Did the US learn anything in Afghanistan? Former NATO assistant secretary general says billions was spent building wrong type of military and that D.C. was more interested in getting presidents re-elected than telling the truth, in scathing report
- John Manza wrote NATO’s lessons learned report about Afghanistan last year
- It remains classified but in a public essay he delivered a damning assessment
- He said Washington’s leaders deserve much of the blame for the chaos
- They ‘were more concerned about protecting the sitting president’s chances of reelection than … telling the truth about the lack of progress in Afghanistan’
- He delivered his account a year after US troops hurriedly left Kabul
- The country is now in the hands of the Taliban after 20 years of conflict
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The U.S and its allies wasted billions of dollars building the wrong type of military in Afghanistan, fought against the wrong enemy, and gave the wrong, over-optimistic, assessment of progress, according to a former NATO official who was tasked last year with writing a ‘lessons learned’ report.
John Manza’s assessment remains classified.
But in a public essay he offers a devastating assessment about how the West got things so badly wrong that American forces had to evacuate civilians from Kabul in chaotic scenes last year.’Civilian leaders inside Washington’s Beltway in particular also deserve much of the blame, as many political appointees at the departments of State and Defense were more concerned about protecting the sitting president’s chances of reelection than they were about telling the truth about the lack of progress in Afghanistan,’ NATO’s former assistant secretary general for operations writes for the Atlantic Council.
A year after the world watched in horror as fleeing Afghans clung to US planes taking off from Kabul airport, Afghanistan has receded from the front pages.
Policymakers are focused on Russia and Ukraine, even as Al Qaeda returns to Afghanistan’s big cities, a humanitarian crisis unfolds, and as the Taliban refuses to let girls go to school.
This week Taliban fighters even celebrated outside the old US embassy in Kabul, on the first anniversary of their takeover.
Against that backdrop some officials and experts say the Biden administration has simply turned the page without studying how the 20-year conflict went wrong.
Former NATO assistant secretary general John Manza wrote a ‘lessons learned’ report for the alliance last year after 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan. He delivered a damning assessment on the anniversary of the Taliban takeover of the country this week
The world was shocked by images of Afghans desperately trying to get on flights leaving from Kabul airport last August. But the Biden administration has quickly turned the page
Manza said the US and allies tried to model Afghanistan’s new armed forces on a Western military model, which made no sense and ultimately failed
Nor has there been proper public scrutiny of the chaotic evacuation from Kabul that saw 13 U.S. service members killed hundreds of American citizens and tens of thousands of Afghans left behind.
Manza writes: ‘Thousands of American and allied troops lost lives, limbs, and their sanity in Afghanistan.
‘The United States and its allies and partners owe it to those who fought and died there—including so many valiant Afghans who sought a better future for their country—to examine why they lost, in the hope that they’ll never repeat these mistakes.’
Allies made multiple mistakes, he writes, from the very start of the conflict right up until the end.
In particular Manza echoes criticism made by John Sopko, the U.S. special inspector