Defense Department Ignored Watchdog Warnings About Afghanistan Air Force Collapse After US Withdrawal

Department of Defense officials apparently didn’t talk about a watchdog report warning of the Afghan Air Force’s inevitable collapse if the United States government pulled out its forces from Afghanistan.

The Center to Advance Security in America (CASA) in 2022 filed a public records request looking for copies of Defense Department officials’ correspondence talking about a January 2021 Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report that warned the Afghan Air Force depended too much on American contractors and would inevitably collapse without an American presence in the country. That said,the very documents The Daily Caller got its hands on, which were provided by the Defense Department as a response to the request, didn’t allude to the report at all —  despite its predictions turning out to be accurate after the American military withdrawal in August 2021.

The American troop withdrawal was finalized in August 2021 when Taliban forces rapidly took over Afghan territory and rapidly approached the capital city of Kabul. The complete collapse of the Afghan security forces and inability of Afghanistan’s air force to take on roles previously carried out by American aerial assets led to the Taliban’s complete takeover.

In the report, SIGAR cautioned about how the Afghan Air Force could not remain functional without the continued provision of training, maintenance, and financial aid. On top of that, it was largely dependent on external contractors.

SIGAR declassified the report during January 2022, a year following its initial publication, per the report.

CASA acquired the records through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The documents  were only 11 pages long, with some being duplicated. These documents span the time frame from when SIGAR sent over the then-classified report to the Defense Department to the date of the FOIA request in January 2022, the request demonstrated. 

CASA called for “all communications within and between DOD personnel pertaining to this SIGAR report,” which includes guidance for public relations strategies, and engagement with outside federal agencies concerning the report.

“The Pentagon’s own responsive documents show that there was no meaningful discussion of the SIGAR report. America put two decades, 2,000 American lives and billions of dollars into the Afghan War, and it’s troubling to think that it was ended as it was without considering every bit of intelligence available, including reports from the Special Inspector General,” CASA Director James Fitzpatrick commented in a statement.

The Afghanistan war was a geopolitical blunder of epic proportions. Trillions of dollars down the drain, with thousands of lives lost, for a failed nation-building venture that resulted in the US being forced to withdraw in a humiliating fashion. 

If the US were a serious polarity, it would be doing everything possible to reorient its resources to secure its southern border — it’s main geopolitical blindspot. 

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