Tuesday, September 30, 2014

AQSL in AfPak a "Dormant" CT Fight

One of the objectives of the invasion of Afghanistan, toppling of the Taliban regime, and occupation of Afghanistan for over a decade was the elimination of a terrorist threat from Afghanistan. It isn't clear that objective has been achieved despite thousands of lost lives, more thousands of wounded and injured personnel and billions of dollars spent. Certainly al-Qaeda has been degraded. Over the past several years we continually "decapitated" the senior leadership and thinned out the"middle management". However, truth be told  al-Qaeda still exists in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. A senior Obama administration official recently said that the war in Afghanistan is now a " . . . dormant counterterrorism fight . . .". However, the U.S. ability to continue that counterterrorism fight will also be degraded. The CIA has closed all but two of eight forward operating based that were located along the Pakistan border. This affects the ability of CIA case officers to manage their spy network extending into Pakistan, to command and control their paramilitary formations (many of the very experienced Afghan fighters are now unemployed or doing other work), gather intelligence with drones (armed and unarmed), and to gather signal intelligence (SIGINT). This closure of CIA bases can be tied to the closure of U.S. Army FOBs throughout the region.  Two questions remain - 1) Does the remaining core al-Qaeda presence pose a significant threat to the United States, and 2) Can al-Qaeda rebound to its former self? Greg Miller and Kevin Sieff have wrote a comprehensive news article on this topic in "Qaeda remains degraded but not defeated", The Washington Post, September 26, 2014.

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