National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan Monday defended President Joe Biden and his administration's sudden decision to withdraw staff from the U.S. Embassy and insisted that there were "contingency plans in place for any eventuality, including a quick fall of Kabul."
He also laid the blame for the fall of Afghanistan on its own military, not because of decisions made to pull the United States out of its 20-year war in the country.
"President Biden was not prepared to usher in a third decade of war and put U.S. troops in harm's way, fighting and dying to try to hold Afghanistan together when its own armed forces would not fight to hold it together," Sullivan said on "CBS This Morning."
"This is about hard choices, and the choice he [Biden] made, he believes was in the national interest of the United States," he continued.
Biden is at the Camp David presidential retreat, and while he gave a statement on Saturday, he has not yet addressed the country directly after Kabul fell.
He has remained out of public view, with the only public image of him showing up on Twitter, showing him seated at an otherwise empty conference room table speaking by teleconference with members of his national security team.
Sullivan on Monday indicated that the Taliban's quick takeover of Afghanistan's major cities and the capital city of Kabul took the administration a bit by surprise, and suggested that the Afghan security forces had stood down, which allowed the Taliban to quickly take control of the nation.
"We had hoped that they (the Afghan forces) would fight," said Sullivan. "We hoped that they would stand up. But it became clear as city after city fell that the Afghan army was not prepared, despite billions of dollars and years of training and all of the advanced capabilities we provided, and that raises real questions about whether one more year or two more years or five more years would have made any difference in terms of U.S. troops staying in Afghanistan."
Meanwhile, Sullivan said American troops are "working to secure that airfield," and that the United States intends to carry out evacuation flights after that happens.
"(That includes) thousands of people in total," said Sullivan, including "a significant number of Americans ... we are still doing outreach to establish the total number of Americans."
Sullivan was also interviewed on NBC's "Today," where he insisted that the United States was going to continue with its plans and that U.S. troops would not be returning to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban, even though a total of 6,000 U.S. troops are being sent there in upcoming days to help in the evacuation of Kabul.
"I think the worst-case scenario for the United States would be a circumstance in which we were adding back in thousands and thousands of troops to fight and die in the civil war in Afghanistan when the Afghan army wasn't prepared to fight itself," Sullivan said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy was fully evacuated by Sunday night, after the State Department said last week that it would remain open.
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