The American general who is the longest-serving commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan expressed his concern about abandoning the country and leaving it at the mercy of the Taliban, saying, “I don’t like leaving friends in need. And I know that my friends are in need.”
General Austin Scott Miller was described by an Afghan military officer this way: “His reputation seems to be as solid here in the USA as it is in Afghanistan. In my country, people from all walks of life know his name and his compassion for a peaceful Afghanistan.”
ABC News’ Martha Raddatz suggested to Miller, “What’s happening right now, and how alarmed are you?”
Miller: “We should be concerned. The loss of terrain and the rapidity of that loss of terrain has — has to be concerning, one, because it’s a — war is physical, but it’s also got a psychological or moral component to it. And hope actually matters. And morale actually matters. And so, as you watch the Taliban moving across the country, what you don’t want to have happen is that the people lose hope and they believe they now have a foregone conclusion presented to them.”
Later, Raddatz suggested, “It has to be heartbreaking for you leaving them behind and fearing what might come next.” Miller replied, “I don’t like leaving friends in need. And I know that my friends are in need.”
Raddatz commented, “There will be U.S. economic and security assistance. But without the U.S. military, the general is still worried.”
Miller stated, “You look at the security situation, it’s not good. The Afghans recognize it’s not good. The Taliban are on the move. We’re starting to create conditions here that won’t look good for Afghanistan in the future if there’s a push for a military takeover.”
Raddatz’s voice-over: “Senior military leaders had advised the president that a contingent of around 2,500 troops should remain in Afghanistan. Miller will not say what his advice was.” She turned to Miller: Would you have liked to have seen a small force stay here?”
Miller: “Let me hold on that one.”
President Biden said he wanted all U.S troops out of Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks led by Osama bin Laden in 2001. The Taliban refused to extradite bin Laden to the U.S. after the attacks, prompting the U.S. to invade Afghanistan.
Iowa GOP Senator Joni Ernst ripped Biden late last week, asserting, “Once the United States military is gone, I’m concerned the Afghan government will struggle to hold on, giving space for extremist groups like al-Qaeda and rogue terrorist states like Iran to regroup for continued attacks against the U.S. And sadly, recent history would show that this is a very dangerous reality that could easily play out, in person or on social media.”
The U.S. left Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield after nearly 20 years by shutting off the electricity and slipping away in the night without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander, who discovered the Americans’ departure more than two hours after they left, Afghan military officials said,” AP reported.
The Daily Mail reported, “More than a thousand Afghan National Army soldiers fled into Tajikistan from the northern province of Badakhshan following clashes with the Taliban on Sunday.”
Gen. Mir Asadullah Kohistani, Bagram’s new commander, stated, “We (heard) some rumor that the Americans had left Bagram … and finally by seven o’clock in the morning, we understood that it was confirmed that they had already left Bagram.”
Reporting from a Taliban-controlled area, Sky News reported on Tuesday:
The commander accompanying us said his fighters had taken 70 sniper rifles, 900 guns, 30 Humvees, 20 army pickups and 15 articulated military trucks. Taliban fighters showed us shipping container after shipping container on the base stashed full of the world’s most developed weapons. There were satellite phones, grenades, mortars, bullets, empty containers for sniper rifles and a range of ammunitions. Many had labels on the front saying “Property of USA Government.”
In Badakhshan, Faizabad, Afghan officials reportedly attempted to flee on a commercial jet. One resident told The Times, “The Taliban have cut off all gates out of the city, and there are checkpoints on all the roads, searching for government officials. Those who can have abandoned the city, by air of course. Most districts in Badakhshan are falling without any fighting. Many believe that officials have done a secret deal with the Taliban. People are afraid of what comes next.”
Tamim Asey, the executive chair of the Kabul-based Institute of War and Peace Studies, stated, “Crucially, the U.S. withdrawal means Afghan forces have lost vital American air support. Essentially, this year the war will be the war over districts and highways. Next year, we could potentially see that the Afghan Taliban might focus on provincial capitals and major urban centers.”
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