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National security adviser Jake Sullivan admitted to reporters on Monday that despite warning signs about the looming Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the Biden administration decided not to start the evacuation process sooner in an effort to slow the collapse of the Afghan government.
"We did contemplate a big gray-tail move of Afghans and others in the July, early August time frame," Sullivan said during Monday's White House press briefing. "We made the determination not to do so because, not just Afghan government officials, but supporters of the Afghan government in Afghanistan, including many of the people who want to come out now, said that doing so would trigger a complete crisis of confidence in the government."
Sullivan conceded that "not taking out the vacuum, not doing that evacuation, didn't exactly save the Afghan government."
"We acknowledged that," he continued. "But that was a considered judgment at the time. Once we faced a circumstance in which we needed to move rapidly to secure the airfield to help get those folks out, that's precisely what we did, and that is precisely what we are doing now."
Earlier in the briefing, Sullivan claimed that "whether Kabul fell in August or September or December or next August, the fact is, whenever it fell, there were going to be American citizens in Kabul who needed to be evacuated."
"There were going to be third-country nationals in Kabul who were going to be evacuated, have to be evacuated. There were going to be Afghans still in the fight, who had supported the U.S. war effort over the last 20 years, who are going to have to be evacuated," the national security adviser said. "So an evacuation operation in a dangerous situation was going to have to happen at some point, and when you run an operation like that, when you are trying to position assets to go in and secure an airfield in a city that has been taken by opposing forces with a government that's collapsed, your contingency plan is going to hit head-on with reality."
You can watch Monday's briefing in its entirety below.
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Original Author: Christian Datoc