The Biden administration’s incompetence has created the conditions for a modern Dien Bin Phu in KabuL
Scott Ritter | 19 Aug, 2021
As thousands of US troops surged back into Afghanistan to secure Kabul International Airport for the evacuation of US and allied nationals, little thought seems to have been given to the fact that they are flying into a trap.
Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) is one of the least defensible spaces in all of Afghanistan. It is surrounded by dense urban areas and commanding terrain features, which in the hands of anyone possessing ill intent and the means to manifest it means that the airport would cease to function as a place where lumbering transport and passenger aircraft could safely take off and land. Put simply, anyone armed with a heavy machine gun or rocket-propelled grenade could shoot down an aircraft operating out of HKIA at will. As luck would have it, Kabul is now filled to the brim with hostile people who are armed with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
Military aviators will tell you that there are ways to enter and exit facilities like HKIA that minimize exposure to threats such as those outlined above. For years these procedures, known as ‘corkscrewing’, were practiced regularly at Baghdad International Airport (I have personally experienced this procedure, aboard a C-130 aircraft landing and taking off from Arar airfield in northern Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. It’s not for the faint of heart.) Given the loads that are being carried in and out of HKIA, however, radical flight maneuvers are not an option. Instead, the lumbering aircraft approach and depart while flying low and slow over terrain that friendly forces simply do not control.
Moreover, while on the ground, the aircraft are at the mercy of anyone possessing a mortar. Any combat veteran of Afghanistan can tell you that the Taliban not only possess a prodigious quantity of mortars of various calibers but are also extremely proficient in their use. There is nothing more vulnerable to the indirect fire from a mortar than parked aircraft – except perhaps the fuel storage areas from which the highly volatile aviation-grade fuel used to power these aircraft are kept.
The situation doesn’t get better for the thousands of military personnel who have been deployed into HKIA for the ostensible purpose of securing that facility to evacuate designated personnel. These troops are either located inside buildings that have not been hardened to protect against indirect attack (i.e., mortar fire), or are deployed outdoors in unimproved locations (i.e., not dug in) where any well-aimed mortar fire would cause havoc.
I am not privy to the force-protection planning that has gone into the projection of military force into HKIA. Imagery coming out of HKIA indicates that the US forces have a number of armed utility vehicles, and at least two AH-64 Apache helicopters, on-hand to assist in any self-defense operations that might be required. Media reports indicate that B-52 bombers, AC-130 gunships, and FA-18 fighters have been deployed into the region to support the evacuation. While this accumulation of airpower is noteworthy, it is limited by time-on-station issues (any aircraft orbiting near Kabul would be flying in from bases located many hundreds of miles away, and as such require refueling from aerial tankers; reports that C-17 transports are taking off nearly empty of fuel to maximize their load-carrying capacity suggest that aerial refueling capability does, in fact, exist in the skies over Afghanistan.)
Moreover, the tactical utility of employing combat aircraft in an environment like HKIA is limited by the knowledge that any such employment would result in horrific civilian casualties, which most democratically elected leaders would find politically intolerable. Of course, when confronted with the possibility of 6,000 US troops and tens of thousands of US citizens being slaughtered or captured, the issue of collateral damage becomes moot.
There is no way to spin this reality away. True, if necessary, the US commanders on the ground would be able to rapidly expand their area of control by simply assaulting out of the airfield and seizing the designated terrain. The second battle of Fallujah in Iraq was fought with a similar number of allied forces against an enemy similar in capability to the Taliban. Six thousand Marines and Paratroopers can seize a lot of territory. But starting a battle, and finishing it, are two different concepts. If the Taliban were able to close operations at HKIA, then the issue of resupply becomes a concern. While 6,000 battle-hardened US troops can inflict a lot of damage, they need food, water and ammunition to do so, all of which are in limited supply at HKIA. Now add in the requirement to care for tens of thousands of civilians, and one is looking at a logistical nightmare.
