Showing posts with label withdrawal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label withdrawal. Show all posts

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Troops Withdrawal to Slow Down

It appears that the Obama administration is considering a modification of the troop withdrawal process from Afghanistan. There is the possibility that over 9,800 American troops will stay in Afghanistan beyond 2015; originally the troop level was to be around 5,000 entering 2016. Keeping the level of troops constant to today's level will allow the counterterrorism forces to continue their hunt for 'the remnants of al Qaeda' and to continue to advise at the regional Train, Advise, and Assist Commands or TAACs. Read more in "U.S. to keep higher troop level in Afghanistan", Military Times, March 14, 2015.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Afghan Drawdown Needs Modification

A commentator, Thomas F. Lynch III, has called for a modified drawdown plan for Afghanistan. Lynch, a research fellow at the National Defense University (NDU) and someone with significant Afghan experience, states that the need for ". . . a comprehensive policy and strategy review for post-2014 military-intelligence support to Afghanistan needs to be conducted in early 2015". Read his analysis and recommendations in "There is Still Time to Keep Afghanistan from Going the Way of Iraq - If Drawdown Plans are Significantly Modified", Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), March 2015.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

NYT's Opinion - No Cause to Delay Pullout

So is our withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan to be time-based or conditions-based? Military leaders now say that it is conditions-based but realists know that President Obama has a timeline. After all, he has his legacy to think of - getting America out of two wars during his presidency. General Campbell, the commander of the Resolute Support mission, says that he is not going to be hesitant in asking for more time if he needs it. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter says the same. President Ghani will soon visit the White House and most all observers think he will ask for a delay in the troop withdrawal timeline. However, not everyone agrees that Afghanistan needs more time. Read "No Cause to Delay the Afghan Pullout", The New York Times, March 9, 2015.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Revisit Afghan Endgame

Bruce Riedel, writing for Brookings, provides us with his opinion on what is to be done in Afghanistan. He says that President Obama's decision to publicly lay out his timeline for ending American troop involvement in Afghanistan was a mistake. Riedel also informs us that Pakistan needs to be pressured to end its support to the Taliban.
"But the real problem has not changed: Pakistani support for the Taliban insurgency. Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, has been providing the Taliban with safe haven and sanctuary in Pakistan for over a decade. The ISI participates directly in planning Taliban operations and target selection against Nato and Afghan targets. It helps arm and fund the Taliban and assists its fundraising efforts in the Gulf states".
Riedel concludes with a recommendation that the withdrawal from Afghanistan should be event driven and not time driven; that Obama should revisit his timeline and endgame. In addition, he thinks that India should step up and assist Afghanistan more than it does and that real pressure needs to be applied to Pakistan to stop their support of the Afghan Taliban. Read his article in "Revisit Afghanistan's End Game Plan", Brookings, December 15, 2014.

Friday, December 12, 2014

New Timetable Needed

The editorial board of WaPo has come out in favor of a revised timetable for U.S. troops departing Afghanistan. According to the WP the fighting in Afghanistan is intensifying, Kabul is increasingly being attacked, and international aid groups are pulling out their staff. The Afghan government (mired in the internal politics of the Ghani-Abdullah partnership) have yet to appoint a cabinet. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) suffered more than 5,000 fatalities this year - more than the total number of U.S. and allied deaths since 2001. The ANSF has a high desertion rate and quick turnover of personnel in the force. The WP sees the need to keep the progress already attained in place by extending the stay of U.S. troops. Read more in "A deteriorating Afghanistan needs a revised timetable on U.S. troops", The Washington Post, December 10, 2014.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ghani - Slow Down Troop Drawdown

President Ashraf Ghani is hinting that the U.S. and its allies should slow down the troop withdrawal process in Afghanistan. Ghani believes that the ANSF still needs quite a bit more help. Read more from Julian Barnes and Adam Entous in "Afghan Leader Seeks to Slow U.S. Troop Drawdown", The Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2014.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Marines Arrive at Pendleton

Marines and Sailors have returned to Camp Pendleton after their deployment to Helmand province, Afghanistan. Camp Leatherneck has been transferred to the Afghan National Army (ANA).
Read more in "Camp Pendleton: Last Marines Return from Afghanistan", The Press Enterprise, November 6, 2014.

