tv BBC World News Outside Source PBS August 18, 2021 5:00pm-5:31pm PDT
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and by contributions to this pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. announcer: and now, "bbc world news". ♪ >> ♪ >> the exiled afghan president has spoken for the first time since the taliban seized power. he sought refuge in the uae. he insists he had to leave to avoid what shed. -- bloodshed. meanwhile, the taliban try to form a new government. >> they say they are here to prevent looting and unrest despite their assurances of amnesty for those linked to the government. >> boris johnson faces a barrage
of criticism and emotion from mp's over the uk's role in the story. >> like many veterans, this week has been one that has seen me struggle through anger and grief and rage. we must deal with the world as it is. accepting what we have achieved and what we have not achieved. ♪ >> the exiled afghan president has been speaking for the first time. he spoke from abu dhabi where he is in refuge. >> for now, i am in the uae so that bloodshed and chaos is stopped. i am currently in talks to
return to afghanistan. >> in the last few minutes, the u.s. state department has responded to the statement saying he is no longer a figure and afghanistan. >> it's the same argument we heard from his supporters before or in the last two days. it is that he hato leave to avoid bloodshed. he was not interested in creating a scene or creating a siation where afghans would be put in harm's way. that's why he had to leave. also he was forced to leave. they didn't mention hubei. -- who by. he wanted to return to
afghanistan and retake. it is hard to imagine how that is possible that the taliban have almost taken over the entire of afghanistan except for a few pockets still not under their control. will he avoid bloodshed if he returns? we don't know. >> and afghanistan, the taliban is tightening its grip on power. it senior leaders are expected to arrive in kabul in the coming days if not hours and priority is forming a new government. there have been some signs of resistance. this is in a city near the border. they appear to be replacing a taliban flag with an afghanistan flag. this was met with gunfire. we understand at least one person died in thincident. a dozen others were injured. back in kabul, there was a
meeting between a leader of a mitant group of the taliban and the former afghan president. also president -- also present was a former peace envoy. >> these are extraordinary images. for those who fear the return of the taliban, they are jarring images. for those who don't have any option to leave and are hoping against hope that there cou be a smooth transition, these are the photographs they want to see. >> the former prident is in uae. for those who remain, the future is decidedly unclear. >> it depends on what form of government the taliban are trying toorm. they are trying to form a government that is transparent, responsible, with diplomatic
relationship with the world, which had all the values that a government should have, it depends. if they want these things. >> you may have seen on tuesday, the taliban held a press conference and gave a number of assurances including everyone including members of the government would be safe. here is former advisor. >> it made me once again be impressed by how strategic they are, how media savvy they are. i would very much like to wish and hope that there has been a change in the policies. what i am seeing on the ground, what i'm hearing from women and journalists and others who have been so critical to the agenda in afghanistan is a soon as they take over territory, they are gog to the doors, targeting them, creating a clima of intimidation and fear just what they did in the 1990's.
>> let's turn to washington because a pentagon press conference has just begun. >> our tros have set up defensive positions around the airport. airport is able to function safely. we don't take this for granted and i continue to be in daily contact with general mackenzie and commanders on the ground to make sure they have with a need to keep it safe. my third area of focus is the pace. increasing the flow of aircraft and people out of kabul. we have flown out several thousand since the fifth of august and our goal is to increase our capacity every day going forward. as we build out this capacity, we are working hand in glove with the state department, which is leading the whole of government effort to notify and process american citizens were leaving.
