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What Biden Left Out When He Blamed Afghans for the Taliban’s Swift Victory

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the crisis in Afghanistan during a speech in the East Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., August 16, 2021. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

During remarks at the White House on Monday, President Biden blamed the Afghan army’s lack of will for the Taliban’s swift victory and the fall of Kabul.

In particular, Biden emphasized that the United States provided the Afghans with “the maintenance of their air force” and “close air support”:

“We gave them every tool they could need. We paid their salaries, provided for the maintenance of their air force—something the Taliban doesn’t have. Taliban does not have an air force. We provided close air support. We gave them every chance to determine their own future. [What] we could not provide them was the will to fight for that future.”

But as the Wall Street Journal reported this weekend, the “U.S. pulled its air support,” and after that occurred, “the Afghan military simply couldn’t operate anymore.”

From the Journal’s August 14 report:

The Afghan army fighting alongside American troops was molded to match the way the Americans operate. The U.S. military, the world’s most advanced, relies heavily on combining ground operations with air power, using aircraft to resupply outposts, strike targets, ferry the wounded, and collect reconnaissance and intelligence.

In the wake of President Biden’s withdrawal decision, the U.S. pulled its air support, intelligence and contractors servicing Afghanistan’s planes and helicopters. That meant the Afghan military simply couldn’t operate anymore. The same happened with another failed American effort, the South Vietnamese army in the 1970s, said retired Lt. Gen. Daniel Bolger, who commanded the U.S.-led coalition’s mission to train Afghan forces in 2011-2013.

As National Review‘s editors argue in the latest editorial on Afghanistan: “Even if Biden insisted on pulling out, there was no reason to do it this heedlessly and incompetently — in the middle of fighting season and a gathering Taliban offensive, without any alternative U.S. base in the region, without any substitute for U.S. air support or the Americans contractors who kept Afghan planes in the sky, without an orderly process to get out vulnerable Afghans who helped us over the years, and without a plan to secure the airport in Kabul.”

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