"What did we get for this one trillion dollar effort?"
Military commanders throughout the war publicly talked about their hopes that the conflict in Afghanistan was turning a corner, even as the Taliban held on to large parts of the country and killed USA and Afghan forces - without having any air combat capability. "Was it worth $1 trillion?" the Post said. "We have had an authorization since 2001 to be in Afghanistan".
John Sopko, head of the federal agency that conducted the interviews, acknowledged to the newspaper that the documents show "the American people have constantly been lied to".
Michael Flynn, the retired three-star Army general who briefly served as President Donald Trump's national security adviser, also provided candid thoughts on the war effort to interviewers, questioning in 2015 why officials were touting it as successful, according to the Post.More news: Lata Mangeshkar discharged from hospital, thanks doctors for utmost care
"From the ambassadors down to the low level, (they all say) we are doing a great job", Flynn said in a 2015 interview.
Al-Qaeda's forces were driven out of Afghanistan in months, but the Americans stayed, and stayed. "2,400 lives lost", said Lute, who blamed what the Post describes as "bureaucratic breakdowns" in Congress, the Pentagon, and the State Department.
The officials who were interviewed said the USA foolishly tried to reinvent Afghanistan in its own image by imposing a centralized democracy and a free-market economy on the ancient, destitute, tribal society. "That is why we are there 15 years later".
A U.S. official who served as a liaison to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation who was not identified in the documents also had questions about strategy.
Much of the money, they said, lined the pockets of greedy contractors or corrupt Afghan officials, while schools, clinics and roads financed by the USA fell into disrepair. "What are our objectives?"More news: Snow expected for Wednesday morning commute
Despite improvements including an economy that has nearly quintupled and infant mortality rates that have plummeted, the American nation-building project has backfired enough that even foreign-aid advocates suggested that Afghanistan might have been better off without any United States assistance, the documents show. "It was never fully clear in our own minds what the established goals and timelines were".
Sarah Kreps, professor of government and worldwide relations at Cornell University said the interviews reveal the enormous disconnect between what civilian and military leaders knew about the war and what the public knew, particularly about its costs.
A senior National Security Council official said there was constant pressure from the Obama White House and Pentagon to produce figures to show the USA troop surge of 2009 to 2011 was working despite evidence to the contrary.
Many officials said the "overall nation-building strategy was further undermined by hubris, impatience, ignorance and a belief that money can fix anything", according to the paper.
"The metrics were always manipulated for the duration of the war".More news: Minecraft cross-play finally lands on PS4 tomorrow