American forces left Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield over the weekend without notifying the new commander from the Kabul government — giving looters precious time to swipe anything that was not bolted down, shocking photos show.
The US announced Friday that it had vacated Bagram as part of a final withdrawal the Pentagon says will be completed by the end of August. It is Afghanistan’s largest airfield and was the hub of America’s 20-year campaign to remove the Taliban from government, track down Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda cohorts, and keep the country’s fragile elected government in place amid a Taliban resurgence.
However, they apparently forgot to tell the Afghans, cutting the electricity within 20 minutes of their departure and plunging the base into darkness. That acted as a “go” signal for teams of looters who smashed through the north gate and ransacked barracks and storage tents before security forces who had been patrolling the perimeter managed to evict them.
A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable. …
In the interviews, more than 400 insiders offered unrestrained criticism of what went wrong in Afghanistan and how the United States became mired in nearly two decades of warfare. …
Since 2001, more than 775,000 U.S. troops have deployed to Afghanistan, many repeatedly. Of those, 2,300 died there and 20,589 were wounded in action, according to Defense Department figures. …
With most speaking on the assumption that their remarks would not become public, U.S. officials acknowledged that their warfighting strategies were fatally flawed and that Washington wasted enormous sums of money trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation.
The interviews also highlight the U.S. government’s botched attempts to curtail runaway corruption, build a competent Afghan army and police force, and put a dent in Afghanistan’s thriving opium trade. …
The documents also contradict a long chorus of public statements from U.S. presidents, military commanders and diplomats who assured Americans year after year that they were making progress in Afghanistan and the war was worth fighting. …
Several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public. They said it was common at military headquarters in Kabul — and at the White House — to distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case.
“Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible,” Bob Crowley, an Army colonel who served as a senior counterinsurgency adviser to U.S. military commanders in 2013 and 2014, told government interviewers. “Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.”
John Sopko, the head of the federal agency that conducted the interviews, acknowledged to The Post that the documents show “the American people have constantly been lied to.”
For the last twenty years, Congress and the American people were told by US military officials and administration officials that things were going well, and we were doing a swell job building up the Afghan military (which is on the verge of collapse).
Who can possibly trust these people again?
Who can send their sons and daughters to fight under the command of such an institution led by liars? … And now the top military brass, in all its wisdom, has decided that wokeness is the way of the future for our military, which has been so badly treated by its leadership, both civilian and uniformed.
Do you want to send your sons off to fight to make the world safe for wokeness? Here’s the part of the new US Army recruiting ad in which a currently serving soldier, Emma, says her military service is an extension of her childhood spent marching in gay pride parades with her lesbian moms:
I don’t want to see Emma sent off to fight some useless war either, led by senior brass who lie about their prospects for victory. I don’t want to see anybody sent off to fight under the command of a senior leadership who believes that military service is a form of social activism. The cause of queering the Donbass is not worth even the sweat of a single Alabama infantryman.
How schizophrenic it is to be a conservative today. All our instincts say to rally behind the country, and to support the military. But look what the military and civilian leadership for the last twenty years has done with that trust! It’s infuriating.
Our war in Afghanistan (Australia and several European nations fought there too) was good for many military careers, some political careers, and defense contractors.
Military force is designed to kill people. As a police force, especially in a foreign country, it is not very good. That’s been pretty conclusively proven in Vietnam, Iraq, and now again in Afghanistan.
The military did brilliantly to conquer Iraq and Afghanistan quickly and with minimal casualties. But then came the police action, with unrealistic and unachievable political goals.
hat-tip Stephen Neil