National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday the American people can expect to hear from President Biden “soon” but would not say if that would be today.
Biden, who remains at Camp David on his August vacation, is “deeply engaged” on the situation and in contact with his national security team regarding the mission of getting Americans and Afghans evacuated, according to Sullivan.
“At the right point he will absolutely address the American people,” Sullivan said during an interview on ABC Monday morning.
Sullivan continued to defend the President’s decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, becoming the latest White House official to put the blame for the swift Taliban takeover of the country on the Afghan government and security forces.
Sullivan said President Biden did not think it was inevitable that the Taliban would take control of Afghanistan, something Biden himself said during July 8 remarks, and that the Afghan security forces should have stepped up to fight the Taliban, especially after nearly 20 years of US training.
“He thought the Afghan national security forces could step up and fight because we spent 20 years, tens of billions of dollars training them, giving them the best equipment, giving them support of US forces for 20 years and when push came to shove, they decided not to step up and fight for their country,” Sullivan said.
“And so the question facing the President back in April, and again as we've gone forward, is should US men and women be put into the middle of another country's civil war, when their own army won't fight to defend them. And his answer the question was, no. And that is why he stands by this decision,” he added.
Sullivan said the US achieved its objective in Afghanistan which was to hold those who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks accountable, and with that objective achieved, the President was not prepared to have US forces in the country for a third decade.
“A decade ago we got Osama bin Laden, we degraded al Qaeda, we stopped terrorist attacks against the United States from Afghanistan for 20 years. But what the President was not prepared to do was enter a third decade of conflict, flowing in thousands more troops, which was his only other choice, to fight in the middle of a civil war that the Afghan army wouldn't fight for itself,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan however, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken did Sunday, admitted that the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, specifically of Kabul, happened at an unexpected speed, which continues to shine a spotlight on the intelligence the administration received regarding its decision to withdraw from the country.
“As we watch the situation unfold, and it's certainly unfolded at unexpected speed, we put that contingency plan in place,” Sullivan said of the administration’s ability to quickly send more troops to Kabul to help with evacuations.