When the Taliban swept into Kabul final month, capturing Afghanistan’s capital with out a struggle, the sheer pace of the collapse of the Western-backed and educated military surprised the world.
But senior officers within the former Afghan administration informed AFP that the lightning victory was not completely sudden, and the consequence of basic management failures, rampant corruption, slick Taliban propaganda — and a crushing “betrayal” by US-led forces with their hasty pullout.
One prime official near the centre of energy mentioned that simply two days earlier than Taliban forces entered Kabul on August 15, he was current as former president Ashraf Ghani held an emergency assembly along with his senior ministers, and navy and spy chiefs.
“It was said that we had enough weapons, ammunition, and financial resources to hold Kabul for two years,” mentioned the official, who claimed $100 million in money was out there to safe Kabul.
“It didn’t protect the city for two days,” he mentioned.
The official, who like most sources AFP spoke to for this text didn’t need to be recognized for worry of reprisals, mentioned he was not shocked by the capitulation.
“Ministers were lying to Ghani, telling him that everything was fine, so they could keep their jobs and their privileges,” he mentioned.
As the Taliban raced by way of the nation, the internal circle debated coverage reforms.
“We didn’t get our priorities right,” he added.
“As the cities fell, one after the other, the National Security Council met to talk about recruitment and institutional reforms.”
Taliban forces swept throughout the nation in simply two weeks, seizing provincial capitals typically with out a bullet being fired.
Another prime ex-government official mentioned no person on the prime confirmed management.
“None of them spoke to the media to reassure our men. None of them went into the field,” he mentioned.
Ghani additionally made fundamental strategic errors, the shut adviser added.
“I suggested we leave the south, as we didn’t have enough manpower to defend it in the long term.
“But the president disagreed. He mentioned that each one Afghanistan belonged to the federal government,” he said.
But for the Afghan army, holding everywhere against the Taliban was an impossible task.
Despite the billions of dollars of US-led military support, equipment and training, the army’s capacity had been hollowed out by years of rampant corruption.
Senior officers creamed off what they could, stealing salaries from lower ranks, as well as selling fuel and ammunition supplies.
The situation worsened after Washington struck a deal with the Taliban in February 2020 for a troop withdrawal agreement.
“We had been betrayed,” said Sami Sadat, a general recognised for his bravery against the Taliban, who was brought in to lead the special forces in Kabul just days before its fall.
Without the critical protection of US air support — and with the former government’s own air force grounded after foreign contractors maintaining the fleet were pulled out by Washington — the army lost its strategic advantage.
“The Taliban had been emboldened,” Sadat said, writing in the New York Times.
“They might sense victory… Before that deal, the Taliban had not received any important battles towards the Afghan Army. After the settlement? We had been dropping dozens of troopers a day.”
The final days of fighting were “surreal”, Sadat added.
“We engaged in intense firefights on the bottom towards the Taliban as US fighter jets circled overhead, successfully spectators,” he wrote.
Sadat dismissed the claim by US President Joe Biden that the Afghan had collapsed sometimes “with out attempting” to fight.
“We fought, bravely, till the top,” Sadat said. “We misplaced 66,000 troops over the previous 20 years; that is one-fifth of our estimated combating drive.”
For the soldiers on the frontlines, they saw little reason to die when top leaders were fleeing.
“When the Taliban obtained to the gates of Kabul, the troopers knew the president was leaving — that is why they did not struggle,” said a former senior army officer who asked not to be named.
At the same time, the Taliban deployed a savvy use of media messages to persuade soldiers to surrender, undermining morale even further.
“We had already misplaced the social media struggle,” the first presidential confidante said.
“The Taliban had been telling the troopers that they had been combating needlessly, as a result of at a better stage an settlement had already been signed.”
Abandoned and exhausted, troopers noticed little level in combating on.
On August 15, 2021, Kabul fell with out a struggle.
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