September 25, 2021

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Afghanistan. Americans’ investment in the military there, worth $88 billion, has just vanished

  • The US Department of Defense believed until the last moment that the Afghan government armed forces would resist the Taliban, but they surrendered almost without a fight
  • For several years, the Pentagon has been hiding real data about the “building, training, equipment, and maintenance” of Afghan government forces.
  • It was difficult to achieve a state of high combat readiness, since there was a rotation of 30% of recruits every year, either due to injuries or desertions.
  • With the Americans gone, government forces were stripped of air support and trained to fend off a conventional attack from abroad rather than partisan warfare.
  • Official Corruption Report: There are “false profiles used by corrupt officials to collect salaries for the dead in the military and police.”

Original article on POLITICO.com

The astonishing failure to put together a cohesive and independent Afghan army may be due to years of over-optimistic assessments by the US bureaucracy that withheld – and in some cases deliberately concealed – evidence of deeply entrenched corruption, low morale, and even “dead souls” or soldiers who were present. Only on the payroll of the Afghan Ministry of Defense and the Afghan Ministry of Interior.

Besides, even those Afghan forces who bravely faced a powerful enemy, and suffered huge losses, could not operate without technically advanced air and ground support from foreign allies, experts know the matter.

How do you make Afghans fight for themselves? Senator Joni Earnest (R-Iowa) recently warned Senator Joni Earnest, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and member of the Senate Committee on the Armed Forces, who opposes withdrawing US troops, that may never happen.

Earnest, who has taken note of the course on several occasions, said the Americans in charge were “optimistic.”

“Special ops has done really well,” she said in an interview. – But only when the Americans advised and helped them.

After a crushing and crossing attack, the Taliban fighters captured Kabul, after attacking from all directions A new interim government will be formed.

And the US Department of Defense (Pentagon) sent 3,000 soldiers to Kabul to evacuate US diplomats who were instructed on Friday to destroy confidential government documents before fleeing.

“We want to see the necessary political will and leadership and military leadership on the ground,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Friday. We still want to see it and hope to see it, but whether or not it happens, and whether it works or not, the decision is really up to the Afghans themselves.

He also referred to the “Afghan force,” noting its superiority in numbers and the fact that the Taliban lack air power.

Two days later, all that optimism is shattered, and as Afghans now learn tragically, the numbers on paper turn out to be deceptive.

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incomplete picture

Afghan security forces have grown significantly over the past two decades – from just 6,000 in the Ministry of Defense and the absence of a state police force in 2003, to 182,000. 071 and 118 thousand. 628, respectively, in April 2021, according to the latest Pentagon data.

However, as the armed forces expanded, so did the claims of their combat prowess.

A US military commander boasted a decade ago that the Afghan army “fought with skill and courage”. His successor said in 2015 that they were “proving increasingly fit”. Just last month, a Pentagon spokesman insisted that Afghan forces “know how to defend their country.”

However, evidence that government forces were unwilling to engage in any conflict is often overlooked in public testimony or simply classified as secret.

Beginning in 2015, the Pentagon began hiding some data on Afghan forces from the public, which the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction described at the time as “unprecedented.”

The independent watchdog said it was “unable to publicly report on most of the activities US taxpayers fund to build, train, equip and maintain” Afghan forces.

The Pentagon has relaxed some data limitations, but as of 2017, much of the previously available information about the size, strength, and casualty rates of Afghan military units has remained classified.

In a report to Congress on July 30, the special inspector general said that US forces “continued withholding detailed information on casualties of the Afghan National Defense Forces,” the acronym for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, and that some information was simply no longer available. , including the “operational performance” of Afghan forces, maintenance data, and “the impact of COVID-19 on recruitment and ANDSF losses.”

The Pentagon’s ambiguity, though perhaps defensible on security grounds, has led to a misunderstanding about how quickly these forces can succumb to Taliban pressure.

“Efforts to reduce public information have contributed to a widespread misunderstanding of the extent of the unpreparedness of Afghan security forces,” said Stephen Fargood, a project manager investigating secret government activities at the Federation of American Scientists, which tracks non-disclosure of information. “It should itself be a red flag, because if they’re prepared and highly competent, it’s something you don’t want to keep a secret.

The truth is in the fore

But for years there have been indications that these more optimistic assessments do not reflect the situation on the ground.

