The US government’s watchdog on Afghanistan reconstruction told House lawmakers on Tuesday that the Afghan military and government would collapse without continued US support.
“Afghan security forces are nowhere near achieving self-sufficiency, as they cannot maintain their equipment, manage their supply chains or train new soldiers, pilots and policemen,” said John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) chief.
The SIGAR warning comes as the May 1st deadline to withdraw from Afghanistan approaches. So far, the US has yet to make an official announcement on whether or not troops will remain in Afghanistan. The Biden administration appears to be trying to extend the deadline and has presented the US-backed government and the Taliban with a proposal for a power-sharing deal that the two sides are currently deliberating on.
While Sopko said SIGAR is not taking an official position on withdrawal, he said a US pull-out without another peace deal means the collapse of the Afghan government. “To be blunt, the government would probably face collapse,” he told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Some hawks could take Sopko’s warning as a reason to stay, but it is just another example of the futility of the almost 20-year-old war, which some lawmakers recognized. “We’ve done enough,” said Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA). “If we haven’t taught the Afghan people how to care for themselves in 20 years, what makes us think we can do it in two more?”
SIGAR has found incredible waste in Washington’s reconstruction effort in Afghanistan. In one of its latest reports, SIGAR found the US wasted billions of dollars that were meant for vehicles and building projects. Out of the $7.8 billion that was spent since 2008, only $343.2 million was spent on buildings and vehicles that were “maintained in good condition,” and only $1.2 billion of those assets were used as intended.