Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal: Dodging the Taliban

Insider attacks spiked at around 82% in the first three months of 2021. The Taliban says that the US violated its agreement because we’re withdrawing later than originally agreed. Between those two issues, the Afghanistan troop withdrawal could become extremely messy. The Pentagon is taking measures to ensure the troops are protected by sending 650 Army Ranger troops, and leaving the USS Dwight D Eisenhower in the region along with B-52 bombers to Qatar. But analysts and critics say it may not be nearly enough.

What happens if Americans are killed during the Afghanistan troop withdrawal?

“We have to assume that this drawdown will be opposed. It would be irresponsible for us not to assume that this drawdown and forces drawing down — both American and from our NATO allies — could be attacked by the Taliban.”

John Kirby, Pentagon spokesperson

According to the original agreement signed on Feb 29, 2020 with the Trump administration, all foreign troops were to be out by May 1. Biden stated that the troops would all be gone by September 11, as we previously reported.

May 1 was the date all U.S. and other foreign forces were to have departed Afghanistan under a February 2020 deal between the Taliban and the Trump administration. As part of that agreement, the Taliban halted attacks on U.S. troops, and none has been killed since then. But the Taliban said it will consider the United States to be in violation of the agreement for missing the deadline for full withdrawal. Their representatives have been vague about whether they intend to attack starting May 1.

Stripes

The military has released statements that expressly tell the Taliban that attacking during the Afghanistan troop withdrawal would be the wrong thing to do. Leaving Afghanistan has put serious pressure on the Afghan Security Forces (ANDSF). Whether or not they will be able to hold the line against the Taliban is in serious question.

“The withdrawal of U.S. forces will likely put enormous pressure on the ANDSF and could cause fracturing of military and police forces,” Jones said. “With the Taliban beginning to gain momentum on the battlefield, there is likely a higher probability that the Taliban will be able to infiltrate the ANDSF and that military and police personnel will defect.”

Violence in Afghanistan has risen over the last year, SIGAR said.

Attacks by militant groups against Afghan security forces were up 37% in the first three months of 2021, it said. Members of the security forces and civilians were among the victims of the attacks, SIGAR said. The report did not release the number of ANDSF members killed in those attacks, saying the data is classified.

Stripes

Recently, Taliban spokesperson called Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai hinted that there might be a breakthrough in negotiations with the Afghan government: “soon the Taliban leaders name will be removed from blacklist. And 7,000 Taliban prisoners will be released.” (Military Times) Which may or may not be true.

The Twitter account from which the information was posted may have been a fake. After it was deleted, it appeared on another account under a different name. As we have stated before, dealing with the Taliban is like dealing with a venomous snake.

At least 5,000 Taliban prisoners were released last year after the peace deal was reached, but the Afghanistan government blames them from the uptick in violence after returning to the battlefield.

General Mark Milley stated that the Afghanistan troop withdrawal is “complex.” He is not kidding.

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Featured photo: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, walks with the commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, Army Gen. Scott Miller, at Resolute Support Headquarters, Kabul, Afghanistan, March 21, 2021. (Lisa Ferdinando/DoD)

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