Sunday, October 18, 2015

Troop Levels to Remain the Same

The Obama administration is finally catching on to the fact that the security situation Afghanistan is not getting any better - that instead the security (as well political, governance, and economic) situation is declining. Despite the constant proclamations by ISAF and now Resolute Support spokesmen that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are improving daily in their capabilities there are still some significant problems. As in the ANDSF are getting swacked by the Taliban and that the Taliban's grip on some rural and remote areas are as strong as ever. The recent attack and occupation of Kunduz City (a provincial capital) points out how bad the ANDSF are performing. To this end the U.S. is going to be postponing its withdrawal of forces from the 9,800 level down to 5,500. Instead of withdrawing to a Bagram / Kabul centric advisory and CT force it will remain at certain hub locations like Jalalabad (and TB Gamberi) and Kandahar - while some European forces will continue to occupy places like Mazar-e Sharif (and perhaps Herat). So for most of 2016 there will be roughly 10K U.S. troops in Afghanistan continuing with the current Train, Advise & Assist (TAA) & Counterterrorism (CT) mission. The 2015 fighting season has made it apparent that ISAF and now Resolute Support was probably 2-3 years too early in pulling the SFAATs off the ANA brigades and two of the six ANA Corps.

Read some news stories on this development:

Oct 17, 2015. "Karzai Criticizes Ongoing US Military Presence", Tolo News. Of course, would you expect anything different?

Oct 16, 2015. "Obama troop plan just enough to prop up Afghan army: experts", Yahoo! News. More of the same; just for two more years, that's all.

Oct 16, 2015. "9,800 U.S. Troops Won't Fix Afghanistan. Here's What They Can Do.", by Michael Kugelman, The Wall Street Journal.

Oct 16, 2015. "Obama's Two-Year Plan for Afghanistan is Doomed", or so says Ioannis Koskinas at Defense One.

Oct 15, 2015. "Closure is Hard to Find". The Angry Staff Officer Blog. Just when you thought the war was over and we won . . . .

Oct 15, 2015. "5 Reasons Obama's Afghan Withdrawal Delay is Necessary But Not Sufficient", by Mike Waltz, Defense One. Mike says this is like putting a band aid on a sucking chest wound.

Oct 15, 2015. "Should We Stay or Should We Go? Experts Praise Afghanistan Troop Reversal", NBC News. (video and text report).

Oct 15, 2015. "Obama's Decision to Keep U.S. Troops in Afghanistan is Long Overdue", The Daily Signal.

Oct 15, 2015. Statement from the Embassy of Afghanistan (D.C.). Of course GIRoA is happy; more money to skim from the coffers.

Oct 15, 2015. "Afghanistan and "Failed State Wars": The Need for a Realistic Transition", By Anthony H. Cordesman, Center for Strategic & International Studies.

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