The Independent reports that just days prior to General Stanley McChrystal’s forced resignation of command of the ISAF in Afghanistan for insulting comments by him and his staff that were directed at top Obama administration officials, McChrystal delivered “a devastatingly critical assessment of the war against a ‘resilient and growing insurgency.'”
Using confidential military documents, copies of which have been seen by the IoS, the “runaway general” briefed defence ministers from Nato and the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) earlier this month, and warned them not to expect any progress in the next six months. During his presentation, he raised serious concerns over levels of security, violence, and corruption within the Afghan administration.
The Independent provides a synopsis of the report:
General McChrystal said progress in the next six months was unlikely. He raised serious concerns over levels of security, violence, and corruption within the Afghan administration. Only five areas out of 116 assessed were classed as “secure” – the rest suffering various degrees of insecurity and more than 40 described as “dangerous” or “unsecure”.
Just five areas out of 122 were classed as being under the “full authority” of the government – with governance rated as non-existent, dysfunctional or unproductive in 89 of the areas. Seven areas out of 120 rated for development were showing sustainable growth. In 48 areas, growth was either stalled or the population were at risk. Less than a third of the military and only 12 per cent of police forces were rated as “effective”.
A strategic assessment referred to in the presentation revealed just how close the strategy in Afghanistan is to failing. It stated that the campaign was “on track temporarily” – but this was defined as meaning that there was “a low level of confidence that positive trends will be sustained over the next six-month period”. It also said the Afghan people “believe that development is too slow” and many “still generally mistrust Afghan police forces”. Security was “unsatisfactory” and efforts to build up the Afghan security forces were “at risk”, with “capability hampered by shortages in NCOs and officers, corruption and low literacy levels”.
The Independent claims that it was McChrystal’s sober report, and not the comments reported in Rolling Stone, that led to his dismissal, as the report “provided an uncompromising obstacle to Mr Obama’s plan to bring troops home in time to give him a shot at a second term, according to senior military sources.”
Whether that is true or not, and everyone seems to be looking for a political angle to McChrystal’s dismissal, the contents of the report cannot be ignored. There are few seasoned Afghan watchers who believe that NATO can dramatically turn Afghanistan around in the next year. The appointment of General David Petraeus, the hero of Iraq, as McChrystal’s successor has given many hope that the tide can be turned. But he will have to wrestle with the same operational restrictions and short time frame for success that McChrystal did.
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