Top Military Brass Cop to Major Blunders in Iraq and Afghanistan

U.S. soldiers with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iskandariya, Babil Province, Iraq. Credit: 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."