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Review of final months begins three months after withdrawal from Afghanistan
The after-action review, led by an independent team that began work last week, will focus on much more than the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in the final weeks of August, the Pentagon said in a statement. It will begin with the signing of the Doha agreement between the Trump administration and the Taliban in February 2020 and will continue until the evacuation is completed.

This Doha agreement paved the way for the subsequent withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, which began with a downsizing from 13,000 to 8,600 in June 2020. It called for the complete withdrawal of forces, diplomatic personnel, sub -treaters and others by April 2021., a deadline the Biden administration extended until the end of the summer.

But as the military began the final stages of pulling out US forces, the Taliban swept the country, seizing districts and provinces at a speed that stunned US officials and their allies. The entire Afghan National Defense and Security Forces – the cornerstone of the strategy to keep the Taliban at bay – collapsed within days, as senior Afghan officials, including President Ashraf Ghani, fled the country.

“The department is committed to understanding what worked and what did not work in Afghanistan, and we seek to incorporate that understanding into our planning and strategic assessment going forward,” the spokesperson said. of the Pentagon, Major Rob Lodewick, in the statement.

During and after the evacuation from Afghanistan, the Biden administration and the military vowed to review the process and the decisions that led to it.

On August 17, two days after Kabul fell to the Taliban with barely a shot, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said there would be a “vast steam bath”. Sullivan vowed that the administration would “look at every aspect of this from top to bottom,” promising to share the results of the analysis with the public.

Two weeks later, after the evacuation of US forces and personnel was completed, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said, “The way we got there at this point in Afghanistan will be analyzed and studied for years to come, and we in the military will approach this with humility, transparency and frankness. There are many tactical, operational and strategic lessons to be learned. “

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated that there would be an after action review. “We want to make sure that we learn all the lessons that can be learned from this experience,” Austin said. He added that this would happen “in the days to come”.

But over the following weeks, there was little substantive public debate about what went wrong and what could have been done differently. Instead, Congressional hearings turned into partisan attacks, as Republican lawmakers trashed the Biden administration for its handling of the pullout. Some even called on Milley and Austin, the two top Pentagon executives, to step down.

Now the review is underway, as the administration is still struggling to understand other issues surrounding the full withdrawal from Afghanistan.

One of the main challenges is how to carry out operations on the horizon, an important part of the government’s ability to monitor Afghanistan and, if necessary, carry out counterterrorism strikes. In addition, the government continues to make efforts to evacuate some at-risk Afghans and others from the country.

The Pentagon has not identified the team that had been selected to conduct the review, and there is no deadline or time frame by which it must be completed.

“The team just started their work last week so I don’t have any further updates at this time,” Lodewick said.

Separately, the State Department watchdog in October opened a number of reviews on the United States’ exit from Afghanistan, including the special immigrant visa program and the Afghan resettlement process.
Even during the withdrawal, the Special Inspector General for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan issued a scathing report on lessons learned from the 20 Years War, which he said was doomed to an inconsistent strategy and unrealistic deadlines that depended on a corrupt Afghan government.


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