The U.S. military is preparing for the possibility that Afghanistan could become a failed state and collapse into civil war, according to an internal report obtained by The Wall Street Journal. It says the Taliban has gained control over nearly half of the country and expects it will take another decade before Afghan forces can fully secure their own territory.
The afghanistan capital is a country that has been in the news recently. Afghanistan is on the brink of collapse and it will be interesting to see what happens next.
On July 23, US troops launched an airstrike near Kandahar, Afghanistan, causing damage to a wall.
Sanaullah Seiam/Zuma Press photo
The United States has started bombing in Afghanistan, implying that the Taliban are gaining ground quicker than the Biden Administration expected. The US military told the White House that this would happen, and the prognosis is bleak unless President Biden reverses his decision to leave completely.
“If the Taliban continue their assaults, we are prepared to maintain this heightened level of assistance in the coming weeks,” US Central Command head Frank McKenzie said over the weekend. “We’re taking airstrikes when they’re needed.”
That’s encouraging news, but Gen. McKenzie also said that US bombings would cease in September, implying that the Taliban’s assault will only be paused for a few weeks. Meanwhile, since Mr. Biden gave up an aircraft presence in Afghanistan, the US is forced to fire bombers from beyond the horizon, perhaps from Gulf assets. This makes coordination with Afghan ground troops more difficult, and it necessitates longer flights and more air assets for mid-air refueling.
The attacks were part of an effort to prevent the Taliban from capturing Kandahar, the province capital, which would be a significant defeat for Kabul’s administration. Fewer than half of Afghanistan’s approximately 400 districts remained disputed when Vice President Joe Biden announced the US departure in April. According to the Long War Journal, the government detained 127 while the Taliban had 77. The Taliban now control 224 districts, while the government controls just 73.
According to the United Nations, civilian casualties increased by 47% in the first half of 2023 compared to the same time last year. The US departure is almost complete, with just around 650 soldiers remaining to protect the US Embassy and Kabul’s major airport. More massacres are likely, as is a strengthened al Qaeda.
The US expects the Afghan air force to back up its army, but the foreign contractors who keep the helicopters and aircraft flying are departing at the same time as the US soldiers. General McKenzie said that some aircraft would be flown outside of Afghanistan for repair, demonstrating the US withdrawal’s shortsightedness. A residual force, as suggested by the Afghanistan Study Group, would be able to do this in-country while simultaneously bolstering Afghan troops’ confidence.
Mr. Biden must change his pullout strategy or face a disaster that would derail his presidency. Nearby, former national security advisor H.R. McMaster and Bradley Bowman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies propose maintaining enough US troops in Afghanistan for close air support and intelligence, as well as contractors to service Afghan aircraft. This is excellent advice.
Mr. Biden’s Afghan pullout is popular right now—returning troops is always popular—but it won’t look good if the Taliban take control of Kabul and anarchy follows. Although Donald Trump initiated the withdrawal, when did Joe Biden follow in his predecessor’s footsteps? Mr. Biden will be in charge of the rout.
The Taliban is quickly moving throughout Afghanistan as the US begins its military pullout ahead of President Biden’s Sept. 11 deadline. Reuters photo
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The print version of the July 27, 2023, was published.
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