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My problems with Western attitudes towards the fall of Afghanistan (personal opinion article)

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I've seen a lot of my fellow Americans (including my family) wondering why the ANA soldiers didn't stand their ground and "defend their women" from the Taliban. Many of them even labeled the ANA soldiers as "cowards" for not fighting back. However, there are so many things that these armchair westerners don't understand with that mentality.

For one, the ANA chain of command and the Islamic Republic are extremely negligent to their own soldiers. From my understanding, many officers within the ANA are prone to embezzling their units' supplies for their own pockets. Leaving their men under paid, poorly armed, and barely fed. ANA tactics were also quite crude and careless, mostly consisting of throwing recruits into the meat grinder in hopes of overrunning the enemy.

Made all the worse by the practice of "ghost soldiers", a common term for when officers inflate the number of troops under their command to illicit a bigger pay check. For example, in a unit of supposedly 250 men, probably only about 80 of them actually exist. Government officials and military commanders looking only at the theoretical numbers would then toss the “ghost units” into situations they couldn’t possibly win. Such as expecting them to defend an outpost against hundreds of Taliban fighters, when they only have a force of a couple dozen men.

Not to mention, with all the aforementioned embezzlement of equipment, those garrison units were lucky to have bullets in their guns. Let alone any access to aerial, armored, and artillery support, as those were in short supply in the entire government arsenal. From what I read, the ANA only had ~1,000 artillery guns, 40 tanks, and 150 combat aircraft, and even the vast majority of those were decommissioned by lack of maintenance.

Secondly, the Taliban rules for women are apparently far from unique in Afghanistan. From what I read, the Uzbek, Nuristani, Hazara, and Pashutan tribes, the vast majority of the warlord militias, etc. all treated women similarly to the Taliban. Even with the American backed government, most rural women lived pretty much the same lives as they did under the Taliban's emirate. At least as far as my understanding goes, only urbanized populations under heavier foreign influence like Kabul are a tad more progressive on women’s rights.

As such, the vast majority of the ANA’s rank and file aren't that different from your typical Taliban fighter in terms of views on feminism. Thus defending women’s rights aren’t going to be much of a concern for your standard ANA soldier/pro government militiaman. In the grander scheme of things, most of Afghanistan’s power-players (especially the government backed warlords) have demonstrated time and time again that women's equality is at best an afterthought to them, despite their toothless PR rhetoric stating otherwise.

Pivoting back to the topic of corruption, corruption within the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRA) was so severe that it deteriorated the country’s infrastructure. For most IRA officials, embezzling funds for themselves took precedence over ensuring the functionality of their intuitions. This had the tragic result of impoverished Afghans being left to fend for themselves.

Why do your average Americans expect ANA soldiers to die for a train wreck of a government that forsaken them? Even without the Taliban in the picture, the IRA government’s days were always going to be numbered for those previously mentioned issues. The only reason why they stayed in power for so long was due to the Americans babysitting them. Case in point, the 2014 elections to replace the incumbent president Karzai were so badly mangled, that a civil war within a civil war was only prevented by American negotiations. Once the Trump administration started pushing for a full withdrawal and the Biden administration finishing it, their only stability anchor was taken with them. Fighting for the IRA is only bucketing water out of a sinking ship.

Realistically speaking, if the ANA soldiers actually tried to hold the line, they’re only going to end up as another corpse in the ruins of an overrun base. The best chance for ensuring the safety of their female loved ones would be fleeing Afghanistan before its’ too late. ANA deserters aren't cowards, they've simply men and boys trying to survive the circumstances they're caught in.

I’m very sorry for this post coming out as an incoherent ramble. I’ve got so many moving thoughts about this whole Afghanistan situation, and I’m struggling to write them down under one cohesive format. Also, did anything that I wrote make any sense, as I also had a difficult time properly wording my viewpoints here.


Edited by Mysecondaccount

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