14All-out in Afghanistan – or out?


14Allout in Afghanistan – or out?

 

It’s time for decision-making in Afghanistan.

America’s longest war – 17 years — has cost more than 2,3500 lives [and 20,000 wounded] at a cost of $1.07 trillion.

 

President Donald Trump has authorized sending 3,000 to 5,000 more troops  to strengthen training and support efforts there, augmenting the 9,800-American part of an international force of 13,000..

 

However, the cost of the war has to be reckoned as much greater. Battlefield medicine has improved to more than 90 percent survival of soldiers wounded in Afghanistan. [In  Vietnam 86.5% survived.] But it also means more than 320,000 veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq have Traumatic Brain Injury. More than 1600 lost all or part of a limb and more than 138,000 have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — flashbacks, hypervigilance and difficulty sleeping. The cost for these veterans’ medical payments over the next 40 years will be more than $1 trillion.

 

But now Afghan troops are fighting a resurgence of the Taliban and the Islamic State group. And 2,000 Americans are still actively engaged in active combat in addition to their training and support operations of the Kabul regime’s military.

 

Increaingly the options are narrowing for Washington policymakers.

 

A complete withdrawal from the area would almost certainly lead to a resurgence of Taliban operations and the possible participation of other radical Islamic forces. The possibility of the region again becoming a base for attacks on the American homeland would have to be considered a distinct possibility. An Afghanistan in Taliban hands or even in civil war among increasingly radical Islamist terrorist groups would also threaten neighboring Pakistan with its 200 million Moslems, even neighboring India’s own Islamic minority which is projected to reach 310 million by 2050, by then the largest Islamic group in the world.

 

After December 2014, NATO formally ended combat operations theoretically transferring full security responsibility to the Afghan government. But while Pakistan launched operation in the North Waziristan tribal area in June 2014, between the two countries, dislodging thousands of mainly Uzbek, Arab and Pakistani militants, they flooded into Afghanistan swelling Taliban’s ranks.

 

Afghan security forces lacked capabilities and equipment, especially air power and reconnaissance to counter the Taliban’s increasingly frequent terrorist attacks, even against urban centers. On June 22, 2015, the Taliban detonated a car bomb outside the National Assembly. The Quadrilateral Coordination Group-consisting of Afghan, American, Chinese and Pakistani officials invited the Taliban to discuss peace talks since January 2016, but they appear preoccupied with fighting each other and the government forces.

 

In January 2016, the US granted new legal authority for the U.S. military to go on the offensive against militants affiliated with the ISIS-K (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant –Khorasan Province) in Afghanistan,.after the State Department designated the ISIS in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a foreign terrorists

 

The question now is whether the U.S. should again build its forces, modify its terms of engagement to including massive air power, in an effort to break the various Taliban groups. Whether that would be enough to sufficiently strengthen the feuding, corrupt Kabul regime and its own military is a question. But the alternative now appears to be a total withdrawal rather than a piecemeal return to the fight which the current increase in forces suggests might be a creeping strategy leading to another Vietnam disaster.

 

sws-07-30-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s time for decision-making in Afghanistan.

America’s longest war – 17 years — has cost more than 2,3500 lives [and 20,000 wounded] at a cost of $1.07 trillion.

 

President Donald Trump has authorized sending 3,000 to 5,000 more troops  to strengthen training and support efforts there, augmenting the 9,800-American part of an international force of 13,000..

 

However, the cost of the war has to be reckoned as much greater. Battlefield medicine has improved to more than 90 percent survival of soldiers wounded in Afghanistan. [In  Vietnam 86.5% survived.] But it also means more than 320,000 veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq have Traumatic Brain Injury. More than 1600 lost all or part of a limb and more than 138,000 have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — flashbacks, hypervigilance and difficulty sleeping. The cost for these veterans’ medical payments over the next 40 years will be more than $1 trillion.

 

But now Afghan troops are fighting a resurgence of the Taliban and the Islamic State group. And 2,000 Americans are still actively engaged in active combat in addition to their training and support operations of the Kabul regime’s military.

 

Increaingly the options are narrowing for Washington policymakers.

 

A complete withdrawal from the area would almost certainly lead to a resurgence of Taliban operations and the possible participation of other radical Islamic forces. The possibility of the region again becoming a base for attacks on the American homeland would have to be considered a distinct possibility. An Afghanistan in Taliban hands or even in civil war among increasingly radical Islamist terrorist groups would also threaten neighboring Pakistan with its 200 million Moslems, even neighboring India’s own Islamic minority which is projected to reach 310 million by 2050, by then the largest Islamic group in the world.

 

After December 2014, NATO formally ended combat operations theoretically transferring full security responsibility to the Afghan government. But while Pakistan launched operation in the North Waziristan tribal area in June 2014, between the two countries, dislodging thousands of mainly Uzbek, Arab and Pakistani militants, they flooded into Afghanistan swelling Taliban’s ranks.

 

Afghan security forces lacked capabilities and equipment, especially air power and reconnaissance to counter the Taliban’s increasingly frequent terrorist attacks, even against urban centers. On June 22, 2015, the Taliban detonated a car bomb outside the National Assembly. The Quadrilateral Coordination Group-consisting of Afghan, American, Chinese and Pakistani officials invited the Taliban to discuss peace talks since January 2016, but they appear preoccupied with fighting each other and the government forces.

 

In January 2016, the US granted new legal authority for the U.S. military to go on the offensive against militants affiliated with the ISIS-K (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant –Khorasan Province) in Afghanistan,.after the State Department designated the ISIS in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a foreign terrorists

 

The question now is whether the U.S. should again build its forces, modify its terms of engagement to including massive air power, in an effort to break the various Taliban groups. Whether that would be enough to sufficiently strengthen the feuding, corrupt Kabul regime and its own military is a question. But the alternative now appears to be a total withdrawal rather than a piecemeal return to the fight which the current increase in forces suggests might be a creeping strategy leading to another Vietnam disaster.

 

sws-07-30-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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