In this episode, CNA counterterrorism experts Alex Powell and Jon Schroden sit down with James Cunningham the lead author for two comprehensive lessons learned reports published by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
They discuss the collapse of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in the face of the Taliban offensive, how the Taliban were able to take territory with so little resistance and problems with how the U.S. military trained the ANDSF.
James Cunningham is the lead author and project lead for two comprehensive lessons learned reports published by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction focused on reconstructing the ANDSF. For over 16 years, James has worked Afghanistan-related issues as a member of the Intelligence community and providing independent oversight of U.S. reconstruction programming.
Jonathan Schroden is the Director of CNA's Countering Threats and Challenges Program (CTCP), whose mission is to support US government efforts to better understand and counter state and non-state threats and challenges. Schroden has deployed or traveled to Afghanistan 13 times.
Alex Powell is an expert on terrorist group tactics, counterterrorism, and special operations forces (SOF). He has worked extensively on security issues in Afghanistan, traveling there numerous times to conduct assessments of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
SIGAR Website: https://www.sigar.mil/
Divided Responsibility: Lessons from U.S. Security Sector Assistance Efforts in Afghanistan, June 2019 (https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/lessonslearned/SIGAR-19-39-LL.pdf)
Reconstructing the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan, September 2017 (https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/lessonslearned/SIGAR-17-62-LL.pdf)