Why Afghan National Army Failed?

The Taliban recaptured Afghanistan with the speed of light, especially the Kabul was one of the swiftest and peaceful. Although the US believed that it might take three months to enter Kabul. The Us has anticipated that finally, the Taliban will recapture the whole country, it was just a matter of time scale only. However, the US was dependent on Afghan National Army. Although over the last 20 years, the US spent more than $85bn, on training, equipping, and developing the Afghan national army, police, air force, and special forces. Yet, under the advance of an armed group carrying light weapons, the Afghan National Army fell apart spectacularly. Why the Afghan National Army surrendered so quickly, many reasons are explained, but few of them, I have compiled below:

Objectives: The US and NATO raised Afghan National Army with specific objectives that to prolong their occupation, facilitate them to capture natural resources of Afghanistan, suppress the local insurgencies, to maintain law and order situation with terror and power. Whereas, the Afghan Army was not convinced with their objectives and have not accepted the foreign occupation. But they have joined the Afghan National Army as there was no other job available and they need a job, reasonable income to feed their families. They were not willing to kill innocent Afghans and there were incidents the Afghan Army refused to attack innocent civilians ordered by American commanders. Even in few cases, as a resentment, some of the Afghan Army soldiers have opened fire on American and Allied forces.

Induction: The induction process of the Afghan National Army was very poor and casual, people were inducted on the recommendations of someone. There was no any sort of test, medical or checking their background. Sometimes, the Taliban were also inducted into Afghan National Army. Poor health and no education were no disqualification in most of the cases.

Afghan army failed
Militiamen and Afghan National Army soldiers in the Dehdadi district of Afghanistan’s Balkh province, near the front line with the Taliban, July 2021

Training: The US and NATO have provided training only to serve their objectives and also limited training was provided as they never trusted them and were afraid that sometime in the future, they might turn up against them. Only a limited training was given to manage their bare minimum role. India and Israel have also provided the training to use excessive force to suppress the local people and terrify them with abuse of powers. They have not trained appropriately, for a fight with the Taliban.

Weapons and ammunition: The US and NATO were afraid that if they equipped them with all sorts of latest weapons, it might be a threat for them. So only limited weapons and ammunition were given to them. Advance technology and the latest weapons were very limited.

Career structure: There was no specific career structure or promotion system. Randomly, few are promoted and others were not. Even the Chief of Army Staff was appointed without any policy. He was as young as 35. Whereas in other countries, the chief of Army staff is appointed with an experience of 35 years in the service, and grown-up from lower ranks to highest gradually with the passage of time and experience. The rapid promotion, with having sufficient experience on each level, might not be appropriate.

Politicization: Army was politicized and President Ashraf Ghani kept on changing the senior commands very often, creating a lack of confidence in other officers in the Army. The chain of command was never respected, and contrary orders were given from local governors and politicians from time to time.

Corruption: Corruption is a special gift of the US legacy, where ever they go, promote corruption. No exception in the case of Afghanistan, although the US spent trillions of dollars in Afghanistan, a sizeable amount sunk into corruption. The US official as well as the Afghan ruling elite was the beneficiary of such massive corruption. There was only a portion of such a huge amount used on the grounds. The trickle-down impact was almost negligible. Actual soldiers who were supposed to fight on the ground were ignored and the elite was living a luxurious life. The disparity between the common man and the ruling elite has grown too far and has resulted in mistrust among the rulers and the public. The same was in the Army, the gap between soldiers and officers grew too huge and has resulted in disgruntle and mistrust.

Finally, the Taliban’s smart military strategy of taking control of major border crossings, main highways, and besieging the big cities crippled Kabul’s ability to send reinforcements and supplies. Many army units were cut off from the rest of the country and thus were forced to either flee across the border neighboring countries or to dissolve. Despite receiving years of training and billions of dollars worth of equipment, the Afghan National Army never developed the capacity to stand on its own. In fact, it was entirely dependent on the US and NATO troops to protect urban areas. Once these forces began to withdraw, there was no barrier to stop the advance of the Taliban and the weaknesses and incompetence that was covered up by foreign military presence quickly came to the fore. It was expected that the son of the soil will win at the end, and invaders and their supporters have to surrender.

