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Taliban strategy saw ‘everybody’ get it wrong

Gen Sir Nick Carter, has hit back at suggestions from the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, that intelligence was flawed about the strength of the Taliban and insisted that ‘everybody got it wrong’ on the Taliban’s strategy.

Britain’s most senior military officer said that it was ‘entirely possible’ that the Afghan government wouldn’t hold on much longer after troops withdrew and that ‘many of the assessments’ that suggested it wouldn’t last the course of the year were ‘proven to be correct’.

Significant tensions have erupted over intelligence failures between the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has contrasted his department’s handling of the Afghanistan crisis with that of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had told MPs that he had believed the Afghan capital would remain safe until next year, backed by the prevailing intelligence assessment. Wallace said he first thought ‘the game was up’ in Afghanistan and the western-backed government would fall ‘back in July’.

Speaking to the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, Carter said: “There’s been a lot of talk about a failure of intelligence and all of that; the plain fact is, and I said to you on that programme when you interviewed me on 11 July, that there are a number of scenarios that could play out and one of them certainly would be a collapse and state fracture.

“It was the pace of it that surprised us and I don’t think we realised quite what the Taliban were up to. They weren’t really fighting for the cities they eventually captured, they were negotiating for them, and I think you’ll find a lot of money changed hands as they managed to buy off those who might have fought for them.”

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