Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the media rounds Sunday in an attempt to defend the Biden administration's commitment to the United States' Afghanistan exit strategy despite the Taliban's rapid offensive over the last several days that ended with the insurgents surrounding Kabul, ready to receive power from the Afghan government via a negotiated settlement.
One question Blinken faced was why the White House's predictions for how the American departure from Afghanistan would unfold wound up being "so wrong." Both Blinken and President Biden had previously made assurances that the Taliban would not quickly topple the Afghan government once the U.S. left, but, in fact, the group is prepared to take over even before all U.S. personnel are out of Afghanistan.
Blinken maintained that Biden made the correct call, but suggested to NBC News' Chuck Todd and ABC News' Jon Karl that while the administration knew the Taliban was operating from a position of strength, they did not expect the U.S.-trained Afghan security forces would be unable to hold off the insurgents for longer. "The inability of Afghan security forces to defend their country has played a very powerful role in what we've seen over the last few weeks," Blinken said.
But reporting from The Wall Street Journal indicates that not everyone was as surprised by the Afghan army's struggles. As part of the withdrawal, the U.S. pulled its air support, intelligence, and contractors who serviced Afghanistan's planes and helicopters, all of which added up to a military that "simply couldn't operate anymore," the Journal writes. "When you build an army like that, and it's meant to be a partner with a sophisticated force like the Americans, you can't pull the Americans out all of a sudden, because then they lose the day-to-day assistance that they need," retired Lt. Gen. Daniel Bolger told the Journal.