• Somebody is in Trouble Over Afghanistan

    January 3, 2024

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Biden, Democracy, Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    Boy oh boy, if anyone looks seriously into the end game in Afghanistan is somebody gonna be in trouble. See, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) the collapse of the Afghan army and government was mostly our own fault. No dessert for you!

    You remember the war in Afghanistan, don’t you? Anyone? Bueller? See it was America’s longest war, stretching from 2001 until 2021, long enough that soldiers who deployed near the end had not even been born when it all started. Now that’s a war! The thing is, the war accomplished nothing in its 20 years. The situation on the ground — Taliban in charge, open territory for any terrorist needing an AirBnB — is pretty much status quo September 2001 except it is now 2024.

    And now it turns out that’s mostly our fault. SIGAR released its reportCollapse of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces: An Assessment of the Factors That Led to Its Demise. It posits two major factors that lead to the demise: unclear U.S. war aims, and corruption and mismanagement on the part of the Afghan government created, advised, and funded by the U.S. (so that’s sorta on us, too.) General James Mattis, who served as Mad Dog,  head of Central Command from 2010 to 2013, and as Secretary of Defense from 2017 to 2018, told SIGAR, “The lack of political clarity on ends, ways, and means meant we were always wondering if we were still going to be here next year. Were we going to be funded next year? We weren’t sure whether to attack, retreat or go sideways.”

    SIGAR found that the single most important factor in the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces’ (ANDSF) collapse in August 2021 was the decision by two U.S. presidents to withdraw U.S. military and contractors from Afghanistan, while Afghan forces remained unable to sustain themselves. One former U.S. commander in Afghanistan told SIGAR, “We built that army to run on contractor support. Without it, it can’t function. When the contractors pulled out, it was like we pulled all the sticks out of the jenga pile and expected it to stay up.” The sad-great thing about those quotes is that they could have been applied at most any point in the 20 year war. Lack of political clarity? It was a couple of years into the war itself before anyone knew the reason for the war (it turned out to be “terrorism.”) An unstainable Afghan military? Maybe someone could point out where in say year 16 the army was sustainable. Boy, heads are gonna roll over that one! All we need to do is find out who was responsible for creating a sustainable army and political clarity and roast ’em.

    The other factor which contributed to the demise of the Afghan army was the last-minute wholesale restructuring of Afghanistan’s security institutions. In 2021, amid rapidly deteriorating security, President Ghani reshuffled most of his security officials, often replacing them with fellow ethnic Pashtuns. These leadership changes were part of a broader pattern of politicization and ethnicization (in favor of Pashtuns) of the security sector in the final years of the Ghani administration.

    One analyst told SIGAR, “Districts collapsed not because of the army, but because of that restructuring that happened and the fact that none of [the replacement police chiefs] had connections” at the district level. He claimed it was the police that did most of the fighting in the final 18 months, not the army. By undermining the morale and political legitimacy of the police, this restructuring directly contributed to the collapse in August 2021. Ethnic competition between Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns was likely the single biggest source of dysfunction within the ANDSF. But some former Afghan officials described other types of friction. One former MOD official described competition between the younger and older generation of officers, between the jihadis and the professional officers, and between ethnicities. All these issues distracted from the fight, he said. Now, see, someone on the American side should have been watching for that!

    This strategic level mismanagement had a direct effect in the field. “Overnight, 98 percent of U.S. air strikes had ceased… the Doha agreement’s psychological implication was so great that the average Afghan soldier felt this idea of abandonment… U.S. soldiers were confused about what to engage and what to not. On an hourly basis, the U.S. military had to coordinate with the Doha office of Ambassador Khalilzad and others from the State Department to get clarification on what they could do,” said one former Afghan Army corps commander. “They [U.S. partners] said it was not right, but they have to follow orders. They would see the Taliban attacking our checkpoints. They would have videos of the Taliban doing it. But they would say we are not able to engage, because we have limitations. There was also so much concern about civilians, which gave the Taliban an advantage,” explained a former Afghan Army General.

    According to an senior Afghan official, it was not until President Biden’s April 2021, announcement of the final troop and contractor withdrawal date that Afghan President Ghani’s inner circle said they realized that the ANDSF had no supply and logistics capability. Although the Afghan government had operated in this way for nearly 20 years, their realization came only four months before its collapse.

    Then there was the lack of coordination between the U.S. and the Afghan governments as the Americans negotiating in Doha cut their own deals with the Taliban to enable a quick exit. One former Afghan government official told SIGAR that following the U.S.-Taliban agreement, President Ghani began to suspect that the United States wanted to remove him from power.  That official and a former Afghan general believed Ghani feared a military coup.  According to the general, Ghani became a “paranoid president… afraid of his own countrymen” and of U.S.-trained Afghan officers. According to a former Afghan general, in the week before Kabul fell, President Ghani replaced the new generation of young U.S.-trained Afghan officers with an old guard of Communist generals in almost all of the army corps. Ghani, that general said, was “changing commanders constantly [to] bring back some of the old-school Communist generals who [he] saw as loyal to him, instead of these American-trained young officers who he [mostly] feared.”

