JOURNAL OF DEFENCE STUDIES

Two Decades of US-Taliban War in Afghanistan

Dr R. Vignesh is Associate Fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA), New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • April-June 2023
    Volume: 
    17
    Issue: 
    2
    Book Review

    In August 2021, the world was stunned by dramatic visuals of Afghan civilians running along and attempting to cling to a US Air Force (USAF) C-17 aircraft taking off from the Kabul airport in a desperate bid to flee from Afghanistan that had fallen to the Taliban. Just a month before this, in the first week of July 2021, the last of the American troops left Bagram Airfield, which had been the nerve centre of American-led military operations in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years. Post this, observers raised concerns about the Ashraf Ghani-led government and the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces’ (ANDSF) ability to counter the imminent rise of the Taliban. On 8 July 2021, during a press conference at the White House, a journalist posed a question to the American President Joe Biden to ask whether the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was inevitable. Responding to this, President Biden stated that the Taliban with a strength of 75,000 fighters stood no chance against the 3,00,000 strong ANDSF, which was both well-equipped and possessed an air force. He further affirmed that he completely trusted ANDSF’s capability as it was better trained, equipped and competent in combat than the Taliban.

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