Head of the Armed Forces slaps down Dominic Raab over claim military intelligence failed in Afghanistan as Foreign Secretary’s popularity plummets among Tory grassroots
- General Sir Nick Carter denied that UK military intelligence failed in Afghanistan
- He said some assessments suggested that Kabul would fall to Taliban this year
- Dominic Raab had said the central assessment was Kabul would not fall in 2021
The head of the UK’s armed forces today took a swipe at Dominic Raab as he denied there was a failure of military intelligence in Afghanistan.
General Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said ‘everybody got it wrong’ over the pace of the Taliban takeover in the country.
But he said ‘many of the assessments’ suggested the Afghan government ‘wouldn’t last the course of the year’.
His comments will be seen as a rebuke to the Foreign Secretary who told MPs last week that the Government’s central assessment was that it was ‘unlikely’ Kabul would fall in 2021.
Mr Raab has faced criticism over his handling of the Afghanistan crisis, with his political opponents having claimed he was ‘missing in action’.
A new Conservative Home poll of Tory party members has now suggested his popularity has taken a major hit.
The Foreign Secretary was third from top in the website’s Cabinet League Table last month, with a net satisfaction rating of 73 per cent.
But he has now dropped 21 places to fourth from bottom, with a rating of just plus six per cent.
General Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said ‘everybody got it wrong’ over the pace of the Taliban takeover in the country but denied military intelligence had failed
Dominic Raab told MPs last week that the Government’s central assessment was that it was ‘unlikely’ Kabul would fall in 2021
Under questioning from MPs last week, Mr Raab suggested the intelligence was wrong on how quickly the Taliban would take Kabul, which fell on August 15.
He told an emergency session of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that the ‘central assessment’ from the military was a ‘steady deterioration’ after troops withdrew in August and ‘it was unlikely Kabul would fall this year’.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace countered the remarks by claiming that he had argued in July that the ‘game is up’ in Afghanistan and suggested ‘it’s not about failure of intelligence, it’s about the limits of intelligence’.
Sir Nick was asked during an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show if he believed the military intelligence was wrong.
Referring to an interview he gave in July, he replied: ‘No. I think the first scenario I think I also would have said that it was entirely possible that the government wouldn’t hold on for that much longer and indeed many of the assessments suggested that it wouldn’t last the course of the year and of course that has proven to be correct.’
Asked if he believed Mr Raab was therefore wrong in his suggestion, Sir Nick said: ‘The fact of the matter is is that it is not purely about military intelligence.
‘The way it works in this country is we have the joint intelligence committee which sits inside the Cabinet Office so what they do is pull together the sources from the Ministry of Defence and of course from the Foreign Office, the inter-agencies and the secret intelligence services and of course wider open source material.
‘So it is really a much broader thing than just strictly military intelligence.’
Sir Nick said ‘everybody got it wrong’ on the speed of the Taliban advance and ‘even the Taliban didn’t expect things to change as quickly as they did’.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had claimed he argued in July that the ‘game is up’ in Afghanistan
He said: ‘I think there has 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 July 11, 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 were 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 them.’
Sir Nick said the Taliban is now the victim of ‘catastrophic success’ because the group was ‘not expecting to be in government as quickly as they have appeared’ and now must figure out how to run a country.
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