    Afghan officials, largely removed from the negotiations, struggled most of all to understand what the United States had agreed to with the Taliban. According to Afghan government officials, the U.S. military never clearly communicated the specifics of its policy changes to the Ghani administration. According to a former Afghan general, in a broad sense, the U.S. military took on the role of a referee and watched the Afghan government and Taliban fight, something the general referred to as “a sick game.” According to that general, Afghan troops had not only lost U.S. support for offensive operations, they no longer knew if or when U.S. forces would come to their defense. U.S. inaction fueled mistrust among the ANDSF toward the United States and their own government. The Taliban’s operations and tactics, however, suggested that they may have had a better understanding of new levels of support the United States was willing to provide to the ANDSF following the signing of the U.S.-Taliban agreement. For example, under the U.S.-Taliban agreement’s rules, U.S. aircraft could not target the Taliban groups that were waiting more than 500 meters away—the groups “beyond the contact” that would engage in the second, third, or fourth wave to defeat the last ANDSF units. A senior Afghan official said this was a loophole that the Taliban used in their targeting to their advantage.

    SIGAR’s sad conclusion to the report could have been written at any point, including in 1968. “The U.S. approach to reconstructing the ANDSF lacked the political will to dedicate the time and resources necessary to reconstruct an entire security sector in a war-torn and impoverished country. As a result, the U.S. created an ANDSF that could not operate independently, milestones for ANDSF capability development were unrealistic, and the eventual collapse of the ANDSF was predictable. After 20 years of training and development, the ANDSF never became a cohesive, substantive force capable of operating on its own. The U.S. and Afghan governments share in the blame. Neither side appeared to have the political commitment to doing what it would take to address the challenges, including devoting the time and resources necessary to develop a professional ANDSF, a multi-generational process. In essence, U.S. and Afghan efforts to cultivate an effective and sustainable security assistance sector were likely to fail from the beginning.”

    “Likely to fail from the beginning” is a helluva epitaph for U.S. policy in Afghanistan. If only SIGAR could find the guys responsible, we might avoid another round in Ukraine, where our policy depends on another U.S. patsy leader whose army is now totally dependent on U.S. funding, supplies, and advisement in a war that cannot be won, only sustained at great expense.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      Was there a war? Last time I checked Afghans didn’t attack US or threaten our national security. From 2001 to 2021, the US used Afghanistan as a market for our weapons of death and Afghans used US as a market for their weapon of death- heroin. After the US left Afghanistan, heroin production fell 95 percent. There are no coincidences.

      Persistent reports indicate the CIA has fostered heroin production in Afghanistan for decades to finance operations aimed at containing the spread of communism, and later to finance operations aimed at containing the spread of the Islamic state. The CIA protects local warlords and incentivizes them to become drug lords. CIA has complicity in the global drug trade in Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, Central America, and Colombia, arguing that the CIA follows a similar pattern in all their drug involvement.

      Put that in your SIGAR and smoke it.

      01/3/24 9:12 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      2

      First of all I’m a little miffed that my email will not be published along with my social security number, credit card and all my HIPPI info. What would I be afraid of?
      OK Bauer- maybe we see eye to eye on what type of human dreams of being a CIA agent-a person with clear genetic abnormalities. There is no point in screening for such abnormalities since those running the CIA have those abnormalities and certainly won’t flag anyone for sharing them.

      01/4/24 10:33 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      3

      Afghan Heroin not just an American Holocaust

      From 1999 to 2020, heroin drug overdoses in the US caused 1,013,852 deaths. The rates increased 4.4 times from 6.9 per 100,000 in 1999 to 30 per 100,000 in 2020. In Canada, Afghan heroin was cited in 90 percent of drug overdoses, In Europe, Afghan heroin was cited in 80 percent of overdoses. $352 billion from Afghan heroin smuggling was deposited in international banking system.

      How could so many not see the problem? HH.

      01/4/24 4:45 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      4

      If the Dumbass Americans seriously looked into the end game in Afghanistan and Iraq, they would see there is no end to the MIC game, which is war is a racket. Like the Germans who went along with the Nazis, they did not see because the Nazis paid so well.

      01/6/24 10:41 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      5

      War on the Home Front: Somebody is in trouble on the Fifth

      Donnie Diapers said he could shoot someone on Fifth Ave and get away with it. Will DD give Bad Boy Biden the smoking gun if he wins his presidense Immunity ruling with his Repug Supremes?

      New York is not a friendly place for DD as he is getting killed in court. It would be ironic if DD created his destiny by invoking immunity for Presidense. Imagine a Presidense accuses DD of selling nuclear secrets to Putin. DD would take the Fifth, hoping to last the race. But they shoot horses, don’t they?

      01/7/24 1:12 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      6

      ..”the war accomplished nothing in its 20 years.”

      Really? Compare defense stocks performance versus the S&P 500 since 2009. Haven’t you been checking your 401k portfolio?

      01/8/24 10:50 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      7

      Donnie Diapers Prison Cult Cam

      Given DD has stooped to making merch off his Mugshot, he is reportedly working on a prison webcam offer that his cult can pay to see him 24/7. For $19.99 a day DD cult members can watch the Chosen One go about surviving in prison. As DD is facing ruinous fines, he will need his cult to cough up the big bucks. The program will be x-rated as he also plans to service his fellow prisoners for a fee. DD also thinks a 24/7 webcam would be a good idea to prevent someone Epstein-ing him while the guards are asleep.

      01/8/24 4:16 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      8

      US Court okayed Demented Donnie’s request for immunity. As a result, Joe Biden immediately ordered Seal Team Six to assassinate Donald Trump, Republican members of Congress, five Supreme Court members, the biggest GOP donors and then announced he would quit immediately before Congress could impeach him

      As a result of the immunity ruling today there is absolutely no way to hold Biden accountable for killing his opponents. And you thought only Abraham Lincoln knew how to handle an insurrection.

      01/9/24 10:54 AM | Comment Link

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