KABUL, Afghanistan – The US Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in a recent report assessed the underlying factors behind the collapse of former Afghan government in 2021, listing at least nine factors that led to Taliban’s regime in Afghanistan.
SIGAR found the single most important factor in the ANDSF’s collapse in August 2021 was the US decision to withdraw military forces and contractors from Afghanistan, which was based on the US-Taliban agreement signed in February 2020 under Trump administration.
According to SIGAR, the Afghan government was fundamentally unprepared to manage a fight against the Taliban as the United States military and its contractors withdrew from the country.
Due to the ANDSF’s dependency on U.S. military forces, these events destroyed Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) “morale” that eventually led to the fall.
“Many Afghans thought the U.S.-Taliban agreement was an act of bad faith and a signal that the U.S. was handing over Afghanistan to the enemy as it rushed to exit the country; its immediate effect was a dramatic loss in ANDSF morale,” said the report.
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In addition, SIGAR had identified eight other factors that explain why, after 20 years and nearly $90 billion in U.S. security assistance, the ANDSF was ill-prepared to sustain security following a U.S. withdrawal.
1st Factor: No country or agency had complete ownership of the ANDSF development mission, leading to an uncoordinated approach;
2nd Factor: The length of the U.S. commitment was disconnected from the reality of the time required to build an entire security sector;
3rd Factor: The U.S. created long-term dependencies that would require significant time to overcome, such as providing the ANDSF with advanced equipment they could not sustain and leaving them out of the equipping process;
4th Factor: The U.S. military, driven by political deadlines, struggled to balance winning battles with letting the ANDSF gain experience by fighting on their own;
5th Factor: The U.S. metrics created to measure the development of the ANDSF were unable to effectively measure ANDSF capabilities;
6th Factor: Afghan corruption harmed ANDSF capabilities and readiness;
7th Factor: The U.S. control of the battlespace and of key governance systems restricted Afghan ownership of important military and governance systems;
8th Factor: The U.S. and Afghan governments failed to develop a police force effective at providing justice and responsive to criminal activities that plagued the lives of Afghan citizens.
On August 15, 2021, the Taliban arrived at the gates of Kabul, compelling then-President Ashraf Ghani to flee to Uzbekistan, precipitating the collapse of the Afghan government.
By then, six of the seven ANA Corps had surrendered or dissolved. Only the 215th Corps in Helmand Province remained engaged in combat operations against the Taliban for two days after the president had fled the country, at which point it was instructed to stop fighting.
On the day of President Ghani’s departure, the Taliban entered the presidential palace.
Although the Taliban controlled the majority of the country, it was not until September 6, 2021, that the Taliban was able to capture the last provincial capital of Panjshir Province.
A day later, on September 7, the Taliban named its new interim government.