Sec. Defense Austin: No Experts Predicted the Rapid Collapse of Afghan Government Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news briefing at the Pentagon discusses the current situation in Afghanistan, Aug. 18, 2021. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
By Fran Beyer | Sunday, 22 August 2021 09:05 AM
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Sunday said none of the experts in Afghanistan or Washington predicted the fall of the government in a mere 11 days, leaving President Joe Biden with “no good options.”
In an interview on ABC News’s “This Week,” Austin said the horrifying chaos in Kabul reflected the rapid collapse of the government there.
“Nobody predicted that the government would fall in 11 days,” he said.
“We came in, we were faced with a May 1 deadline to have all forces out of the country,” Austin said. “This deal had been struck with the Taliban. And so [Biden] had to very rapidly go through a detailed assessment, and look at all options in terms of what he could do.”
“And none of those options were good options,” Austin continued. “He went through a very rigorous process, very detailed process. He listened to the input that was provided by all of the stakeholders… he was faced with a situation where there were no good options, all were very tough.”
Austin said the chaos was unavoidable given the rapid collapse in Kabul.
“If a government collapses to the degree that it did, if the security forces evaporate at the speed that they did, you will clearly have chaos. And that's what we saw,” he said.
Austin argued the U.S. military would nevertheless “defend the airfield” in Kabul and get Americans, and Afghan allies out.
“[The] most capable military in the world is going to make sure that airfield remains secure and safe, and we're going to defend that airfield. We're going to look at every way — every means possible to get American citizens, third country nationals, Special Immigrant Visa applicants into the airfield,” he said.
He called pictures of people clinging to departing U.S. airplanes and then falling to their deaths “very disturbing images,” lamenting it was also the result of the government’s rapid collapse.
“As we moved into the airfield and began to secure the airfield, there were a number of civilians that got on to the airfield, before we could completely seal it off,” he said. “And that was caused by the panic that was created because the government simply dissolved, and the security forces evaporated.”
“If a government collapses to the degree that it did, if the security forces evaporate at the speed that they did, you will clearly have chaos. And that's what we saw,” he added.
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