U.S. assessments placed a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan at several months to two years after the U.S. withdrawal from the country, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, adding that nobody had predicted “the government would fall in 11 days.”
“It was a wide range of of assessments, and as the Taliban began to make gains, and then we saw that in a number of cases, there was less fighting and more surrendering and more forces just kind of evaporating. It was very difficult to predict with accuracy,” Austin said in an interview with ABC‘s Martha Raddatz on “This Week” that aired Sunday.
President Joe Biden has fielded criticisms over his claims earlier this summer that withdrawal from the country would not lead to an immediate takeover by the Taliban. He also asserted that the chaos that ensued from the U.S. withdrawal after 20 years was inevitable.
Austin said Biden was faced with “no good options,” inheriting a May 1 deadline to take out all forces from Afghanistan from the deal the Trump administration struck with the Taliban last year.
Biden “had to very rapidly go through a detailed assessment, and look at all options in terms of what, you know, what he could do. And none of those options were good options. He went through a very rigorous process, very detailed process,” Austin said.
“He listened to the input that was provided by all of the stakeholders in the interagency process. And so, at the end of the day, the president made his decision. But again, he was faced with a situation where there were no good options, all were very tough.”