The UK’s outgoing chief of defense staff told MPs on Tuesday it was too early to judge whether the NATO alliance had been defeated in Afghanistan following the rapid Taliban takeover of Kabul in August following the withdrawal of US forces.
General Sir Nick Carter also suggested that if the “less oppressive elements” of the Taliban gained control of the country, it “could become more inclusive than it would otherwise have been.”
After the chaotic withdrawal of US troops, by far the largest NATO component in Afghanistan, in August and Taliban takeover, the country is plunged into what the UN calls “the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis”, with millions facing famine.
Appears before MPs on the House of Commons’ defense committee, Carter, who retire as the UK’s top military official said at the end of November: “I think it’s too early to say that the defeat took place. Victory here must be measured by the results and not by some great military extravagance. “
He added: “Taliban 2.0 is different. There are many people in Taliban 2.0 who would like to govern in a more modern way, but they are divided among themselves, as political entities are so often.
“If the less oppressive elements finally gain control, I think there is no reason to suppose that over the next five years Afghanistan may not degenerate into a country that is more inclusive than it would otherwise be.”
He defended Western intelligence failures that underestimated the strength of the Taliban as such. control seized within weeks, blame a rapid shift in the loyalty of local warlords.
“What was going on in the provincial capitals – Herat, Lashkar Gah, Kandahar – was that millions of dollars changed hands,” he said. “What happened there was that fidelity changed over a period of a week. It is very difficult to monitor it. “
Britain’s most senior military leader has defended “bulls” allegations he previously made that the Afghan government would remain in power after the removal of Western troops, saying more pessimistic views would have undermined the country’s then-president Ashraf Ghani.
“The plan was to try to get the Afghan government to hold on and hold it together,” he said. “I’m one of the voices they listen to, more likely than any foreigner other than the foreign American.”
Carter challenged why he had warned not to refer to the Taliban as “the enemy” at the time of the evacuation of troops, saying it was to protect those British forces still on the ground.
He acknowledged that there was to be a “fundamental cultural shift” after a meeting between Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and top military buyers on Monday to discuss bullying, harassment and sexual assault within the armed forces.
“Part of the reason why we encourage a laddish culture is that our soldiers must eventually deal with the enemy closely and personally. What you have to try to do is celebrate both of these outputs, ”he added.
Carter also demanded that the problems that threaten the future of the £ 5.5 billion Ajax armored vehicle program “receive due attention”. Noise and excessive vibration inside the armored vehicles during trials caused concern about permanent hearing damage to their teams.
The department is waiting for the results of independent trials before deciding whether to continue with the program. Five soldiers whose hearing was affected during the trials were medically discharged from the army.