President Joe Biden’s administration on Thursday (Apr 6) released a summary of after-action reports on the US’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan that laid blame on his predecessor Donald Trump, saying “there were no signs that more time, more funds or more Americans” could have fundamentally changed the trajectory.
The 12-page document acknowledged that the administration learned lessons from the withdrawal, and now errs on the side of “aggressive communication” about risks in a destabilised security environment.
Biden inherited a depleted operation in Afghanistan from Trump that crippled its response, John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman, told reporters in a press conference on Thursday.
“Transitions matter. That’s the first lesson learned here. And the incoming administration wasn’t afforded much of one,” Kirby said. Biden was left with a stark choice – withdraw all US forces, or resume fighting with the Taliban.
The report points to “deliberate degradation” by the Trump administration – an accusation that Kirby said refers to the drawdown of US troops ahead during Trump’s time in office, the release of thousands of Taliban prisoners, the negotiation of the “Doha agreement” to end the war without the local government and the virtual freezing of an Afghan visa program.
The Taliban overran Afghanistan in August 2021 as the former Western-backed government in Kabul collapsed with surprising speed and the last US troops withdrew. Under Biden’s Republican predecessor Trump, the US made a deal with the Islamist Taliban to withdraw all American forces.
“America is on a stronger strategic footing more capable to support Ukraine and to meet our security commitments around the world, as well as the competition with China, because it is not fighting a ground war in Afghanistan,” Kirby said.