Defense Secretary Austin Says ‘Nobody Predicted’ Afghan Government Would Fall So Quickly

Assessments taken projected it to take months to years.

On Sunday (August 22), U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said “nobody predicted” that the Afghan government would fall in such a short amount of time.

“It was very difficult to predict with accuracy. This all occurred in a span of about 11 days. Nobody predicted that, you know, the government would fall in 11 days,” Austin told ABC News’ This Week.

Assessments taken prior to the Taliban’s sweeping seizure of control Austin says was estimated at several months or even years. He told ABC News that U.S. officials saw Afghan military forces surrendering and “evaporating” as the insurgent group began making gains.

When asked whether the U.S.’s planning for the withdrawal was “acceptable and appropriate,” Austin responded, “I do based upon, you know, what we were looking at and the inputs to the plan.” He also criticized the Trump administration for creating a situation in which “there were no good options.”

“But I think you have to go back and look at what the administration inherited. I mean, we came in. We were faced with a May 1 deadline to have all forces out of the country. This deal had been struck with the Taliban. And so he [President Biden] had to very rapidly go through a detailed assessment and look at all options in terms of what, you know, what he could do. And none of those options were good options,” Austin said.

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He continued: “He went through a very rigorous process, very detailed process. He listened to the input that was provided by all of the stakeholders in the interagency process. And so, at the end of the day, the president made his decision. But again he was faced with a situation where there were no good options. All were very tough.”

On Saturday, the Pentagon announced that roughly 17,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan in the past week with around 22,000 being pulled from the region since the end of July.

A week of turmoil has engulfed the Middle Eastern country as reports reveal American and Afghan citizens have faced instances of violence and harassment as they make their way toward the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. 

The Biden administration has been facing criticism for its handling of the situation in Afghanistan. Many are questioning whether the president should have proceeded with his decision to pull American troops from the region, which came before the Taliban’s offensive. Several officials are also calling on the administration to do more to pull Americans and Afghan refugees from the region.

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