LONDON (The Daily Mail) – UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has admitted Britain’s bloody campaign in Afghanistan ended in failure and said the reasons for intervening “crumbled before our eyes” during last year’s chaotic withdrawal.
Monday marks the anniversary of the UK and the U.S. pulling out of the country, allowing the Taliban to arrive unopposed into Kabul and sweep back into power.
The Defence Secretary told Mail+ Defence and Diplomacy Editor Mark Nicol of a visit to a war memorial dedicated to the hundreds of British troops killed during the 20-year occupation, and spoke of his fear that their grieving parents would feel they had gave their lives for nothing.
“We’d gone there for the right reasons and stayed for 20 years, we’d done security, economic development, education, but we’d failed,” he told Mail+.
“And history told us when the West left the country it was going to go back to how it had been,” he added.
“We were leaving people behind, conceding the country to the Taliban and the Haqqani network, mainly because the West didn’t really want to stay. And if they didn’t want to stay, why did they go there at all?” he said.
The Taliban launched a 10-day takeover of Afghanistan in August last year as United States-led forces withdrew from the country.
This was despite billions of dollars being spent by the U.S. and NATO over nearly two decades to allegedly build up Afghan security forces.
The takeover culminated in the fall of the capital Kabul on August 15 as President Ashraf Ghani fled to Abu Dhabi and admitted the Taliban had won.
Chaos ensued at Kabul’s airport as people tried to flee, with refugees pictured clinging to planes as they tried to take off.
The Defence Secretary himself choked up last year as he talked about the consequences of the collapse of the Western-trained Afghan army.
Wallace - who himself served in the military before entering politics - said he felt the issue so deeply because he was a soldier.