Austin: Afghan army collapse 'took us all by surprise'

"The fact that the Afghan army we and our partners trained simply melted away - in many cases without firing a shot - took us all by surprise," Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"It would be dishonest to claim otherwise."

Austin spoke at the start of what are expected to be some of the most contentious hearings in memory over the chaotic end to the war in Afghanistan, which cost the lives of U.S. troops and civilians and left the Taliban back in power.

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