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According to the recently published "Afghanistan Papers," for over eighteen years, U.S. civilian and military leaders have been simultaneously clueless and deceptive.
"We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn't know what we were doing," said Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House's Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations.
People - Magnitude - Dysfunction - Lives - Lute
"If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction ... 2,400 lives lost," Lute added, blaming the deaths of U.S. military personnel on bureaucratic breakdowns among Congress, the Pentagon, and the State Department. "Who will say this was in vain?"
While I was assigned to the U.S. military headquarters in Afghanistan, the most commonly used phrase in reports coming from all echelons and locations was "progress is being made." At that time, the war was being fought, and probably still is, through PowerPoint presentations. As long as the slides said so, then "progress was being made."
Façade - Progress - Taliban
It was then and still is a façade. The only real progress being made is by the Taliban.
The lack of fundamental understanding of the conflict has been exacerbated by military and civilian organizations and processes in Afghanistan that were complicated and convoluted.
Programs - Parallel - Collection - Arguments - Information
There were then numerous stove-piped and redundant programs operating in parallel, which provided little more than a collection of simultaneous arguments. The information being generated and shared was far greater than any organization could absorb, let alone analyze and understand.
There can be, quite literally, "too much going on." With so many people doing so much with so little situational comprehension, motion becomes the equivalent of progress, and the emphasis quickly shifted from an effective process to simply maintaining a smooth one.
Program - Pilot - Everyone - Everything - Plan
It was a program on automatic pilot, where everyone was being reassured that everything was going according to plan. Despite the fact that symptoms of...
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