By Mark V. Lonsdale
By now you’ve all seen the chaotic situation in Kabul. You’ve also been hearing a lot about the strategic importance of Bagram Air Base. Here it is in a nutshell.
Everyone agreed that it was time to draw down in Afghanistan, but there is the right way and a wrong way. The right was was the Pentagon plan – the wrong way was the Biden White House plan. Back in April Biden set a hard date for the withdrawal of 31 August. This set the Taliban to planning the fall of Kabul while they took all the southwestern and western provinces.
The Pentagon leaders wanted to keep Bagram open to support the evacuation of civilians from Kabul. Why? Because Bagram had 2,500 US military, 5,000 NATO military, the air assets to support the Afghan ground troops, the intelligence agencies and assets tracking the Taliban, a secure airport, and two runways. It was also convenient to Kabul and could have supported an air bridge from Kabul airport.
Never the less, in June the White House and Biden’s feckless national security advisors ordered the closing of Bagram. This was not for strategic reasons but political optics so that Biden could crow that he got everyone out by the 20th anniversary of 9-11. As a result, given no choice, the US military pulled out of Bagram in the middle of the night on the 3rd of July. This also necessitated that our UK/NATO allies and CIA also pull out all their people and assets. So by the following Monday, the Afghan Army and ANA special forces discovered they had no US support and not critical air support. This demoralized the Afghan soldiers and left 1,000 US troops at the Kabul embassy and airport to manage the evacuations.
Triggered by the US pullout from Bagram, the Taliban launched fast-moving combat operations across the north, taking Mazar and headed for Kabul. From the first week of July to the first week of August the Taliban took every major provincial center in Afghanistan. They all fell like dominos, many without resistance, so it was logical that Kabul would fall equally easily. During all this, Biden and his talking heads were on the news channels stating categorically that the Afghan Army could stop them; that the Taliban would not take Kabul; that the Afghan government was solid. All political BS and contrary to the intelligence reports the White House was receiving from the intelligence agencies and State Department officials in Kabul. The Afghan soldiers were not going to fight without US support and were not willing to die for a corrupt government and weak generals.
As a result, while the White House was saying months, Kabul fell in one week-end. On Friday they were on the outskirts and by Monday/Tuesday they were in the Presidential Palace. The weak and corrupt Afghan president had also absconded with millions of US tax-payer dollars.
Be assured, all the current chaos and mayhem was triggered by Biden’s ordered pullout from the strategically critical Bagram Air Base for political reasons, not sound strategic thinking. Biden chose to listen to a bunch of pencil pushing academics instead of generals and intelligence officers with decades of experience fighting the Taliban.
In addition to all the US and Afghan lives needlessly put at risk, the Biden White House has caused the abandonment of billions of dollars in US military equipment, light and heavy weapons, night vision, armored vehicles, Black Hawk helicopters, ground attack fixed-wing aircraft, communications gear, and biometric devices with information on all our Afghan allies. The Taliban also has control of all the Afghan police files and National Security Directorate intelligence files.
While the White House spokespersons keep emphasizing how they are communicating with the Taliban and how good the evacuation is going, the Taliban are busy killing Afghan officials, police, military, translators, interpreters, their families, all over Afghanistan. These serial pedophiles are also taking girls as young as twelve for war brides. For those of us who have friends in Afghanistan this is personal. For the Biden White House it is merely another exercise in managing political optics and avoiding the tough questions.
Six days and counting down….
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