10th Mountain Returns from Afghanistan

The 10th Mountain Division has returned from Afghanistan where it fielded the Regional Command East (RC East) hqs. RC East has transitioned to Train Advise and Assist Command East or TACC East. Learn more in "10th Mountain Division headquarters returns from Afghanistan", Watertown Daily News, November 7, 2014.

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.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"The Long Goodbye to Afghanistan"

On November 6, 2001, Defense Security Donald Rumseld said "I do not think it will take years to deal with the Taliban or the al-Qaida organization". 13 years later the United States is leaving Afghanistan and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) will come to an end. However, the U.S. will keep 9,800 troops in country to continue the Security Force Assistance mission and conduct limited counter-terrorism operations. The Defense Department says the Afghan security forces can stand on their own; however, they seem to be having some difficulty in some parts of the country (Helmand and Kunduz provinces). Read more in "The Long goodbye to Afghanistan", Chicago Tribune, October 31, 2014.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Afghan Withdrawal Timeline Reassessment

General John Campbell is reassessing the United States withdrawal time frame from Afghanistan. The electoral dispute and late signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement put a lot of planned programs to advise and assist the Afghans on hold. These programs were meant to prepare the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) for the full withdrawal of International Security Assistance Force (except for 12,500 personnel under the Resolute Support mission). Insurgent attacks have reached the highest levels since 2011 and the ANSF has suffered high casualties in the 2014 fighting season. The recent events in Iraq, where the U.S. withdrew completely in 2011, have raised questions on the ability of the ANSF to hold out against the Taliban after ISAF leaves. Read more in "Top US commander of Afghan war reassessing US withdrawal timeline", Stars and Stripes, November 4, 2014.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Gen Allen: Comments on Afghan Troop Pullout Timeline

General Allen, the former commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, recently commented on the proposed troop levels during the Resolute Support mission and the timeline for the troop pullouts. He believes that more flexibility is needed in the timeline to ensure that a proper level of security is established and that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) receive the continued training, advise, and assistance that will be provided under the Security Force Assistance mission post December 2014. Read more in "Retired Marine Gen. Allen: Timeline for Afghanistan pullout "too short"", Navy Times, September 12, 2014 at this link.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Brits Worry Over Attacks During Withdrawal

The Brits are slightly concerned about the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan over the next year but figure they have things set to ensure no adverse actions take place. They recognize that the Taliban will try and attack as they withdraw and then make some public announcements about it. Read more in "Army chiefs draw up plans to fight their way out of Afghanistan if Taliban attack during troop withdrawal", Mirror News, January 26, 2014.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sequester Won't Affect Afghan Drawdown

The head of the U.S. Transportation Command told Congress that the budget sequester should not have an impact on the withdrawal of personnel and equipment from Afghanistan. His statement would seem to contradict early administration reports that troops in Afghanistan would have their tours lengthened due to sequestration. He did indicate that the budget cuts will have an overall general impact on his command. Read more in "Transcom Chief: Sequester Won't Affect Afghan Drawdown", American Forces Press Service, March 6, 2013.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Uzbekistan Offers Withdrawal Corridor from Afghanistan for ISAF - With a Some Strings Attached

The movement of immense amounts of military supplies, vehicles and equipment from Afghanistan will be time consuming and costly for the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF). Pakistan has been a pain in the rear - at times closing its land routes to the Pakistan seaports for as long a six months at a time. In addition, corruption, labor strikes, high costs, theft, and clogged seaports have hindered the movement of equipment and supplies over the years through Pakistan. Moving vast amounts of heavy equipment by air is costly (and we don't have enough air transport). One way out is through the land routes by truck and rail in central Asia across the 'stans along the Old Silk Road (or is it the New Silk Road?) into Europe and ultimately to seaports along the Baltic, Mediterranean, or Atlantic waters. However, movement through the 'stans has its own host of problems.

