An Afghan Army commander said Wednesday that the reason his troops couldn’t fight any longer against the Taliban was largely that they felt abandoned by the U.S. and President Joe Biden.
“It’s true that the Afghan Army lost its will to fight. But that’s because of the growing sense of abandonment by our American partners and the disrespect and disloyalty reflected in Mr. Biden’s tone and words over the past few months,” Afghan General Sami Sadat wrote in a New York Times op-ed.
“The Afghan Army is not without blame. It had its problems — cronyism, bureaucracy — but we ultimately stopped fighting because our partners already had,” he said.
Sadat described the Afghan Army’s three and a half month-long attempt to keep the Taliban from controlling Helmand Province. He said that it wasn’t until he was called to Kabul by President Ashraf Ghani, who appointed him as commander of Afghanistan’s special forces, that the army lost control to the Taliban.
“But the Taliban already were entering the city; it was too late,” he said.
"We kept fighting," Afghan Army Lt. Gen. Sami Sadat writes. "But then Mr. Biden confirmed in April he would stick to Mr. Trump’s plan and set the terms for the U.S. drawdown. That was when everything started to go downhill." https://t.co/bZMklQaFqw
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) August 25, 2021
Sadat said that the U.S. had pulled key support from the army and it left the troops with their hands tied.
“It pains me to see Mr. Biden and Western officials are blaming the Afghan Army for collapsing without mentioning the underlying reasons that happened,” Sadat said. “Political divisions in Kabul and Washington strangled the army and limited our ability to do our jobs.”
“Losing combat logistical support that the United States had provided for years crippled us, as did a lack of clear guidance from U.S. and Afghan leadership,” Sadat said.
While Sadat largely blamed Biden for the “betrayal,” he said former President Donald Trump’s February 2020 peace deal with the Taliban was partly responsible. Still, Sadat said his troops kept fighting and it wasn’t until Biden’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan that things started to turn south.
“It put an expiration date on American interest in the region,” Sadat wrote. “Second, we lost contractor logistics and maintenance support critical to our combat operations. Third, the corruption endemic in Mr. Ghani’s government that flowed to senior military leadership and long crippled our forces on the ground irreparably hobbled us.”
The Biden administration announced the withdrawal decision in April to leave by Sept. 11 and began executing the plan earlier this month with the earlier deadline of Aug. 31. As the U.S. began the withdrawal and evacuations of Americans and vulnerable Afghans, the Taliban in a matter of days took control of many cities, including the country’s capital of Kabul, leading Ghani to flee the country.
Biden said last week that the U.S. couldn’t give the Afghan army “the will to fight” for their future.
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