In the year since the abrupt August 2021 collapse of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and the flight of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) of President Ashraf Ghani, a post-mortem myth has evolved. In the GIRoA narrative, the rapid vaporization of the Afghan forces from the fight against the Afghan Taliban was a surprise to the Ghani government, the leadership of the US Embassy in Kabul, and American military leaders.
As evidence of this shock, its proponents cite the often-repeated 2021 public assurances by US political masters and military commanders that the Afghan defense and security forces would likely not prevail on their own but forecast that with limited American “over-the-horizon support,” it might continue to put up a credible fight for another 6 to 12 months.
This mythology does not withstand scrutiny. The swift demise of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces was, in the words of the late US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, a “knowable known.”
Read the rest in USAWC Parameters here -
Thomas F. (Tom) Lynch III is a Distinguished Research Fellow for South Asia and the Near East at the National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies. The opinions expressed here represent his own views and are not those of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the United States government.