Friday, November 7, 2014

Iraq and Afghanistan: Compare and Contrast

A commentator provides us with her viewpoint on the differences and similarities between Iraq and Afghanistan. She discusses Obama's relief that the Iraq parliament did not sign the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in late 2011. That 'non-signing' took Obama off the hook, he did not have to leave 5,000 advisors in Iraq, and he could declare victory (meaning he got us out of Iraq as he promised during his election campaign). The same model was to be followed by Obama in Afghanistan. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) were to be deemed independent and capable and we would slowly depart. (There is probably a little disappointment among Obama supporters and White House staffers that the Bilateral Security Agreement was signed by Afghanistan).

Obama would have liked to be done with Afghanistan as well so he could concentrate on his domestic policies and agenda. Unfortunately reality got in the way. The Afghans wanted us to stay and the ANSF still have some huge capability gaps in their ability to conduct operations (aviation, logistics, sustainment, intelligence, medical, etc.). That . . . and the Taliban are still a robust force and there is no indication that the ANSF have learned how to properly conduct a counterinsurgency campaign. (Yes, it is an insurgency and it is thriving). So, applying the Iraq model to Afghanistan, one would conclude we should stay committed to the Security Force Assistance mission; otherwise, we might face a similar situation such as now found in Iraq (conflict with ISIS). Read more in "Ending the Afghanistan War 13 Years Later: Is it Time to Leave?", Wall Street Politics Cheat Sheet, October 31, 2014.

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