Thursday, March 2, 2023

Watchdog Report on Afghan Collapse Points to Abrupt Withdrawal, Lack of Planning: Inspector general office says more than $7 billion in military equipment was left under Taliban control; House Oversight Committee launches probe of Afghanistan withdrawal

Photo: Zakeria Hashimi/AFP/Getty Images
Watchdog Report on Afghan Collapse Points to Abrupt Withdrawal, Lack of Planning:
Inspector general office says more than $7 billion in military equipment was left under Taliban control
A government watchdog said an abrupt, uncoordinated withdrawal from Afghanistan and years of problems with planning and oversight of U.S. assistance contributed to the collapse of the Western-backed government in Kabul and the Taliban takeover of the country soon after American forces departed, according to a forthcoming report.
Poor accountability on weapons and equipment provided to Afghanistan and a lack of systemic planning were also important factors in the military collapse there, according to the report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. The report, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, also calls out the Department of Defense for delaying answering official inquiries, missing deadlines and providing incomplete answers to questions.
The Defense Department said in a written response included in the report that it cooperated with the investigation, and disputed the characterization, saying it provided written responses to the inspector general’s questions.
The Pentagon also disagreed with some of the report’s key findings, including that U.S. forces abruptly quit the country and cut off assistance to Afghan allies. In its response, included in the report, it said U.S. officials were in touch with Afghan leadership during the period before the withdrawal, assuring them it would continue to provide security assistance.
The Pentagon is aware of the report and provided its input, said Lt. Col. Rob Lodewick, a spokesman for the Pentagon. “However, it would be premature to comment on the report before it’s been published and released.”
The congressionally mandated report comes some 18 months after the rapid collapse of the Western-backed government in Kabul, which led to bipartisan criticism of how the Biden administration handled the withdrawal. It will also arrive on Capitol Hill amid a debate over how to conduct oversight of the tens of billions of dollars of assistance now flowing into Ukraine. --->READ MORE HERE
MSgt. Donald R. Allen/U.S. Air Force via AP
House Oversight Committee launches probe of Afghanistan withdrawal:
The House Oversight and Accountability Committee is demanding that several Biden administration officials hand over documents and communications as the panel launches a probe into the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.
Committee Chairman James Comer sent a series of letters on Friday to top officials at the Pentagon, State Department, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Agency for International Development, each containing detailed requests for information dating back to President Biden’s inauguration concerning the administration’s contingency planning and execution of the withdrawal.
“The Biden administration was tragically unprepared for the Afghanistan withdrawal and their decisions in the region directly resulted in a national security and humanitarian catastrophe,” Mr. Comer, Kentucky Republican, said in a statement. “Every relevant department and agency should be prepared to cooperate and provide all requested information. The American people expect nothing less.”
Republicans have long demanded that the administration account for the disorganized exit from Afghanistan in August 2021 that left 13 U.S. troops dead, put Kabul in the hands of the Taliban and lost billions of dollars of military equipment that went into enemy hands.
Bipartisan fury in the immediate aftermath of the withdrawal led to a series of hearings on Capitol Hill, though those efforts quickly devolved into partisan blame trading. --->READ MORE HERE
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