A trove of documents released by the Washington Post reveal that senior commanders had little idea who they were fighting, money was misspent, and intelligence was spun to present a flattering picture of what was happening.
A huge release of documents by the Washington Post appears to shed light on US alleged misinformation surrounding the war in Afghanistan.
US officials are revealed to have misled the public on the effectiveness of their military operation in the country and are alleged to have spun unflattering information to make it seem as though they were making progress.
Throughout the 18-year-long campaign, US officials demonstrated a lack of understanding about Afghanistan and even the forces they were fighting.
The information was compiled using interviews of senior military officials and diplomats working on the area.
“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” said officials Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served under former presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama.
“If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction . . . 2,400 lives lost,” Lute added in comments reported by the Washington Post.
The war in Afghanistan has also killed tens of thousands of Afghans, many of them civilians, in air strikes and drone attacks by US forces and in terror attacks by Taliban fighters and Daesh terrorists.
The UN says that in the first nine months of 2019 alone, around 8,200 civilians were killed in the war.
Revelations in the documents include the fact that US military commanders had little idea who they were fighting, with one describing human intelligence during the conflict as “woeful”.
Other sources of criticism included the sheer number spent on trying to defeat the Afghan insurgency under the Taliban and prop up the Afghan government. Officials put that number at a trillion dollars.
The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after Al Qaeda terrorists carried out the September 11th attacks. Since then more than 775,000 American soldiers have been deployed to Afghanistan with 2,300 being killed there and more than 20,000 wounded.
According to Brown University, 147,000 people have died as a result of the conflict and of those 38,000 were civilians.
After 18 years of war, Afghanistan still suffers from crippling poverty and lack of infrastructure development.
The US has conducted on-again, off-again, talks with the Taliban in order to reach a solution, but the government, it helped install, has not been party to some of the most important discussions.