The easy surrender of Kabul by Afghan military startled the world and the US who managed to take forces out after the downfall.
The US spent more than $80 billion in a long process of twenty years arming and training Afghan military force. The force, however, vanished in several regions in the wake of Taliban advancements.
Theoretically, Afghan military forces were powerful, with over 300,000 troops and weaponry that was far more sophisticated than the Taliban’s armament. In practice, however, fraud, bribes, weak management, and training deficiencies have been plaguing them through the past two decades.
Dismissal was widespread, and American investigators had long forewarned that the condition leads the security forces to the verge of collapse.
The Taliban’s entrance to Kabul only lacked a red carpet. The condition in other cities like Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat wasn’t much different. It was only a couple of months ago when a government stronghold in Kunduz province’s Imam Sahib area held out against the Taliban for two months. The outpost only collapsed after the food, water and weapons supply exhausted. The surviving forces ultimately made their way to the provincial capital, which fell apart few weeks later.
Afghan military Forces in Kandahar received “one cardboard box full of slimy potatoes” for police station’s daily supplies last week. Taliban militants used a combination of coercion and blackmail, besides media and cyberwarfare, to take one region after another. Some cities surrendered without firing one shot as was the case about Kabul.
Washington Post found access to evidences that confirmed that Taliban leaders pledged desperate fighters money in return for guns last year. Afghans described the talks and negotiations “ceasefires.” “Over the next year and a half, the meetings advanced to the district level and then rapidly on to provincial capitals,” Washington Post wrote.
Where Did US Stand?
For some, Afghanistan‘s demise had been started two decades ago, as the nation-building program backfired year after year. In 2020, then US President Donald Trump reached an arrangement with militants to remove US forces by May 1st. The move was the final blow on the half-dead body of Afghan military and administrative apparatus.
Trump’s agreement was an indication of an imminent triumph for the Taliban following two decades of exhausting conflict. In Afghan military and public view, it was a treachery and a sign that the world community had abandoned them.
The insurgents kept assaulting Afghan military and government forces. They, nevertheless, decided to merge them with targeted assassinations of media and human rights defenders, instilling terror and anxiety in the air.
In their media and mental efforts, Taliban also promoted a narrative of their conquest as unavoidable. Soldiers and local authorities received texts asking them to surrender or collaborate with the Taliban to escape a dreadful end.
Large group of Afghan military forces faced a decisive option of safe travel if they surrendered and refused to fight. Others were contacted by tribe and village leaders.
Loads of Afghan infamous warlords mobilized their gangs and pledged to battle the Taliban if they invaded their towns. This occurred after Afghan military proved unable to stave off the Taliban progress. However, the administrative hazy involvement in the war also debilitated the warlords’ efforts to exhaust Taliban’s powers.
The dominoes of city downfalls in the past month needs an all-out investigation that covers at least two decades. For now, we know that the US mission to reinforce the Afghan military with an ambitious 300 thousand troops turned to ashes in the blink of an eye. The startling developments make sense through the light of history of war.