Now outside of government, members of the George W. Bush administration are desperate to polish their turbulent legacy. However, a history of “Operation Enduring Freedom” being prepared by the Army would seem to contradict their version of the war on Afghanistan.
Contrary to repeated claims that the Iraq war did not deprive Afghan forces of necessary resources, the Army’s history shows that the Bush administration “hamstrung” forces in the country, according to The New York Times.
“A Different Kind of War,” to be published later this year, was written by seven historians at the Army’s Combat Studies Institute. It is the first report of its kind, giving an official stamp on events which transpired between October 2001 and September 2005. The Times obtained the 400-page manuscript and posted it online.
In his remarks to soldiers at West Point, President Obama correctly noted that when commanders in Afghanistan asked for reinforcements, they “did not arrive.” The line generated a rebuke from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who called the president’s assessment “a bald misstatement.”
However, “after the invasion [of Iraq] started in March 2003, the history says, the United States clearly ‘had a very limited ability to increase its forces’ in Afghanistan,” the Times noted.
The Army’s history specifically adds that the Bush administration seemed particularly averse toward planning for Afghanistan’s future stability, much as they failed to do for Iraq. “In fact, the message from senior D.O.D officials in Washington was for the U.S. military to avoid such efforts,” it claims.
It cites the specific example of Lt. Gen. Dan K. McNeill, who was told in 2002 by senior defense officials that he should plan for U.S. troops to be in Afghanistan “for a very limited period.” In particular, McNeill was told to avoid the perception that soldiers were involved in “nation building,” which Bush and Rumsfeld had publicly criticized in the past.
“[Despite] attempts to salvage their legacies, it’s widely accepted that the Bush administration neglected the Afghan war,” Think Progress added. “But as the Times notes, these new findings are ‘notable for carrying the imprimatur of the Army itself.’”