US Senate picks at Kabul

Alexey Naumov

The first public hearings on Afghanistan were held in the US Senate: the US military reported to lawmakers about Washington’s Afghan policy and the reasons for its fiasco. One of the sensations was the public exposure of US President Joe Biden, if not a lie, then an amazing forgetfulness.

There were three of them – Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Millie, head of US Central Command Kenneth Mack-enzie. These three military men were to report to the country and its authorities on the situation in Afghanistan: the first hearing on this case was held in the Senate Committee on Armed Forces.

The main sensation was their exposure of US President Joe Biden: Generals Millie and Mackenzie said they had advised him to leave a small contingent in Afghanistan at the beginning of the year. Kenneth Mackenzie explained that he recommended fixing its number at around 2,500 people, and Mark Millie refused to disclose what exactly he advised the president. “In my personal opinion, the refusal to leave the forces inevitably should have led to the collapse of the Afghan army and, ultimately, the Afghan government,” he explained. As you know, further developments showed that the general was right.

As a reminder , on August 19, ABC News correspondent George Stephanopoulos asked Joe Biden a direct question: “T-hat is, your military advisers did not tell you:“ No, we need to leave 2.5 thousand soldiers, in recent ye-ars the situation is stable and it can be kept as such. do it “?” The President rep-lied: “No, as far as I reme-mber, no one said that.”

In general, during the six-hour poll of the military, lawmakers behaved as prescribed by their party affiliation. Republican senators criticized the administration for withdrawing from Afghanistan (decided by Republican President Donald Trump). And the Democratic senators tried to restrain their critical ardor and blamed the ex-president for the Afghan fiasco.

The mention of Donald Trump could not go unnoticed by himself. “The failed and shamefully disorganized withdrawal from Afghanistan has nothing to do with previous administrations or things that happened 20 years ago (except that we didn’t have to come to the Middle East at all). The terrible withdrawal was caused by the fact that the military was withdrawn before the American citizens and modern military equipment worth $ 85 billion, ”- said in a mailing list of Mr. Trump’s Save America. The military also made accusations against the ex-president.

The generals explained that the agreement between the United States and the Taliban (banned in Russia), concluded under Donald Trump, seriously undermined the morale of Afghan troops.

This happened due to the fact that Kabul “had to take some actions” – then, we recall, the Afghan authorities released 5 thousand Taliban prisoners. Minister Austin explained that the American authorities were preparing for a different outcome of the Afghan situation, but could not foresee that the government of Ashraf Ghani would fall in 11 days. “Did we have the right strategy? Maybe there were too many strategies? Were we too confident that we could build effective government institutions, the army, air force, police and government ministries in Afghanistan? We helped them build a country, but we were unable to create a nation. To be honest, we were surprised by the fact that the Afghan army, which my partners and I trained, simply disappeared into thin air with virtually no firing, ”complained Mr. Austin.

He said that the United States underestimated the scale of corruption and incapacity of local leaders, the arbitrariness of President Ashraf Ghani, the negative effect of the deal with the Taliban and the fact that Afghans, after decades of fierce fighting and tens of thousands of victims, had no desire to fight. Nevertheless, according to the Secretary of Defense, this should not cast a shadow on the feat of the American soldiers. “They prevented another 9/11. They have shown unprecedented courage and sympathy in the last days of the war, they made progress in Afghanistan, which will not be easy for the Taliban to reverse and the international community must actively work to preserve it, ”the minister summed up. General Millie was more outspoken. He noted that the evacuation from Afghanistan was indeed a logistical success, but many other results of the Afghan campaign do not deserve the same praise.

“I said that we had four presidents, twenty commanders on the ground, seven or eight chairs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dozens of defense ministers and so on. The results (of such a campaign – “b” ) are not achieved within five days, 20 days, or even within a year. Such results – and the result is that this is a strategic failure, the enemy rules Kabul – this is a total result of 20 years, not 20 days, ”the commander said gloomily. General Milli urged to draw conclusions in the field of military science – was the Afghan army created on the model of the American Afghan army too dependent on the United States, and in the field of intelligence – how analysts did not predict the fall of Kabul in 11 days, and also to ask questions about the legitimacy of the government, about corruption , about the “parasitic role of the police”.

Finally, he said he had no illusions about the Taliban. “Let’s see if the Taliban can consolidate power, or the country will once again slide into civil war,” the general said, stressing that the Pentagon must continue to protect the United States from terrorists from Afghanistan, since it is quite possible there to restore al-Qaeda terrorist groups. or “Islamic State”.

General Mackenzie, whose speech was shorter, in turn, said that he personally takes responsibility for the erroneous airstrike in the last days of the evacuation, which killed ten people. “The case is still being investigated, but in general terms I can repeat what was said earlier: I am responsible for this,” the general noted. “It happened in my area of responsibility, I am the one who is responsible for this attack.”

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