The Afghan government and military crumbled last August, but a new government watchdog report faults what happened then with the deal the United States and the Taliban made months earlier.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction came out with its quarterly report on Wednesday, and this one addressed the collapse. The report squarely blamed the Trump administration for agreeing to a deal in February 2020 with the Taliban to leave within 14 months and the Biden administration for upholding it.


It was a "catalyst" and the "single most important near-term factor" in the Afghan military's collapse, in part because it led to a drop in morale, the report said.

A former Afghan army commander, Gen. Sami Sadat, told the SIGAR investigators that the agreement created such a “psychological impact” on “the average Afghan soldier” that the soldiers “switched to survival mode and became susceptible to accepting other offers and deals,” and another military officer said his troops “knew they were not the winner” once the deal was made.

The U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of August. The Taliban launched a military offensive at the beginning of the month, and by the middle of it, they had overthrown the U.S.-backed Ghani government, with the president, Ashraf Ghani, fleeing overnight. The U.S. and other Western countries then evacuated more than 100,000 vulnerable Afghans between the time the Taliban took over and the end of August because they were afraid to live under the Taliban regime. Thousands of Afghans who helped the U.S. during its 20-year war were left behind.

The report also pointed to other problems as contributing factors in the regime's demise. The change in the U.S. military’s level of support, the Afghan military never fully getting to self-sustainability, Ghani’s changing of military leaders and the appointment of loyalists, the Afghan government’s failure in establishing and implementing a national security strategy, and the Taliban’s military offensive that exploited their weaknesses all contributed to the loss.

The U.S. was “disconnected from a realistic understanding of the time required to build a self-sustaining security sector,” the report claimed.

Once the U.S. left, counterterrorism operations became entirely reliant on its over-the-horizon drone capabilities. The Defense Department inspector general came out with a new report on Tuesday that described many of the difficulties of the implementation of such plans.


“Without a presence on the ground, the DoD relies on aviation assets to collect intelligence, surveil terrorist targets, and carry out airstrikes on terrorist targets. The DoD therefore requires overflight agreements with another bordering nation to enter Afghan airspace,” the report said.

The only neighboring country that allows the U.S. to use its airspace to enter Afghan airspace is Pakistan, and the U.S. hasn't conducted a strike in Afghanistan since the withdrawal.