Our analysis reveals the U.S. government greatly overestimated its ability to build and reform government institutions in Afghanistan as part of its stabilization strategy. We found the stabilization strategy and the programs used to achieve it were not properly tailored to the Afghan context, and successes in stabilizing Afghan districts rarely lasted longer than the physical presence of coalition troops and civilians. As a result, by the time all prioritized districts had transitioned from coalition to Afghan control in 2014, the services and protection provided by Afghan forces and civil servants often could not compete with a resurgent Taliban as it filled the void in newly vacated territory.Are there really any lessons learned? I am guessing there are, but they can't be said or the the truth teller will be shown the door. The truth is there are three alternatives:
1. Continue leaving a garrison and pretend we are doing something. That is what we are doing now.
2. Another surge with enough troops to destroy all our enemies. That is probably impossible politically and economically.
3. Time to say au revoir. This is the only practical choice, but if we leave, why stay in the Middle East at all? It's a debate we are avoiding.
Academic Thomas Nichols has written a book, The Death of Expertise. In it he avers that the expert class, like Rodney, don't get no respect and that it should. On Page 195 of the SIGAR report there is a picture of what one would guess is the important people on the team and other government officers with the President Obama around a conference table. They all look prosperous. These people and other staffers work hard to study what is going on and what must be done. If they know the score, that nothing real can be done, and they are just saying only what is acceptable, it is an indictment of the Nichols' expertise class. The Dangerfield Class of experts only comes up with what has already been decided.
There are recommendations in the report, but no one expects that we will reach the broad sunlit uplands even if we follow them to the letter.
The Neutralist originally read about SIGAR at Colonel Lang's Sic Semper Tyrannis. He does not mince words, "This SIGAR report makes it crystal clear that the US lost its "hat, ass and overcoat" in Afghanistan. We should wise up and go home resolved never, never to listen to the siren song of the COIN fantasy."
The Colonel is right, but you don't get to see him on TV as his is not the desired flavor.