Over planning and a lack of strategy condemned Afghanistan and left it and America worse off regarding the known terrorist group and current Afghan leadership, the Taliban.


Accountability: 0

American Government & Senior military ranks: 2

As I watch politicians grill American military leaders it’s clearer that careerism inside the military and government led to a complete failure and waste of life in Afghanistan.

Four American Presidents, 11 Congresses, multiple joint chiefs of staff, two trillion taxpayer dollars gone, thousands of American lives lost, veteran suicide rates climbing, Taliban armed by America and in power, and everyone in a leadership position still has a chair to sit in when the music stops…

As I watched the live briefing this morning between American politicians and military leadership it’s even clearer that the real loser at the end is accountability itself. In order for the American people to have faith in the institutions of government, they have to believe that it is accountable to the People for what it does on our behalf.

And if we can’t hold people accountable and learn then we are doomed to repeat history.

“No U.S. intel that would have pointed to an 11-day collapse,” General Milley said.

This shows how broken the military and intelligence agencies systems are.

The editors of SOFREP and myself have been talking about the lack of strategic planning for years.

“PowerPoint makes us stupid,” General Mattis said at a military conference in North Carolina.

Read the slide above and just marvel at it. It’s one that the American military leadership presented back in 2010 on the Afghanistan situation. Remember, PowerPoint exists to make understanding of something simple, and this slide was as close as the Pentagon could come to making Afghanistan look “simple.”

Now the reality is that it is more than just a PowerPoint slide, it’s something called a Causal Loop Diagram created from a Systems Dynamic model used by a consulting group called The PA Consulting Group. This diagram required a 31-page explanation you can read here if you really want to try and make sense of this thing.

PA Consulting is based in the United Kingdom. So, the best and brightest minds influencing our decision-making about Afghanistan were civilian employees of a British consulting group and not our own people at the Pentagon or even our own consulting groups like the Rand Corp. And what about the National War College, or the Army War College? Or the academics of the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy?

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Don’t we have anyone who understands Afghanistan and counter-insurgency warfare in this country anymore?

The U.K. is certainly our ally but do they have a military with the kind of punching weight for their consultants to be the go-to-guys for how to fight a counter-insurgency campaign? Right now among the military forces of the world, the U.K. ranks 31st, below countries like Bangladesh, Columbia, and Sri Lanka. Would we go to any of them for advice?

You can Watch the Milley Hearing Below

The bottom line to a reasoning person would be to look at a Causal Loop diagram, like the above, and think, “This is a very bad idea, get us out of it.”

But this is America and our “never say die” and “can do” attitude sometimes blinds us to the reality of things.

This can be bad when we overestimate our actual ability to get something done. That diagram above should have made us reconsider whether we could succeed in Afghanistan in the long run and point out the very clear fact that nobody really understood what the Hell we were doing there 10 years ago.

On the SEAL teams, you learn very quickly that failure is the greatest teacher if you can recognize it when it happens. If you can’t learn anything you will fail over and over again in the same way.