Simply put, no military commander in their right mind would have picked the current situation faced by US forces on the ground in HKIA as a desirable option when it came to carrying out the evacuation of civilians from Afghanistan. The fact that this is the plan is proof positive that a) there was no meaningful contingency planning for the large-scale evacuation of US and allied civilians from Afghanistan, and b) the speed of the Taliban victory caught everyone by surprise – so much so that the current HKIA death trap emerged as the most viable option available.
Anyone with a modicum of military planning experience could have sketched out alternatives that would not have hazarded US forces in such a manner. Simply holding onto the large, fortified air bases at Bagram and Kandahar, while securing the approaches to Kabul, would have allowed civilians authorized for evacuation to have been gathered in an orderly fashion, processed securely and evacuated in a timely manner. Instead, the Biden administration has created the potential for a modern-day Dien Bin Phu, the infamous battle during the French war in Indochina that saw thousands of French troops surrounded by hostile Viet Minh forces and eventually compelled to surrender in humiliating fashion.
The likelihood of such an outcome at HKIA is remote, if for no other reason that the Taliban does not want to give either the US or its allies any excuse for continuing their military presence in Afghanistan. The Taliban is looking forward to a future free from foreign occupation and interference in the affairs of Afghanistan. The fact that the Biden administration has placed the fate of tens of thousands of US citizens, military and civilian alike in the hands of the Taliban is, however, an unacceptable situation. There is not much that US military planners can do now without unduly hazarding the security of forces already on the ground.
However, the fact that it has come to this is a politically disqualifying event, one that demands the resignation of those civilian and military officials who advised the president, and a Congressional inquiry into the performance of Joe Biden himself. Donald Trump was impeached based on a single phone call that was conflated into a threat to the national security of the US. The question is, now that Congress is presented with an actual threat to the national security of America, what will it do?
EXC: Joe Biden’s State Dept Halted A Trump-Era ‘Crisis Response’ Plan Aimed At Avoiding Benghazi-Style Evacuations Just MONTHS Before Taliban Takeover.
Joe Biden’s State Department moved to cancel a critical State Department program aimed at providing swift and safe evacuations of Americans out of crisis zones just months prior to the fall of Kabul, The National Pulse can exclusively reveal.
The “Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau” – which was designed to handle medical, diplomatic, and logistical support concerning Americans overseas was paused by Antony Blinken’s State Department earlier this year. Notification was officially signed just months before the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
“SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED,” an official State Department document from the Biden State Department begins, before outlining the following move the quash the Trump-era funding for the new bureau.
The document is from the desk of Deputy Secretary of State Brian P. McKeon, confirmed in March by the United States Senate.
The document is dated June 11, 2021, though The National Pulse understands the decision to pause the program may have come as early as February, both undermining the original Trump-era date for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and certainly giving the Taliban time to threaten American assets and lives on the run up to Joe Biden’s September 11th date of withdrawal.
The subject line reads: “(SBU) Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau,” and the body of the document recommends:
“That you direct the discontinuation of the establishment, and termination of, the Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau (CCR), and direct a further review of certain associated Department requirements and capabilities.”
It goes on:
“That you direct the discontinuation of the establishment, and termination of, CCR, consistent with the applicable legal requirements, necessary stakeholder engagement, and any applicable changes to the Foreign Affairs Manual and other requirements.”
The document reveals the recommendations were approved on June 11th 2021.
Speaking exclusively to The National Pulse, former President Donald J. Trump blasted Biden’s irresponsible move:
“My Administration prioritized keeping Americans safe, Biden leaves them behind. Canceling this successful Trump Administration program before the withdrawal that would have helped tens of thousands Americans reach home is beyond disgraceful. Our withdrawal was conditions-based and perfect, it would have been flawlessly executed and nobody would have even known we left. The Biden execution and withdrawal is perhaps the greatest embarrassment to our Country in History, both as a military and humanitarian operation.
