How To Win In Afghanistan

This war has been raging for 18 years……and there is no end in sight. Out troops will continue to have multiple deployments and we continue to throw money at a hopeless cause.

Plus I listen to the major Dem candidates when asked about Afghanistan…..most have a common stand…they do not want to leave our troops in Afghanistan but they would remove them in a responsible way…….sounds like the last two presidents……what it means is they will stay in Afghanistan until the weapons industry says we can leave.

I have been asking for years just what would it take to declare victory and bring our weary troops home for a much deserved rest?

It appears that the only strategy we have is to wait the Taleban out…….

The Thirty Years War? The Hundred Years War? The Forever War? More than 17 years after the United States invaded Afghanistan to depose the Taliban regime, the United States has failed to crush the resulting Taliban insurgency and cannot withdraw without allowing them to return to power. Political frustration is building. The United States is questioning an ongoing presence. United States Senator Rand Paul recently said, “[W]e’re in an impossible situation. I see no hope for it.” Among the many depressing aspects of the situation is the $13 billion being spent each year in maintaining approximately 16,000 American service members in Afghanistan. The lower estimate for maintaining one service member in Afghanistan is $500,000 per year. More realistic estimates put the number at $1 million per year. (In 2018, to maintain the current force of 16,000, the United States spent $13 billion on U.S. forces and $5 billion on Afghan forces. This provides a cost of approximately $812,000 per U.S. service member per year). The 175,000 strong Afghan National Army (ANA) costs about $5 billion per year or $28,000 per member.

Presently, the United States and NATO maintain discrete military units in Afghanistan. These units operate against the Taliban and train ANA troops. Each year, significant numbers of ANA troops desert. A bigger problem is tens of thousands of ANA “ghost soldiers.” According to a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, these “soldiers” are just names on the ANA’s rolls enabling corrupt high-ranking Afghanis to steal their salaries. The present system of giving money to the Afghan government is not creating an ANA that can ever achieve victory.

 
So there is my answer….we will just wait the Taleban out…eventually they will tire of fighting and come to a peace accord.
 
The Taleban seems to think that the US is ready to set a date for departure……
Taliban negotiator spokesman Mohammed Sohail Shaheen, currently in Moscow from the recent talks between Taliban and Afghan officials, reported that he expects, during the next round of talks with the US, the Americans will announce a specific date for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

The US and Taliban have been known to be advancing toward a deal for months, centered on the US withdrawing from Afghanistan and the Taliban promising to keep ISIS and al-Qaeda out of the country in return.

Shaheen said that if the US does set a date, it will create a very real possibility of settling the war in Afghanistan, now ongoing for some 18 years. President Trump has talked up the merits of such a deal, though some US officials are said to oppose any deal that doesn’t leave a remnant US force in Afghanistan.
 
(antiwar.com)
Seriously?  Did they check with Raytheon or Boeing or any other of the MIC?
 
And they call me a dreamer!
 
$13 billion a year is the cost…bring the troops home and we can use that cash for a damn silly wall and Trump can claim the Afghanistan paid for it.
 
Peace Out!

Afghanistan: Why And Why?

WTF?

It is 0300 hrs (3 am civilian time) and I have been staring into the void of American foreign policy. And the worst case scenario is the situation in Afghanistan. Why is this taking so long?

Good question that few have an answer for when asked.

Then I found one that tries to justify this war…..

When I first learned about the Thirty Years War in a history class in college, I was both fascinated and amazed. How in the world could a war go on for 30 years? That just seemed incomprehensible to me.

Not anymore. The U.S. war on Afghanistan has now been going on for 17 years. And if the American people follow the advice of Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, it’s a virtual certainty that the United States will easily surpass the Thirty Years War and, maybe, the Hundred Years War, which needless to say, also amazed and fascinated me when I learned about its existence.

I can just see Americans 83 years from now breaking the 100-year-war record and exclaiming in celebration, “We’re Number One! We’re Number One! KAG! KAG! Keep America Great!”

https://www.fff.org/2019/01/25/justifying-the-17-year-war/

Most of us questioners see the Afghanistan situation as just another Vietnam……

Senator George Aiken is famously misquoted as recommending that the United States “declare victory and get out” as a way of ending the war in Vietnam. In practice, the United States did something very different. It bombed North Vietnam into agreeing to a peace settlement, claimed that a rushed “Vietnamization” campaign gave South Vietnam a government and military forces capable of securing the country, and then pulled United States forces out of South Vietnam.