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  1. The US left $110b worth of modern weapons and supplies, now seized by Taliban. The Afghan army was mostly a ghost army; due to corruption most salaries were pocketed by a few cronies. The problem with recruiting intelligent, educated qualified soldiers for the Afghan army, is the tribal and religious culture that so dominates the more backward areas of Dar al-Islam.

    There is no way to install a working democracy in Afghanista; even in the relatively humanistic west, democracy is falling apart. For example, sleepy Joe Biden, who has dementia and was installed as a puppet for the “deep state”. The wrong sort of Americans managed the operation, and tried to replicate the decaying “woke” culture of American academia/social media/large corporations, sermonizing about transgender rights and other political notions that are driving America over a cliff. And laughing all the way to the bank.

    There is no point is going over the long list of military mistakes made by Bush Jr. and his successors, safe to say, all US policies and strategy were wrong. Somebody has to guard the opium caravans and the mines. I imagine the Chinese commies are eager to fill that role, not clear what role US soldiers had.

    What are the Taliban going to do with all that equipment? Hmmm…what nations are on their land border, and which has a restive Turkic population?

  2. Patrick B. Ludwig

    A very astute analysis.
    The pattern prevails in every Nation under US occupation – and to a certain extent – even in NATO allied countries. The latter’s “national” armies can easily be seen in a similar way and are treated very similarly by the US within NATO.

    National Armies of occupied areas are recruited and treated like the “Hilfstruppen” of the German Wehrmacht and the SS, as seen in the Ukraine, Belorussia, the Baltic States and others.

    Tempted with small privileges and status (uniform), they are prepared to do the most dirty work for their new masters.

    The Kapo System in concentration camps functioned on a similar basis, also the “Einsatzgruppen” of the wehrmacht.

    Their loyalty is not with their people, but similarly, not with their new masters either.

    Where is the proud Afghan Army of yesteryear, patterned on the Pakistan Military? Gone and lost forever?
    It was never so, even under Soviet Cooperation! Afghans were known to be proudly and fiercely loyal.


    The ANA was trained by the Indians – and so,it was doomed !

    It was ONLY the USSR which invested in the ANA , and developed its leadership and IDENTIFIED TALENT , for recruitment.

    Y ?

    Because of IDEOLOGY ! Communism !

    It was the intellectual coordinate and intersection of Communism,between the USSR and the Afghans – which provided the osmotic and symbiotic relationship between the 2 ,and thus,the 2 armies and their nations and leaders,,were comrades in arms and partners in an ideological war.THERE WAS NEVER A THREAT PERCEPTION TO THE USSR,FROM THE ANA

    USA was just using the ANA as cannon fodder and mercenaries.There was NO IDEOLOGICAL COORDINATE OR PROXIMITY OR CONVERGENCE.

    The entire military strategy and leadership was American.The US aim was to keep 350000 ,men FROM JOINING TALIBAN and using the ANA,to keep the Taliban and Al Qaeda ON THE MOVE.When there is movement, enemies BECOME TARGETS – who can then be killed !There was never any attempt to build an ANA leadership ,as the ANA would have toppled Ghani ,as soon as the US left.

    The issue is not the technology given to the ANA.You do not need high-tech to fight Taliban.Basically,the ANA knew that the Taliban were at BAY ONLY DUE TO THE AMERICANS.ANA WAS USED TO KEEP THE TARGET MOVING AND VISIBLE and the TRIANGULATION WAS ALL DONE BY THE US WITH DRONES AND OTHER TECHNOLOGY

    ANA knew that once the US left .- it was ONLY A QUESTION OF TIME !

    And with the exit of the US, the vacuous ness of the Afghan regime’;s ideology,was exposed – and so,the ANA said – WHAT ARE WE DYING FOR – NOW ?

    There is a misconception about the 1 Trillion USD spent by the US,Most of it is transfer pricing, like salaries on the US army.Some of it is Military Training and R&D – which is experimentation with new tech and tactics.The payments to ANA and The Afghan state ,are TO CREATE A MINION OF SPIES AND AGENTS FOR LIFE – SO IT IS AN INVESTMENT – NOT A COST.



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