September 23, 2017
An American government watchdog has found several serious flaws in the fifteen-year-old US training mission in Afghanistan that has ultimately designed a force unable to provide security in the Asian country.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) issued a 283-page report, which concluded that the mission was a failure from the onset.
The report outlined several key problems with the Pentagon mission, which was plagued by a failure to understand the full “complexities and scale of the mission.”
The SIGAR report explained that Washington has failed to help Afghanistan in building proper security forces that could protect the country from “internal and external threats and prevent the country from becoming a terrorist safe haven.”
“Providing advanced Western weapons and management systems to a largely illiterate and uneducated force without appropriate training and institutional infrastructure created long-term dependencies, required increased US fiscal support, and extended sustainability timelines,” it added.
Among other key problems listed in the report was that US authorities had no initial plans to construct any security institutions.
The establishment of the national army and police was “ultimately undermined” by “partnerships with independent militias,” it found.
The SIGAR report further said that American and NATO instructors sent to the Afghanistan were themselves undertrained and undermanned. SIGAR inspector general John Sopko said that one US officer watched TV shows “to learn what he should teach.”
At one point, according to the report, training for police officials used Power Point slides from US and NATO operations in the Balkans.
“Such cut-and-paste activities, lifted from one country and slapped onto another like a decal, are not likely to boost the prospects for overall success,” Sopko said.
“In eastern Afghanistan, we met a US Army helicopter pilot assigned to teach policing,” he said.
More than 100,000 Afghan police were trained by US Army pilots, infantry officers, and civilian contractors, according to the report.
The mission, which still continues, has cost the US some $70 billion since 2002, according to SIGAR, which said Washington is still spending more than $4 billion a year.
The report, however, warned that tens of billions of dollars could be wasted unless changes are made in the training of local security forces.
The US started sending its troops to Afghanistan about 16 years ago to defeat the Taliban terrorists. The combat operations against the Taliban officially ended in 2014, but more than 8,000 US Special Forces still remain in the country.
US President Donald Trump, who repeatedly called for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan during the administration of former president Barack Obama, modified his stance during his 2016 presidential campaign. Last month, he even decided to send more than 3,000 extra troops to the country.
Sixteen years after the US-led invasion in to the country, which ousted the Taliban terrorist group, security is still deteriorating. While the Afghan government only controls half of the country, the Taliban has made significant gains and is said to control more territory now than at any other time.