US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reportedly said he was ‘beyond disappointed’ with the Afghan army’s capitulation to the Taliban and added: ‘You can’t buy willpower, and you can’t buy leadership.’
The Pentagon chief is said to have made remarks during a call with other US government members Sunday, as the Afghan capital began to fall to the Taliban, its US embassy closed, and the number of American troops deployed there rose by 1,000 to 6,000.
Austin and fellow intelligence officials blame the Afghan army for not opposing the Taliban in a more prominent way, FOX News reported.
In the call, members of Congress were briefed by Austin, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the alarming state of affairs in Afghanistan.
Top officials worry that not only were the 20 years the US spent in Afghanistan since 9/11 in vain, but that the Taliban now have access to the modern war equipment and weapons the US provided the Afghan army with, as the 20th anniversary of the ?September 2001 terror attacks on New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania approach.
The Taliban have taken over vast swathes of Afghanistan in just days, seizing high tech US equipment including Humvees, Black Hawk Helicopters and weaponry – although officials believe much of the technology is too sophisticated for Taliban members to know how to operate.
‘You can’t buy willpower, and you can’t buy leadership,’ Austin allegedly said in the call.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (pictured) was ‘beyond disappointed’ and said that ‘you can’t buy willpower’ in a call with members of the government today, a source said
Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was also in the call briefing Congress members
Antony Blinken has rejected comparisons between Afghanistan and Saigon, blaming the ‘inability of Afghan security forces’
Taliban fighters took control of the Afghan presidential palace after the Afghan president Ashraf Ghani fled the country
Afghan security forces patrol in the Afghan capital of Kabul city, Afghanistan
Republicans are placing the blame on President Biden’s approach. Indiana Representative Jim Banks, who served in Afghanistan, said Biden was ‘sleep at the wheel’ and that his administration had been ‘caught unprepared.’
Biden has also received backlash for retreating to Camp David for the weekend, as the Taliban entered Kabul on Sunday.
‘Why is Joe Biden on vacation? I don’t think he’s taken one question from the press this entire weekend, so this is a frightening situation,’ asked Ohio Representative Jim Jordan.
Subsequently, Biden seemed to blame Trump for setting a May 1 deadline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, leaving the Taliban ‘in its strongest position since 2001.’
House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer issued an statement drawing attention to the dire circumstances for those who have not been evacuated from Afghanistan.
‘There will be much analysis of our Afghanistan experience, but right now, I am gravely concerned for the safety of our Afghan partners who served side-by-side with our troops, our diplomats, our development professionals, and our partner forces to carry out our mission,’ Hoyer said.
Taliban fighters stormed the ancient palace on Sunday and demanded a ‘peaceful transfer of power’ as Kabul descended into chaos, with US helicopters evacuating diplomats from the embassy.
US-backed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country for Tajikistan, effectively ceding power to the Taliban in a move signaling the end of the 20-year Western intervention begun after the September 11 attacks, while thousands of Afghan nationals rushed to the Pakistan border.
Taliban fighters sit over a vehicle on a street in Laghman province on August 15, 2021
Taliban fighters stand guard in front of the provincial governor’s office in Herat on August 14, 2021
Taliban fighters and local residents sit over an Afghan National Army (ANA) humvee vehicle along the roadside in Laghman province
Taliban fighters pose for a photograph in the city of Kandahar, southwest Afghanistan
Foreigners in Kabul were told to either leave or register their presence with Taliban administrators, while RAF planes were scrambled to evacuate 6,000 British diplomats, citizens and Afghan translators, and the British Ambassador was moved to a safe place.
The US and French Ambassadors have already been evacuated as the US rushes to rescue more than 10,000 of its citizens.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley told a bipartisan group of senators during a Sunday call that a past assessment of how soon the terrorist groups will reemerge in Afghanistan will drastically speed up due to the events over the last week.
On the call with Milley, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham asked if they will revise the assessment given to Congress in June that classified a ‘medium’ risk of terrorist group reconstituting within two years of withdrawal.
‘Yes,’ Milley responded about changing the threat assessment report, according to Axios.
He also said he would be more than willing to brief senators in a classified setting on the unfolding Afghanistan situation.
The bipartisan group of senators on the call pressed Milley and Austin on efforts to get U.S. personnel out of Afghanistan as images already emerged of a helicopter evacuation from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul – reminiscent of the fall of Saigon.
A source on the call said, according to Axios, that there is no way the U.S. can evacuate the more than 20,000 Afghans who want to escape the country by August 31.
‘Two takeaways for me – We’re gonna leave tens of thousands of people behind… and the timeline in terms of threats has accelerated,’ the source said.
The original reason the U.S. engaged in Afghanistan in 2001 was to prevent terrorist threats to the homeland from the Middle Eastern nation.
It is now feared the power vacuum set to be filled by the Taliban could lead to a resurgence for terror group Al Qaeda, and see further attacks against western targets.
After 20 years, and billions of dollars spent, President Joe Biden’s total troop withdrawal left the region in disarray as the Taliban was able to overtake a majority of Afghanistan in just over a week.
The Islamic militant forces breached the capital city of Kabul on Sunday as the U.S. flag was removed from the embassy there and American citizens were told to shelter in place as gunfire broke out at the airport. Afghani President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as the Taliban entered Kabul.
By Sunday, the Taliban garnered almost complete control by over taking 28 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
Members of Congress were briefed on the state of affairs in Afghanistan in a conference call by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Subsequently, Biden seemed to blame Trump for setting a May 1 deadline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, leaving the Taliban ‘in its strongest position since 2001’
Biden’s administration came under scrutiny. President Biden spent the weekend at Camp David, as the Taliban entered Kabul on Sunday
Despite the swiftly escalating situation in Afghanistan, Biden’s administration ensures it was the right move to withdraw troops, while simultaneously blaming former President Donald Trump for setting the May 1, 2021 deadline during his time in office.
Taliban fighters have invaded the palatial home of top Afghan warlord and US ally and videoed themselves lounging on his gold furniture and inspecting his golden tea set – as their advance closes on capital Kabul amid a scramble to get Westerners out.
General Rashid Dostum’s home is in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif which fell to the Taliban yesterday and now there are claims that the advancing fighters have reached the outskirts of Kabul.
Dostum was a key US ally during the 20 year campaign against the Taliban and famously fought with the Special Forces ‘horse soldiers’ shortly after 9/11.
Just minutes before the Kabul airport started taking gunfire and Americans were warned of the Taliban threat in the city, the Pentagon’s Press Secretary John Kirby denied any ‘imminent threat’.
‘Kabul is not, right now, in an imminent threat environment,’ he said.
The Taliban initially said they were waiting outside the Kabul city limits for the ‘peaceful transfer of power,’ but soon after entered the capital city.