Billions Spent on Afghan Army Ultimately Benefited Taliban | World News

By ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Built and skilled at a two-decade value of $83 billion, Afghan safety forces collapsed so rapidly and utterly — in some circumstances and not using a shot fired — that the final word beneficiary of the American funding turned out to be the Taliban. They grabbed not solely political energy but in addition U.S.-supplied firepower — weapons, ammunition, helicopters and extra.

The Taliban captured an array of recent army gear once they overran Afghan forces who did not defend district facilities. Bigger positive aspects adopted, together with fight plane, when the Taliban rolled up provincial capitals and army bases with gorgeous pace, topped by capturing the most important prize, Kabul, over the weekend.

A U.S. protection official on Monday confirmed the Taliban’s sudden accumulation of U.S.-supplied Afghan gear is gigantic. The official was not approved to debate the matter publicly and so spoke on situation of anonymity. The reversal is an embarrassing consequence of misjudging the viability of Afghan authorities forces — by the U.S. army in addition to intelligence companies — which in some circumstances selected to give up their automobiles and weapons moderately than battle.

The U.S. failure to provide a sustainable Afghan military and police power, and the explanations for his or her collapse, might be studied for years by army analysts. The primary dimensions, nonetheless, are clear and aren’t not like what occurred in Iraq. The forces turned out to be hole, outfitted with superior arms however largely lacking the essential ingredient of fight motivation.

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“Money can’t buy will. You cannot purchase leadership,” John Kirby, chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, mentioned Monday.

Doug Lute, a retired Army lieutenant basic who assist direct Afghan conflict technique in the course of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, mentioned that what the Afghans acquired in tangible sources they lacked within the extra vital intangibles.

“The principle of war stands — moral factors dominate material factors,” he mentioned. “Morale, discipline, leadership, unit cohesion are more decisive than numbers of forces and equipment. As outsiders in Afghanistan, we can provide materiel, but only Afghans can provide the intangible moral factors.”

By distinction, Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents, with smaller numbers, much less subtle weaponry and no air energy, proved a superior power. U.S. intelligence companies largely underestimated the scope of that superiority, and even after President Joe Biden introduced in April he was withdrawing all U.S. troops, the intelligence companies didn’t foresee a Taliban closing offensive that will succeed so spectacularly.

“If we wouldn’t have used hope as a course of action, … we would have realized the rapid drawdown of U.S. forces sent a signal to the Afghan national forces that they were being abandoned,” mentioned Chris Miller, who noticed fight in Afghanistan in 2001 and was appearing secretary of protection on the finish of President Donald Trump’s time period.

Stephen Biddle, a professor of worldwide and public affairs at Columbia University and a former adviser to U.S. commanders in Afghanistan, mentioned Biden’s announcement set the ultimate collapse in movement.

“The problem of the U.S. withdrawal is that it sent a nationwide signal that the jig is up — a sudden, nationwide signal that everyone read the same way,” Biddle mentioned. Before April, the Afghan authorities troops have been slowly however steadily shedding the conflict, he mentioned. When they discovered that their American companions have been going house, an impulse to surrender and not using a battle “spread like wildfire.”

The failures, nonetheless, return a lot additional and run a lot deeper. The United States tried to develop a reputable Afghan protection institution on the fly, even because it was combating the Taliban, making an attempt to widen the political foundations of the federal government in Kabul and in search of to determine democracy in a rustic rife with corruption and cronyism.

Year after 12 months, U.S. army leaders downplayed the issues and insisted success was coming. Others noticed the handwriting on the wall. In 2015 a professor on the Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute wrote in regards to the army’s failure to study classes from previous wars; he subtitled his e-book, “Why the Afghan National Security Forces Will Not Hold.”

“Regarding the future of Afghanistan, in blunt terms, the United States has been down this road at the strategic level twice before, in Vietnam and Iraq, and there is no viable rationale for why the results will be any different in Afghanistan,” Chris Mason wrote. He added, presciently: “Slow decay is inevitable, and state failure is a matter of time.”

Some components of the Afghan military did battle laborious, together with commandos whose heroic efforts are but to be totally documented. But as an entire the safety forces created by the United States and its NATO allies amounted to a “house of cards” whose collapse was pushed as a lot by failures of U.S. civilian leaders as their army companions, in keeping with Anthony Cordesman, a longtime Afghanistan conflict analyst on the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Afghan force-building train was so utterly dependent on American largesse that the Pentagon even paid the Afghan troops’ salaries. Too typically that cash, and untold quantities of gasoline, have been siphoned off by corrupt officers and authorities overseers who cooked the books, creating “ghost soldiers” to maintain the misspent {dollars} coming.

Of the roughly $145 billion the U.S. authorities spent making an attempt to rebuild Afghanistan, about $83 billion went to creating and sustaining its military and police forces, in keeping with the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, a congressionally created watchdog that has tracked the conflict since 2008. The $145 billion is along with $837 billion the United States spent combating the conflict, which started with an invasion in October 2001.

The $83 billion invested in Afghan forces over 20 years is almost double final 12 months’s finances for the complete U.S. Marine Corps and is barely greater than what Washington budgeted final 12 months for meals stamp help for about 40 million Americans.

In his e-book, “The Afghanistan Papers,” journalist Craig Whitlock wrote that U.S. trainers tried to power Western methods on Afghan recruits and gave scant thought as to if U.S. taxpayers {dollars} have been investing in a really viable military.

“Given that the U.S. war strategy depended on the Afghan army’s performance, however, the Pentagon paid surprisingly little attention to the question of whether Afghans were willing to die for their government,” he wrote.

AP writers Nomaan Merchant, Lorne Cook in Brussels and James LaPorta in Boca Raton, Florida, contributed to this report.

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