President Joe Biden flunked the test of truth when he repeatedly embellished the size of the Afghan army that failed to hold against the Taliban.
That was the conclusion Wednesday from Washington Post “Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler, who used the word “bogus” to describe Biden’s assertion, repeated multiple times when he announced his decision to leave the Afghan army on its own, that the Afghan government had 300,000 troops available to fight off the Taliban.
Kessler noted, for example, that on Monday, Biden compared the Afghan army favorably with NATO nations.
“We trained and equipped an Afghan military force of some 300,000 strong — incredibly well equipped — a force larger in size than the militaries of many of our NATO allies,” Biden said.
Kessler, widely considered by conservative media to be biased in Biden’s favor, wasn’t buying it.
“This is an inflated number,” Kessler wrote.
“The president is including police forces, which are not part of the military and have often heightened insecurity with their tactics.”
Kessler wrote that the core of the army could be only a tenth as large as what Biden said existed.
“Even among the active military, there is high turnover and only a small core of professionals which could be expected to fight professionally against the Taliban. In other words, the number is not 300,000 — and probably not even 30,000,” he wrote.
In using the inflated number of 300,000, “the president is misleading Americans about the capabilities of the Afghan military — which has now demonstrated it could not defend Afghanistan from the Taliban offensive,” Kessler wrote.
The “Fact Checker” column rates political falsehoods on a scale of one to four “Pinocchios,” with four being reserved for “whoppers.” Biden won three for his claim, as Kessler wrote that Biden’s use of the phrase “security forces” could be considered to include the police.
“But it’s close, especially when making a ridiculous comparison to the militaries of NATO allies,” the Post wrote.
— Devika Khandelwal (@DevikaKhandelw8) August 18, 2021
Kessler based his conclusions on a report called “The Military Balance,” issued annually by the International Institute of Strategic Studies, a British think tank that focuses on international affairs.
Afghanistan had 171,500 troops in its army and 7,300 in its air force as of 2021, with a caution on even those figures, the most recent report found.
“Reports suggested that already high losses and high levels of desertion further increased in 2020,” the report stated, according to Kessler. “There was reported 22% personal shortage in mid-2019, and there are problems in retaining key specialists including pilots and special-operations troops.”
Afghanistan has 99,000 police, which if added to its army and air force push the on-paper total near the 300,000 mark, Kessler wrote.
An amazing speech on the botched Afghanistan withdrawal from @TomTugendhat in the UK’s Parliament.
Joe Biden’s failures have been exposed for the entire world to see.
Our allies have clearly taken notice. pic.twitter.com/RcpOi6n3qn
— Amy Tarkanian (@MrsT106) August 18, 2021
“It is not a like-for-like comparison figure with NATO militaries,” said Henry Boyd, an IISS research fellow who collected the numbers for Afghanistan, according to Kessler.
“On paper, the 178,800 active military total is indeed still larger than most NATO militaries in raw numbers. In practice, however, even the 178,800 figure is somewhat misleading. It is possible that, in terms of deployable combat forces, the Afghan government had only a slight numerical superiority over the Taliban, and maybe not even that,” Boyd said.
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