The Afghan military must step up efforts if it hopes to counter the rapid expansion of Taliban territorial control in Afghanistan, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at a press briefing Friday afternoon.
Lucas Tomlinson of Fox News grilled Kirby on his claims earlier this week that Afghan government forces have an “advantage” over the Taliban, who have swept the country, sometimes with little resistance.
“That the Taliban moved with the speed with which they did, and that the resistance they faced was insufficient to stop them, to verify these advances, does not mean that the benefits are not always there, “Kirby said. . “[They] you have to use it. “
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“Since you say they have all the advantages when crushed on the battlefield, it makes no sense to say that they have the advantage,” continued Tomlinson. “The Taliban seem to have all the advantages right now.”
Kirby said the Afghan forces have larger numbers, modern equipment, an air force and 20 years of American-led training.
“They have the material, physical, tangible benefits,” he said. “Now is the time to use these benefits.”
The discussion also focused on the evacuation of US personnel in Kabul – and the 3,000 troops and marines sent to secure the city’s international airport.
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Kirby said the Pentagon expects the situation to be dangerous for troops as Taliban forces work to “isolate” the city and the United States prepares to evacuate Americans from the city.
“They are certainly in danger, and they will have … the right to self-defense,” Kirby said.
Asked about the support of some Americans, veterans in particular, for a complete withdrawal from Kabul of all US military forces and a leveling of the embassy there, Kirby declined to comment.
“I think one of the great things about this country is that people are free to express their opinions on whatever they want,” he said. “My job is to articulate the policies we execute with the way we execute them. carry out these orders. “
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These orders are to help the State Department reduce its presence in Kabul, he said.
Earlier in the briefing, Kirby was asked about comparisons between the current situation in Kabul and the fall of Saigon in Vietnam in 1975.
“We are not focusing on the history of the Vietnam War,” he said, adding that he did not have a “crystal ball” to predict what would happen in Afghanistan in the months to come. to come.
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However, he vowed that the United States would ensure that a terrorist threat did not reappear in the region, where the Taliban once housed Al Qaeda before the September 11, 2001 attacks.
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