Pentagon pressed on whether Taliban has advantage in Afghanistan

Rep. Mark Green: ‘Hope is not a method’ against the Taliban

Tennessee Representative discusses the latest with the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan on ‘America Reports.’

The Afghan military needs to step up its efforts if it hopes to counter the Taliban’s rapid expansion of territorial control in Afghanistan, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said during a news briefing Friday afternoon.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson grilled Kirby on his claims earlier this week that Afghan government forces have an “advantage” over the Taliban, which has swept across the country, sometimes with little resistance.

“That the Taliban have moved with the speed with which they have, and that the resistance that they have faced has been insufficient to stop those, to check those advances, does not mean is that the advantages aren’t still there,” Kirby said. “[They] have to use it.”

“Since you’re saying that they have all the advantages as they’re getting crushed on the battlefield, it makes no sense to say they have the advantage,” Tomlinson followed up. “The Taliban appear to have all the advantages right now.”

Kirby said the Afghan forces have larger numbers, modern equipment an air force and 20 years of American-led training.

“They have the material, the physical, the tangible advantages,” he said. “It’s time now to use those advantages.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. With security rapidly deteriorating in Afghanistan, the United States is evacuating some personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, and U.S. troops with be assisting at the Kabul airport. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The discussion also turned to the evacuation of U.S. personnel in Kabul – and the 3,000 soldiers and Marines sent in to secure the city’s international airport.

Kirby said the Pentagon expected the situation to be dangerous for the troops as Taliban forces work to “isolate” the city and the U.S. prepares to evacuate Americans in the city.

“They’re certainly going into harm’s way, and they will…have a right to self-defense,” Kirby said. 

When asked about support from some Americans, veterans in particular, for a full withdrawal from Kabul of all U.S. military forces and a leveling of the embassy there, Kirby declined to weigh in.

“I think that one of the great things about this country is that people are free to express their opinions about anything that they want,” he said. “My job is to articulate the policies that we’re executing in the way in which we’re executing them. And that’s what my focus is today, to tell you what we’ve been ordered to do and how we’re going to execute those orders.”

Those orders are to help the State Department draw down its presence in Kabul, he said.

Earlier in the briefing, Kirby had been asked about comparisons between the current situation in Kabul and the fall of Saigon in Vietnam in 1975.

“We’re not focused on the history of the Vietnam War,” he said, adding that he had no “crystal ball” to foresee what would happen in Afghanistan in the coming months.

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However, he vowed that the U.S. would ensure that a terrorist threat would not reemerge in the region, where the Taliban once sheltered Al Qaeda before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

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