Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor to Joe Biden, admitted on Tuesday that a “fair amount” of U.S. equipment has fallen into the hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Sullivan was asked by reporters at the White House about the billions of dollars-worth of guns, ammunition, helicopters, and more that Americans have given to the Afghan government over the past twenty years.
“We don’t have a complete picture, obviously, of where every article of defense materials has gone,” Sullivan responded, according to Fox News. “But certainly, a fair amount of it has fallen into the hands of the Taliban, and, obviously, we don’t have a sense that they are going to readily hand it over to us at the airport.”
This came one day after a U.S. defense official told the Associated Press that the Taliban’s accumulation of U.S.-supplied Afghan equipment is “enormous,” given how rapidly insurgents were able to take over the country with not much resistance. While Sullivan admitted that this takeover by the Taliban “unfolded at unexpected speed,” he also defended the way that Biden has gone about the withdrawal.
“The president did not think it was inevitable that the Taliban were going to take control of Afghanistan,” Sullivan said. “He thought the Afghan national security forces could step up and fight because we spent 20 years, tens of billions of dollars, training them, giving them the best equipment, giving them support of U.S. forces for 20 years.”
“When push came to shove, they decided not to step up and fight for their country,” he continued, going on to say that Biden was faced with the question of whether U.S. men and women should be “put in the middle of another country’s civil war when their own army won’t fight to defend them?”
Brett Bruen, a former advisor to Barack Obama, argued in an oped for USA Today that Biden should fire Sullivan because he has failed in his position in every way.
“The national security adviser has two jobs. As the name suggests, they are the last and ideally closest counselor to the president in the Situation Room,” Bruen wrote. “Their second duty is to translate the commander in chief’s decisions and direction into practical policies. Sometimes that requires speaking truth to power. On all of these scores, the current occupant of the office appears to have failed.”
Bruen went on to say that while Sullivan has knowledge of foreign policy, he doesn’t have enough overseas experience, leading to a disconnect between ideas and execution.”
“Yes, Biden wanted out of Afghanistan,” he wrote. “It was on Sullivan to figure out how to achieve the president’s goal while ensuring we avoided potential pitfalls and problems. That’s clearly not what happened.”
The situation in Afghanistan has fallen apart fast, and even Democrats are having a hard time defending Biden’s handling of what’s happening there. It remains to be seen how this will impact him and his image moving forward.
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