EXCLUSIVE: Retired three-star general says America’s return to Afghanistan is ‘inevitable’ as terrorist groups flourish under Taliban rule – as he slams Biden’s ‘immature, unsophisticated’ plan that turned the US into a ‘laughing stock’
The United States will ‘inevitably’ have to return to Afghanistan as terrorist groups flourish under a Taliban-ruled narco-state, a retired three-star general has told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.
The former senior military leader, who briefed multiple presidents in his role and spoke anonymously to DailyMail.com, said the Taliban regime will create a new threat to America that will eventually require us to invade – again.
The general slammed President Joe Biden and top brass for an ‘immature, unsophisticated, ad-hoc’ plan and said the ‘insane debacle’, including the deaths of 13 officers from a suicide bomb on Thursday, was ‘preventable and totally avoidable’.
The general said that both top current military officers and the CIA advised Biden against the bungled Afghan evacuation from a civilian airport in the center of the Taliban-occupied capital, but claimed the president ignored them.
A retired US general says America’s return to Afghanistan is ‘inevitable’ now that terrorist groups will flourish under Taliban rule. Pictured: US troops help passengers board an evacuation flight on August 24
Following 2,356 US military deaths, thousands wounded, and an estimated $2.3trillion spent, the 20-year endeavor ended with the Taliban sweeping back to power
Taliban Badri special force fighters posed with American-made weapons under their white flag at Kabul airport Tuesday after taking control
He said he is ‘very skeptical’ that the now-completed US airlift was thorough enough and believes there are many American citizens left behind who wanted to get out of the country.
‘I think it’s inevitable that we’ll be back in Afghanistan before long,’ the former senior commander said.
‘You’ll have a narco state run by Islamic terrorists. This is not a good development to peace and stability in the world.
‘How in the world can we stand back, with a nuclear-capable Pakistan, and Iran working towards a nuclear weapon, and Afghanistan in the middle wedged between the two? The borders are quite blurred there as well as far as populations moving.
‘This is unbelievable to me that the US and NATO are going to have no on-the-ground bases in that region. That region is bordered on the West by Iran, bordered on the East by Pakistan, bordered on the North by China and Russia, and we will have nothing on the ground.
‘No eyes, no ears, no logistics and intelligence bases.
‘The next time we go there, if we need to go there, the 82nd Airborne will probably be the guys that need to take it by force. And then there will be a big expense in dollars and blood to make it happen.’
Taliban Badri special force fighters take a position at the airport in Kabul after taking over security from US forces
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (centre right) speaks to journalists at Kabul airport in front of a line of Badri 313 ‘special forces’ troops armed with US weapons, and in front of a captured American C-130 plane
Taliban ‘special forces’ troops – known as Badri 313 units – stand guard at Kabul airport on Tuesday morning after retaking it from American forces overnight
The ex-general was excoriating in his criticism of the evacuation conducted in the past two weeks, saying that America is now a ‘laughing stock’ to foreign governments.
‘It is unconscionable to me that they have such an immature, unsophisticated, ad-hoc addressing of such an issue when it was very clear that this was going to need to be done at some point by some president or some US ambassador or secretary of state and military commander,’ he said.
‘It absolutely is unconscionable to me that we are improvising at the last minute on such a complex issue.’
The top former serviceman said he speaks regularly with currently serving senior military officers, and that many agree with his dissatisfaction with the evacuation and believe Afghanistan is more of a liability to American security than ever.
‘I can tell you what happened in the Biden administration, in the Trump, Obama and Bush administrations. It happens, there is always friction between the NSC, the White House and the Pentagon, always,’ he said.
‘I’ve served several presidents. I’ve watched how they handle it. Most of them listen to it and then make an adjustment to the political plan, based on the best military advice from their joint chiefs or secretary of defense through the joint chiefs.
‘In this case there were no adjustments made. That doesn’t mean no dissent happened. That’s telling.’
Pointing out flaws in the last-minute evacuation strategy, the ex-general said it would be easy for Taliban or ISIS fighters to destroy the runway at Kabul International Airport.
‘Any military plan that has a single point of failure is deemed unacceptable, taking on unacceptable risk. And that’s what we’re dealing with right now.
