The Taliban took control of Kabul surprisingly quickly in August. Then came the airport evacuation mission – which, in retrospect, even the US Secretary of Defense did not consider perfect.
Washington (AP) – US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin defended the withdrawal of the US military from Afghanistan in late August – but at the same time admitted errors in the evacuation mission.
“The Taliban have made it clear that their cooperation will end on September 1,” Austin said Tuesday during a Senate hearing on the matter. The first two days of the military evacuation mission in particular were difficult. However, the situation was brought under control within 48 hours. “It was perfect? No, of course not, ”Austin said.
The military evacuation mission ended at the end of August with the withdrawal of the last American soldiers from Kabul. In the middle of the evacuation operation, dozens of Afghans and 13 American soldiers were killed in a terrorist attack outside Kabul airport. IS, hostile to the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack itself. The Taliban seized power in Kabul in mid-August.
Circumstances “far from ideal”
Secretary Austin recalled the US military drone attack in late August that killed ten civilians. “The circumstances in August were far from ideal: extreme heat, a (…) country without a government, a very dynamic situation on the ground and a (…) deadly terrorist threat,” Austin said. Work is still underway to get Americans and local Afghan workers out of the country. Extending the mission beyond the end of August was not an option.
Senior Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Jim Inhofe, criticized the pullout. The chaotic August situation was preventable – now we have to negotiate with the terrorists. US President Joe Biden also left Americans behind with the pullout.