Exclusive: Ex-Trump aide lays out Afghan withdrawal plan that Biden scrapped

Trump's overarching theme was a conditions-based withdrawal from Afghanistan, Kash Patel says.

Published: August 19, 2021 9:11pm

Updated: August 19, 2021 11:04pm

The Biden administration ignored or jettisoned carefully designed plans to withdraw from Afghanistan, with the result being chaos and bedlam, a former national security official to President Donald Trump said.

"I don't even know that anyone could have made this awful scenario up," former National Security Council Senior Director Kash Patel told Just the News. "It's literally worse than you could possibly conjure."

Patel, who handled the Pentagon transition to Biden’s team as chief of staff to Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, made his remarks while appearing Thursday on the John Solomon Reports podcast.

The Biden team has failed to prepare for evacuating American citizens and Afghans who helped the U.S. government, Patel said, and has allowed other important issues to founder.

"There's no plan to secure our weaponry or machinery, we're just giving it over to terrorists," Patel said. "And there's no plan to secure a Kabul International Airport so that at least flights can get in and out."

Careful plans, though, already were laid out by the Trump administration, and were offered to Team Biden, Patel said. 

The overarching theme was a conditions-based withdrawal, whereby the U.S. military would leave Afghanistan in increments if the Taliban met clear conditions, according to Patel. Among other things, the Taliban were required to reject and repudiate Al Qaeda, and would have to negotiate in good faith. The U.S. would also maintain a special operations contingent in place, and would retain the capacity to launch air strikes under specific circumstances.

The Trump plan included retaining control of Bagram Air Base until all Americans were withdrawn from Afghanistan. A large, sprawling site, Bagram has multiple airfields and other facilities that safely can handle significant amounts of traffic and also host a large population.

Handing control of Bagram to Afghanistan set up the sequence of events that saw the Taliban seize the facility, Patel said.

"We would not have ever relinquished control of Bagram Airfield, because that is our command and control node for the entire region," Patel said. "And that's where we would fly in and out securely." 

Bagram also was home to a prison where the U.S. held accused terrorists who were set to be prosecuted. Among them were alleged senior Al Qaeda operatives. The Taliban released thousands of prisoners who were considered to be a high threat to the West. 

The U.S. never planned simply to release those prisoners. 

"We were working with allies and partners to prosecute them either in America or prosecute them in their home countries of origin as we successfully did under President Trump," Patel said. The prosecutions take time, he said. "We had a plan in place and we were doing it. Releasing terrorists is never an option. It was never an option under President Trump," Patel said. 

The overall arrangement under Trump included a robust air presence, with armed and unarmed aircraft and drones to collect intelligence or launch air strikes. That plan, too, appears to have been jettisoned, the former security official said.

In a war zone, the U.S. always is ready to enact pre-established procedures to evacuate Americans, their local allies, and their families. The situation in Kabul, particularly at the airport, where humanitarian crises were on full display, stems from a lack of proper planning, Patel said. 

"The only way you are surprised by this sort of situation is if you don't plan for it, if you don't prepare for it," he said.

"We lost not one American casualty under President Trump's conditions based withdrawal. Look at the chaos and death that is occurring now under Biden's [so-called] plan for Afghanistan."

People on the ground inside Kabul and the airport told Just the News on Thursday that the situation continues to be both chaotic and dangerous.

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