MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Erie Times E-Edition Article-More Marines in Kabul to aid airlift

Posted by M. C. on August 15, 2021

Saigon deja vu all over again. The war machine hasn’t learned much in 50 years.

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=14b0777eb_1345ea3

Robert Burns and Ellen Knickmeyer

ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON – A fresh contingent of Marines arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday as part of a 3,000troop force intended to secure an airlift of U.S. Embassy personnel and Afghan allies as Taliban insurgents approach the outskirts of the capital.

The last-minute decision to re-insert thousands of U.S. troops into Afghanistan reflects the dire state of security and calls into question whether President Joe Biden will meet his Aug. 31 deadline for fully withdrawing combat forces.

After an advance group of Marines arrived on Friday, more flowed into the Kabul international airport on Saturday, said Navy Capt. William Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command. The Pentagon said on Friday that the bulk of the 3,000 – comprising two battalions of Marines and one of Army soldiers – are due by the end of the weekend.

Officials have stressed that the newly arriving troops’ mission is limited to assisting the airlift of embassy personnel and Afghan allies, and they expect to complete it by month’s end. But they might have to stay longer if the embassy is threatened by a Taliban takeover of Kabul by then.

“Clearly from their actions, it appears as if they are trying to get Kabul isolated,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, referring to the Taliban’s speedy and efficient takedown of major provincial capitals this past week.

Biden had given the Pentagon until Aug. 31 to complete the withdrawal of the 2,500 to 3,000 troops that were in Afghanistan when he announced in April that he was ending U.S. involvement in the war. That number has dropped to just under 1,000, and all but about 650 are scheduled to be gone by the end of the month; the 650 are to remain to help protect the U.S. diplomatic presence, including with aircraft and defensive weapons at the Kabul airport. But Thursday’s decision to dispatch 3,000 fresh troops to the airport adds a new twist to the U.S. withdrawal.

There is no discussion of rejoining the war, but the number of troops needed for security will depend on decisions about keeping the embassy open and the extent of a Taliban threat to the capital in coming days.

Having the Aug. 31 deadline pass with thousands of U.S. troops in the country would be awkward for Biden given his insistence on ending the 20year U.S. war by that date. Republicans have already criticized the withdrawal as a mistake and ill-planned, though there’s little political appetite by either party to send fresh troops to fight the Taliban.

Kirby declined on Friday to discuss any assessment of whether the Taliban are likely soon to converge on Kabul, but the urgent movement of extra U.S. troops into Afghanistan to assist the embassy drawdown is clear evidence of Washington’s concernafter the rapid fall of major cities.

The Biden administration has asserted that Afghan security forces have tangible advantages over the insurgents, including a viable air force and superior numbers. The statement serves to highlight the fact that what the Afghan forces lack is motivation to fight in a circumstance where the Taliban seem to have decisive momentum.

“It appears as if they are trying to get Kabul isolated,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said of the Taliban as they continued to take over more cities in Afghanistan. SUSAN WALSH/AP

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