Flying Blind In Afghanistan


“But make no mistake: Our military and intelligence leaders are confident they have the capabilities to protect the homeland and our interests from any resurgent terrorist challenge emerging or emanating from Afghanistan.

We are developing a counterterrorism over-the-horizon capability that will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on any direct threats to the United States in the region, and act quickly and decisively if needed.”
Remarks by President Biden on the Drawdown of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan
JULY 08, 2021

The White House

It will come as no great surprise to anyone who has had to listen to Joe Biden’s incoherent ramblings for the last year, that none of what he said in July about our ability to control the growing terrorist threat in Afghanistan from “over the horizon” was true. There is no such capability. There will not be any such capability, and the threat is very, very real.

The Biden administration’s primary response to any and all national security threats is to pretend they do not exist. This has certainly been the case in regard to Afghanistan and the Taliban. The party line in the Biden administration is that the guys who just took control in Kabul, many of whom are members of officially designated international terrorist groups, are really kinder, gentler versions of their old selves – intent on gaining international acceptance and joining the club of civilized nations.

None of that is true, of course. The fall of Kabul marks the end of nothing for these gentlemen. It is simply another victory on the path to the establishment of a worldwide caliphate.

During a recent visit to the tomb of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi in Ghazni, Afghanistan, Anas Haqqani, the youngest son of the late Jalaluddin Haqqani and the brother of Taliban’s deputy leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, praised Ghaznavi as “a renowned Muslim warrior and Mujahid of the 10th century.” Ghaznavi invaded India 17 times, destroyed temples, stole everything that wasn’t nailed down, and returned each time with thousands of male and female slaves. Haqqani’s laudatory comments might provide a little bit of insight into the future intentions of Joe’s new kinder, gentler Islamic warriors.

Our capacity to monitor and control this growing menace from “over the horizon” is minimal.

The recent debacle in Kabul where a number of innocent civilians were killed by a U.S. drone strike highlights just how illusory are claims that we can somehow remotely monitor what is going on inside Afghanistan with any degree of precision. Hollywood loves to populate its action movies with scenes shot in fictional ops centers wherein personnel on the other side of the planet monitor in excruciating detail every movement of terrorist targets and enjoy a complete understanding of every event happening on the ground thousands of miles away.

Ops centers are real. The amount of information being fed into them is nowhere near as comprehensive and reliable as Hollywood would like you to believe. The drone circling a “target” thousands of feet in the air is at best showing you what it can see. There is a vehicle, similar to hundreds if not thousands in the immediate area on a street in a chaotic, rapidly changing environment. Items are being loaded into the trunk. They may be water jugs. They may be containers filled with high explosives. You have moments to decide and precious little else to go on. The call you make will decide the fate of dozens if not hundreds of individuals, many of them brave Americans oblivious to the threat they face.

Now apply those kinds of limitations to the strategic level. Drones and satellites can tell you there is a new training camp somewhere in the mountains of Afghanistan and give you some rough idea of the number of people there and the activities in which they are engaged. They are unlikely, against an adversary very well aware of our ability to intercept radio and internet communications, to tell you much of anything about what exactly the terrorists at this camp are planning or where they will strike.

We had a lot of pictures of Afghanistan prior to 9/11. They didn’t help.

Nor should we expect, that human intelligence will fill in the gaps in our remote collection. The Central Intelligence Agency was suffering from a severe case of bureaucratic hardening of the arteries when I retired some years ago. Since then, it has been infected by extreme politicization and condemned to management by individuals more focused on events in Washington, D.C. than in Kabul. The chances that this increasingly risk-averse organization can effectively run assets into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan are virtually nil.

The absence of any platform from which to run such operations only adds to the difficulty. Islamabad backed the Taliban. They won’t help us undermine it. The Iranians are most definitely not friends. The support of Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to the north will be problematic at best. They just watched us cut and run, and the Taliban are gathering strength by the day. It is not a good time to be labeled as a friend of the United States.

Joe can talk all he wants about “over the horizon” capabilities. They are as fanciful as his claims that inflation does not exist, vaccines will end COVID, or that Kamal Harris is in control of the border. Here is the reality. A terrorist superstate has been born in Afghanistan, and we are flying blind in regard to its intentions.