John Manza, the Assistant Secretary General for Operations, and NATO’s 30 national envoys are assembling a report about almost two decades worth of work in Afghanistan. The task was given to them after the Afghan president fled, and NATO-trained Afghan soldiers collapsed.

Manza stated to European Union lawmakers that mission creep was one of the major lessons his team is learning. This includes input from political experts from Afghanistan.

NATO assumed control of the International Security Assistance Force (Afghanistan) in 2003, nearly two years after a U.S. coalition invaded Afghanistan to expel the Taliban for harboring Osama Bin Laden, the former leader al-Qaeda.

Manza said that the initial 5,000 troops were based in Kabul. However, the focus changed to “tackling the root causes” and helped rebuild a country that was landlocked and divided by tribal and ethnic divisions.

NATO troops grew to approximately 60,000 in 2006 with military-civilian teams spreading around the country, which is largely lawless, to encourage economic growth and better governance in nearly every province.

Manza stated that “this really significant increase didn’t have the desired results.” “The insurgency was still growing. The country was still very much affected by corruption, and the government’s performance was not improving.”

Manza stated that “you have to question, and we’ve been asking that a lot in our committee, were these goals realistic?” He added that although the international community was not achieving its goals, his response to this “poor progress” was to do more.

In 2009, President Barack Obama ordered a “surge”, which saw NATO troop numbers rise to more than 100,000. Meanwhile, international aid to Afghanistan was significantly increased. Excessive aid money led to rampant corruption.

Manza stated, “Now that we look back, it was obvious that this enormous effort could not last for a long time. So these were temporary efforts in the different provinces.”

Last week, Manza shared the initial findings of his committee with NATO defense ministers. His final report will be submitted to the foreign ministers of the alliance on November 30-Dec. 1.