Any summary of what happened next has to be grossly oversimplified, but even a brief summary still sounds important warnings about the current United States policies in Afghanistan. The U.S left South Vietnam with a hollow, unstable and corrupt “democratic” government in charge. It left a country with serious economic problems the moment United States military spending and high aid levels were cut, and it left a country torn apart by deep divisions between its ruling class and its Buddhist clergy.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/afghanistan-vietnam-redux-bomb-declare-peace-and-leave

A case could be made that the US had a right to retaliate against AQ in Afghanistan…….but why not use the most effective tactic….Bomb…..Declare a win…..Go Home?

Now the saddest part of this 17 year war is that for the most part the American public has all but forgotten this “war”…….

Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz and the other neo-con wild boys who came to power with George W. Bush in 2001 all shared a vision. In their minds, they saw a cowed, conquered Iraq as the stepping stone to a wider conflict that would, in the righteous fullness of Republican time, lead to broad regional transformation and the enforced peace of empire, all of it lubricated by “liberated” Middle Eastern petroleum.

Using Iraq as a jump-off point, they would knock off regime after regime, running up the stars and stripes as they went, and then watch as peace and prosperity unfolded like a desert blossom. That cauldron of seemingly endless conflict would soon become a happy democratic paradise filled to bursting with McDonald’s customers tying the laces of their new Nike sneakers with fingers stained purple from voting. All the wild boys needed was a catalyst, a “new Pearl Harbor,” to get the ball rolling. When the Towers came down, they took their shot, and we were off to the races.

https://truthout.org/articles/after-17-years-of-war-afghanistan-is-all-but-forgotten/

War does not make sense any longer…..with that statement I do agree…..

America spends more on its military than all its enemies put together yet it still can’t win wars. Failed adventures in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan have drained America’s power and diminished its prestige. The bloated Pentagon budget actually makes us weaker.

Here’s the weird bit: nobody seems to care. If any other government department spent as much and accomplished as little, the populace would be in arms, complaining about wasteful government spending. Instead we mumble “Thank you for your service” and increase defense appropriations.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/war-doesnt-make-sense-anymore/

Congress needs to step up and do what is required….end this “war” and bring our troops home for the rest they richly deserve.

For those interested…..further reading……

http://www.unz.com/emargolis/americas-shameful-war/

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/skeptics/america-knows-it-cannot-win-afghanistan%E2%80%94so-why-keep-fighting-42327

That Terrorist Threat

The US has not had an organized terrorist attack in months even years…that is good to see that our counter terrorist dynamics is working so well.

As a wonk for international situations, for conflict management and for security issues I read a lot of papers and reports and I see through my readings that there could possibly be a new batch of terrorist in the wings.

We took care of AQ and in the process of dealing the fatal blow to ISIS…so where could the danger be?

The way Westerners think about Islamist terrorism has grown dangerously outdated. For decades, officials have focused on attacks launched by Middle Easterners. Today, however, the real threat increasingly comes from further east. In the former Soviet states and beyond, militants who once harbored mostly local grievances are turning their attention to the West. They will be the menace to watch in 2019.

The threat posed by Middle Eastern terrorists has been shrinking for some time. Even during the war against the Islamic State, Russian speakers from former Soviet countries were already committing many of the major attacks in the West. Those included relatively simple lone-wolf events, such as the 2017 truck strikes on pedestrians in New York and Stockholm—both conducted by Uzbeks—but also more complicated operations, such as the 2016 suicide bombing of Istanbul’s airport—which was allegedly organized by a Russian national—and the 2017 attack on a nightclub in the same city, led by an Uzbek.

The New Face of Terrorism in 2019

Central Asia has been a hotbed for terrorists in the past….and the outlook is not very good for the future….

