Marines Prepare for Possible Evacuation of Americans in Afghanistan
In the Biden administration’s ambitious plan for Afghanistan, none of this was supposed to happen – at least not so quickly. President Biden announced in April that US troops would withdraw from the country by September 11; he then postponed that date to August 31 and most of the troops left. The president insisted that the Afghan government and military, with financial support from the United States, would be tasked with defending urban areas of the country against the Taliban.
But since the announcement, the Taliban have crossed town after town, despite having only about 75,000 fighters against 300,000 soldiers from the American-trained Afghan security forces. This dichotomy has caused frustration at the Pentagon and among US officials, who have repeatedly said that Afghan troops, if their backs are against the wall, will rally to defeat the Taliban.
“They have a lot of advantages that the Taliban don’t have,” Kirby said, referring to the Afghan national security forces. “The Taliban don’t have an air force, the Taliban don’t have airspace. They have a lot of advantages. Now they have to use these advantages.
But President Ashraf Ghani’s administration has not implemented any strategy to defend the remaining cities or take them back, although he has said he will. The pro-government militias, defended by Afghan officials and reminiscent of the bloody civil war of the 1990s, have always been unable to repel the Taliban.
On Wednesday, Mr Ghani replaced the country’s army chief and appointed a new commander of the army’s commando units, in what was one of his most public moves to date to combat the Taliban offensive, which took over half of Afghanistan’s roughly 400 neighborhoods.
The US military, for its part, continues to support Afghan government forces to some extent with air strikes. But these strikes were largely confined to the south of the country, around Kandahar. It’s because of the logistics: Now that the US has pulled out of Bagram Air Base in the north and has taken their warplanes and huge support systems, it’s harder to reach the north. . Such strikes could require aerial refueling and would have other logistical hurdles that would make them more difficult to carry out.
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