When the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996, the Sunni Islamist organization forced women to wear head-to-toe coverings, forbade them from school, work, and from traveling alone. As well as banning TV, music, and non-Islamic holidays.ts.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, "The fact of the matter is we've seen that that force has been unable to defend the country, and that has happened more quickly than we anticipated."
The Taliban formed in 1994 and were made up of former Afghan resistance fighters who fought the invading Soviet forces in the 1980s, known collectively as mujahideen. Their goals were to impose their interpretation of Islamic law and remove any foreign influence.
When the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996, the Sunni Islamist organization forced women to wear head-to-toe coverings, forbade them from school, work, and from traveling alone. As well as bannig TV, music, and non-Islamic holidays.
Former intelligence official and U.S. Marine who served in Afghanistan said, “While the end result and bloodletting once we left was never in doubt, the speed of collapse is unreal.” The Taliban did not fight their way into Afghanistan’s provincial capitals, instead they brokered a series of surrenders.
It's said that the Afghan military is woefully underpaid, underfed, and under-compensated by the leadership in Kabul. Oftentimes, army units would sell their equipment to the Taliban for cash. There were also frequent desertions that went unaccounted for, leaving inflated troop numbers on the books.
Jack Watling, a research fellow for land warfare and military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute in London said, “The Taliban would infiltrate urban areas, assassinating key people like pilots, threatening the families of commanders, saying if you capitulate, you’ll save your family. So there was very little fighting, which is why it suddenly happened so fast. The speed is not a reflection of military capability, it is a reflection of a collapse in will to fight.”
Director of the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council, Kirsten Fontenrose commented on the Taliban saying, “They’ve become much more adept, militarily and non-militarily in terms of pursuing the same objective, which is establishing an Islamic emirate in Afghanistan The U.S. withdrawal is not the reason the Afghan government was outmaneuvered.”
President Joe Biden has defended his decision to withdraw US troops despite the Taliban's blitzkrieg saying, “I stand squarely behind my decision.” He said the United States mission, “Was never supposed to be about nation-building. American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.”
Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili, associate professor and director of the Center for Governance and Markets at the University of Pittsburgh, said “President Biden promised the American people and promised the Afghan people a competent withdrawal, and we’re not seeing that at all right now. We’re seeing a disaster being played out, and many people and many Afghans feel absolutely betrayed by what they’re seeing. The optics are bad for the people of Afghanistan, for the credibility of the United States, and I think a lot of Americans are very disappointed in what they’re seeing.”
After nearly 20 years of war there have been more than 6,000 American lives lost, over 100,000 Afghans killed, and more than $2 trillion spent by the U.S. Analysts say the quick downfall of Afghanistan can be attributed to intelligence failures, a more powerful Taliban, corruption, money, cultural differences, and willpower.
The Afghan National Army was funded and trained with $89 billion from the U.S. taxpayer.