation.” However, the results of the analysis did not predict the pace of the afghan Government’s collapse.
Biden said Sunday that nearly 28,000 people had been evacuated from Afghanistan by air since August 14, as of that morning. A total of about 11,000 people will be evacuated from Kabul over the weekend’s 36-hour period.