Central Asian countries’ reputation as exporters of radicalized extremists appears to be giving way to one marked by a growing threat of terrorism domestically. A number of incidents in Tajikistan over the last year highlight the problem of increasing militant activity that targets both foreign and national interests. Several factors—the Islamic State’s shift in focus toward Afghanistan following losses in Iraq and Syria; growing Chinese influence in Central Asia; and ongoing repression by authoritarian governments—point toward a more widespread threat, however, that is likely to affect the region as a whole.

https://jamestown.org/program/terror-threat-turns-inward-on-central-asia/

The predictions are not good….and the overall chances of a Central Asian terrorist attack gets better this year…..

In the past two years, Central Asians have been involved in terrorist attacks in Istanbul, New York, St. Petersburg, and Stockholm. While we have seen more attacks by Central Asians outside the region than within it, in August four tourists were killed in an Islamic State-inspired attack in southern Tajikistan. This was the first attack credibly linked to IS in the region. Some have been quick to label Central Asia as a growing “hotbed” of Islamic extremism and exporter of terrorism. Returning fighters from Syria and Iraq, spillovers from Afghanistan, and “homegrown” terrorists are all framed as threats to the region. Yet assessing the threat remains difficult, due in no small part to the way the governments of the region manipulate it in order to consolidate their power.

http://voicesoncentralasia.org/assessing-the-terrorist-threat-in-and-from-central-asia/

This situation needs constant monitoring…..for we do not want to be caught with our pants down again.

Afghanistan–Late 2018

I read recently that the US may have a build-up of troops for Afghanistan……

Increasingly resigned to the reality that the US simply isn’t going to stumble into a military victory in Afghanistan, US military commanders are looking to redouble their efforts. The goal now to to not just kill people, but “shape the political environment” ahead of negotiations.

Officials now see their goal increasingly as bolstering America’s bargaining position in inevitable negotiations with the Taliban. Their tactics for this are, unfortunately, further escalation of the raids and airstrikes that failed to win the war in the first place.

“You turn the dial up,” Gen. Miller said of the US intentions now that they think the Taliban are willing to negotiate. The assumption is that the Taliban will want an end to the war and start making concessions to avoid further US escalations.

Yet this ignores the entire 17+ year history of the war, in which the Taliban has always been content to wait out US surges, particularly those that seem extremely temporary, and continue to amass gains where they can.

(antiwar.com)

After 17 years of constant fighting in Afghanistan can anyone really say why we continue to put the troops through this ordeal?

The quote below is from a letter from the White House to Congress that informs the House and Senate about deployments of the U.S. Armed Forces to combat areas. (White House, Dec 7, 2018).

“Consistent with the strategy I announced publicly on August 21, 2017, United States Armed Forces remain in Afghanistan for the purposes of stopping the reemergence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten the United States, supporting the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field, and creating conditions to support a political process to achieve lasting peace.  United States forces in Afghanistan are training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces; conducting and supporting counterterrorism operations against al-Qa’ida and against ISIS; and taking appropriate measures against those who provide direct support to al-Qa’ida, threaten United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan, or threaten the viability of the Afghan government or the ability of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to achieve campaign success.  Although reconciliation efforts are ongoing, the United States remains in an armed conflict, including in Afghanistan and against the Taliban, and active hostilities remain ongoing.”

Does that answer the question?

Does that sound like we actually know what we are doing?

Basically it is pride that will keep our troops fighting and dying….PRIDE!

In an interview with the Washington Post on November 27, President Trump reiterated his personal skepticism of the continuing American military presence in Afghanistan. He said the only reason for this status quo policy was because “virtually every expert” told him the United States needed to keep fighting there, otherwise they will be fighting here.

This deference to the Pentagon and military experts didn’t begin with Trump, as presidential candidates since 9/11 have always defended their foreign policy prescriptions by insisting they would listen to the counsel of the military brass. Trump alarmed many Washington insiders during his campaign for his seeming willingness to reject the advice of experts on most topics, but the foreign policy establishment has been successful thus far in containing his more unconventional instincts.

https://nationalinterest.org/feature/americas-war-afghanistan-now-about-only-one-thing-pride-37997

More troops for Afghanistan?  Well we are taking troops out of Syria…that could free up some new deployments (that was sarcasm in case you missed it)

After reading about the possible build-up came word of a possible draw down…..

Fresh off the announcement of a US military withdrawal from Syria, officials are saying that the Trump Administration is actively considering a major drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan, potentially starting in the next few weeks.

