How did the Taliban take so much land so fast?

Conflicts Aug 17, 2021

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As the United States and other foreign soldiers leave Afghanistan after 20 years of combat operations, the Taliban is making fast progress.

The Taliban's rapid progress in Afghanistan appears to have caught many people off guard; provincial capitals are collapsing like dominoes. The militants obviously had the upper hand, while the Afghan government struggled to maintain control.

US soldiers invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 to remove the Taliban, who were said to harbor Al Qaeda figures linked to the 9/11 attacks. About 110,000 US troops have been deployed to Afghanistan since 2011 when Washington spent $10 billion fighting the Taliban and funding reconstruction.

How and why did armies from the West go there?

From 1996 until 2001, the terrorist organization, al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden had a presence in Afghanistan. Fundamentalist training camps were established.

The western armies thought that Afghanistan could be the place where Al Qaeda conducts its operations. They were under Taliban protection at the time. The international community urged the Taliban to surrender individuals involved in the 9/11 attacks in September 2001. Taliban denied.

A North Alliance anti-Taliban force was established in Afghanistan with the assistance of the United States and the United Kingdom the following month.

The scenario in the nation where these western forces are departing is not secure at the moment. Immediately following 9/11, some projected that these countries' militaries would remain in place for two decades.

Other nations, notable members of the NATO alliance, were also present in the country as part of the foreign troop presence. However, the United States had by far the largest single contingent.

NATO technically concluded its combat mission in December 2014, but a 13,000-strong force remained to assist Afghan troops in training and counter-terrorism operations.

How did it all come tumbling down so quickly?

The United States and its NATO partners, notably the United Kingdom, have spent the better part of the previous two decades training and equipping Afghan security forces. Countless American and British generals claim to have built a more capable and formidable Afghan army; promises that today appear to be largely unfulfilled.

With a stronger army at its disposal, the Afghan government should still have the upper hand.

On paper, Afghanistan's security forces number more than 300,000. The Afghan army, air force, and police force are all included. However, the government has traditionally failed to fulfill its recruiting goals. In terms of finance and weaponry, the Afghan government should also have the upper hand.

It has received billions of dollars in funding to pay for military wages and equipment, most of which has come from the United States. SIGAR said in its July 2021 report that more than $88 billion (£64 billion) had been spent on Afghanistan's security.

The question now is whether the Afghans employed all of their money, weaponry, and training to their maximum potential. Despite this, why is the Taliban gaining control so quickly? How you compare all of these factors will determine the answer.

This article has been written by Omer Khan for The Paradigm

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