Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on Tuesday defended President Joe Biden’s handling of withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, which resulted in the Taliban quickly taking over the nation’s capital.
Although he stood by Biden’s decision to withdraw troops, Kirby said the Biden administration did not “perfectly” predict the level of panic in Afghanistan after the troops left.
“Look, again, those images are disturbing and heartbreaking, no question about that,” Kirby outlined. “And, you know, I’d be lying if I said we perfectly predicted the level of panic that was going to happen at the airport.”
He continued, “We had a small footprint on the ground, 2,500 when the administration came into office, and they were doing a very good job at helping with civility and security and advising and assisting Afghan national security forces, but they weren’t coming under attack by the Taliban because of the Doha Agreement. If we had busted that agreement, we couldn’t have counted on that. After May 1, those troops would have been very much in harm’s way, much more than they already were. And we believed that would have required a plus-up of troops. Look, you could argue you can plus-up troops forever and just stay in Afghanistan forever, but the Commander in Chief determined that that was not sustainable, that that was not acceptable, and so we began to draw down, and we had to do it in a quick way because, again, we couldn’t trust the Taliban. We couldn’t trust at their word they wouldn’t attack us, so we moved quickly to get the troops drawn down.”
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