‘The numbers that they moved out are impressive. And doing this with one runway, one airport, that’s roughly the size of a county airport – this is not like JFK or Dulles.
The former military leader, who spoke to DailyMail.com anonymously, warned terrorist groups will flourish under Taliban rule and pose another threat to the US. Pictured: Taliban fighters gather for a rally in Kabul on Tuesday
Taliban fighters are seen taking control of Hamid Karzai International Airport after the completion of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan
The retired general said it’s ‘unbelievable’ that the US and NATO no longer have on-the-ground bases in the region. Pictured: Bagram Air Base after it was abandoned in July
‘But what if they were to damage the runway to make it impossible to land, then what? Or an aircraft landed that was unauthorized and blew itself up on the runway? In other words, it’s a single point of failure. That’s a fundamental flaw.’
He also railed against the use of Taliban soldiers to help control crowds while American troops tried to get citizens and Afghan allies into the airport and away to safety.
‘When you’re trying to deal with the safety of American citizens, you never delegate that to anyone other than your own forces,’ he said.
‘Here we have a 20-year enemy that we have been fighting which is responsible for the security of our outer perimeter. It is insane.
‘I can’t believe that I’m actually seeing this happening.
‘If any other country did an operation like this, they would be a laughing stock. And we are now.’
The former commander’s Pentagon job involved briefing previous presidents and he was involved in planning for evacuations like the US’s retreat from Afghanistan.
He warned that the bungled execution of the Afghan exit could encourage other hostile powers to underestimate the strength of America’s military and so be more likely to make aggressive military moves.
‘Others that really don’t know our capability and our capacity, when we have the political will to do it, will miscalculate – such as North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, China, Russia,’ he said.
The chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan has left many Americans frustrated with President Joe Biden’s handling of the end of the 20-year war
‘This is a very dangerous condition right now and I’m not talking about for Afghanistan, I’m talking about stability of the world in the region.
‘It’s going to take many years and several significant events to occur to reestablish the trust, confidence, reputation and status that the United States held prior to this event. It’s quite unfortunate.’
The general even cast doubt on Biden’s capability to serve as commander in chief.
‘I don’t think the man making the decisions has all the tools in the box he needs right now. I don’t think he’s competent. I don’t think he’s up to the task.’
But he had harsh words too for current top generals and intelligence officers who he believes failed to stand up to a bad plan.
‘Do I think he may have been ill-served by the advice he was given by some key leaders? Perhaps. Particularly in his national security apparatus.
‘I know the Pentagon clearly provided a differing view at times, but they were overridden. And in our government it’s civilian control of the military all of the time, under all conditions.
‘Once a decision is made they salute smartly and carry out the decision. What could have happened but did not, there could have been the threat of a resignation. Someone could have publicly dissented. But none of that occurred.’
The former general said the embarrassing and costly exit arose because of a failure to anticipate the weakness of the Afghan government in the face of the advancing Taliban.
Afghan evacuees disembark from US Air Force plane at Rota Naval Base in Spain on Tuesday, after catching one of the last flights out of Afghanistan before the withdrawal of all American troops
The US Army released a nightvision image of Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and the ground commander of the Kabul evacuation, boarding a plane as the last U.S. soldier to leave Afghanistan
‘I think they did not expect the Afghan government to evacuate so precipitously and I think there was a failure to accept the reality on the ground,’ he said.
‘They thought they could hold the hole of the donut. The Taliban had basically the whole country except for the core around Kabul very quickly between May, June and July.
‘Once we lifted the air cover and took away the bases it turned into a stampede. It’s like a brushfire getting a 70 mph wind. It’s a conflagration that moves so quickly you can’t do anything about it.
‘It caught them by surprise. The CIA and the intelligence community says ‘it shouldn’t have, we told them that. We warned them of that, we pulled our assets out.’
‘When the CIA is pulling their assets out of a country because of what’s going on, that’s a pretty good indication that good things are not happening.
‘It was a debacle and a failure to recognize and adjust the political plan to on-the-ground reality.
‘Hope is not a course of action. Wishing something to be so doesn’t make it happen. If it doesn’t fit the political narrative, they failed to accept it. We are seeing the consequences of that today.’