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What is unfolding in Afghanistan is truly catastrophic and did not have to happen

General Petraeus: The most proximate cause is that the Afghan Air Force was inadequate in size and capability to respond - with reinforcements, resupply, air medevac, reconnaissance, and close air support - to numerous simultaneous attacks by the Taliban all around a vast, mountainous country that has very limited road infrastructure. This situation was exacerbated by the withdrawal, when the 3500 U.S. and 8500 Coalition troops withdrew, of the approximately 18,000 civilian contract maintenance technicians who were the key to maintaining the sophisticated U.S.-provided helicopters and planes that make up the bulk of the Afghan fleet. 

The result was recognition by Afghan troops under fire in multiple locations that no one was coming to the rescue with reinforcements or close air support. I publicly raised concerns about this possibility when it was clear that the contractors would be withdrawn, and, tragically, my fears were confirmed. When troops know that no one is coming to help them after they have been fighting for 2 to 3 days, they will inevitably and predictably surrender, withdraw, or desert. And the psychological blow to Afghan forces as this took place was catastrophic.

In the past, Afghan forces fought hard and died for their country in considerable numbers as long as they knew U.S. air support would help them in tough fights if the Afghan air assets were not sufficient. This time, the American augmentation obviously was not available.

Will the success of the Taliban encourage Al Qaeda (AQ) to establish a new safe haven in the Hindukush?

Petraeus: I fear that will be the case. AQ has repeatedly tried to re-establish the kind of sanctuary they had under Taliban rule and in which the 9/11 attacks were planned. And we repeatedly destroyed those new sanctuaries. Additionally, I also fear that the Islamic State affiliate established in the Afghanistan-Pakistan area will seek to establish a sanctuary in Afghanistan as well.

by Oui on Tue Aug 17th, 2021 at 02:45:39 PM EST

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