The first task for Afghan forces is to stifle the Taliban’s momentum, according to the Pentagon Chief
The Afghan security forces’ first goal, according to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, is to stem the Taliban’s momentum before attempting to reclaim land, while Afghan forces seek to cluster forces around strategically key sections of the nation. Afghanistan’s military is revising its anti-Taliban strategy, concentrating forces around the most essential regions such as Kabul and other towns, border crossings, and vital infrastructure. During a visit to Alaska, Austin informed reporters, “They’re consolidating their forces around the important population areas.”
“In terms of whether or not it would halt the Taliban, I think the first thing to do is make sure they can stem the momentum,” Austin said, as the US military prepares to leave Afghanistan on August 31 on President Joe Biden’s orders.
“We’ll see what happens,” Austin remarked, adding that he believed the Afghans had the capability and capacity to make progress.
The politically risky policy appears to be a military necessity as overworked Afghan troops try to avoid the fall of provincial capitals, which may cause the country to splinter further.
According to the Pentagon, insurgents are taking control of more and more land, which estimates that they now control more than half of Afghanistan’s district centers. In an attempt to isolate provincial capitals, the Taliban are exerting pressure on the fringes of half of them.
The Taliban’s rapid territorial gains are frightening Afghans just as the US pulls out of a war that succeeded in punishing al Qaeda after Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington but failed to bring Afghanistan any closer to peace.
As U.S.-led foreign soldiers near the end of their withdrawal from Afghanistan, airstrikes have continued to bolster Afghan government forces under Taliban siege. Biden has pledged to aid Afghan forces financially and to redouble diplomatic efforts to restart stalled peace negotiations.
Biden authorized up to $100 million from an emergency fund on Friday to handle “unexpected urgent” refugee requirements arising from the Afghan crisis, especially for Afghan special immigration visa applicants. The US military has been attempting for years to pull Afghan troops off such far-flung checkpoints, which are readily overwhelmed by Taliban fighters.