to urgently identify and process afghan applicants as well. we have dispatched small military teams to two of the airport gates to assist state department efforts as they evaluate and process individuals seeking entry. we expect to be able to augment th capability in the coming days. this is truly a team effort across the interagency. throughout all of this, our u.s. service members are making exceptional efforts. they are showing their humanity and compassion. i wanto thank them for their skill and their professionalism. it is not lost on me that even as we conduct this important mission, we also continue to help our fellow americans deal with a newurge in the pandemic
and the citizens of haiti dealing with the aftermath of an earthqke. let me also thank general mackenzie and the rear admiral who is the commander of u.s. forces. and major donahue of the airborne division and the brigadier general at this critical time. it is making an enormous difference. they know as i do that there is a lot of work to be done. all of this is very personal for me. this is a war that i fought in and led. people, and i know what is the following along behind me. as i said, we have a moral obligation to help those who helped us. i feel the urgency deeply. i want to e with a word for the force in our military. i know that these are difficult
days for those who lost loved ones in afghanistan and for those who carry the wounds of war. especially now, we mourn those who made the ultimate sacrifice in afghanistan. let me say to their families and loved ones, our hearts are wish -- our hearts are with you. the u.s. military stands as one to honor those we have lost. afghan war veterans are not some monolith. i am hearing strong views from all sides on this issue. that is probably the way it should be. whats important is that each of us will work our way through this in our own way. we need to respect that and we need to give one another the time and space to help do it. our greatest asset as a nation is the extraordinary men and women who volunteered to keep us
all safe and their families. we honor your service, we understand your sacrifice and we will never forget it. with that, i will turn it over to general milley. >> good afternoon and thank you. i would like to give you an overall situation update as of today and what our next steps are. the united states military is focused on the specific mission of conducting an evacuation operation from afghanistan. this is likely to be probay the second largest -- conducted by the united states. our key tasks are to establish and maintain security at the kabul international airport. defendant the airport from attack. evacuate all american citizens from afghanistan who desire to leave this country. evacuate any third country national or allies and partners
as designated by the secry of state. evacuate personnel with state department designated special immigrant visits and evacuate any other evacuees that the state department designates. the president of the united states made a decision to withdraw u.s. forces from afghanistan on april 14. since that date, we conducted a deliberate and responsible drawdown of u.s. rces to less than 1000 with the specific task of securing the u.s. embassy and our diplomatic presence in afghanistan. since then, the security situation rapidly degraded. today, the situation is still very dangerous, very dynamic, and very fluid. all of us can be proud for the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines executing this mission. they are currently in harms way needs to be our focus. there will be plenty of time.
right now, our mission is to secure and defend that airfield and evacuate all of those who have been faithful to us. there will be many postmortems on this topic. right now is not that time. right now there are troops at risk. we fully intend to successfully evacuate all american citizens who want to get out of afghanistan. all american citizens who want to get out of afghanistan. they are priority number one. in addition, we intend to evacuate those who have been supporting us for years and we will not leave them behind. we will get out as many as possible. our troops are taking high-risk to accomplish that mission. every minute the troops are on the ground making difficult decisions with incredible skill, bravery, and valor. currently, the security situation at the airport is stable. there are threats and we are
closely monitoring those at any moment that it could happen. we can identify them. if we identify them, we will take immediate military action without hesitation in accordance with our rules of engagement. the taliban and every other organization in the country knows that. the taliban are in and around kabul right now, but they are not interfering with our operations. to the state department, the taliban are facilitating the safe passage to the airport for american citizens. that is u.s. passport holders. we also have a risk as you saw the other day of unarmed innocent civilians massing on that airfield where it became a safety hazard to our airplanes, crews, and of themselves. we have that under control inside the airfield. as many other risks out there, the troops are dealing with those every day in the volatile
environment which can and will change rapidly. let me make a comment on the intelligence. i am saying there are warnings of a rapid collapse. i have previously said from this podium and in sworn testimony before congress that the intelligence indicated multiple scenarios were possible. one of tse was an outright taliban takeover following a rapid collapse of the afghan security forces and the government. another was a civil war and a third was a negotiated settlement. however, the timeframe of a rapid collapse, that was widely estimated and it ranged from weeks to months and even years. following our departure. there was nothing that i or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and his government in 11 days. central command submitted a
variety of plans that were briefed and approved. by the joint chiefs, the secretary, and the president. these were coordinated, synchronized, and rehearsed to deal with these various scenarios. one those contingencies is what we are executing right now. as i said before, there's plenty of time to do -- the key lessons learned and to delve into these questions with great detail. right now is not that time. right now, we have to focus on this mission because we have soldiers at risk. we also have american citizens and afghans who supported us for 20 years at risk. this is personal. we will get them out. we in uniform have a deep commitment to this mission. let me give you an operational update. the security situation is currently secure at this time. since august 12, we have deployed two u.s. marine battalions.
one from the minnesota national guard. all three of those were pre-positioned in theater as part of the contingency planning. in addition, we alerted and deployed the 82nd division headquarters and a brigade consisting of three airborne infantry battalions and associated enablers. finally, there was a battalion from the 10th mountain division securing the u.s. embassy in kabul. we are operating on the ground with a variety of special operations forces. that in combination with the ground forces, we have some of the best soldiers and marines this -- the world has ever seen. there are 20 u.s. maneuver companies currently on the ground. with about 4500 troops and the flow continues. the president has authorized up to 6000. on top of them is the u.s. navy
and air force. we have multiple squadrons of f-18's, f-16s, b-52s, and other aircraft. we have a significant amount of aviation on the ground including attack and lift helicopters. in addition, we are working with allies and partners through our rifle companies along with british special forces. there is also a turkish security force and other international special ops forces. this force is capable of extracting significant amount of people on u.s. aircraft. right now, we are averaging 20 -- c-17's every 24 hours. weave the capability to increase that as the department of state makes evacuees available. as the secretary said, we have alreadyvacuated approximately 5000 people and we intend to increase that.
