The Afghan Analysts Network have posted an important expose revealing the U.S. military’s duplicity in the evaluation of their mentoring program. The mentoring of ANA and police is the backbone of the US/ISAF withdrawal strategy, aiming to gradually hand over responsibility for security to the Afghan central government. But in this meticulously researched piece, Gary Owen demonstrates that by constantly shifting the goalposts, U.S. claims of progress are purely political spin.
Twice a year, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) reports to the Congress and Senate committees on defense, appropriations, and foreign relations on the ‘progress’ of the conflict in Afghanistan. AAN guest blogger, Gary Owen, a former soldier who now is working as a civilian development worker(*) has been scrutinizing the reports, teasing out, in particular, what they say about the Afghan National Army (ANA), so beloved of ISAF. He argues that in the face of ISAF’s bulldozer of a PR campaign to portray the ANA as ready to shoulder the nation’s security, it is critical to look at the metrics. He finds that, since January 2009, the DoD has changed its standards so regularly that it has become practically impossible to measure the ANA accurately. The DoD and, indeed, ISAF, are spinning ANA success. Note from the editors: some of our readers might find this blog a little technically challenging. We urge you to press on to the end as it is an eye-opener of a read.