New president and a new plan for Afghanistan?
The news coming out of the country, especially the intel reports, is not a good one…..
The security situation in Afghanistan will further deteriorate even if there is a modest increase in U.S. military support for the war-torn country, the top U.S. intelligence official said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump’s administration weighs sending more forces to Afghanistan.
Afghan army units are pulling back, and in some cases have been forced to abandon more scattered and rural bases, and the government can claim to control or influence only 57 percent of the country, according to U.S. military estimates from earlier this year.
“The intelligence community assesses that the political and security situation in Afghanistan will almost certainly deteriorate through 2018, even with a modest increase in (the)military assistance by the United States and its partners,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in a Senate hearing.
So if the prediction is that things will get worse in the coming months…..what has the decision by the president done to stave off disaster?
Previous reports on the Pentagon’s Afghan War plans, then yet to be presented to President Trump, presented them as uniformly in favor of escalation, with the plans varying from a 3,000 troop buildup to one with upwards of 5,000 more US ground troops sent to the country.
Today, reports are suggesting that the actual plans presented are down to two basic options, one which is the escalatory plan that involves around 3,000 troops, and a “less kinetic” option that involves keeping troop levels in the country flat, and limiting direct US involvement to “high-value” targets.
Officials in favor of the second option say the US “don’t fight other people’s wars,” and want to focus on preparing the Afghan military to fight ISIS itself. They also note this plan is considerably cheaper than launching yet another surge into Afghanistan.
But like Syria and Iraq, Afghanistan seems to be an open ended war…meaning a war without end……will Trump keep on keeping on?
It remains to be seen whether President Donald Trump will approve the proposals that Mattis and McMaster have pushed in recent weeks.
Judging from his position during the campaign and his recent remarks, Trump may well baulk at the plans now being pushed by his advisers.
The plans for the three countries now being developed within the Trump administration encompass long-term stationing of troops, access to bases and the authority to wage war in these three countries.
These are the primordial interest of the Pentagon and the US military leadership, and they have pursued those interests more successfully in the Middle East than anywhere else on the globe.
US military officials aren’t talking about “permanent” stationing of troops and bases in these countries, referring instead to the “open-ended commitment” of troops. But they clearly want precisely that in all three.
My thought is the later…..don’t fight other people’s wars…..declare success and leave them to their fate.
And thoughts from the “Peanut Gallery”?
Update: Since I wrote this draft more news about Afghanistan has come to light….
While publicly US strategy in the Afghan War has been based around the conceit that the conflict is in a “stalemate,” despite mounting losses by the Afghan government. Advisers have offered a classified assessment on the conflict recently, however, conceding that the Ghani government’s survival is at risk, and that the war is being “slowly” lost.
Their solution, as with everyone else, is even bigger escalation, with reports from those familiar with the plan saying that the US needs “more than 50,000” ground troops in Afghanistan to ensure Ghani’s survival, with an eye toward eventually defeating the Taliban.
That’s a big escalation, and a much bigger one than has been suggested in previous reports, which initially presented the proposed escalation as 3,000 to 5,000, and most recently made it a choice between 3,000 or keeping troop levels flat. The Pentagon is evasive about troop levels in recent months, but around 8,400 troops are believed to presently be in Afghanistan.
Speechless? All I can think of at this time is….”Here we go again!”