Poor planning by the U.S. military before the ‘abrupt’ Afghanistan withdrawal led to the rapid collapse of the Western-backed government as the Taliban overran the country in August 2021, a damning new watchdog report has said.
The scathing analysis by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found the American decision to pull out ‘destroyed the morale of the Afghan National Security Force (ANDSF), and the 300,000 local troops were destined to fail without U.S. support.
It also details the more than $7 billion in weapons and equipment left for the Taliban to use, and the widespread corruption that dominated the Afghan military and government.
The withdrawal was ‘abrupt and uncoordinated’ and gave war-ravaged locals the impression that the U.S. was ‘simply handing Afghanistan over to a Taliban government-in-waiting’, it continued.
The report also criticized the failure to create ‘an independent and self-sustainable’ Afghan security force, despite 20 years and $90 billion of support from the U.S., and blamed both President Biden and President Trump for the bedlam.
Poor planning by the U.S. military before the withdrawal from Afghanistan and a lack of oversight contributed to the rapid collapse of the government as the Taliban overran the country in August 2021, a damning new watchdog report has said
Seventeen months ago, the world watched in horror as Afghans desperately tried to flee on flights from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai’s International Airport before the final Western troops left.
Horrifying videos showed evacuees clinging onto the outside of planes – causing some to fall – so they could escape the regime that was closing on the capital.
The chaos meant thousands, including locals who helped fight the war, were left behind as the U.S. withdrew as the Taliban ran rampant.
Just two months earlier, Biden had insisted that the militant takeover of Afghanistan was ‘not inevitable’.
‘Together, with our NATO allies and partners, we have trained and equipped nearly 300,000 current serving members of the military, of the Afghan National Security Force, and many beyond that who are no longer serving’, he told reporters.
‘We provided our Afghan partners with all the tools — let me emphasize: all the tools, training, and equipment of any modern military,’ he added.
‘We provided advanced weaponry. And we’re going to continue to provide funding and equipment. And we’ll ensure they have the capacity to maintain their air force.’
But the SIGAR report laid bare the holes in his assessment, and painted the picture of Afghan security forces that threw down their weapons and weren’t prepared for the Taliban onslaught.
Nearly $7.2billion of aircraft, guns, vehicles, ammunition and specialized equipment such as night-vision goggles and biometric devices were also abandoned when U.S. forces withdrew, the report states.
This includes at least 78 aircraft worth $923.3million, 9,524 air-to-ground munitions that cost $6.54 million, more than 40,000- vehicles, more than 30,000 weapons and nearly all electronic equipment.
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko warned that it is ‘likely unavoidable’ that some of the weapons may end up on the black market ‘given the ongoing conflict and the unprecedented volume of weapons being transferred to Ukraine’.
Among the damning revelations was also the fact that U.S. forces often handled tasks they were supposed to train Afghan forces to do.
It meant the local troops were underprepared, while the American military created an illusion of success.
The ‘sense of abandonment’ felt by Afghan forces was sparked by Trump’s 2020 peace deal with the Taliban to start bringing troops home, SIGAR stated in the report.
A Taliban fighter takes a picture of a damaged MD 530 helicopter that was abandoned at Kabul airport by retreating troops
The withdrawal was ‘abrupt and uncoordinated’ and gave war-ravaged locals the impression that the U.S. was ‘simply handing Afghanistan over to a Taliban government-in-waiting’, teh report continues. Members of the Taliban are pictured celebrating a victory in March 2020
The ANDSF had relied on the U.S. for making sure their salaries were paid, but the 2020 agreement ‘made it clear that this was no longer the case’.
There was also a significant drop in U.S. airstrikes, and local security forces lacked the ‘professional military sophistication and leadership’ to replicate them.
‘Because U.S. troops were far more effective at fighting, they often led missions or filled critical gaps in missions — providing close air support, airstrikes, medical evacuation, logistics, and intelligence gathering — at the expense of the ANDSF gaining experience fighting on its own,’ the report says.
‘As a result, the ANDSF became overly reliant on borrowed capabilities.
SIGAR also claimed that the Pentagon did not cooperate fully with the investigation.
The Pentagon insisted that it did cooperate, and disputed some of the findings.
Army Lieutenant Colonel Rob Lodewick, the Pentagon’s Afghanistan spokesman, told DailyMail.com: ‘The Department of Defense is well aware of SIGAR’s recent report seeking to determine the factors that led to the collapse of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).
‘Since SIGAR’s inception, DoD has contributed to and facilitated their work- a fact the report echoes in its opening pages.
‘DoD again contributed to this report and provided responses to SIGAR’s requests for information.
‘While we take exception to SIGAR’s assertions of non-cooperation, and address them accordingly in our official response in Appendix II, the Department will continue to facilitate SIGAR’s work moving forward for security and defense related matters concerning Afghanistan.
The investigation submitted to Congress has sparked more calls from Republicans investigating the lead-up to the withdrawal and oversight of the enormous financial backing the U.S. gave the Afghan government.
Republican Rep. James Comer, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman, told DailyMail.com: ‘The Biden Administration was tragically unprepared for the Afghanistan withdrawal and their decisions in the region directly resulted in a national security and human catastrophe.
‘We are appreciative of SIGAR for completing this report at the request of the House Oversight Committee.
‘SIGAR’s insights into the collapse of the Afghan Security Forces will provide help to policy makers for years to come.
‘However, it is a shame that the Biden Administration stalled and delayed SIGAR’s completion of this report by not being responsive to inquiries in a timely fashion.
‘What do DOD, State, USAID, and Treasury have to hide from the American people when it comes to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan? Oversight Republicans are determined to provide answers.’
Taliban forces showed off their new military hardware during a victory parade in Kandahar last September as they celebrated the retreat of U.S. forces and their capture of Afghanistan
A Taliban fighter poses with a US-made Afghan air force Blackhawk helicopter at Kandahar airfield in August last year, as weapons fell into the hands of the country’s new rulers
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