(antiwar.com)

Head spinning yet?

This is the perfect illustration of the Trump foreign policy!

While I agree with the idea of bringing troops home…..this confusion is NO way to run a foreign policy.

Afghanistan? Seriously?

Note:  I know this is a lot to read….but Americans are dying is it not time to ask the hard questions and demand the hard answers?

For 17 years I have been writing about our war in Afghanistan…..my position is that we should have gone in and punished those that planned and carried out the attacks on 9/11 and then we should have left the country to its own devices for if there was a threat again we could always return to punish.

The longer we stay the louder the voices get for us to withdraw and return home…..I read a lot and some of the sites are not on the withdrawal page….

Recent events in Afghanistan have reenergized those in favor of a U.S. military withdrawal. “Let someone else take up the burden,” urged one opinion piece in Slate. Another in the UK-based Guardian newspaper bluntly noted: “It’s time for America to end its war in Afghanistan.” Some media reports have also suggested that U.S. negotiators in Doha, Qatar have agreed to discuss the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan as part of a negotiated settlement with the Taliban.

Yet without a political settlement, which is still a longshot, a U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan would have serious risks. Chief among them would be the resurgence of terrorism and the deterioration of human rights—including women’s rights—that come with a Taliban victory.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/us-strategy-afghanistan-perils-withdrawal

And then there are those that see what I see (I cannot believe that a conservative site and I would agree) the longer we stretch our occupation out the more chance are that we could lose……

There’s a prevailing maxim, both inside the armed forces and around the Beltway, that goes something like this: “The U.S. can never be militarily defeated in any war,” certainly not by some third world country. Heck, I used to believe that myself. That’s why, in regard to Afghanistan, we’ve been told that while America could lose the war due to political factors (such as the lack of grit among “soft” liberals or defeatists), the military could never and will never lose on the battlefield.

That entire maxim is about to be turned on its head. Get ready, because we’re about to lose this war militarily.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/america-is-headed-for-military-defeat-in-afghanistan/

Then another view of the situation……

These days it seems everything the U.S. military touches in Afghanistan turns to rubbish. It’s possible this war is already over, only Washington won’t concede it.

https://original.antiwar.com/Danny_Sjursen/2018/12/04/what-is-left-for-the-us-to-do-in-afghanistan-the-answer-lose/

The news continues to be anything but good coming out of Afghanistan…..our airstrikes are killing more civilians than terrorist, Taleban attacks and takes control of more and more territory, and our troops keep dying…..

And that last part has me asking…….what are American troops dying for?

What benefit has been accrued to our country as a result of these compounding sorrows, grief and pain borne by such a tiny minority of our fellow citizens?

How much more blood must be spilled in Afghanistan before Washington acknowledges reality and ends the war?

Three more American troops were killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb on Tuesday and three others wounded; their names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin. These deaths, along with Sgt. Leandro Jasso who was killed in a firefight last Saturday, bring the number of troops killed in Afghanistan this year to thirteen. Unless major changes are made in U.S. strategic policy, they will not be the last to die.

https://nationalinterest.org/feature/what-are-us-soldiers-dying-afghanistan-37487

That is an interesting question that needs a definitive answer.

Something I have been pointing out for a couple of years now…….

Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz and the other neo-con wild boys who came to power with George W. Bush in 2001 all shared a vision. In their minds, they saw a cowed, conquered Iraq as the stepping stone to a wider conflict that would, in the righteous fullness of Republican time, lead to broad regional transformation and the enforced peace of empire, all of it lubricated by “liberated” Middle Eastern petroleum.

Using Iraq as a jump-off point, they would knock off regime after regime, running up the stars and stripes as they went, and then watch as peace and prosperity unfolded like a desert blossom. That cauldron of seemingly endless conflict would soon become a happy democratic paradise filled to bursting with McDonald’s customers tying the laces of their new Nike sneakers with fingers stained purple from voting. All the wild boys needed was a catalyst, a “new Pearl Harbor,” to get the ball rolling. When the Towers came down, they took their shot, and we were off to the races.

https://truthout.org/articles/after-17-years-of-war-afghanistan-is-all-but-forgotten/

If we have forgotten we are at war then maybe it is time to end the insanity……

You’d hardly know it from the news, but we’ve been continuously at war in Afghanistan since 2001. The war quietly turned 17 on October 7.

