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SIGAR report details collapse of Afghan army and Ghani government
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Paranoia gripped the highest levels of the Afghan government and chaos overwhelmed the country’s security forces in the days and months before their collapse, according to a US government watchdog report released Wednesday. one of the first since the Taliban. resumed in August.

The latest assessment from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, examined the roots of the Afghan military’s demise at the end of America’s longest war. Many of the findings confirm previous reports by the Washington Post and other media about Taliban-brokered surrender deals, but also shed new light on the intrigue and suspicion that consumed Afghan leaders in its final days.

As Taliban forces closed in on Kabul, then-President Ashraf Ghani feared his own army might turn against him and suspected the United States was plotting to remove him from power, the report reveals, citing d former Afghan and American officials.

Ghani also fired many of his senior security officials and key field commanders, believing them to be disloyal, moves that further undermined the morale of Afghan security forces, confused the war effort and resulted in the downfall of the country, the report concluded.

The rapid collapse of Afghan security forces, despite billions of dollars worth of weapons and training over 20 years of war, has been at the center of criticism of the Biden administration’s handling of the chaotic US withdrawal.

The report states that “the US decision to withdraw military forces and contractors from Afghanistan”, despite the inability of Afghan forces to sustain themselves, was the single most important factor in the country’s collapse.

“When the contractors pulled out, it was like we pulled all the sticks out of the Jenga heap and expected it to stay put,” former U.S. commander-in-chief David Barno told researchers. . “We built this army to operate with the support of contractors. Without it, it cannot work. Game over.”

Despite some US estimates that the Afghan capital could repel a Taliban attack for months, Kabul fell to Taliban fighters within hours in August after the city’s defenses melted.

Similar scenes unfolded in cities across the country. Afghan security forces said Taliban leaders secured negotiated surrenders months in advance, laying the groundwork for its fighters to isolate and take control of urban centers.

Ultimately, the majority of the territory taken by the Taliban was not captured by military force, but was handed over after negotiating with local government officials, tribal elders and Afghan military commanders.

The Withdrawal Agreement the United States signed with the Taliban in Doha in February 2020, coupled with the Taliban’s growing success on the battlefield, has been interpreted by many Afghans as “a clear sign that…the The tide had turned,” the report said.

After the US-Taliban deal, Ghani also began to fear that there was a US plot to oust him and so he began to “constantly change commanders”. [to] bring back some of the old school communist generals who [he] whom he considered loyal, instead of those young American-trained officers he [mostly] feared,” former Afghan general Sami Sadat told the watchdog.

Sadat described Ghani as a “paranoid president…scared of his own compatriots”.

Former senior Afghan government and security officials provided similar accounts to The Post suggesting Ghani feared his own security forces would eventually turn against him.

Afghan security forces have been beset by poor leadership at the top and have never been trained to operate independently, the report says. When US troops left and withdrew their air support for government operations, the Afghan military began to falter.

As the number of US airstrikes dwindled, Taliban forces began routinely isolating patches of government-controlled territory in Afghanistan. Afghan troops were unable to defend against the advances because the forces “never developed into a cohesive and substantial force capable of operating on their own”, the report said.

“The US and Afghan governments share responsibility,” the report concludes. “Neither side seemed to have the political commitment to do what it would take to meet the challenges.”

US efforts to build a self-sustaining Afghan security force “were likely to fail from the start”, SIGAR noted, but the decision “to engage in a rapid withdrawal of the US military sealed the [Afghan military’s] spell.”

washingtonpost Gt

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