Afghanistan: Taliban fighters capture US military equipment
Robert Clark, who served in Helmand province with the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, hit out at President Biden’s “chaotic” plan to bring America’s longest war to an end. In April the US President announced he wanted all US troops out of Afghanistan by September 11 2021, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Ben Wallace, the UK’s defence secretary, said the Democrat’s decision left Britain and other Nato allies in a “very difficult position to continue that mission” but they were left with no choice but to pull out.
Mr Clark, a defence fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based foreign policy and national security think tank, tore apart Washington’s plan to wrap up the overseas mission.
He said the president had conducted the pull-out on a “politically motivated, arbitrary timeframe” and that it “in no way represented the nature of the security on the ground itself”.
Mr Clark, who served in the Army for nine years, told Express.co.uk: “It’s the wrong time, there’s no two ways about it.
A defence expert has warned British troops should not be leaving Afghanistan
Afghan National Army soldiers were trained by British and American troops throughout the war
“I don’t think for a second that history will deem that to be a wise decision.”
Suggesting an alternative timeframe, he added: “If it was my decision I would say another three to five years to train more [Afghan] soldiers”.
In the weeks that followed President Biden’s shock announcement, US troops were tasked with the huge feat of packing up two decades’ worth of war.
Last week the last soldiers left Bagram Airfield – the US military’s key base in Afghanistan – without telling the Afghans, according to the site’s new commander.
Afghan soldiers no longer have UK and US troops by their side
And UK defence bosses are working on reaching a decision on how to protect the British embassy in Kabul, which at present is being guarded by civilian security contractors.
The US has sent some of its troops to secure its embassy in the capital as well as Kabul Airport.
Mr Clark said the rushed timing of the drawdown speaks volumes about Mr Biden’s approach to the war on terror.
He said: “That’s taken only two months. Can you imagine how chaotic that is?
“If history deems any failure it will be in the withdrawal and the nature of the withdrawal.”
‘Mistake!’ Former MI6 chief warning amid Afghanistan troop withdrawal [EXPLAINED]
SAS to help Afghanistan keep control of Taliban [ANALYSIS]
We have a duty to the brave Afghans who stood with us- STEPHEN POLLARD [COMMENT]
A Taliban commander sits behind his desk. The group have made massive gains in recent weeks
Girls are not allowed to go to school in areas controlled by the Taliban
And he said it was “highly surprising” that the US leader chose to make the decision without the input of the UK.
He explained: “To not discuss this or consult with partners including Britain it’s just almost incomprehensible.
“It’s important to remember he announced it unilaterally, this wasn’t through a common consensus or dialogue or consultation with his partners including first and foremost Britain. So this caught everybody off guard.
“That was important, this very public break between British and American defence policy.
“Naturally, with America withdrawing, Britain and Nato were going to follow. You can’t sustain an operation in Afghanistan without an American presence there, without significantly increasing a British deployment which there is no political appetite understandably for.”
The Ministry of Defence has been contacted for comment.
In recent weeks the Taliban have seized on the chaotic situation and made massive territorial gains.
Advances by the insurgents have been especially dramatic in northern provinces where they had long been kept at bay.
Stop-start peace talks between the government and the terror group remain inconclusive.
President Biden is scheduled to comment on the US withdrawal later today.
His decision to pull troops out by September has raised fears of an outbreak of civil war there and drawn criticism.
The Taliban makes women cover from head to toe when they are in public
Giving evidence to the Commons Liaison Committee on Wednesday, Boris Johnson said he was “apprehensive” about the future and that the situation was “fraught with risks”.
He said: “We have to be absolutely realistic about the situation that we’re in and what we have to hope is that the blood and treasure spent by this country over decades in protecting the people of Afghanistan has not been in vain and that the legacy of their efforts is protected.”
But the Prime Minister sidestepped questions about whether he would order an inquiry to address the lessons to be learned from the UK’s involvement.
Later today he is expected to set out details of Britain’s final military withdrawal from Afghanistan.