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Current and future attempts by the United States to use its military might abroad could very well meet the same fate as the country's nearly two-decade-long war in Afghanistan, a U.S. government watchdog warned, citing the repeated failure of top officials to learn from their mistakes.

U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko unleashed the blunt assessment Thursday during a discussion with reporters, accusing wave after wave of top-ranking defense officials and diplomats of lying to themselves, as well as the American public.

"We exaggerated, overexaggerated," Sopko said in response to a question from VOA. "Our generals did. Our ambassadors did. All of our officials did, to go to Congress and the American people about 'We're just turning the corner.'

"We turned the corner so much, we did 360 degrees," he said. "We're like a top."

Sopko said that while there were "multiple reasons" the U.S. failed to create a more effective and cohesive Afghan military, some of it was "this hubris that we can somehow take a country from that was desolate in 2001 and turn it into little Norway."

But another key factor, he said, was "mendacity."

Top ranking U.S. military leaders "knew how bad the Afghan military was," Sopko said, adding that they tried to keep such problems hidden.

'We changed the goal posts'

"Every time we had a problem with the Afghan military, we changed the goal posts," he said. "The U.S. military changed the goal posts and made it easier to show success. And then, finally, when they couldn't even do that, they classified the assessment tool."

Sopko cautioned that part of the problem with setting up Afghanistan for success also hinged on Washington's refusal over almost 20 years to plan for long-term success.

"We've highlighted time and again we had unrealistic timelines for all of our work," he said, pointing to a series of reports by his office during the past 12 years.

"Four-star generals, four-star military, four-star ambassadors forced the USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development] to try to show success in short timelines, which they themselves knew were never going to work," Sopko said. "These short timelines, which have no basis in reality except the political reality of the appropriations cycle or whatever, whatever is popular at the moment, are dooming us to failure.

"That unfortunately is a problem not just with Afghanistan," he added. "I think you find it in other countries where we've gone in."

"That unfortunately is a problem not just w/#Afghanistan" per @SIGARHQ's Sopko "I think you find it in other countries where we've gone in"

"We have to be honest. We to be honest ourselves & we have to be honest w/the American people who pay for this..."

— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) July 29, 2021

Sopko's critique Thursday came just after the release of his office's most recent report, which described the situation on the ground in Afghanistan as "bleak" and warned that the Afghan government could be facing an "existential crisis."

Afghan Government Facing 'Existential Crisis' A report from the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction raises concerns about whether Afghan government forces can hold off the Taliban

Pentagon and State Department officials did not immediately respond to Sopko's criticism, but they repeatedly have defended U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Last week, America's most senior military officer, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley, said Afghan forces were well trained and well equipped, even though the Taliban had "strategic momentum."

Pentagon Admits Taliban Control Half of Afghan District Centers Top US general says Afghan forces purposely ceding ground to protect major population centers

Milley also has defended the U.S. model known as “train, advise and assist,” calling it "the best approach" to counterterrorism.

Counterterrorism in the #Sahel-"The best approach, not only there but globally, is to work by, with& thru friends & allies in the region, small train, advise & assist missions..." per @thejointstaff's Gen Milley

Says would recommend direct action if necessary

— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) June 17, 2021

 

News Source: Voice of America

Tags: ’ve gone the afghan military the american people afghan government in afghanistan afghan forces officials did problem the taliban top ranking top ranking

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35 Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill Awarding Congressional Gold Medals To Service Members Killed In Kabul

A bipartisan group of 35 senators introduced a bill Wednesday that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to all thirteen U.S. soldiers killed in the Aug. 26 Kabul terrorist attack.

Fallen soldiers were constituents of two of the bill’s lead sponsors, Republican Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Republican Montana Sen. Steve Daines is also a lead sponsor of the legislation.

13 brave men & women made the ultimate sacrifice to protect Americans & our allies at a critical moment in our nation’s history—they are heroes.

It’s fitting for Congress to express its gratitude in this moment with the Congressional Gold Medal.https://t.co/iGtTQvV1tb

— Steve Daines (@SteveDaines) September 15, 2021

Eleven marines, a Navy corpsman and an Army staff sergeant were killed by ISIS-K suicide bombers and gunmen outside Hamid Karzai International Airport. The attack marked the third-deadliest day of the U.S.’s War in Afghanistan, and the deadliest since 2011.

Federal law and chamber rules require that 67 members of the Senate and 290 members of the House of Representatives co-sponsor legislation awarding a Congressional Gold Medal before it can be considered. 159 members of the House signed onto Republican Michigan Rep. Lisa McClain’s companion bill on Aug. 31.

Congress has awarded 175 congressional gold medals to individuals and organizations. (RELATED: Senate Passes Bill Awarding Police Congressional Gold Medals For Heroism During Capitol Riot)

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the 13 courageous men and women who gave their lives in Afghanistan to save those they had never met,” Blackburn said in a statement. “These service members embodied true American heroism in the face of persistent evil. Honoring these heroes, including Tennessee native Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss, with Congressional Gold Medals is the least we can do to express our deep appreciation for their service and sacrifice.”

“We should honor these 13 servicemembers, including U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo of Lawrence, Massachusetts, who were killed last month in Afghanistan while serving our country and working to protect the lives of others. These individuals demonstrated incredible courage throughout their careers, and we owe it to them to pass legislation to recognize their heroic service with the Congressional Gold Medal,” Warren added.

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