WASHINGTON (AP) — Top U.S. intelligence officials were asked Tuesday why they misjudged the sustainability of governments in Afghanistan and Ukraine, and whether they should reform how intelligence agencies assess the will. to fight a foreign army.
US intelligence believed the US-backed government in Kabul would resist the Taliban for months and believed Russian forces would invade Ukraine within weeks. Both assessments were wrong. The United States and its Western allies are now rushing to help Ukraine’s resistance against Russia in what has turned into a violent and crushing stalemate.
“What we lacked was the Ukrainian will to fight…and we lacked that in Afghanistan as well,” Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine, said during a hearing of the Senate Committee on armed forces. He added: “I realize that the will to fight is much harder to gauge than the number of tanks or the amount of ammo or something. But I hope the intelligence community is doing some soul-searching on how to better handle this issue.
President Joe Biden’s administration has revealed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions to invade Ukraine in advance, a public campaign it says has bolstered support for crushing sanctions on the Russian economy and support military members of NATO. Senior US officials traveled to Kyiv to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and pledged more military and intelligence support.
Avril Haines, the US director of national intelligence, said “willingness to fight” and “ability to fight” in tandem were difficult to predict. The National Intelligence Council, an advisory group that looks at agencies as a whole, is looking into the matter, she said.
“These are two issues that, as you indicated, are quite difficult to analyze effectively,” Haines told King. “And we’re looking at different methodologies to do that.”
The United States might have done more before the invasion to help Zelensky had lawmakers believed kyiv had a better chance, King said. And after predictions that the Taliban would be held back for up to a year after the US withdrawal, the coalition-backed government “lasted less than two weeks”, King noted, a reference to the Taliban invading Kabul before the official end of the war. withdrawal.
The United States was forced to negotiate with the Taliban to evacuate thousands of American citizens and Afghan allies fighting huge crowds to secure space on evacuation flights. An attack at Kabul airport killed 13 American soldiers and at least 170 Afghan civilians.
King raised his voice to interrupt Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, after Berrier said he thought the intelligence agencies had done “an excellent job”.
“General, how can you say that, when we were told explicitly, Kyiv would fall in three days and Ukraine would fall in two weeks?” he said. “Are you telling me that was accurate information?”
US intelligence believed before the war that Russian forces were so much larger and more powerful than Ukraine’s that “it wasn’t going to go down very well for a variety of factors,” Berrier said.
He testified on Tuesday that “there has never been an assessment from the intelligence community indicating that the Ukrainians lack the will to fight.” This appears to contradict his statement during Senate testimony in March, when Berrier said he “questioned their will to fight. That was a poor assessment on my part because they fought bravely. and honor and that they are doing the right thing.
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