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Most Afghan troops and police are ‘a hopeless nightmare and a disaster,’ special inspector general tells Congress

The U.S.-led effort to train Afghan troops and police over the past two decades has been an abysmal failure for the most part, said John Sopko, the exceptionally frank special inspector general for reconstruction in Afghanistan.

“The Afghan military – and particularly the Afghan police – has been a hopeless nightmare and a disaster,” Sopko told lawmakers on Wednesday. “And part of it is because we rotate units through that aren’t trained to do the work, and they’re gone in six-to-nine months. I don’t blame the military, but you can’t bring in a Black Hawk pilot to train an Afghan policeman on how to do police work. And that’s what we were doing — we’re still doing.”

Sopko testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday following the Washington Post’s publication of the “Afghanistan Papers,” a series of interviews that SIGAR has conducted in which top U.S. officials have privately conceded that the war in Afghanistan has provided few — if any — tangible successes.

Many lawmakers were absent from the hearing as the big news of the day was the House of Representatives voting sending articles of impeachment to the Senate. Once again, the war in Afghanistan was drowned out by domestic politics and an American public with a short attention span.

While U.S. service members are trying to train Afghan troops and police to fight the Taliban, ISIS, and other terrorist groups, the Afghan security forces are undermined by extensive corruption that limits their effectiveness, Sopko said.

It has only been in the past year that Afghanistan has retired old Soviet-trained senior officers in order to allow a new generation of leaders to take over, so it is too soon to say whether that move has shown any success, he added.

“The problem is that below that corps level, below that …read more

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