Watchdog had warned of Afghan force collapse way before US pullout

WION Web Team
New Delhi Updated: Jan 21, 2022, 08:18 PM(IST)

US troops in Afghanistan Photograph:( AFP )

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SIGAR analysed Washington’s spending and progress in Afghanistan since 2008. It has also released certain reports that highlighted corruption, Afghan and US leadership failings

A report by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko, which was declassified earlier this week implies that months before US President Joe Biden announced the US troops' withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, Washington's watchdog had warned that the Afghan air force would collapse without American aid and training. 

SIGAR analysed Washington’s spending and progress in Afghanistan since 2008. It has also released certain reports that highlighted corruption, Afghan and US leadership failings. It also offered recommendations on where and how to improve.

A report which was submitted to the US Department of Defense in January 2021, highlights that the American authorities were alerted that the Afghan air force did not have the capabilities to survive after US withdrawal. It further highlights US' failure to train Afghan staff.

Also read | Over 500,000 jobs lost in Afghanistan since Taliban takeover, women worst hit

The inspector general’s office while speaking to the Associated Press said that it is not every day that SIGAR reports are classified but when they are, a declassified version is issued by the Pentagon in under two months. The office further said that it is not aware why the Defense Department took more than a year before declassifying this particular report.

As per the new report, between 2010 and 2019, the US spent $8.5 billion “to support and develop” the Afghan air force and its elite unit, the Special Mission Wing. However, it further warns that both are ill-prepared. 

It also warns against removing the hundreds of US contractors who maintained the aircraft fleet.

Sopko said that even as the US Department of Defense recognised the Afghan air force’s progress “in combat operation capabilities, pilot and ground crew proficiency, as well as air-to-ground integration," they continued “to struggle with human capital limitations, leadership challenges, aircraft misuse, and a dependence on contractor logistic support.”

It remains unclear whether the report was submitted in the final days of the Trump administration or whether US President Joe Biden had taken office by then. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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