An Afghanistan Update

I reported earlier today about the death of another American soldier….at the time his name had not been released……that has changed and I would like to update my report……

A Special Forces soldier, SFC Jeremy Griffin, was killed on Monday, September 16, 2019 in Afghanistan. He died of wound from small arms fire while engaged in combat operations in Wardak province, Afghanistan. He was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 1st special Forces Group based at Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Washington.

Jeremy Griffin was born in Cristobal, Panama in December 1978. He enlisted into the U.S. Army in 2004. He deployed to Iraq in 2006 and Afghanistan in 2009 with the 82nd Airborne Division. He had also served with the 7th Special Forces Group. After attending and graduating from the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2014 as a Special Forces Communication Sergeant he was assigned to 1st SFGA.

Our thoughts go out to the family.

May Sgt. Griffin Rest In Peace.

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Thoughts On Afghanistan

After 18 years of war in Afghanistan could there possibly be anything that has gone unsaid?

Probably not.

But I would like to keep my readers abreast of the stuff that this war is made of……profits and death.

Speaking of deaths…….sad news…..yet another American soldier killed in fighting in Afghanistan…..

Another U.S. service member has been killed in action in Afghanistan, officials announced Monday.

The death was announced by NATO’s Resolute Support mission to the country in a press release.

A defense official told Army Times on background that the fallen soldier was a Green Beret, but did not specify the operator’s unit. A separate defense official said that there are no indications the attack was a green-on-blue incident.

“In accordance with U.S. Department of Defense policy, the name of the service member is being withheld until 24 hours after family notification is complete,” the release reads.

(Army Times)

Now that the peace process is “dead” according to Trump what will it mean for the people?

“Our only hope was peace,” Hayat Khan, the family’s 54-year-old patriarch, said Tuesday, “and that doesn’t happen now.”

President Donald Trump says the U.S.-Taliban talks on ending the fighting in Afghanistan are “dead,” deeply unfortunate wording for the Afghan civilians who have been killed by the tens of thousands over almost 18 years. Many fear his cancellation of negotiations will bring more carnage as the U.S. and Taliban, as well as Afghan forces, step up their offensives and everyday people die in the crossfire.

https://apnews.com/d619f2a9fd3b47fa812d707fafd5f146

The Taleban leader said that there could be a ceasefire….it was up to Trump…….

Taliban chief negotiator Sher Abbas Stanekzai announced on Friday that the Taliban has agreed to a complete ceasefire that was contingent on the US accepting the existing Afghan peace deal.

President Trump scrapped the Afghan deal last weekend, citing his anger at the Taliban for continuing to fight. Other US officials had cited both the lack of a ceasefire and the Taliban not making a deal with the Afghan government.

On that front, Stanekzai also noted that the Taliban has already scheduled talks with the Afghan government on September 23. It’s not clear what’s going to happen with these talks if the US peace process is “dead.”

All indications are that the Taliban were both willing for the peace deal last week, and are still willing now. The big question, then, is if President Trump will come around to the idea, or will just keep dismissing peace and choosing to continue America’s longest war.

(antiwar.com)

What about the thing that we hear very little about…the Afghan drug trade?

It is hard to be optimistic about the ongoing U.S. led peace talks with the Taliban. After nearly 18 years of conflict, the Taliban and its terrorist affiliations have proved to be impressively resilient adversaries. 

Despite significant growth in the capacity of the Afghan Government and its security forces, the Taliban still controls more territory than at any point since 2001. If Afghanistan is to ever prevail against this threat, it is imperative to understand what has enabled the Taliban to not only survive, but flourish against formidable counterinsurgency efforts. One likely source of strength is the drug trade.

The source of nearly 90% of the world’s supply of heroin, Afghanistan’s drug trade is as unique as it is vast. There are few modern examples of narco-states where drugs have become so intertwined in the political, economic and social structures of the nation.

The True Power of the Afghan Drug Trade

Someone explain our toleration to the world.

There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon.  The American people are losing interest in Afghan War……

On the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, a new survey said Wednesday Americans have a very divided view on the conflict in Afghanistan — which, after 18 years, is still being fought by U.S. armed forces.

Gallup said it found more than half of Americans, 52 percent, say going into Afghanistan after the 2001 attacks was the right thing to do — a decrease of 2 percent since the pollster last asked the question in 2015. Forty-three percent said it was a mistake, up 1 percent.

