(ORDO NEWS) — During the withdrawal of troops, the Americans made all the mistakes that could be, said the Polish general, who knows firsthand about the situation in Afghanistan. He is critical not only of the actions of the United States in this country, but also of the position of NATO, and also explains what awaits Europe as a result of the victory of the Taliban.
Interview with the former commander of the GROM special forces unit, General Roman Polko.
wPolityce: As a former commander, what can you say about the US withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan?
Roman Polko: First of all, there is no need to say that the Americans were guided by some kind of plan, strategy. The basic principles of the art of war were violated, stating that first you need to save civilians, then take out what can be taken out, and destroy everything else so that it does not fall into the hands of the enemy, and then only withdraw forces, protecting the escape routes, that is, such strategic objects such as airfields and the roads leading to them. None of this, in fact, was done. During the withdrawal of troops, the Americans made every mistake that could be. I will not even evaluate the entire previous operation and how the interaction was conducted within its framework, for example, with the Afghan president, the Afghan army. We saw chaos, confusion, it all became a big catastrophe, which only now someone is trying to overcome.
– Questions arise about the Afghan army: it suddenly turned out that its number is six times less than it was officially stated, that is, not 300 thousand, but only 50 thousand people. How could such a situation have come about?
– This demonstrates that the American special services failed the task of checking the people to whom modern technology and weapons were transferred. In addition, the Americans were defeated in the war for the hearts and minds of Afghans. Billions of dollars have been spent on arming their armies. The first lesson was in Iraq, where the weapons were handed over to the wrong people, but in the end they got to ISIS. The Americans made the same mistake again.
To a large extent, I believe, the political desire to quickly withdraw the troops played a decisive role. It prevailed over the common sense of the commanders on the ground, who were well aware that a hasty operation, carried out at the request of politicians, would result in just such consequences. The Afghan army simply crumbled when it was suddenly deprived of the support of its allies, that is, mostly Americans. This is a terrible failure that could be foreseen, at least based on what happened earlier in Iraq, where, after the withdrawal of allied forces, ISIS gained control of the territory.
– How will this failure in the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan affect cooperation within NATO? Many representatives of the Alliance members are amazed and outraged, demonstrating this, in particular, at press conferences.
– Let’s hope that it will become a kind of tub of cold water, and finally, the floor will be given to such commanders who know the art of war, observe the basic principles of conducting operations and know how to draw up operational plans. In Afghanistan, in fact, during all this time, there was a lack of any strategy, and the slogan “we are fighting for hearts and minds” remained empty words, in no way related to reality.
We changed the military every six months, telling them that we were fighting for the minds, and they came, made the same mistakes, left, and the next took their place. The Afghan authorities were very corrupt and, frankly, had no authority, which is now clearly visible. People on whom we could rely, as a vice president who is now offering real resistance somewhere out there, or a handful of people fighting in the north for two or three provinces, have no chance of facing the Taliban, armed with NATO, the United States.
I hope that sobering will come, that the Alliance will start thinking not about political correctness, but about creating effective tools for conducting operational actions in that direction.
– The question is, will the desires of politicians gain the upper hand again? What place does the army now occupy in all this mosaic?
– Yes, in Iraq the political will of Paul Bremer prevailed, who did not listen to the American commanders, ordered to disband the army and create a new one from new people. Those who were in the ranks of the first simply left for ISIS. President Biden does not want to admit his mistake, but perhaps he should honestly do it in order to make a real difference. Many of my acquaintances from the American military circles are horrified by the situation. They say: “We did not shed our blood for this, we risked our lives in this mission so that someone would turn our efforts to dust.” All sorts of military advisers say: the war in Afghanistan was not a war in which we could win, but our presence there was required to stabilize the region, so that the “bad guys”, terrorists could not dig in, create somewhere a logistics base and plan operations, aimed at destabilizing Europe. That was the purpose of the presence, but this is in the past, and now Afghanistan is likely to turn into a country where the drug business will feel even more at ease than before, where various extremist groups can really freely plan actions against us.
– There is still the theme of the battlefield. When we acted on their territory, we attacked, but if the confrontation begins to unfold in our country (and, it seems, it will happen), we will find ourselves in the role of the defending side. How do you assess this situation?
– That’s exactly how it is. When we entered Afghanistan, we were told that our actions were aimed at preventing the confrontation front from ending up in Europe. It was not possible to realize the plan, the threat returned. It is hoped that NATO will take some action that will prevent attacks from that direction. It will not be easy, because some extremists are already operating on European territory and are just waiting for a signal and help.
– How much time do we have left to arm ourselves additionally?
– We have little time, now we should have completed the first stage and move on to the next. Negotiations with the Taliban and our faith in their words will not change reality. They were extremists and remain so. Perhaps now they are trying to speak softer and behave softer in the media space, but their actions remain violent, and their plans certainly extend further than we think.
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