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U.S. Army soldiers hike past burning rubbish in Kunar province, Afghanistan U.S. Army soldiers hike past burning rubbish in Kunar province, Afghanistan, Sept. 10, 2011 (AP photo by David Goldman).

I Helped Write the Afghanistan Papers. What They Reveal Shouldn’t Be a Surprise

Friday, Dec. 20, 2019

If there is one big takeaway from The Washington Post’s publication of thousands of pages of documents detailing the extent of policy failures in Afghanistan, it is the great lengths that it takes to wake the American public up to the costs of pursuing a war without a strategy. As The Post’s examination of interviews produced as part of a wide-ranging and years-long review of U.S. policy by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, known as SIGAR, clearly shows, few officials charged with leading the war effort were willing to openly admit that most of what passed for strategy was purely ad hoc. I should know—I was one of the lead analysts and interviewers who led the “Lessons Learned” inquiry into U.S. strategy for SIGAR.

Since the publication of the Afghanistan Papers, veterans of America’s longest war have pointed out that the shortcomings of U.S. policy were well known to anyone who had ever done a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Those failures were advertised by members of the U.S. government in congressional testimony and by U.S. military officials themselves. They were also meticulously documented in the myriad audits produced by both SIGAR and the U.S. Government Accountability Office. ...

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