The New York Times wrote a piece in today’s paper called, “Hope Seen for Afghanistan After Coalition Exits.”
Despite the positive headline, the article starts off with an air of skepticism.
Under Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the new commander of international forces here, the American-led military coalition is no longer aiming to change Afghanistan. Its focus now is on a far more narrow goal: readying Afghan forces to withstand the Taliban regardless of the country’s looming political and economic troubles.
Clearly, a serious dose of reality is sinking in and we’ve given up on the grand idea of creating a perfectly functioning democracy.
This newest American General in Afghanistan said the goals for the military endgame come down to three questions:
Will the Afghan troops be able to assume lead responsibility for military operations? Will the Afghan security forces be able to give security to the Afghan people nationwide for the presidential elections scheduled for next April? And, will the international troops be able to transfer all authority to the Afghans at the end of 2014, when the International Security Assistance Force mission ends?
The General said “the answer is yes” to all three questions, and I’m sure the reporters (ALISSA J. RUBIN, The New York Times Bureau Chief in Kabul, and MATTHEW ROSENBERG) tried not to laugh. Being professionals, they probably pulled it off. Barely.
After letting the General get his talking points in, the reporters thankfully brought some balance to the article.
First big uh-0h: Attrition.
The army loses 2 percent to 2.9 percent of its soldiers every month, according to the Pentagon’s most recent semiannual report to Congress in December. That added up to more than 54,000 soldiers from September 2011 to September 2012, out of a total force that has hovered at barely 190,000, putting great pressure on the military’s recruiting and training operations. (Emphasis mine.)
Apparently, the Taliban doesn’t even need to fight these guys. Just sit back and watch them all go home, and bear in mind, by Afghan standards, these men make great pay.
Second big up-oh: Money.
What is less clear is how such a force could be paid for. The international community, led by the United States, has agreed to pay roughly $4.1 billion in aid per year for the Afghan security forces after 2014, based on estimates of what a smaller Afghan security contingent would cost.
I seriously doubt any of my readers believe a word the General is saying, but for those out there who may, let me remind you of the Pakistani example.
The fact is that Pakistan cannot even defeat the Taliban in its own country. And let’s not forget that Pakistan has a far more advanced military that’s fully a hundred years better equipped and trained (including attack choppers, F-16 fighters, and armored vehicles).
Several times, Pakistan has tried to advance into it’s northern regions and each and every time they’ve been embarrassed and departed just weeks later after claiming victory.
The bottom line in my opinion is that Afghanistan is headed for a civil war after we leave. That’s what it looked like before we arrived, and that’s the state it’s basically been in for years and years.
Afghanistan is a tribal country. That’s a fact, and at best the government will be lucky to control the capitol and a few other cities. If you want a serious dose of reality, read this article: Is Afghanistan headed for civil war again?
My position remains the same: Let’s get out of Afghanistan, like now.
Stan R. Mitchell
Oak Ridge, Tenn.
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