The U.S. Military rushed to evacuate the acting U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan on Sunday as U.S. officials warned Americans to shelter in place while the airport in Kabul was reportedly under fire.
“U.S. military evacuates acting U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from embassy to Kabul airport,” Associated Press reporter Matt Lee reported.
A security alert posted by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul stated that the “security situation in Kabul is changing quickly and the situation at the airport is deteriorating rapidly.”
“There are reports of the airport taking fire and we are instructing U.S. citizens to shelter in place,” the embassy added. “The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has suspended consular operations effective immediately. Do not come to the Embassy or airport at this time.”
Photos emerged showing a plume of smoke coming out of the U.S. Embassy as officials rushed to destroy everything they could before it had the opportunity to fall into the possession of the Taliban.
Smoke rises next to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. The Embassy instructed all U.S. personnel to destroy items like documents and electronic devices to "reduce the amount of sensitive material on the property," per an internal notice obtained by @ABC News. https://t.co/oc5pIO5pbj pic.twitter.com/ltYhfqb3CB
— ABC News (@ABC) August 15, 2021
The Associated Press reported that the Taliban indicated on Sunday afternoon that they were preparing to soon declare the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from the presidential palace in Kabul.
The Wall Street Journal noted that the Afghan military collapsed because the relied heavily on U.S. air support and could not function without it:
The Afghan army fighting alongside American troops was molded to match the way the Americans operate. The U.S. military, the world’s most advanced, relies heavily on combining ground operations with air power, using aircraft to resupply outposts, strike targets, ferry the wounded, and collect reconnaissance and intelligence.
In the wake of President Biden’s withdrawal decision, the U.S. pulled its air support, intelligence and contractors servicing Afghanistan’s planes and helicopters. That meant the Afghan military simply couldn’t operate anymore. The same happened with another failed American effort, the South Vietnamese army in the 1970s, said retired Lt. Gen. Daniel Bolger, who commanded the U.S.-led coalition’s mission to train Afghan forces in 2011-2013.
“There is always a tendency to use the model you know, which is your own model,” retired Lt. Gen. Daniel Bolger said. “When you build an army like that, and it’s meant to be a partner with a sophisticated force like the Americans, you can’t pull the Americans out all of a sudden, because then they lose the day-to-day assistance that they need.”
Biden tried to blame former President Donald Trump in a statement on Saturday for his own actions; however, experts quickly pushed back on Biden’s attempts to deflect blame:
- Rebeccah Heinrichs, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, blasted Biden’s statement: “He begins by listing what his administration is scrambling to do to avoid American and partner deaths, and to have the ability to conduct counterterrorism operations. And this horrible scramble with high stakes is all because of Biden’s order to withdrawal immediately. There is plenty of blame to go around for the failures in Afghanistan, but what happens as a result of the way the withdrawal happened will be Biden’s alone. He can’t pass this off on Trump. He owns all of this. Also, I don’t care if he reads a script word for word, he needs to address the nation. There are a lot of military families who deserve it and so much more.”
- Andrea Stricker, research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD): “The disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan fits a pattern of this administration deciding on a course of foreign action without consideration for the ramifications. Biden wanted out regardless of the cost to the Afghan people, regional security, and years of effort and dedication by many brave Americans and allies. This poorly planned exit will go down in history as a major U.S. strategic failure.”
- Jamil N. Jaffer — who serves as Founder and Executive Director of the National Security Institute and as an Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the National Security Law & Policy Program at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University: “Pathetic for the President to lay the situation he created by his own choices at the feet of his predecessor. Having inherited whatever he inherited, it was his job to do what the nation required, and the President ought admit he made the wrong choice. Be better @JoeBiden.”