US withdrawal prompted collapse of Afghan army: Report | News

The withdrawal of US forces and army contractors final yr has been touted as “the one most necessary issue” in triggering the collapse of the Afghan Nationwide Protection and Safety Forces (ANDSF), in accordance with an interim report by the US authorities’s main oversight authority on Afghanistan reconstruction.

Washington has spent almost $90bn on the Afghan military since 2002 in its efforts to battle the Taliban armed rise up. The Taliban regime was toppled from energy in a US-led invasion in 2001 within the wake of the 9/11 assaults.

The brand new report by the Particular Inspector Basic for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) factors to choices made by former US President Donald Trump and his successor Joe Biden as having precipitated the collapse of the Afghan military in August 2021 and the following Taliban takeover.

The US-Taliban settlement signed by the Trump administration in February 2020, by which Washington agreed to withdraw army forces and contractors from Afghanistan, “set in movement a sequence of occasions essential to understanding the ANDSF’s collapse”, the report mentioned.

Following the deal, the US dramatically decreased the variety of US air raids, leaving the ANDSF with out a key benefit in retaining the Taliban at bay. This resulted in “a way of abandonment inside the ANDSF and the Afghan inhabitants”.

“Many Afghans thought the US-Taliban settlement was an act of dangerous religion and a sign that the US was handing over Afghanistan to the enemy because it rushed to exit the nation,” SIGAR concluded.

Withdrawal of the contractors grounded the Afghan air pressure

Former US and Afghan army officers are quoted within the interim report saying the withdrawal of the contractors grounded the Afghan air pressure and sealed their destiny.

“We constructed that [Afghan] military to run on contractor help. With out it, it may well’t perform,” one former US commander in Afghanistan instructed SIGAR.

“When the contractors pulled out, it was like we pulled all of the stands proud of the Jenga pile and anticipated it to remain up.”

A former Afghan normal instructed SIGAR that 60 p.c of Black Hawk helicopters had been grounded in a matter of months within the wake of the withdrawal of contractors, together with those that supplied upkeep work.

In March 2021, because the incoming Biden administration deliberated its Afghanistan coverage, the Taliban threatened to renew assaults towards US and NATO forces if they didn’t withdraw by Might 1.

President Biden’s withdrawal announcement in April 2021 “destroyed ANDSF morale”, SIGAR discovered, as its officers had lengthy relied on the US army’s presence to guard towards large-scale losses and maintain their authorities accountable for paying their salaries.

By August 15, 2021, when the Taliban reached the gates of the capital Kabul, six of the seven corps of the Afghan military had surrendered or dissolved.

“These US choices had the extra influence of offering gas for the Taliban propaganda machine. For ANDSF forces already bodily remoted, going through provide shortages, and weathering aggressive Taliban propaganda efforts aimed toward demoralising them, paranoia … exacerbated an already difficult surroundings,” SIGAR discovered.

The US Division of State declined to remark to SIGAR on the report, and the US Company for Worldwide Improvement didn’t have any feedback.

Components that contributed to the ANDSF’s collapse

The oversight authority additionally recognized a number of elements that designate why, after 20 years and almost $90bn in US safety help, the ANDSF was ill-prepared to maintain safety following a US withdrawal.

Amongst them is an estimate of the size of the US time dedication that was “disconnected from the fact”; long-term dependencies akin to the supply of superior tools that might not be sustained; the dearth of metrics created to successfully measure ANDSF capabilities and Afghan authorities corruption.

SIGAR discovered the ANDSF to have remained reliant on the US army partly as a result of the US designed the ANDSF as a mirror picture of US forces. “The USA created a mixed arms army construction that required a excessive diploma {of professional} army sophistication and management,” the report mentioned.

As a result of US troops had been far more practical at preventing, they typically led missions or crammed essential gaps in missions on the expense of the ANDSF gaining expertise preventing by itself.

Moreover, slightly than growing a nationwide safety technique and planning for nationwide safety following the withdrawal of US forces, the federal government of former President Ashraf Ghani modified ANDSF leaders and appointed loyalists, marginalising well-trained ANDSF officers aligned with the US.

SIGAR mentioned it had discovered the Taliban to be utilizing US-provided army tools, whereas some US-provided plane have been recovered and others stay in limbo in different nations.