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DoD watchdog: Trump’s Taliban deal 'set in motion a series of events' leading to Afghan collapse


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The Washington Examiner

Jamie McIntyre, Senior Writer
February 28, 2023

SIGAR: LOTS OF BLAME TO SPREAD AROUND: A new report from the Pentagon’s internal watchdog pins the blame for the collapse of the Afghan military in August 2021 on the decisions of former President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden, former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and a succession of prior U.S. administrations that failed to grasp how long it would take to build a self-sufficient security force.

The report, “Why the Afghan Security Forces Collapsed,” from the Pentagon’s independent office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), cited six major factors in leading to the ignominious dissolution of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) — slowly over a matter of months, and then quickly in a matter of days.

“The decision by two U.S. presidents to withdraw U.S. military forces from Afghanistan fundamentally altered every subsequent decision by U.S. government agencies, the Ghani administration, and the Taliban. Actions taken by each ultimately accelerated the collapse of the ANDSF in August 2021. But the stage had been set for that collapse long before — by the failure of the U.S. and Afghan governments to create an independent and self-sustainable ANDSF, despite 20 years and $90 billion of international support.”


TRUMP’S GUT PUNCH: The beginning of the end was the Trump administration's February 2020 deal reached with the Taliban — without any input from the Afghan government — which was widely viewed by Afghans as tantamount to articles of surrender. “Many Afghans thought the U.S.-Taliban agreement was an act of bad faith and a signal that the United States was handing over Afghanistan to the enemy as it rushed to exit the country; its immediate effect was a dramatic loss in ANDSF morale,” the report said.

TRUMP’S END OF AIR SUPPORT: Upon signing the withdrawal agreement, the Trump administration drastically curtailed the thousands of U.S. airstrikes that had been making it possible for Afghan forces to make progress in recapturing territory from the Taliban. “Limiting airstrikes after the signing of the U.S.-Taliban agreement the following year left the ANDSF without a key advantage in keeping the Taliban at bay.”


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