Declassified reports on the Afghanistan withdrawal showed the Biden administration’s indecisiveness. Recently declassified reports written about American troops clashing with US diplomats. In particular, these disagreements happened before and during the evacuation.
Declassified Reports Showed Biden Officials Complicated Kabul Withdrawal
That indecisiveness among Biden administration officials complicated the withdrawal. According to the military, the officials' management placed increased risk on the mission.
The declassified reports consisted of two after-action reports. The US Central Command prepared the reports three weeks after the last US plane left Kabul. Both assessments confirmed that US commanders experienced frustration dealing with their admin counterparts. They called it sloppy and misguided management of the withdrawal.
White House and State Department Failed To Acknowledge Taliban’s Rise
As reported by the Washington Post, US military leaders blamed Biden administration officials. State and White House officials failed to recognize the Taliban’s swift rise over the last weeks. Officials also rejected requests from the military to prepare for evacuation. The military made these requests weeks before Kabul fell to the Taliban.
The existence of these declassified reports contradicts claims made by the White House. Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed President Joe Biden's rejection of the reports. “I think it’s important for people to understand that there was no after-action report,” she said. Yet, the declassified reports are actually that: two after-action reports.
Biden Administration Blames Trump’s Deal With Taliban
Biden also blamed former President Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban to pull out troops by May 2021. The White House said that this is part of the reason why the US insisted on withdrawing from Afghanistan. However, Biden delayed the withdrawal until September.
An unnamed NSC official confirmed the White House signed off on the Abbey Gate report. It concluded that a lone Islamic State agent carried out the August 26 attack. The perpetrator wore a bomb rigged with ball bearings to create large-scale damage.
Biden Rejects The MIlitary’s After-Action Reports
After hearing about the declassified reports, administration officials tried to downplay their contents. They gave conflicting reactions to the firsthand accounts.
Last week, Biden himself rejected the commanders’ accounts. Later, White House officials said Biden later accepted the Abbey Gate report. State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter offered a different view. She said the media cherry-picked certain military officials’ comments from a larger report.
Delay in Evacuating
Administration officials already got wind of the need to evacuate early on. An August tabletop exercise among various agencies determined the need for quick evacuation. Despite the conclusion, no one gave the order for the evacuation. Instead, Kabul embassy staff informally requested military support to downsize. It also asked the military to shift operations to the airport. For this, they recommended a 17-day transition period.
Consequently, the military report blamed the delay on indecisiveness among Biden officials. They took their time in deciding about reducing the US Embassy's Kabul staff. They also delayed the decision to declare a formal evacuation from Afghanistan. Later, these came back to haunt the military. The delays complicated the US military’s ability to complete the withdrawal.
Do you agree that the Biden administration’s indecisiveness complicated the Afghanistan withdrawal? Also, did Biden complicate matters by rejecting the reports?
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