After action review

The State Department has released a redacted version of its After Action Review on Afghanistan. It appears to be dated March 2022. As released to the public the report runs 23 pages. The classified original runs to 87 pages. The narrative portion of the report appears to have been withheld in its entirety.

In best scandal management style, the report was released on the Friday afternoon preceding a long holiday weekend. One can reasonably infer that it can’t be good. Mistakes were made, but by no one in particular. The passive voice is actually appropriate to the report. With the public version stripped of its narrative, the findings and recommendations that remain read like bureaucratic pablum. It also brings in Trump whenever possible with what appears to be an annoying tic.

Even so, President Biden is not entirely happy. The report does not vindicate or mitigate his ridiculous public statements and predictions. It does not commend him for a job well done. Nothing and no one other than Biden himself could do that. Accordingly, Biden does not appear to be taking it well (video below).

The forward pays tribute to the “extraordinary group of dedicated and talented professionals who worked tirelessly on the ground in Kabul, in Washington, and at other sites domestically and abroad to evacuate and assist as many people as possible.” It salutes them “and the brave members of our military, 13 of whom lost their lives.”

The report is dedicated to both groups. That doesn’t ring right. The mismatch in their respective levels of sacrifice appears to be considerable. Moreover, there is no accounting for the sacrifice of the 13 in the public version of the report. It only states at page 86: “The horrific ISIS-K terrorist attack of August 26, 2021, near Abbey Gate that resulted in the deaths of 13 brave U.S. service members and more than 150 Afghans underscored how dangerous the situation was.” Maybe there is more in the redacted narrative and maybe it isn’t as pathetic as that.

Our evacuation from Afghanistan was a debacle and a disgrace that continues to reverberate. This report is nothing to be proud of either.

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