Washington: General Mark Milli, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Wednesday that the Taliban appeared to have “strategic momentum” in their all-out offensive against Afghanistan, but their victory was far from guaranteed.
Nearly 20 years after the United States overthrew the Taliban regime after the 9/11 attacks, with the withdrawal of almost all foreign troops led by the United States, resurgent militants now control about half of the approximately 400 areas in Afghanistan.
But Milli said at a press conference that they do not have a densely populated major city in the country.
He added that as militants put pressure on about half of the country’s capital cities, the Afghan army is “consolidating their power” to protect these major urban centers.
“They’re taking an approach to protect the population, and most of the population lives in the provincial capitals and capital city of Kabul,” Milley said.
“A Taliban automatic military takeover is not a foregone conclusion.”
The Taliban are surging across Afghanistan, snapping up territory, seizing border crossings and encircling cities.
Their success has tested the morale of the Afghan army, already battered by years of shockingly high casualties and, more recently, the decision by international troops to leave.
Though the Afghan army has been trained and equipped by international forces, and estimates show it vastly outnumbers the Taliban’s ranks, Milley said numbers are not all it takes to win a war.
“The two most important combat multipliers actually are will and leadership. And this is going to be a test now of the will and leadership of the Afghan people, the Afghan security forces and the government of Afghanistan,” he said.
US President Joe Biden also stated that the Taliban takeover is “not inevitable.”
But earlier this month, he also warned that Afghans must unite against the insurgents and acknowledged that the possibility of a unified government ultimately controlling the entire country is “very unlikely.”