For Immediate Release
August 19, 2021
DENVER, CO – As the Taliban swept across Afghanistan last Friday, Senator Michael Bennet told the Colorado Sun that the Afghan Army was collapsing despite totaling over 300,000 people.
“The reality is we’ve been there for 20 years and the Taliban is stronger today than it was in 2001,” Bennet said. “The Afghan Army is more than 300,000 people and the Taliban is less than a third of the size than that army and it was winning.”
This claim, repeated by President Joe Biden over the last several days, has been thoroughly debunked by fact checkers.
The Washington Post gave a far more broad claim from Biden that the Afghan Security Forces totaled over 300,000 people three pinocchios.
This is an inflated number. The president is including police forces, which are not part of the military and have often heightened insecurity with their tactics. Even among the active military, there is high turnover and only a small core of professionals which could be expected to fight professionally against the Taliban. In other words, the number is not 300,000 — and probably not even 30,000.
By repeatedly using this figure, the president is misleading Americans about the capabilities of the Afghan military — which has now demonstrated it could not defend Afghanistan from the Taliban offensive. He does not quite earn Four Pinocchios because “security forces” sometimes is broadly defined to include the police. But it’s close, especially when making a ridiculous comparison to the militaries of NATO allies.
In contrast, Bennet claimed specifically to the Sun that the Afghan Army totaled over 300,000 people.
A Pentagon Inspector General report released July 30th showed that the Afghan Army totaled just 182,000 soldiers as of last April. As the Washington Post wrote, in reality the true strength of the Afghan Army was likely far lower than that.
Bennet sits on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.
If you are covering Bennet’s comments on Afghanistan please consider the following statement from Compass Colorado.
“Michael Bennet lied to the public about the strength of the Afghan Army,” said Compass Colorado Executive Director Kyle Kohli.
“As a member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, the fact Bennet misrepresented the strength of the Afghan Army as the country collapsed is incredibly alarming.
“With thousands of Americans now stuck behind Taliban lines, Bennet needs to explain why he tried to cover up the Biden administration’s lies and incompetence.”