Defense Sec Austin: ‘Nobody Predicted’ Afghan Gov’t ‘Would Fall in 11 Days’

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that “nobody predicted” the Afghan government would “fall in 11 days.”

Anchor Martha Raddatz said, “The president has said the intelligence absolutely did not show that anybody that the Taliban could take over in 11 days. What’s the earliest you were aware that that could happen?”

Austin said, “There were assessments that ranged from one to two years to several months. It was a wide range of assessments. As the Taliban began to make gains and we saw that in a number of cases, there was less fighting and more surrendering and more forces just kind of evaporating, it was very difficult to predict with accuracy. This all occurred in a span of about 11 days. Nobody predicted that the government would fall in 11 days.”

Raddatz said, “When you look at the planning, I mean, Joe Biden said he wanted to get out of there for years and years. It was probably pretty certain that he would say that. Do you believe, as you look at it now and the military loves to plan for the worst case, that the planning was acceptable and appropriate?”

Austin said, “I do, based upon, you know, what we were looking at and the input to the plan. You have to go back and look at what the administration inherited. We came in, and we were faced with a May 1st deadline to have all forces out of the country. This deal had been struck with the Taliban. He had to very rapidly go through a detailed assessment and look at all options in terms of what he could do. None of those options were good options. He listened to the input that was provided by all of the stakeholders and the interagency process. At the end of the day, the president made his decision. Again, he was faced with a situation where there were no good options. All were very tough.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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