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2019/09/11/Americans-support-for-initial-Afghan-war-declining-survey-shows/8821568217890/

In closing…..just a reminder……

Simply put, the reason American troops are dying in Afghanistan is because they are deployed to Afghanistan. Therefore, the best way to immunize soldiers from a violent death at the hands of the Taliban is to withdraw them from Afghanistan altogether. Reports suggest that his former national security adviser John Bolton tried to dissuade Trump by planting negative stories in the press over his opposition to signing a deal with the Taliban. Some commentators have expressed relief that the ultra-hawkish Bolton was ousted from the White House before be could start a war. But it appears as though, when it came to Afghanistan, he succeeded in keeping an existing war going.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/09/13/neverforget-war-afghanistan

Time for the insanity of Afghanistan to END!  And end NOW!

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

That Foggy Mountain Breakdown–Afghanistan

There is a wealth of opinions on the breakdown of the talks between the US and the Taleban…..all said the common opinion is that Trump was right cancel these talks for it gives the US time to revamp its Afghan strategy…..

U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Saturday that he had called off talks with the Taliban at Camp David. The meeting had probably been arranged to finalise a deal for the start of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The deal apparently had four main pillars: a Taliban guarantee not to allow foreign fighters to use Afghanistan to launch attacks outside the country; the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces; an intra-Afghan dialogue; and a permanent ceasefire.

The question marks over that plan are the credibility of any Taliban commitments, the exclusion of the Afghan government from the peace talks, and what happens next.

These problems are well known to any observer of Afghanistan and certainly to the U.S. lead negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad. He may well have reached the best deal he could with the Taliban, but that doesn’t mean it was one worth taking. Fortunately, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump seem to have a perspective that’s different from the negotiating team’s.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2019/09/11/the_breakdown_of_ustaliban_talks_buys_time_to_reset_the_afghanistan_strategy_114737.html

Was Trump right to cancel these talks?

The new peace agreement thus far, painstakingly negotiated by U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad – a skilled former ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations – was between the U.S. and the Taliban only. The Camp David meeting was supposed to be a turning point, wherein the Afghan government of President Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban could come together, echoing former President Bill Clinton’s bringing together of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the government of Israel in 2000, also at Camp David. (That attempt, too, died stillborn.)

The deal on the table reportedly included a U.S. withdrawal of its 14,000 troops, including a down-payment of around 5,000 leaving within a few months after the accord was completed. The Taliban were to provide guarantees that there would be no return to creating “safe havens” for groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (which is rising in prominence within Afghanistan). There was also a provision to free thousands of Taliban prisoners being held by the Afghan government. All of this was to be cemented with a prolonged cease-fire – and it was that portion of the agreement that the Taliban failed to honor, continuing their attacks and killing another U.S. service member last week.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-09-09/trump-was-right-to-cancel-the-taliban-talks

One of the media’s main sticking points is that there was NO Afghan government representation…..but once the US takes it on the lame the Taleban will once again become the government in power in Afghanistan.

Really the only thing to worry about is to take measures to assure the US that there will be no safe haven for terrorists like AQ and ISIS.

The governmental form matters not….for Afghanistan will be Afghanistan.

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

More On Afghanistan

The news has centered on Afghanistan in the last week because of some secret meeting at Camp David with the Taleban ….cancelled to avoid the embarrassment for the president…….

President Trump surprised many over the weekend with the revelation that he had canceled secret peace talks that were about to take place at Camp David with Taliban and Afghan leaders. Trump said he called off the meeting following a Taliban attack in Kabul that killed an American soldier. Now the big question is what happens next in regard to US plans to scale down its presence in Afghanistan. A look at coverage:

