ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Paranoia has hit the highest levels of the Afghan government, and chaos has overwhelmed the country’s security forces in days and months leading to their downfall, according to a U.S. government surveillance report released Wednesday, one of the first since the Taliban. Occupied in August.
With the withdrawal of Taliban forces from Kabul, then-President Ashraf Ghani feared that his own army would turn against him and suspected that the United States was plotting to oust him from power, the report said, citing former Afghan and US officials.
Ghani has fired many of his top security officials and commanders, believing them to be unfaithful, a move that has further undermined the morale of Afghan security forces, derailed combat efforts and led to the country’s collapse, the report concluded.
The rapid collapse of Afghanistan’s security forces, despite billions of dollars in weapons and training in the 20-year war, has been the focus of criticism of the Biden administration’s handling of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal.
The report said that the US decision to withdraw troops and contractors from Afghanistan was the most important factor in the country’s collapse, despite the Afghan forces’ inability to support themselves.
“When the contractors pulled, it looked like we pulled all the sticks out of the Zenga pile and hoped it would stay,” former senior U.S. commander David Barno told investigators. “We have created that army to run with the help of contractors. Without it, it can’t work. Game over. “
Despite some US assessments that the Afghan capital could withstand Taliban attacks for months, Kabul fell to Taliban fighters within hours of the city’s defense melting.
Similar scenes have been seen in different cities of the country. Afghan security forces say Taliban leaders surrendered several months ago through negotiations, isolating their fighters and laying the groundwork for taking control of the city center.
In the end, most of the territory taken by the Taliban was not occupied by the military, but was handed over after agreement with local government officials, tribal elders and Afghan military commanders.
The withdrawal agreement the United States signed with the Taliban in Doha in February 2020, linked to the Taliban’s growing success on the battlefield, has been interpreted by many Afghans as “a clear sign that the tide has turned,” the report said.
After the US-Taliban deal, Ghani also began to fear that there was a US conspiracy to oust him, and so he began to “constantly change commanders.” [to] Bring back some old school communist generals who [he] He saw these American-trained young officers as loyal to him instead [mostly] Former Afghan General Sami Sadat told Watchdog.
Sadat described Ghani as “a paranoid president … fearing his own countrymen.”
The former senior Afghan government and security officials have provided similar accounts to The Post, with Ghani fearing that his own security forces would eventually attack him.
The report said Afghanistan’s security forces were surrounded by top weak leadership and had never been trained to operate independently. When U.S. troops left and withdrew air support for government operations, the Afghan military began to falter.
As US airstrikes dwindled, Taliban forces began to dismantle patches of government-controlled territory in Afghanistan. The report says Afghan troops have not been able to defend against progress because the force has “never become an integrated, basic force capable of acting on its own.”
“The United States and the Afghan government have been blamed,” the report concluded. “Neither side seems to have the political commitment to do what needs to be done to meet the challenge.”
Cigar noted that US efforts to build a self-sufficient Afghan security force were “likely to fail from the outset,” but that the decision “sealed the promise of a rapid US troop withdrawal.” [Afghan military’s] Fate. “