By: Denise Simon | Founders Code
Just 24 hours before a suicide bomber detonated an explosive outside Hamid Karzai International Airport, senior military leaders gathered for the Pentagon’s daily morning update on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.
Speaking from a secure video conference room on the third floor of the Pentagon at 8 a.m. Wednesday — or 4:30 p.m. in Kabul — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin instructed more than a dozen of the department’s top leaders around the world to make preparations for an imminent “mass casualty event,” according to classified detailed notes of the gathering shared with POLITICO.
During the meeting, Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned of “significant” intelligence indicating that the Islamic State’s Afghanistan affiliate, ISIS-K, was planning a “complex attack,” the notes quoted him as saying.
Commanders calling in from Kabul relayed that the Abbey Gate, where American citizens had been told to gather in order to gain entrance to the airport, was “highest risk,” and detailed their plans to protect the airport.
“I don’t believe people get the incredible amount of risk on the ground,” Austin said, according to the classified notes.
On a separate call at 4 that afternoon, or 12:30 a.m. on Thursday in Kabul, the commanders detailed a plan to close Abbey Gate by Thursday afternoon Kabul time. But the Americans decided to keep the gate open longer than they wanted in order to allow their British allies, who had accelerated their withdrawal timeline, to continue evacuating their personnel, based at the nearby Baron Hotel.
American troops were still processing entrants to the airport at Abbey Gate at roughly 6 p.m. in Kabul on Thursday when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest there, killing nearly 200 people, including 13 U.S. service members. Read more here.
On a deeper dive, if General McKenzie had not rejected the offer made by the Taliban’s leader Abdul Ghani Baradar to have full control of the whole city of Kabul and the airport, we would not have lost the lives of 13 service members and the wounding of so many others. Further, none of the embassies including the U.S. embassy in Kabul would have been forced to evacuate and lower the flag(s). If the United States had full control of all of Kabul, a deeper and wider perimeter at the airport would have taken place if the need was there at all.
Now, the question is who authorized the rejection of the offer? Fundamentally it comes down to President Biden. He authorized a cap on the number of forces to be in Afghanistan as part of the exit plan and that did not cover the need to control the city of Kabul. But is that really the full truth? Not likely given the uniformed personnel assigned to Bagram AFB. They simply could have relocated to Kabul.
President Biden on Thursday essentially blamed his generals for the Bagram pullout. “They concluded—the military—that Bagram was not much value-added, that it was much wiser to focus on Kabul,” he said. “And so, I followed that recommendation.” What Mr. Biden neglected to mention is that the President sets the constraints under which the military draws up plans and evaluates options.
At a briefing last week, General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that securing Bagram took “a significant level of military effort,” and “our task given to us at that time, our task was to protect the Embassy in order for the Embassy personnel to continue to function.” As a result, he added, “we had to collapse one or the other.”
When the decision was made, which was long before the Afghan government fell, the military thought using Kabul airport did not entail substantially higher risk. That option was judged, Gen. Milley said, “to be the better tactical solution in accordance with the mission set we were given and in accordance with getting the troops down to about 600, 700 number.” WSJ
Yet the larger scandal in all of this is how was the Taliban allowed to take over the whole country with the exception of one province of resistance?
The Ghani government fled during lunch hour, literally and never told his staff. Ghani fled to Uzbekistan and later to the United Arab Emirates. By the way, it was Russia that initially launched the alleged fact that Ghani fled in a helicopter with cars following and piles of cash ($169 million), amounts undetermined and unconfirmed.
So without a government, exactly what did the United States know in advance or post-government assumed by Taliban control rather than a temporary coalition government? Chances are our own government will never tell us so we must look to what the NATO countries will reveal. Perhaps this will help –>
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s foreign policy chief on Thursday called the fall of Afghanistan’s capital and the resurgence of the Taliban “a catastrophe” and “nightmare” that laid bare a failure of intelligence and trans-Atlantic cooperation.
EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell further criticized U.S. President Joe Biden for underplaying the commitment to nation-building in Afghanistan. Borrell insisted that instilling the rule of law and achieving basic rights for women and minorities were goals of the Western military intervention in the country, along with the initial goal of stamping out terrorism emanating from the region.
“President Biden said the other day that it has never been the purpose, state-building was not the purpose. Well, this is arguable,” Borrell told a European Parliament committee.
“Twenty years on, you can say that we may have succeeded in the first tack of our mission, but failed in the second,” the Spanish politician said as EU lawmakers heaped on criticism of the West’s lack of commitment to Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi called back lawmakers to vote on spending bills but has refused bi-partisan demands to launch a full investigation into all things Bagram, Kabul, the evacuation mission, and who knew what when. In fact, on the most recent conference call, she concluded by saying all things appear to be in control by the Biden White House. Meanwhile, Kamala remains missing.