Afghan Army Routed by the Taliban

(AFP) Taliban fighters have taken control of Kabul as the Afghan army has collapsed. Washington spent $83 billion in its effort to create a modern army in Afghanistan. Airplanes, helicopters, drones, armored vehicles, night-vision goggles: the U.S. spared no expense in equipping the Afghan army. But in a country lacking the infrastructure to support cutting-edge military equipment, the Afghans were unable to mount a serious resistance against a less-equipped and ostensibly badly outnumbered foe. John Sopko, the U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR), reported to Congress last week that "advanced weapons systems, vehicles and logistics used by Western militaries were beyond the capabilities of the largely illiterate and uneducated Afghan force." Pentagon officials insisted on a numerical advantage held by the Afghan forces - supposedly with 300,000 men in the army and the police - over the Taliban, estimated to number some 70,000. But the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point estimated that only 185,000 troops were under Defense Ministry control, and barely 60% of those were trained fighters. A more accurate estimate of the army's fighting strength was 96,000. The SIGAR report said the Afghan army had to replace 25% of its force each year, largely because of desertions. Ronald Neumann, a former U.S. ambassador to Kabul, noted, "We built an air force that depended on contractors for maintenance and then pulled the contractors....We profoundly shocked the Afghan army and morale by pulling out and pulling our air cover." Moreover, salaries of the Afghan army, which had been paid for years by the Pentagon, became the responsibility of the Kabul government. This led to numerous Afghan soldiers complaining on social media that they had not been paid in months, and their units were no longer receiving food or supplies - not even ammunition.

2021-08-16 00:00:00

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