Top US general says he never saw any intelligence that Afghanistan would collapse as fast as it did

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said no one saw Afghanistan collapsing as fast as it did.
  • "There was nothing that I or anybody else saw that indicated a collapse" in 11 days, he said.
  • His comments came after a report said intelligence warned of a collapse as the White House offered optimistic assessments.
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The top US general said repeatedly on Wednesday that he had not seen any intelligence assessments suggesting that Afghanistan would collapse as quickly as it did.

"There was nothing that I or anybody else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said at a Pentagon press briefing, his first since the Taliban seized control of Kabul.

He told reporters that "there are not reports that I am aware of that predicted a security force of 300,000 would evaporate in 11 days, from 6 August to 16 August, with the capture of 34 provinces and the capital city of Kabul," explaining that no one saw an army of that size falling apart that fast.

"The intelligence clearly indicated multiple scenarios were possible: one of those was an outright Taliban takeover following a rapid collapse of the Afghan Security Forces and the government," Milley explained. "Another was a civil war, and a third was a negotiated settlement."

"Timeframe of a rapid collapse," he said, "that was widely estimated and ranged from weeks, months, and even years following our departure."

The general's comments follow a report in The New York Times on Tuesday stating that classified US intelligence assessments warned that a rapid collapse was a very real possibility, even as the White House said that such a development was "unlikely."

In early July, President Joe Biden argued for a withdrawal negotiated under the previous administration, stating in a press briefing that "the likelihood there's going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely."

Last week, as the Taliban carried out a sweeping nationwide offensive, city after city fell to the insurgent forces as the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces the US has been years and billions of dollars training capitulated.

A senior intelligence official told Voice of America Wednesday afternoon that US intelligence "consistently identified the risk of a rapid collapse of the Afghan government," explaining that "we also grew more pessimistic about the government's survival as the fighting season progressed."

The official acknowledged, though, that "the Afghan government unraveled even more quickly than we anticipated."

The US military currently has a little over 4,000 troops at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, where an effort to evacuate US citizens and Afghan partners and their families is currently underway.

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