US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says there was no indication from intelligence that the Afghan army would collapse in 11 days

‘Right now, we have to focus on this mission because we have soldiers at risk’, top US military official says at news briefing

Eric Garcia
Wednesday 18 August 2021 21:13
US Army General: Intelligence did not suggest Afghanistan collapse within 11 days of withdrawal
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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley responded to news reports that there were warnings of a rapid collapse of the Afghan army by asserting there was no intelligence to suggest Afghanistan’s army would deteriorate in just 11 days.

Mr Milley spoke at a Pentagon news conference with Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, saying he wanted to respond to news reports about the supposed intelligence, adding that he had previously said at the same podium and in sworn testimony to Congress that the intelligence indicated multiple scenarios.

“One of those was an outright Taliban takeover following a rapid collapse of the Afghan security forces and the government,” he said, adding that other scenarios were a civil war or a negotiated settlement.

But he noted that the timeframe of a rapid collapse was widely estimated to be anywhere from weeks to months or years following the US exit from Afghanistan.

“There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days,” he said.

Mr Milley said US Central Command submitted a variety of plans that were briefed and approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the secretary of Defence and President Biden.

The chairman, who is a member of the US army, said there will be plenty of time to conduct after-action reviews and survey what happened.

“But right now is not that time,” he said. “Right now, we have to focus on this mission because we have soldiers at risk, and we also have American citizens and Afghans who supported us for 20 years also at risk.”

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