Sunday, June 11, 2017

A New Afghan Surge

With every new U.S. presidential administration comes a review of all aspects of foreign policy. The administration of President Trump is in the process of conducting a review of the Afghan conflict - now (at least for the U.S, NATO, and partner nations) in its 16th year. By now, General Nicholson (Resolute Support Commander), General Votel (CENTCOM Commander), and Secretary of Defense Mattis (DoD) have all voiced their concerns and recommendations. Word in the D.C. beltway is that a plan for increasing troop levels by 3,000 to 5,000 is in the works - some are calling this a 'mini-surge". Naturally, there are those that oppose the increase (both within the White House and Congress). Trump (we assume) will make the final decision.

The NATO and other partner nations are quietly being asked to raise their level of commitment as well. The Germans and British have already indicated that they will increase their numbers. It is expected that the European and other nations will increase troop levels collectively in excess of 1,000.

Most of the increased numbers will go towards the advisory effort - known as the 'train, advise, and assist' mission. This doesn't mean that 4,000 to 5,000 new advisors will show up - as many of these additional troops will be supporting the additional advisors (staff, intelligence, force protection, life support, transport, logistics, etc.). Although some of the additional advisors will be spread out among the national security ministries and institutions - it is anticipated that most will go out to the regional ANA corps and ANP police zone headquarters. Some may find themselves advising tactical units below corps level or as members of Expeditionary Advising Platforms (EAPs).

The current strength of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan is about 8,400. A significant increase may bring the troop level back up to the 10,000 mark or higher. Additional readings and info on this topic can be found below:

June 1, 2017. "Can a New US Surge Stabilize Afghanistan?", The Diplomat.

May 30, 2017. "A political surge is what's needed in Afghanistan", The Hill.

June 5,2017. "Why More Troops Won't Help Afghanistan", The New Yorker. Barnett Rubin provides his perspective on the current situation in Afghanistan.

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