President Joe Biden’s administration is withholding information about Afghanistan, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko said during a speech on Friday.
As an example, Sopko said, the Department of Defense (DoD) withheld information on the performance of Afghan security forces, including unit strength, training deficiencies, and casualty data, or, “in essence, nearly all the information you needed to know to determine whether the Afghan security forces were a real fighting force or a house of cards waiting to fall.”
“In light of recent events, it is not surprising that the Afghan government, and likely some in DoD, wanted to keep that information under lock and key,” he added.
Sopko said he was forced to relegate the information into classified appendices of a recent report his office released detailing flaws in the United States’ 20-year war in Afghanistan.
“This information almost certainly would have benefited Congress and the public in assessing whether progress was being made in Afghanistan and, more importantly, whether we should have ended our efforts there earlier,” he said.
“DoD is well aware of the Special Investigator for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s recent report. Its assertions that DoD deliberately withheld information on the Afghan Security Forces lacks context as the department took significant effort to ensure that the availability of data on Afghan forces was treated similarly to how DOD would manage such data on U.S. forces,” Major. Rob Lodewick, a Pentagon spokesman, told The Epoch Times in an email.
The Pentagon maintains that the Afghan government wanted to classify the data and that it recommended against it but “abided by the decision of the original classification authority.” Overall, the department says it has cooperated with SIGAR since the office was created by Congress.
The State Department, meanwhile, wrote to Sopko shortly after U.S.-backed Afghan forces were routed by the Taliban terrorist group as the U.S. moved to fully withdraw from the country.