  • The talks: The New York Times has an in-depth look at how the Camp David meeting nearly came to be, reporting that Trump himself suggested using the coveted locale. Some background: The US has been negotiating separately with the Taliban for some time, and a deal is close. Those talks have not included Afghanistan, however, and it was Trump’s idea to invite Afghan leader Ashraf Ghani to the US to sign off on an agreement.
  • Trump’s style: The Washington Post reports this via an official: “Comparing the initiative to Trump’s personal meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and his stated desire to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, this official said Trump thinks his personal style can persuade anyone, and that he has seen the possibility of a substantial Afghan withdrawal as a major plus for his reelection campaign.”
  • Critic’s view: Don’t buy the president’s explanation that he called off the meeting over the death of an American service member, writes Chas Danner at New York. “Last week’s deadly suicide bombing was not some final straw for Trump, as he and Pompeo have claimed, but rather a politically palatable excuse to save face after the administration’s plan for a peacemaking grand finale fell apart,” writes Danner. He has a lengthy analysis.
  • How it allegedly fell apart: The Times reports the Taliban did agree to come to Camp David, but only if the peace deal was announced prior to their arrival there. That was a “fundamental dividing point.” Trump “wanted to be the dealmaker who would put the final parts together himself, or at least be perceived to be,” per the story.
  • So now what? Not only is the Camp David meeting off, but those US-Taliban talks also have been suspended. The AP reports that it’s not clear when they might resume, and the Timesthinks it could be “several months.” Also up in the air is the timeline for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. About 14,000 are currently there, and Trump promised last month to bring that number down to about 8,600. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out two conditions for any drawdown on Sunday: reduced violence and the pledge that Afghanistan would not be used as the base for an attack on the US.
  • A rift: The Afghanistan strategy has exposed a rift between national security adviser John Bolton, a hawk who wants no part of a deal with the Taliban, and Pompeo, who backs the negotiations, reports the Post. Bolton maintains that Trump can keep a campaign pledge of reducing the US troop presence without a Taliban deal.
  • Taliban threat: A Taliban spokesman warned that the cancellation will result in American deaths, reports Reuters. “This will lead to more losses to the US,” he said. “Its credibility will be affected, its anti-peace stance will be exposed to the world, losses to lives and assets will increase.”

Trump wants to get out of Afghanistan because he promised to do so and because it will look good on his re-election rhetoric…..

Do we have a moral reason to stay in the country?

Since 9/11, U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan have fluctuated between a high of 100,000 in 2011 and about 14,000 today. Until 2014, they were part of a NATO mission that at its height had 130,000 troops from 50 countries; NATO transitioned it from a combat mission to a “train, equip and advise” mandate in 2014, aiming to shift responsibility to Afghan security forces. The U.S. contingent is now the major part of a force of 17,000 from 30 countries. Close to 3,500 coalition personnel have been killed since 2001, including 2,300 Americans.

No one would argue that this 18-year-long Western commitment has solved Afghanistan’s security problems, but some changes in Afghan life offer modest hope for the future. Despite endemic corruption, Afghans continue to stumble fitfully toward a functioning electoral system, with a presidential election set for Sept. 28. Perhaps most important, in a country of 36 million people, USAID says about 9 million children are now in school, one-third of them girls. Under the Taliban, few children had access to school, and no girls were permitted to attend.

https://www.ozy.com/opinion/afghanistan-in-a-precarious-position-as-us-prepares-to-leave/96643

Or do we stay….and stay….and stay……?

After 18 years of waging war in Afghanistan, the Trump administration is attempting to pull back. But critics have responded with outrage. What’s the point of trying to reach a deal with the execrable Taliban? How can we contemplate abandoning the Afghan government when the country could be plunged into civil war or worse?

The implication of these objections is clear: Eighteen years has been insufficient. The U.S. should be willing to guarantee Afghan security and stability — including playing Whack-a-Mole with Taliban insurgents — with no end in sight. Anything less than such an open-ended commitment is tantamount to a surrender — and surrendering to America’s enemies should be considered unacceptable, no matter the cost in blood and treasure.

https://theweek.com/articles/862985/does-america-have-moral-imperative-stay-afghanistan-forever

As usual there is a wealth of reason why the US cannot leave Afghanistan….sadly none hold up to the reality.

One last thought……

according to the US Department of Defense, the total military expenditure in Afghanistan (from October 2001 until March 2019) was $760bn.

But it doesn’t include spending in Pakistan, which the US uses as a base for Afghan-related operations.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-47391821

That is cash that could have been used in the US on education, health or infrastructure….instead fighting a war that we cannot win was the use for those dollars.

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Back To Afghanistan

First, more sad news another American soldier was killed in Afghanistan……

A Green Beret sergeant from Idaho was killed in action Thursday in Afghanistan, becoming the 15th U.S. combat casualty there this year as the Pentagon prepares to draw down its forces in the country.

