Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

ONE DAY left in this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

U.S. Army General John F. Campbell speaks Dec 8, 2014 at North Kabul Afghanistan International Airport, Afghanistan. (Photo: ResoluteSupportMedia/flickr/public domain)

U.S. Army General John F. Campbell speaks Dec 8, 2014 at North Kabul Afghanistan International Airport, Afghanistan. (Photo: ResoluteSupportMedia/flickr/public domain)

Classified: US Military Imposes 'Startling' Blackout On Key Details Of War In Afghanistan

'It’s not just a particular fact or figure that’s being classified, but whole categories of previously public information.'

Sarah Lazare

In an unprecedented blackout, top U.S. military officials have quietly classified key information about how they are spending the over $65 billion dollars appropriated since 2002 to train Afghan forces.

New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg, who broke the story in the press on Thursday, explained, "until this month the American-led coalition regularly shared details on how the money was being put to use and on the Afghan forces' progress."

However, this information has been suddenly declared off-limits, meaning that over 100 critical aspects of U.S. policy in Afghanistan are shielded from public disclosure. These include:

  • How much money the U.S. spends on weapons and equipment for the Afghan National Army.
  • The total dollars the U.S. spends on salaries for Afghan national police.
  • The number of active Afghan military and police personnel.
  • Full details about U.S. training programs for Afghan forces.

A report released this week by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko states, "The classification of this volume of data for SIGAR’s quarterly report is unprecedented."

"The decision leaves SIGAR for the first time in six years unable to publicly report on most of the U.S.-taxpayer-funded efforts to build, train, equip, and sustain the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces)," the report continues.

Addressing the Inspector General, Gen. John F. Campbell, the U.S. commander of coalition forces, claimed that classification is necessary to "protect the lives of those individuals who could be put at risk by the release of sensitive information."

But Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, pointed out, "The General did not explain how budget and contracting information, among other routine data, could be used to sharpen attacks against allied forces."

"For years, this kind of information has been available," Aftergood told Frontline. "It’s not just a particular fact or figure that’s being classified, but whole categories of previously public information. That is both stunning and disturbing."

Others drew their own conclusions:

The U.S. military is pulling the veil over this information at a time when the United States is locking in at least another decade of war in the country and publicly claiming that its strategy centers on the training and building of Afghan forces. The Obama administration is expected to request for the 2016 budget at least $42 billion for the war in Afghanistan, signaling the long-term nature of U.S. military entanglement in the country.

The new classifications, furthermore, come at an especially dangerous time for Afghan people. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 2014 was the deadliest year on record for Afghan civilians since the global body began making reports in 2009.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just ONE DAY left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

'What's There to Even Discuss?' Omar Says Free, Universal School Meals Should Be Permanent

"We have an opportunity to prove that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people can still deliver big things. And we can feed tens of millions of hungry kids while we do it."

Jake Johnson ·


'Stark Betrayal': Biden Administration Floats New Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

"This is the third time since November the Biden administration has announced new oil and gas leasing plans on the Friday before a holiday," said one climate advocate. "They're ashamed, and they should be."

Jake Johnson ·


As US Rolls Back Reproductive Rights, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalize Abortion

"I'm hopeful today's announcement gives activists in the U.S., and especially Black women given the shared history, a restored faith that change is possible and progress can be made."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Indefensible': Outrage as New Reporting Shines Light on Biden Deal With McConnell

The president has reportedly agreed to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime judgeship. In exchange, McConnell has vowed to stop blocking two Biden picks for term-limited U.S. attorney posts.

Jake Johnson ·


Assange Makes Final Appeal Against US Extradition

"If Julian Assange is not free, neither are we," said a protester at a Friday demonstration against the WikiLeaks founder's impending transfer. "None of us is free."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo