Washington Post fact check accuses Biden of inflating size of Afghanistan military: 'Bogus'

Media top headlines August 18

In media news today, a top Biden aide says he won’t ‘comment on hypotheticals’ when asked if Americans will be left in Afghanistan, a journalist who witnessed the fall of Saigon reacts to the situation in Afghanistan, and Twitter faces scrutiny as Taliban fighters continue using the Big Tech platform

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler accused President Biden of inflating the numbers after claiming Afghanistan’s military is bigger than many NATO allies in a fact check on Wednesday.

Biden was forced to return from Camp David this week to deliver a speech on the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Since the exit, the Taliban have regained control of key parts of the country and desperate scenes have captured Afghans trying to flee the terror group. In Biden’s address, however, he defended the decision to end U.S. military involvement in the region and argued they left Afghan military in good shape.

“American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” Biden said on Monday. “We spent over a trillion dollars.  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.” 

Citing data from the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), Kessler argued Biden was rounding up the numbers. In a 2021 report, IISS showed Afghanistan with an active force of only 178,800 — 171,500 in the army and 7,300 in the air force.

“This obviously raises the question — how could such a large, ‘well-equipped’ military fall apart so quickly?” Kessler asked. “It’s because this is an inflated number.”

The president, Kessler wrote, included police in his 300,000 figure, not regular army or air force. Kessler also argued Biden was not taking into account the reserve forces of NATO countries, whereas no reserves are listed for Afghanistan. Representatives from the Center for the strategic and International Studies told Kessler the number of effective military personnel cannot be determined at this point.

Conservatives and liberals alike hammered the Biden administration for the mess it left in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Critics piled on the president yet again when he ended his speech without taking questions and promptly returned to Camp David.

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