WASHINGTON: US defense chiefs say they feel pain and anger Wednesday and will humbly study the lessons of the Afghan war, which they fought for 20 years after leaving the country under Taliban control.
In their first public appearance since the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan on Monday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Millie took a serious look at the conflict that killed 2,461 US troops, including 13. 13 airports in the last days of the plane in Kabul.
“These were incredibly emotional and trying days and really years,” Milli said.
“We are all confronted with feelings of pain and anger, sadness and grief, with pride and resilience,” he said.
Austin acknowledged that the war, which began with the ouster of the Taliban in late 2001, had sparked strong sentiments, with many criticizing the evacuation and others questioning why it did not come years ago.
“I know this has been a difficult day for many of us,” Austin said.
“We should not expect veterans of the Afghan war to agree more than any other group of Americans. I have heard strong views from many quarters in recent days,” he said.
The war began in late 2001 when al-Qaeda, based in Afghanistan and under the protection of the Taliban government, launched 9/11 attacks that killed 2,977 people in a single morning.
But it was fighting to build a new country beyond attacking al-Qaeda and to prevent the Taliban from regaining power, which they finally did on August 15.
“As we always do, this department will look back clearly and professionally, and learn every lesson we can,” Austin said of the result. “Or” failed. “
There are many strategic, operational and strategic lessons to be learned, Milli said.
“How we got to that moment in Afghanistan will be analyzed and studied for years to come,” he said.
“War is hard. It’s evil. It’s barbaric,” Milli said.
“When we see what has happened in the last 20 years and in the last 20 days, it creates pain and anger,” he said.
Milli also suggested that the United States may fight the Taliban in the future against the Islamic State Khurasan group, which carried out a suicide bombing near Kabul airport that killed 13 American soldiers.
Austin praised the plane that pulled more than 120,000 people out of Kabul in just two weeks, fleeing the restored Taliban government.
He said he plans to travel to the Gulf region next week, where allies Qatar and others have backed US evacuations and are taking in some Afghan refugees.
“Now, as one mission ends, others must move on,” Austin said.