Unfortunately, America’s amnesia didn’t prevent Command Sergeant Major Tim Bolyard from being killed in Afghanistan in early September during his eighth combat tour and 13th deployment.

https://original.antiwar.com/Stacy_Bannerman/2018/10/11/if-you-forget-about-a-war-its-time-to-end-it/

Learn Stuff!

Afghanistan Is Collapsing!

I have been writing about Afghanistan since the early days of the invasion and then through the occupation……I have said continuously that it is time to declare success and bring our people home…….

I am not alone in my angst about Afghanistan……(this article was written before the rash of American deaths this month)…..

November has been quite a month, so far, in Afghanistan.  The level of violence has been appalling and the most serious recent atrocity was yet another suicide bombing in Kabul. It killed over fifty people and injured twice that many but didn’t merit a Trump tweet, which isn’t surprising because he doesn’t seem to be interested in the place.  Further, as reported by the Washington Post on November 19, he hasn’t visited a single country in which his troops are fighting.

The reason he hasn’t visited his troops in such areas is because he is a coward.  He is a physical yellow-belly who lacks the courage to go anywhere near a war zone.  He is below contempt, but he could gain a little bit of respect if he ordered the US and NATO to get out of Afghanistan.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/23/afghanistan-is-collapsing-get-out-now/

Does anyone disagree?

Afghanistan–Update

As always I remind my readers….17 years and counting….a war that will not end.

I also try to keep an eye on this conflict because the MSM has decided that it is not important enough to report on…..that is until they can get some ratings from the report…..they follow one simple rule…”If it bleeds then it leads”…..

On with the news…..

There is a debate….can we win this or is it impossible to win….I have found two different reports from the two sides…..

On the winning side……

Washington’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, met with the Taliban for the second time in Qatar to broker peace. Mr. Khalilzad’s trip to Qatar is part of his second regional tour from November 8–20 to garner regional support for peace in Afghanistan. His latest endeavor epitomizes Washington’s consistently inadequate policies on Afghanistan.

As Washington seeks to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan, it has sought various avenues to change the course of the war. Despite exhausting a variety of resources and billions of dollars, Washington’s policies have yet to address the root cause of the war: Pakistan’s pivotal role in the Taliban’s insurgency. Instead, Washington has acknowledged Pakistan’s role in the conflict but has wishfully urged Pakistan to change its pro-Taliban policy.

https://intpolicydigest.org/2018/11/17/winning-the-war-in-afghanistan-is-possible-with-one-tool/

Now for the losing side……

More than a year after President Trump announced his Afghanistan policy, the Taliban is closer to victory than we are. The Taliban contests or controls 61% of Afghan districts. More than 2,200 Americans have been killed in the long conflict. The United States has spent more than $840 billion. This month the Taliban has claimed credit for a major attack at a high level meeting in Kandahar that killed General Raziq, arguably the most powerful man in Southern Afghanistan.

On Nov. 15, Foundation for Defense of Democracies hosted a panel consisting of Jessica Donati, reporter at The Wall Street Journal, and Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio, FDD senior fellows and editors of FDD’s Long War Journal, to discuss Afghanistan. The panel was moderated by FDD founder and president Clifford D. May. You can watch the video below:

https://livestream.com/accounts/15228011/events/8455600/videos/183634260/player

The reports say that the capital of Kabul is the only place the government of Afghanistan is in charge….

A major suicide bombing targeted a religious gathering in Kabul on Tuesday. The gathering was celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The government confirmed 50 dead, though the NGO running the hospital nearby said over 60 were killed, and 70 more wounded.

Religious scholars and clerics were gathered by the hundreds at Uranus Wedding Hall for the event, and were reciting passages from the Quran when the bomber arrived and detonated explosives in the crowd of people.

The attack caused chaos and overwhelmed emergency services. Some 30 ambulances had to be sent to collect the critically wounded. The Afghan government has announced a day of mourning on Wednesday over the deaths.

(antiwar.com)

So much for being in charge, huh?

All the Afghan news that one cannot use……