Former CIA director and four-star general David Petraeus stated on Tuesday the decision the Biden administration made to pull civilian maintenance contractors precipitated the collapse of the Afghan military forces as much as any other.
“American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” Biden said in Monday remarks from the White House.
Petraeus told Fox in response, “I thought it was a bit uncharitable to cast quite as much [blame] particularly on Afghan soldiers who until now … fought very, very hard over the years.”
“Our concerns over those years often times were that they were taking such high casualties that they could not sustain that and maintain their end strength, and let’s keep in mind that we have not lost a single soldier in battle since February 2020,” he added.
The Associated Press reported 66,000 Afghan national military and police have died throughout the course of the war, compared to the nearly 2,500 American soldiers who have given their lives since the conflict began in 2001.
Gen. Petraeus says Afghanistan withdrawal ‘disastrous’ and Biden could have changed coursehttps://t.co/jJB8XSqJlx
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 17, 2021
Petraeus argued it was an “enormous psychological blow” to the Afghan forces when Biden announced in April the U.S. was leaving and the withdrawal began over the summer.
The retired Army general also contended the pull-out of America’s civilian aircraft maintenance personnel greatly undercut the Afghan military.
“Something that’s somewhat overlooked was the withdrawal of some 18,000 contractors who maintained the U.S. provided helicopters and planes that were the key to getting those great Afghan special operators and close air support to Afghan forces who were fighting at that point all over the country,” Petraeus said.
The lack of air support as the Taliban attacked throughout the mountainous country, with a limited road network, severely handicapped the Afghan forces.
“And frankly once Afghan soldiers or any soldiers fight for a couple of days, as they did at the outset, and then realized that nobody has their back — there’s nobody coming to the rescue — they are going to figure out that they either have to flee or they have to cut a deal and surrender,” Petraeus said.
“And that is exactly what many of the Afghan forces and local leaders did when they realized that there was no one was coming to the rescue, because the Afghan air force’s readiness had eroded so substantially.”
Petraeus described what is happening now in Kabul as a “Dunkirk moment,” referencing the British evacuation from France in the face of Adolf Hitler’s advancing forces.
All the resources necessary must be marshaled to safely get Americans and Afghan interpreters and others who worked with our military out.
Petraeus contended the U.S. will have to take a strong stand against the Taliban to ensure this happens.
“We are going to have to talk with the Taliban and talk tough with the Taliban,” he said.
“They don’t want to get into a fight with us right now, I don’t think,” Petraeus continued. “They’ve achieved what they sought. So why would they invite the United States’ military might on them at a moment when all they need to do is sit in the presidential palace and issue social media and video dispatches?”