As we try to understand what happened on Aug. 26, 2021, at Kabul Airport with the American loss of life, some disturbing facts are coming to light.
In a military retrograde (withdrawal in civilian terms), especially when conducted under duress, security is one of the primary planning factors. With the deadly attacks that took place at the Abbey Gate to the airport and close by Baron Hotel at Kabul, it now turns out that it was not American forces that controlled the perimeter of the Airport, it was Taliban elements.
This is very discomforting and violates basic principles of security in military planning at the tactical level. A logical question arises, who allowed or directed this concession or constraint?
U.S. Military forces should have not only decisively controlled the perimeter and the access points, but they should have also established a security buffer zone from two to ten miles out based on the intelligence assessments and the tactical commander’s estimate.
This buffer would include the high-risk roads to the gates, which is where the Aug. 26 detonations occurred. Apparently, a security zone was not implemented. I’m not in any way questioning any on the ground U.S. Military Commander, and the situation is chaotic and evolving, but an odd picture is emerging on the overall withdrawal debacle. Again, who allowed or directed this concession or constraint?
Another very important aspect is operational security; this means two key imperatives.
First, there should both be tight control of operational details, but at the same time there should be clear messaging of firmness, resolve, and clarity. The utter panic and rush to the airport demonstrates the failure of the second imperative.
The first imperative was also questioned by the absolute staggering admission that lists of Americans and those who worked with Americans and all the biometric data of Afghans who helped American forces was handed over. It is baffling and perhaps unlawful to hand this over. The administration seems to feel that the Taliban are good, others are bad. The Taliban are factional just like other groups. Who allowed or directed this concession or constraint?
President Joe Biden pointed at President Trump during his Aug. 26 press conference, but failed to share the seminal difference.
Trump’s strategy was based on the Taliban meeting tiered conditions which would allow an incremental and orderly withdrawal. The failure on all these factors paints a picture of past historical events such as the ill-thought-out French strategy of Dien Bien Phu or the utter panic and collapse of Iran in January 1980 when President Carter’s vacillation issued the order for CIA to cease assistance—panic and chaos ensued in Iran after this early case of virtue signaling.
In any case, this whole disaster in Kabul has produced a massive geo-political vacuum, which is never good.
The utter fecklessness of the Biden administration has mirrored President Carter’s Iran crisis. The Afghan debacle sends a strong green light to the CCP as far as further the likely success in further international adventurism. The message from the Biden Administration is that there is an American lack of interest in asserting U.S. national interests.
If that’s the case, why not continue with other countries close by? America’s collapse in Afghanistan gives China immense return on investment. I would suggest, that the obvious is true—China can now pivot east and focus on Taiwan.
The rapid buildup of PLAN amphibious warfare capacity over the last two years has been concerning—especially their mimicking of the key American Naval enablers, the Military Sealift Command, and the National Defense Reserve Fleet.
The PLAN has never done a force landing before, so the obvious answer is to conduct a dry run somewhere before Taiwan. But where? If I was a PLAN planner, northern Luzon in the Philippines is the intuitive course of action.
Japan is moving to militarize the island chain to the right rear flank of Taiwan. If China moves on Taiwan, Japan is displaying resolve to defend Taiwan. The question is clear—what about America?
By John Mills