in addition to the military airflow, there is a variety of commercial and charter flights taking out evacuees on behalf of other countries. the military side of the airfield is open and the civilian side is ao open. we intend to keep them both open for military, commercial, and charter flights. one caveat on the civilian side is that the airframes have to come in by visual flight rules only. the state department is working to rapidly increase the flow of passengers available to get out on the aircraft and we are fully supporting them with our military personnel at the entrance gates. there is a number of unexpected challenges that wl likely continue to occur and we rely on the talent, skill, and training of our troops. we have great people on this mission. in addition to afghanistan, we
are also conducting humanitarian assistance in haiti in the aftermath of 7.2 magnitude earthquake with a significant loss of life. on the west coast, where fighting wildfires. as we reflect on these difficult and challenging times, every soldier, sailor, airman, marine, coast guardsmen who his thought or conducted operations should hold her head high -- hold their head high. for 20 years, we have prevented an attack on the u.s. homeland. 2448 lost lives. 20,722 were wounded in action. many others suffered the wounds of war. to each of them, i want you to know personally that your service mattered. as the secretary said, for both
he and i, this is personal. i know it is personal for each and every one of you. >> we will go to questions. >> i have a question for each. mr. secretary, you mentioned the urgencof wrapping up the pace of evacuations. you have a safe passage agreement with the taliban. in some cases, american citizens, afghans at risk who are being advised to go to the airport or unable to get in because of the taliban checkpoints. are you considering other ways that you can get around that problem by sending forces out beyond the airport to collect people and bring them into the airport? general, with the rapid collapse of afghan forces, there are large amounts of weaponry that are out there.
they were either surrended or abandoned by the afghan forces otherwise captured by the taliban. are there -- are you considering ways that you might destroy some of that equipment to avoid it falling into the hands of the taliban? >> in terms of whether or not we intend to send forces outside of the airfield to collect american citizens or afghans who are special immigrant visa applicants, the forces that we have are focused on security of the airfield. you know how important that is, and you know what happens if we lose the ability to provide that security. i don't want to detract from that. we have toake sure we can not only secure the airfield but defend it as well. there are a number of threats
still in the environment. i don't want to do anything to make the airfield less safe. we won't do that. we will continue to coordinate and d conflict with the taliban and it sure that those people that need to get to the airfield have the right credentials to ensure passage. the taliban has been checking those credentials that they have them. they have allowed them to pass. >> on the equipment, we have capabilities, but i would prefer not to discuss any operations other tn what we're doing right now in order to get the evacuation out and complete. there will be another time when we can discuss future operations. >> i would like to press both of you. general milley, you said that one of your steps is to evacuate
all american citizens from afghanistan who desire to leave. there are americans clearlyll over kabul. others and other parts of the country. how can the u.s., the pentagon li up to that task of evacuating all americans because we contie to see the violence just outside the airport and how would you get them around the country unless you go get them? >> two things. number one is state department is working with taban to facilitate safe passage of american citizens to the airport. that is the primary means and under the current conditions, that is the primary effort. we have the capabily to do other things. >> you also said there were international special rces that have the capability to extract and those suggest in the
military realm you would go get people. >> that would be a policy decision. >> i would draw a distinction between extracting someone in an extremist circumstance versus going out and colcting large numbers of american citizens. >> do you have the capability to go out and collect americans? >> not large numbers of people. >> you have 5000 u.s. military personnel on the ground securing the area. have small groups of taliban fighters outside who are holding up potentially the second largest -- you have the
capability to get there. how will you get this people inside so that they can get on airplanes? both of you have served in major command roles in afghanistan. did you not see the possibility that the afghan security forces were not up to this fight? >> we continue to work with the state department officials on the ground to improve the procedures at the entry points to make sure that we can speed up the process of getting people in and move them onward. the state is deploying more consular officers to help with that. >> that's the secretary of defense, lloyd austin. both men have been talking about
how the situation in afghanistan is personal for them and they have been outlining how the americans plan to get every u.s. national and afghanistan who wants to leave out of the thank you for watching. i will see you tomorrow. narrator: funding for this presentation of this program is provided by... narrator: financial services firm, raymond james. narrator: funding was also provided by, the freeman foundation. by judy and peter blum kovler foundation; puuing solutions for america's neglected needs. and by contributions to this pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ ♪ narrator: you're watching pbs. ♪ da-da-da-duh-da-da-da♪ ♪ da-da-da-da-da-da ♪♪
♪ ♪ narrator: funding for this presentation of this program is provided by... woman: architect. bee keeper. mentor. a raymond james financial advisor tailors advice to help you live your life. life well planned. narrator: funding was also provided by, the freeman foundation. by judy and peter blum kovler foundation; pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs.
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