In a lengthy article in Vanity Fair from May 2021, the Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau (CCR) – also referred to in overlap with a predecessor/partner bureau called “OpMed” is described as a “little-known team of medics and miracle workers—hidden deep within the U.S. Department of State.”
“Even before COVID reared its head, OpMed was finding ways to do all sorts of things, serving as the hidden hand behind daring and often dangerous operations to rescue Americans from peril abroad,” the article states, before going on to quote Secretary of State Tony Blinken on the importance of the program’s goals.
“The Bureau of Medical Services’ Directorate of Operation—or ‘OpMed,’ as we call it—is a lifeline for the Department of State and the American people… Though perhaps lesser known outside of the Department, it’s vital to our operations. That’s because OpMed provides the platform and personnel to save American lives around the world, especially in times of crisis. During the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, OpMed was integral to our evacuation and repatriation of 100,000 Americans to the United States as countries began locking down their borders.”
But The National Pulse understands that career officials inside the State Department objected to the Trump-era aim of creating a Contingency and Crisis Response bureau with the express purpose of avoiding a future Benghazi-style situation for Americans overseas.
Instead, Biden’s team revoked the funding and the approval for the plan, even as the COVID-19 crisis reasserted itself, and and Afghanistan withdrawal loomed.
Vanity Fair reported in May:
“OpMed emerged from the ashes of Benghazi, where, on September 11, 2012, militants attacked the U.S. consulate, killing America’s ambassador to Libya, an information management officer, and two CIA contractors. The day’s events rocked the national security establishment and prompted years of recrimination, congressional hearings, and blue-ribbon commissions. When the dust more or less settled, several findings emerged: First, Pentagon officials had long warned their counterparts at the State Department about the “tyranny of distance” in Libya and other parts of North Africa. Second, CIA medics on the scene in Benghazi played an indispensable role in saving the lives of gravely wounded diplomatic security personnel. Finally, an interagency panel of experts concluded that, in light of the “grossly inadequate” response time to evacuate the injured from Benghazi, “State must ensure it has the capability to rapidly deploy crisis responders and evacuate […] personnel in harm’s way.”
“Responsibility for internalizing these lessons and bolstering the department’s ability to treat its own fell in no small part to William Walters, who had joined State in December 2011 in what for nine months had largely been a role in search of a mission: managing director of operational medicine. He had served with the Army’s most elite special operations unit and held the euphemistic title of deputy command surgeon for sensitive activities at the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). “They wanted a guy who understood the Pentagon but could also wear cuff links,” he said with a laugh, recalling the clash of cultures. And yet Doc Walters, as he is known in the corridors of Foggy Bottom, quickly emerged as a contrarian (in a department that values consensus) and an egalitarian (in an organization that’s been a bastion of elitism since 1789).”
A 2022 State Department Budget Justification document presented to the U.S. Congress earlier this year notes on page 22: “The Department has paused implementation of Op Med (CCR) pending a policy review.”
On August 15th, Biden’s State Department was forced to issue a humiliating statement warning U.S. citizens that the Embassy in Kabul would be unresponsive to their requests for help.
At the time of publication, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. military is attempting to move 5,000 to 9,000 people to safety per day, according to the Associated Press.
The news flies in the face of Joe Biden’s claims that his government planned for “every contingency” in the war-torn country.
The National Pulse also understands no Congressional notification was sent to the United States Congress, as is required, upon the pause.
A dozen diplomats sent a confidential memo to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on July 13 that the Taliban was rapidly gaining ground and the city was vulnerable to collapse, the Wall Street Journal reported. It is the latest in a series of reported warnings the Biden administration potentially ignored as American forces left and the insurgents swept through the country with ease. Afghan security forces were collapsing, they said, and offered ways to mitigate the advancing insurgents. The State Department memo, according to the report, also called for the government to use tougher language on the violence in the past from the Taliban. A former CIA counter-terrorism chief also advised the president’s campaign Kabul would crumble within days with a depleted American presence. But in an interview released on Thursday morning, President Biden claimed that he was never told that such a rapid collapse was possible. And a day earlier, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he never saw any intelligence warning that the Afghan government could fall in 11 days
The mastermind behind the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul was released from Guantanamo Bay under Barack Obama’s presidency in 2014 despite resistance from the Pentagon, it has been revealed.
