Afghan army commander accuses Trump, Biden and Afghan leaders of losing
- While the Afghan army is criticized for losing to the Taliban, a general defends it.
- General Sami Sadat says the army has been “betrayed by politics and presidents”.
- In a New York Times op-ed, he blamed Trump, Biden and the Afghan leadership for the collapse of the military.
As the Taliban swept over Afghanistan, the Afghan armed forces surrendered and collapsed. The Afghan army has been criticized for failing to retaliate, but an Afghan commander says his troops have been “betrayed” by politics.
“American troops cannot and must not fight in a war and die in a war that Afghan forces are unwilling to wage for themselves,” President Joe Biden said on August 16, the day after. the arrival of the Taliban in Kabul.
General Sami Sadat, a three-star Afghan general who led the 215 Maiwand Corps, says it’s more than that, offering another perspective on the army’s defeat.
“We have been betrayed by politics and presidents,” the general wrote in a New York Times editorial on Wednesday, saying Afghan forces have fought bravely in the past two decades of war, in which more than 60 000 members of the Afghan security forces have died.
Sadat served on the front lines in Lashkar Gah, one of the last towns to fall to the Taliban, before being called to Kabul by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to command special forces and secure a capital already on the edge of the fall.
In an interview a few days before the capture of the Afghan capital by the Taliban, Sadat told AFP: “I know we are going to win. I know this is our country, that the Taliban are failing, that they will fail. sooner or later.”
Describing the fighting in his column on Wednesday, without the need to maintain optimism for morale, he painted a much darker picture.
“The last days of the fighting were surreal,” Sadat wrote. “We engaged in an intense exchange of fire on the ground against the Taliban as American fighter jets circled above us, in fact spectators.”
“Overwhelmed by Taliban fire, my soldiers heard the planes and asked why they were not providing air support,” he recalls. “Morale was devastated.”
The general said that even after being called to Kabul, his soldiers continued to fight until they no longer had the support to continue, at which point they were forced to retreat.
“Abandoned by the American and Afghan leaders”
“I am not here to absolve the Afghan army from its mistakes,” Sadat wrote in his op-ed, acknowledging that there are many failures. “But the point is, many of us fought valiantly and honorably, only to be abandoned by the American and Afghan rulers.”
He said the Afghan army collapsed because President Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban in February 2020 “doomed us” by setting “an expiration date for US interest in the region” and emboldened the insurgent forces.
“They could smell the victory and knew it was just a matter of waiting for the Americans,” the general said.
When Biden decided to keep the deal in April 2021, “that’s when it all started to go downhill,” he continued, explaining that “Biden’s complete and accelerated withdrawal doesn’t only exacerbated the situation “because” he ignored the conditions on the ground.
“The Taliban had a firm end date from the Americans and feared no military retaliation for anything they had done in the interim, sensing the unwillingness of the United States,” he wrote , claiming that this had led the Taliban to step up efforts to retake the country.
He said his troops were facing up to seven car bombings per day in July. “Nonetheless, we held on,” Sadat said of the Afghan army.
Sadat said that another critical factor affecting the ability of the Afghan army to fight, even as the United States insisted that the Afghan forces had the capacity and the capacity to fight and defend their country, was loss of contractor support for the aircraft, high-end ammunition, and real-time intelligence gathering resources.
There were also problems in Afghanistan which contributed to the defeat of the army, he said. “There was little the Americans could do about the well-documented corruption that has rotted our government and our army,” Sadat wrote.
He said the policy allowed leaders with no military experience to rise through the military ranks, while other acts of corruption often left troops without sufficient supplies of food and fuel, creating a situation which Sadat said , “destroyed the morale of my troops”.
He criticized Ghani, who fled Afghanistan as Taliban forces reached the capital. He said that in his rush to escape, the president had effectively ruled out any chance of negotiating a deal with the Taliban that could have made it easier to maintain control of the city and facilitate evacuations.
Reflecting on the collapse of Afghan forces and the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, Sadat wrote: “It was a military defeat, but it stemmed from political failure.