The U.S. military will no longer release key metrics of success for the Afghan National Security Forces obscuring the public’s ability to scrutinize the war, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction revealed in a Monday report.
U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is to support the Afghan National Security Forces in the fight against the Taliban, build their capacity to keep the militants at bay, and eventually drive them to the negotiating table. This strategy almost entirely hinges on the capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces to function with limited U.S. assistance.
Yet, bafflingly, the report reveals that the U.S. will no longer disclose “casualties, personnel strength, attrition, capability assessments, and operational readiness of equipment” of the Afghan National Security Forces. The Afghan National Security Forces are almost wholly subsidized by the U.S. military assistance, drawing tens of billions of taxpayer dollars since the 16-year war began in 2001.
U.S. Forces Afghanistan defended the decision to SIGAR saying they were classifying the data at the request of the Afghan National Government, who they claim is the original holder of the data.
“The government usually doesn’t classify good news. I don’t want any nameless, faceless Afghan bureaucrat telling the American taxpayer what they ought to know,” SIGAR head John Sopko told The New York Times.
The U.S. effort in Afghanistan currently draws nearly $3.2 billion each month, according to the Pentagon’s own figures current to June 30.
Previous SIGAR reports revealed mounting Afghan casualties facing a robust Taliban insurgency, major readiness short falls, recruitment failure, and other key metrics for the U.S. public to judge the utility of its assistance. These reports also revealed the Taliban control nearly 40 percent of the entire country and one-third of the population.
President Donald Trump vowed not to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan until conditions on the ground merited exit in an Aug 21 address. Secretary of Defense James Mattis deployed an additional 3,000 U.S. forces to the country following the speech to support the Afghan’s push bringing the total to approximately 12,000.
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