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Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate: U.S. Lessons Learned in Afghanistan

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Technical Report

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Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction Arlington United States

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As with everything produced by SIGAR, the Lessons Learned Programs mandate is limited to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Our Lessons Learned Program is not and never was intended to be a new version of the Pentagon Papers, or to turn snappy one-liners and quotes intoheadlines or sound bites. We do not assess U.S. diplomatic and military strategies or combat activities. Nor are we producing an oral history of the United States involvement in Afghanistan. More important, our Lessons Learned Program does not address the broader policy debate of whether or not our country should be in Afghanistan. Our Lessons Learned Program produces unclassified, publicly available, balanced, andthoroughly researched appraisals of various aspects of U.S. reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. Unlike the Washington Post series, SIGAR also makes actionable recommendations for the Congress and executive branch agencies and, where appropriate, offers matters for consideration for the Afghan government and our coalition allies. So far, we have made 120 such recommendations. Put simply, we are striving to distill something of lasting and useful significance from our 18 years of engagement in Afghanistan. Considering the over 2,300 American service members who have died there and the 137 billion and counting taxpayer dollars spent on reconstruction alone, it would be a dereliction of duty not to try to learn from this experience. With our unique interagency jurisdiction, Congress gave SIGAR an extraordinary opportunity to do this work. Moreover, the need for distilling lessons and best practices in Afghanistan is urgent not only because a possible peace treaty is being seriously discussed, but also because most military, embassy, and civilian personnel rotate out of country after a year or less.

Subject Categories:

  • Unconventional Warfare
  • Administration and Management

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