Although the Pentagon has not yet officially released the soldier’s name, he was identified Friday as Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Ard on the Facebook page of Idaho State Rep. Rod Furniss

Ard is survived by his pregnant wife and 3-year-old daughter, according to Idaho media.

Ard was killed at the outset of a raid alongside Afghan commandos in Afghanistan’s southern Zabul province, the New York Times reported Friday. A Pentagon spokesman could not confirm those details but said an investigation has been initiated.

(military.com)

I have been writing about the possibility of some sort of peace for Afghanistan…my most recent post from just days ago……https://lobotero.com/2019/09/03/afghanistan-deal-or-no-deal/

Word has leaked out the president has brought together the parties in a secret meeting and hawks are scrmabling to beat down this attempt…..

Nine former U.S. envoys to Afghanistan put their names on an article posted on the Atlantic Council’s blog on Tuesday. The article, titled “U.S.-Taliban Negotiations: How to Avoid Rushing to Failure,” makes the argument that if a major withdrawal of U.S. troops occurred in Afghanistan, the country would fall into a “total civil war.”

The article was posted just a day after U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad announced an agreement was made between the U.S. and Taliban for a withdrawal of 5,000 U.S. troops over the next five months. The deal is still pending approval from President Trump.

While the point these diplomats make about Afghanistan falling further into civil war after a U.S. withdrawal may be true, this article is full of the usual taking points that has kept the U.S. in this seemingly endless war. Afghanistan has been ravaged by civil war for decades, and while 14,000 U.S. troops maintain a presence in the country today, almost daily violence still occurs.

Former US Envoys to Afghanistan Want To Kill Peace Deal

Will these attempts be successful?

Well one could see it that way…..

Many months of tough negotiations between US and Taliban officials came to a draft agreement which some analysts believe was going to be formally finalized as a peace deal this weekend. That will not happen.

President Trump took to Twitter on Saturday announcing that he has “called off peace negotiations” with the Taliban, citing anger over one of the Taliban’s car bombings in Kabul last week.

(antiwar.com)

Lobbyists and war hawks have a great sway over our foreign policy….the only way to go now is more war, more destruction and more deaths.

I think we need a “peace race” (post to come)…….this country has had enough war and killing….time to “give peace a chance”.

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Afghanistan–Deal Or No Deal?

I have been watching the events in Afghanistan around the possibility of a peace deal between the US and the Taleban……https://lobotero.com/2019/08/27/afghanistan-yes-we-have-a-deal/

After months of back and forth….the news is that there is a deal…..

US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad has reported that the US and Taliban have a peace deal “in principle” now, and that it is just pending approval from President Trump. The Afghan government has confirmed being given a copy of the draft deal.

The specifics are not all public knowledge yet, but negotiators say that the deal would remove some 5,000 US ground troops from Afghanistan in the first five months, in return for the Taliban agreeing to keep ISIS and al-Qaeda out, and reduce violence.

All previous indications were that the deal was meant to see a full withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. This raises questions since Trump promised last week that he would “always” have a presence in Afghanistan.

With only mentions of 5,000 leaving, it leaves questions of what will happen to the other 8,000 or so troops. It is unthinkable for the Taliban to have not covered this matter, but so far those facts are not known.

What is known is that some in the White House want to expand the number of CIA on the ground in Afghanistan even as troops leave. Both the CIA and military are expressing concerns about this, since the CIA has embedded with troops in the past. The in-administration debate is further adding to resistance to leaving Afghanistan at all.

(antiwar.com)

We have been close before…..hopefully this time it is closer than in the past…..

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Sad News For A Saturday

I regret that I must report on yet another death of a US soldier in Afghanistan……

A U.S. service member died in combat Thursday in Afghanistan a little over a week after two Army Green Berets were killed by enemy small-arms fire.

A statement from Operation Resolute Support officials in Kabul did not identify the service member or branch of service. Pentagon policy mandates that names of personnel killed are not released until 24 hours after the next of kin are notified.

This latest casualty marks the 15th service member to die in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, which has become the deadliest year since the U.S. formally ended combat operations in 2014.

(military.com)

It is to for the candidates to answer question on the policies and the wars we are fighting….too many fine Americans have given their lives.

Related image

 

IST offers our condolences to the family…..our thoughts are with you and yours on this weekend.

“Lego Ergo Scribo”