Report on Afghan Withdrawal Details the Spectacular Failings of the Biden Administration


The Afghanistan debacle was 20 years in the making and involved four presidential administrations. But the pivotal last two years of U.S. assistance to Afghanistan proved decisive in creating the conditions that led to the fall of the U.S.-backed government and the loss of $7 billion in military equipment to the Taliban.

That’s the conclusion of a congressionally mandated report released on Monday by the special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

The last two administrations that oversaw U.S. support to Afghanistan come in for the lion’s share of the blame. Specifically, the IG pointed to the ill-advised Doha Agreement, where the U.S. pledged to withdraw American troops and contractors from the country in exchange for guarantees to the government of Afghanistan from the Taliban.

Related: Who Is Sending Mad Stacks of U.S. Hundred-Dollar Bills to the Taliban?

Those guarantees were given by one faction of the Taliban. This allowed other factions to ignore any deal made with the U.S. and set in motion a series of events that ultimately led to the Taliban victory.

But it was Biden’s weak support for the agreement that ultimately doomed it. “The character of the withdrawal left many Afghans with the impression that the U.S. was simply handing Afghanistan over to a Taliban government-in-waiting,” the report said.

Biden did nothing to dissuade the Afghans that their interpretation was incorrect. In the end, “it was the Biden administration’s ‘abrupt’ and ‘uncoordinated’ exit from Afghanistan that contributed to the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country in August 2021,” according to the Free Beacon’s Ben Wilson.

Wall Street Journal:

The Afghan forces were dependent on U.S. contractors for support, including supply and maintenance, and when the U.S. pulled those personnel from the country in June 2021, the Afghans abruptly lost those capabilities, according to the inspector general.

“Even the U.S. military underestimated the significance of pulling contractor support in Afghanistan,” the report said.

Among other issues cited in the report is that at least $7.2 billion of military equipment—a number that hasn’t been previously reported—including aircraft, missiles, communications gear, and biometric devices that were left behind under Taliban control in August 2021. The final tally of military equipment abandoned in Afghanistan can’t be confirmed, in part, because the electronic database used to track the materiel crashed in early 2021, investigators said in the report.

The U.S. over two decades provided approximately $18.6 billion to equip the Afghan military.

The report has enormous implications for U.S. aid to Ukraine. John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, has spent the last decade cataloging the stupidity and incompetence that has led to the waste and has called for more oversight of aid to Kyiv.

In this latest report, Mr. Sopko’s office said current military assistance to Ukraine requires more oversight to avoid the mistakes made over the course of two decades in Afghanistan.

“There is an understandable desire amid a crisis to focus on getting money out the door and to worry about oversight later, but too often that creates more problems than it solves,” the report said. “Given the ongoing conflict and the unprecedented volume of weapons being transferred to Ukraine, the risk that some equipment ends up on the black market or in the wrong hands is likely unavoidable.”

The Afghan government — riddled with corruption and self-dealing — carries the ultimate responsibility for its own defeat. But surely there was a better way to withdraw from a country where so much American blood and treasure was lost.

Las Vegas News Magazine

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