During a Friday press conference, President Joe Biden blamed the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan on “a total demise of the Afghan national force” – which, he said, consists of “300 persons.”
Biden made the claim that the Afghan national force consists of 300 persons while he was fielding a reporter’s question about why the U.S. didn’t conduct the evacuation of Americans and their allies before starting to withdrawing troops:
Reporter: “Given the negotiations with the Taliban, the scenes that we’re seeing, can you just fully explain why the plan wasn't to go ahead with these evacuations of both Americans and allies before the drawdowns began, before Bagram was closed, looking back several months?
“Because, whether it was now or several months from now, there seems to be a broad consensus that the Taliban would make these gains and these would be needed, at some point.”
Pres. Biden: “Well, yeah, at some point. But the point was that, although we were in contact with the Taliban and Doha for this whole period of time, at some point, it wasn't expected to be a total demise of the Afghan national force – which is 300 persons.
“Let's assume the Afghan national force had continued to fight and they were surrounding Kabul. It would be a very different story. A different story.
“But, the overwhelming consensus was that this was, they were not going to collapse – the Afghan forces, they were not going to leave, they were not going to just abandon, to put down their arms and take off. So that's what happened. Thank you very, very much.”
According to a July 31, 2021 report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), there were 300,699 personnel in the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) – of which 182,071 served in the Ministry of Defense (MOD) – as of April 29 of this year:
“As of April 29, 2021, CSTC-A reported 300,699 ANDSF personnel (182,071 MOD and 118,628 MOI) biometrically enrolled and eligible for pay in the Afghan Personnel and Pay System (APPS). There are an additional 7,066 civilians (3,015 MOD and 4,051 MOI).115 Figure 2.33 shows that ANDSF total strength decreased slightly (2.3%) this quarter compared to last quarter, but included some 12,281 personnel (4.3%) more than a year ago.”
The 182,071 persons cited in the inspector general’s report is 606.9 times that of Biden’s claim of “300 persons.” Put another way, Biden’s estimate of the Afghan nation force is 0.16% of the inspector general’s number.
As Yahoo! News and The Washington Post have reported, Biden has previously claimed the Afghan force was approximately three hundred thousand, not three hundred, and may have been mistakenly citing the inspector general’s estimate of 300,699, which includes 118,628 employees of the Ministry of the Interior (MOI)