Khairullah Khairkhwa was one of five Taliban commanders released from the detention camp off the coast of Cuba by Obama in exchange for American soldier Bowe Bergdahl.
The former president guaranteed the US people that the so-called Taliban Five would be sent to Qatar and incapable of doing any damage in Afghanistan.
Al Qaeda a Subsidiary of Western Intelligence
“al Qaeda” is in fact a tool of, funded by and equipped by western governments specifically the USA. ‘al Qaeda’ is essentially a subsidiary of CIA. See:
. . . . . .
Operation Cyclone was the code name for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program to arm and finance the Afghan mujahideen prior to and during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, from 1979 to 1989. The program leaned heavily towards supporting militant Islamic groups that were favoured by neighbouring Pakistan, rather than other, less ideological Afghan resistance groups that had also been fighting the Marxist-oriented Democratic Republic of Afghanistan regime since before the Soviet intervention. Operation Cyclone was one of the longest and most expensive covert CIA operations ever undertaken; funding began with $20–$30 million per year in 1980 and rose to $630 million per year in 1987. Funding continued after 1989 as the mujahideen battled the forces of Mohammad Najibullah’s PDPA during the civil war in Afghanistan (1989–1992).
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How Washington Funded the Taliban
by Ted Galen Carpenter – CATO Institute
United States has made common cause with an assortment of dubious regimes around the world to wage the war on drugs. Perhaps the most shocking example was Washington’s decision in May 2001 to financially reward Afghanistan’s infamous Taliban government for its edict ordering a halt to the cultivation of opium poppies.
When the Taliban implemented a ban on opium cultivation in early 2001, U.S. officials were most complimentary. James P. Callahan, director of Asian Affairs for the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, uncritically relayed the alleged accounts of Afghan farmers that “the Taliban used a system of consensus-building” to develop and carry out the edict. That characterization was more than a little suspect because the Taliban was not known for pursuing consensus in other aspects of its rule. Columnist Robert Scheer was justifiably scathing in his criticism of the U.S. response. “That a totalitarian country can effectively crack down on its farmers is not surprising,” Sheer noted, but he considered it “grotesque” for a U.S. official to describe the drug-crop crackdown in such benign terms.
Yet the Bush administration did more than praise the Taliban’s proclaimed ban of opium cultivation. In mid-May, 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced a $43 million grant to Afghanistan in addition to the humanitarian aid the United States had long been providing to agencies assisting Afghan refugees. Given Callahan’s comment, there was little doubt that the new stipend was a reward for Kabul’s anti-drug efforts. That $43 million grant needs to be placed in context. Afghanistan’s estimated gross domestic product was a mere $2 billion. The equivalent financial impact on the U.S. economy would have required an infusion of $215 billion. In other words, $43 million was very serious money to Afghanistan’s theocratic masters.
To make matters worse, U.S. officials were naive to take the Taliban edict at face value. The much-touted crackdown on opium poppy cultivation appears to have been little more than an illusion. Despite U.S. and UN reports that the Taliban had virtually wiped out the poppy crop in 2000-2001, authorities in neighboring Tajikistan reported that the amounts coming across the border were actually increasing. In reality, the Taliban gave its order to halt cultivation merely to drive up the price of opium the regime had already stockpiled.
Even if the Taliban had tried to stem cultivation for honest reasons, U.S. cooperation with that regime should have been morally repugnant. Among other outrages, the Taliban government prohibited the education of girls, tortured and executed political critics, and required non-Muslims to wear distinctive clothing—a practice eerily reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s requirement that Jews display the Star of David on their clothing. Yet U.S. officials deemed none of that to be a bar to cooperation with the Taliban on drug policy.