In each army, infantry units struggle with a large turnover of soldiers, but this is especially true of the Afghans, who from the very beginning had a problem with soldiers leaving their posts for various reasons, from harvest time, to combat losses, to desertion. The high ripple rate resulted in inconsistency.

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said Mike Jason, a retired colonel who commanded training units in Afghanistan.

The mighty Taliban movement has also taken a heavy toll in recent years. “It took a heavy toll on the Afghan army and they had to start from scratch with many recruits,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a military expert at the Brookings Institution who has made several research trips to assess progress in the NATO training effort. Roughly every year they were losing 20 or 30 percent to either injuries or desertions.

As for the Afghan Air Force, which was trained by the United States, the Americans are still carrying out dozens of bombing missions to support the Afghan army.

And a handful of aging helicopters and attack helicopters with so few spares could do so little, and the Air Force could barely respond to the many battles that took place across the country.

In turn, the poor performance of the Afghan Air Force forced the army to flee, said a former high-ranking US military commander in Afghanistan, who requested anonymity.

“After two or three days of fighting, when they were attacked in various locations across the country, they realized that the Afghan Air Force would not provide meals, supplies, medical aid or air support,” the commander said, referring to the medical evacuation. . I warned about this months ago, especially when we retired our maintenance personnel who kept advanced US-supplied systems operating.

The direction of training is wrong

Some also consider the original concept of the training program to be flawed.

Mark Jacobson, a former Pentagon official and war veteran who was a high-ranking NATO official in Afghanistan, believes there has been a lot more focus on preparing the Afghan army to fend off a foreign army rather than a local insurgency like the Taliban.

“We have failed to create an Afghan army in our image,” he said in an interview. – We tried to create battalions and brigades, and it was necessary to create an army and police force that would be essentially special forces designed specifically to defeat the insurgency, and not to defend the Afghan border against conventional external attacks.

Retired Gen. Joseph Votel, a retired US general in the Middle East from 2016-2019, said the Afghans’ inability to maintain the line is also just a geographic function.

“You have a lot of power away from the capital, and a lot of them are spread out in smaller locations that are easy to isolate and isolate,” he said in an interview. – It’s hard to make them stronger.

This also means that the most effective Afghan units, which by definition can only engage in one battle at a time, are heavily loaded.

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However, the problems are also of a more systematic nature. In its July report to Congress, the special body overseeing Afghanistan’s reconstruction, appointed by the US government, cited the “devastating effects of corruption” on units, as well as the “questionable accuracy of data regarding the actual capacity of the armed forces” and the inability to assess “Intangible factors” such as “fighting the will.”

Emphasizing the continuing impact of corruption on manpower, for example, cases such as “false profiles used by corrupt officials to get paid” for both “dead souls in the military and police” were cited.

America left them alone

Others who took part in the training believe that the events of recent days are largely the result of the United States leaving Afghans out in the cold.

said Kimberly Kagan, president of the Institute for the Studies of War, which was a member of the Strategic Assessment Group for then-US commander General Stanley McChrystal.

“The abandonment of Afghanistan by the United States and its allies has fundamentally changed the Taliban’s ability to accelerate the campaign to occupy its territory,” and in the process “destroyed the confidence” of Afghan security forces, she said.

O’Hanlon, who served as an informal advisor to American leaders, agreed that “one of the problems is simply that no one expected such a sudden decline.”

“We always assumed that the withdrawal or departure would take between 12 and 24 months, which would allow some changes to be made,” he said.

In his opinion, the rapid withdrawal of the United States and NATO had a significant impact on the ranks and file of Afghanistan. “Anyone who thought about how difficult it was to fight in defense of the government decided that he was no longer wondering, but laying down his arms and either negotiating with the Taliban or merging with the Horde.”

However, many others insist that continuing combat readiness problems are unlikely to be resolved with more US training and financial assistance.

“Afghan forces are struggling with low levels of control, poor leadership, under-recruiting, desertions and poor performance on the battlefield,” said Neha Dwivedi, an analyst with defense and intelligence consultancy Janes. While the Afghan security forces boast sophisticated and technologically advanced weapons, they suffer from a lack of cohesion, corruption and mismanagement.

“On the other hand, the Taliban do not have high-tech weapons, but they appear financially stable in a stable and cohesive group,” she added.

Editing: Mishaw Bronatowski