Defence analysts have argued that the removal of air support for Afghan forces was a critical error that signficiantly increased the speed at which the Taliban were able to take over the country.
The claims were made in the latest episode of the popular defence podcast whiched discussed the fall of Afghanistan, the failures in the US and NATO responses and the implications for the future.
The following is a transcript of the relevant section:
“So you just have this situation where the media environment was very unreliable, but there was this general idea among Taliban fighters and ANA forces that once the US is gone, it’s over. And the cessation of US air support earlier in the summer definitely, I think honestly, I spent some time looking back today before the podcast at the turning point events that we were absolutely sure, that if you could locate one event, one decision, that would change the outlook, the outcome of what’s happening today. The decision I had to look at was the decision to stop air support for the Afghan army. That just caused, if we had kept supporting the Afghan army, through to now, the situation would be a lot more different.”
“It’s fair to say as well that without US air support the Afghan air support capabilities were much weaker. We saw very quickly after the Taliban started to sort of move across the country that Afghan air army assets started to capitulate or flee.”
“It was additionally, the Afghan Air Force, I know Biden tried to claim that the Afghan Air force was built up and was strong, and ended up being useless in the fight. But they had 12 useable attack aircraft at any one time. The ground attack assets they had were for liaising with on the ground forces, but the issue was, ground forces weren’t adequately trained. They didn’t have tactical air controllers, they weren’t trained to tell aircraft how to hit targets.”
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