Security officials told the U.S. was planning a full military withdrawal after being briefed by then-Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on April 9, 2021. Ghani ignored the information after the then-vice president told him it was a U.S. plot. The briefing was stunningly accurate. Five days later, President Joe Biden announced his decision to pull U.S. forces out of Afghanistan on May 1.
The episode, described by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, underscores the mistrust and dysfunction that pervaded the Afghan government ahead of its collapse last summer.
The country s military was unable to sustain itself in large part because of the loss of U.S. airstrikes in support of the Afghans, according to the report.
A former commander of the Joint Special Operations Command in Afghanistan told SIGAR overnight that 98 percent of U.S. airstrikes had ended overnight.
In 2019, the U.S. conducted 7,423 air strikes, but in 2020 it only conducted 1,631, nearly half of them before the U.S. signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February 2020.
Without U.S. support for offensive operations, the Afghan military was forced into largely defensive positions around the country. Under the agreement with the Taliban, the U.S. aircraft could not target Taliban groups that were waiting more than 500 meters away, giving the Taliban an advantage in targeting Afghan military units.
Morale problems within the Afghan military and police were caused by the U.S. agreement with the Taliban. The Afghan army commander said that the average soldier became more susceptible to accepting deals with the Taliban because of low morale.
After the Afghan government collapsed in August, U.S. military leaders blamed lack of will to fight and lead, even though the U.S. had spent $2 trillion on war and nation-building over 20 years.
Biden said on August 16 that we gave them every chance to determine their own future by training and equipping an Afghan military force of some 300,000 strong — incredibly well equipped — larger in size than the militaries of many NATO allies. We could not give them the will to fight for that future. The report argues that many sections of the Afghan government were not shared with the Afghan government because of the peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban.
A former Afghan general said the U.S. took over the role of a referee and watched the Afghan government and the Taliban fight in a sick game. The Taliban spread propaganda and misinformation about the deal, including convincing local police and military units that the U.S. had turned over areas to the Taliban, and that they should abandon their posts because of the lack of information.
The Afghan government was blind to military s logistical and sustainment failures, with a senior Afghan official saying that Ghani s closest advisers did not know their military could not support itself until Biden announced that all troops would leave.
The report provides a snapshot of the collapse of the Afghan security forces. The final version is expected to be released this fall.