Uzbekistan has offered to help solve this difficult problem - with some give and take (or mostly taking on their part). They wouldn't terribly mind if along the way out we dropped off some military equipment such as armored vehicles, helicopters, etc. for Uzbekistan to keep. Read more in "As NATO Prepares for Afghan Withdrawal, Uzbekistan Seeks War's Leftovers", The New York Times, January 31, 2013.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Withdrawal Difficult at Some Afghan Outposts

The draw down and withdrawal of U.S. forces is forging ahead in Afghanistan. This is happening whether some areas are considered "secure" or not. In many parts of Helmand and Kandahar some remote areas are still contested and plans to hand-over security to the Afghans as U.S. forces depart are just that - "plans". In reality many of these areas will be ceded to Taliban control because the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are not good enough (at least not yet) to keep the Taliban in check. Read a recent newspaper account about how the "withdrawal process" is going at one outpost in southern Afghanistan. See "U.S. Military Faces Fire as It Pulls Out of Afghanistan", The New York Times, February 15, 2013 at this link.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Aid to Afghanistan Likely to Diminish with Withdrawal of U.S. Troops

The future of aid to Afghanistan is uncertain as U.S. troops continue their withdrawal. Without the protection that U.S. bases and troops provide to those administering (and checking on) aid projects the likelihood of aid money going to its intended purpose is slight. Corruption with the aid projects from Afghan government officials is horrible already. With the diminished ability of aid project managers to inspect progress of aid projects this Afghan corruption will only increase. It may be time to curtail some of these aid projects due to a lack of future oversight. Read more in "As Troops Leave, and Uncertain Future for U.S. Aid in Afghanistan", The New York Times, February 14, 2013.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Logistical Nightmare: Removing Excess Gear and Equipment from Afghanistan before 2014

A huge task that lies ahead of the U.S. military and other ISAF troop contributing nations as well is the removal of vast amounts of military equipment that has accumulated in Afghanistan over the last decade. According to some reports that equipment is valued at over $28 billion. There are thousands of armored and heavy vehicles in Afghanistan that need moving back to the states. The cheapest way to move them is via the land-route through Pakistan to some seaports but this route is subject to heavy tariffs, stolen equipment, Afghan corruption, labor disputes, and the political whims of a Pakistan bureaucracy and government.

An alternative land route is termed the "Northern Distribution Net" - which runs along part of the Old Silk Road. However, this land route is longer, traverses several countries, is subject to restrictions on shipping lethal weapons, and has different railway gauges. In addition, the route goes through northern Afghanistan which has the infamous Salang Tunnel and where the U.S. presence on the ground is minimal. In fact, the ISAF bases in the north are collapsing into one or two enduring bases so the security on the ground will be deteriorating soon.

Some equipment may just be left behind. The UK is leaving over 45% of their equipment behind and it will be signed over to the Afghans. Some equipment we need to leave behind or sign over to the Afghans as it is useless to us sitting in a metal container on some Army post in the states where it will rust away (the RIABs, for instance). The logisticians certainly have their work cut out for them.  Good luck with that!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Troop Levels in Afghanistan to Steadily Decrease

Reportedly there is now a "schedule" for the phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan over the next 20 months. According to one recent news report ("Decision on Afghan Troop Levels Calculates Political and Military Interests"), The New York Times, February 13, 2013) only 34,000 troops will be in Afghanistan at the beginning of 2014.

As of February 2013 there are 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Many of these troops will remain in-country through the 2013 fighting season (April-October). In November (the start of the so-called "non-fighting season") we would start to see a big movement of troops out of country to get to the desired February 2014 level. The timeline below may be the troop levels over the couple of years.

Projected Troop Level Timeline

66,000 - February 2013
60,500 - May 2013
52,000 - November 2013
32,000 - February 2014
 9,000 - December 2014

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Exiting Afghanistan - Transit Costs of Material to Send Home

As the withdrawal from Afghanistan begins this fall many ISAF partner nations will be moving troops and equipment home. Routes home include Pakistan and the Central Asian countries (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan). With the on-again off-again relationship with Pakistan many NATO countries may opt for the northern land route instead of using the ports of Pakistan. Read more about which countries will benefit as a result of transit fees (can you say price gouging?) in "Neighboring Countries Scramble to be NATO's Exit Route from Afghanistan", Radio Free Europe, March 22, 2012.