Top Military Brass Cop to Major Blunders in Iraq and Afghanistan

Top Military Officials Own Up to Major Blunders in Iraq and Afghanistan
U.S. soldiers with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iskandariya, Babil Province, Iraq.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The U.S. military has finally fessed up to something the American people have long known: We screwed up big time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Center for Public Integrity yesterday summarized the contents of a mostly overlooked internal report from this spring, in which a group of top military officers assesses its own work and finds "repeated missteps and failures over the past decade" in both theaters, as well as a "failure to recognize, acknowledge and accurately define" what the U.S. was getting into, resulting in a "mismatch between forces, capabilities, missions, and goals."

The report is withering about high-level mismanagement in the critical transition moments in Iraq and Afghanistan, one flagrant example being that "the planned end-state for Afghanistan was envisioned to be a strong central government despite no record of such a government in its history and lack of broad popular support for that system of governance."  The military failed in these moments – the most crucial ones – because its planning was based on "U.S. expectations instead of those consistent with the host nation and mission" – or, in regular-person-speak, on "wishful thinking rather than realism."

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