America Has Given Up Trying To Define Success in Afghanistan
The United States has spent more than $64 billion rebuilding Afghanistan’s military and police forces since 2001—but there is literally no way for American taxpayers to know whether their investment has been worth it.
“Most of the [indicators] of measuring success are now classified, or we don’t collect it. So I can’t tell you, publicly, how well a job we’re doing on training,” John Sopko, the special inspector general for the Afghanistan reconstruction effort told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
America has been propping up Afghani security forces since soon after the 2001 invasion of the country. The idea has been to eventually leave behind a military and police apparatus that can fight the Taliban and other terrorist groups without American support—and, ultimately, to prevent Afghanistan from sliding back into a state of lawlessness that could make it a breeding ground for terrorism once again.
Having goals is one thing. But 19 years after America’s longest war began, there is little indication that the U.S. is any closer to achieving them. And now, as Sopko told the committee on Tuesday, it seems like U.S. military and political leaders don’t even have a way to accurately determine if those goals are being met.
Even the most basic data points are being obscured, according to Sopko.
“How many Afghan soldiers do we have? We’re still trying to figure out how many we are paying for. How many Afghan police are there, really? We don’t know,” Sopko said Tuesday. “Th
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