A number of western leaders, particularly in the US, have said they were surprised by the rapidity of the Taliban's success over the last 2 weeks. For example, the Pentagon's top military officer, Gen. Mark Milley told reporters this week that the U.S. intelligence community estimated that if U.S. forces withdrew, it would be weeks, months, even years before the Afghan military fell to the Taliban. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Sunday that the defeat of Afghan security forces that has led to the Taliban’s takeover “happened more quickly than we anticipated”. Blinken indicated that the blame for this could be put at on the Afghan National Army (ANA) saying "I have to tell you that the inability of Afghan security forces to defend their country has played a very powerful role in what we've seen over the last few weeks".
However, I have not seen it reported what they did think was happening. It seems that there are a number of options, none of which are exactly the ANA's fault:
- They expected the ANA to be ultimately victorious. This would make sense, but no one is saying this and would seem to contradict what Mark Milley said above.
- They expected the Taliban to win, but thought the ANA expected to win. This would seem the fault of the western intelligence agencies to keep their counterparts informed, possibly so they would fight and die for a lost cause.
- They expected the Taliban to win, and knew the ANA knew the Taliban would win, but expected the ANA to fight and die for a losing side. The whole of military history would indicate this belief would be in error.
- Both the western governments and the ANA were uncertain enough about the outcome that a victory by the ANA or the Taliban were roughly equally likely (thanks Bobson).
Do we have any statements or other forms of intelligence to indicate what the western governments and intelligence agencies actually thought would happen, and why?