It's time to hold the Intelligence Community to account for its abject failures

Watching the Fall of South Vietnam as a Marine captain was one too many embassy evacuations for a lifetime.  With the disastrous collapse of the Afghan Army, and the next round of an American defeat stamped indelibly on the pages of our history, I asked a fellow Marine who served with great honor in Afghanistan as a colonel what he had learned.  He stood strongly on the point that tactically, in the field, the combat engagements against the Taliban were for the most part strongly supported by accurate and timely actionable intelligence, so his Marines and other services and allies could successfully carry the fight to the enemy.

However, when I asked him about the strategic intelligence about the progress of the effort to fight, win, and leave a lasting force against extremely evil fanatics, he quipped: "It was all fluffy bunnies and unicorns."  Sadly, he has been proven to be spot on.

The danger of general officer groupthink in self-perpetuating willful blindness of an ongoing failed effort — often built on horrendous corruption — is now evident.  Senior leaders up to and including President Biden are either spinning like Admiral Kirby's channeling of Baghdad Bob or metaphorically throwing down their rifles, running from the media accountability field of battle.

It is disgraceful that after a presidential "Fluffy Bunnies and Unicorns" statement in July, everyone around the globe is now seeing horrific carnage and ugly score-settling by the Taliban.

Together, with our NATO Allies and partners, we have trained and equipped over three hu- — nearly 300,000 current serving members of the military — of the Afghan National Security Force, and many beyond that who are no longer serving. Add to that, hundreds of thousands more Afghan National Defense and Security Forces trained over the last two decades.

We provided our Afghan partners with all the tools — let me emphasize: all the tools, training, and equipment of any modern military. We provided advanced weaponry. And we're going to continue to provide funding and equipment. And we'll ensure they have the capacity to maintain their air force.

How could they miss the dry rot and corruption that hollowed out the Afghan Army?  What are our national security commanders and CIA missing as we enter an emerging danger zone of life-or-death strategic capabilities and intentions with China, their People's Liberation Army, and perhaps even Putin's Russia?

The most important question is, simply, how can any American trust the Intelligence Community in determining the true capabilities and intentions of nations armed with nuclear weapons and the means to launch them?  If the strategic judgment of the Intelligence Community and then the acceptance of such bad intel by the president, secretary of defense, and chairman of the JCS has proven to be so disastrously wrong, there is no reason to rely on them.

I will leave Afghan score-settling accountability on what happened to others, including, I hope, an awakened media who may finally stop picking political sides with hollow opinioned narrative news and begin to behave like the responsible fact-based journalist they once were.

It is now time to employ a major Intelligence Community term of art: we need a Damage Assessment, shining sunlight on the I.C. failure and the willfully blind acceptance of their bad intel by commanders.  A full-on robust publicly debated Damage Assessment should transcend the current ongoing Afghan debacle and also must focus with rigorous accountability going forward on what are we missing strategically with Russia and China so we do not all wake up to a strategic surprise by China that could reach all of us sleeping safe at home in our beds.

Photo credit: YouTube screen grab (cropped).

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