Washington: More than a month after the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, a new report has revealed that the collapse of Afghan security forces was not abrupt. On the contrary, it was a "slow, painful breakdown" that began months before the fall of Kabul on August 15.
The United States' role in Afghanistan has come under scanner after the Taliban's swift takeover of Kabul, following an offensive that saw the quick fall of the US-trained Afghan army.
A new report by The Washington Post has revealed that the Taliban started its offensive in the spring. As the pace of the US drawdown increased, Afghanistan's special operators were largely moved under the command of the Defense Ministry.
This shift robbed the forces of a degree of independence that had insulated them from the corruption that handicapped other branches of the security forces, a captain told The Post under the condition of anonymity.
As the clashes intensified, several Afghanistan police personnel on the front line were entering their sixth month without pay. This was reportedly a widespread problem that took down morale and made government forces vulnerable to Taliban offers.
Aside from no pay, the country's most highly trained fighters were assigned to defensive operations as the Taliban pushed closer to the provincial capitals. With no US air support, elite fighters were tasked with running dangerous resupply missions that made them susceptible to the Taliban attacks.
"This is not what we were trained to do," said Lt. Abdul Hamid Barakzai of the Afghan commandos, referring to the drives between outposts. Barakzai said the commandos were given the task because they were one of the few units with heavily armoured vehicles.
"We knew how to defeat the Taliban, but the leadership at the top didn't listen," said a captain in one of Afghanistan's most elite units.
In an apparent admission of messy exit from Afghanistan, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, earlier this month had said the "collapse" of the Afghan army, in the face of Taliban offensive, happened at a much faster rate.
"The collapse of the Afghan army happened at a much faster rate and [was] very unexpected by pretty much everybody," General Mark Milley told Fox in an interview. "And then with that is the collapse of the Afghan government."
As the US completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, General Milley earlier had said that he has "pain and anger" seeing what has happened in the war-torn country over the last 20 years.
He had said that one of the "lessons learned" from the US withdrawal from the troubled country was the pitfalls realised in the Afghan security forces.