Senior US military officials said on September 29 that the plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan to zero had a major impact on the morale of Afghan troops, who have become dependent on US aid for everything, starting from air intelligence and support, to training and equipment maintenance.
U.S. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, testified before a House committee on Sept. 29 that he believed “for a time” that the United States would reduce the number of advisers. military in Afghanistan below 2,500, the Kabul Government would fall and “with the army the same thing would happen”.
McKenzie has said that once the number of US troops has dropped below 2,500, as part of US President Joe Biden’s decision to complete the full withdrawal, the disbandment of the Western-backed Afghan Government has accelerated.
Biden had set August 31 as the deadline to complete the withdrawal of US forces, following an agreement reached in 2020 in Doha, Qatar, between the Taliban and former US President Donald Trump, who had pledged to withdraw. of troops.
“The signing of the Doha agreement has had a really devastating impact on the government in Afghanistan and its military – mostly psychologically – because we had an exact date when we were leaving and they knew the aid was over.” said McKenzie before U.S. lawmakers.
He described Biden’s order to reduce troop numbers as “another nail in the coffin” for the 20-year war effort because the decision left the US military blind to conditions within the Afghan military.
McKenzie, General Mark Milley, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin testified for four and a half hours on Sept. 29, before the House Armed Services Committee.
They also testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 28.
These hearings marked the start of what appears to be a Senate review of U.S. failures in Afghanistan.
Republicans have accused Biden of lying about the recommendations of military commanders and exaggerating the US ability to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for militant groups such as Al Qaeda.
In a television interview in August, Biden denied that his commanders had recommended keeping 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.
He then said: “No. “Nobody told me anything like that, as far as I can remember.”
But McKenzie told the House Armed Services Committee that he had warned that a full withdrawal could result in the destruction of the Afghan army and the Afghan government itself, while Milley told the Senate committee it was his personal opinion. that at least 2,500 troops had to stay in Afghanistan to avoid the fall of the Kabul Government and the return of the Taliban regime.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Biden had received “separate” advice on what to do in Afghanistan.
“In the end, it is up to the Commander-in-Chief to make the decision,” Psaki said.
“He has decided it is time to end the 20-year war.”
Republican Rep. Mike Rogers has called the withdrawal an “unresolved disaster.”
“This will go down in history as one of the greatest failures of the American leadership,” Rogers said.
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