Avatar of admin

by

America's Disastrous Occupation of Afghanistan Turns 17

October 11, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

America has now passed the 17-year mark in Afghanistan. U.S.
troops have been fighting there for longer than the Revolutionary
War, Civil War, World War I, and World War II combined. Yet
Washington is further away than ever from anything that might pass
for victory.

More than 2,300 American military personnel and 3,500
contractors have died in Afghanistan. The latest death occurred
last week—Specialist James A. Slape from Morehead City, North
Carolina. Another 1,100 allied soldiers have been killed, almost
half of them from the United Kingdom. More than 20,000 Americans
have been wounded. The direct financial cost has amounted to $2
trillion, with another $45 billion budgeted for this year.

And for what?

After so many years of senseless combat, Erik Prince’s proposal
to turn the conflict over to contractors almost sounds reasonable.
His lobbying efforts in Kabul have not been notably successful, but
some day American personnel will come home. And then Washington’s
friends in Afghanistan will find themselves on their own.

And the Taliban are in
their strongest position in just that many years.

Seventeen years ago the Bush administration was forced to act.
After the 9/11 attacks, it was imperative to disrupt if not destroy
al-Qaeda and punish the Taliban regime for hosting terrorist
training camps. Washington quickly succeeded: al-Qaeda was degraded
and dispersed, the Taliban was overthrown and punished. Washington
should have left as quickly as it came. But the Bush administration
had other hopes: to create a friendly, liberal, democratic state in
Central Asia.

If there was ever a chance to establish a stable regime in
Kabul, it was right after the Taliban’s ouster. However, the
Bush administration immediately turned to Iraq, which had nothing
to do with 9/11. That shift allowed for a Taliban revival. Even
after twice increasing force levels—which peaked at 110,000
U.S. and 30,000 allied troops in 2011—the Obama
administration was only able to limit the insurgency’s reach.
Around that time I twice visited Afghanistan, and found that
private, off-the-record opinions of allied military personnel,
civilian contractors, and Afghan officials were uniformly
pessimistic.

Most saw the operation as a staying action at best. Since then
allied troop levels have fallen precipitously, but the large Afghan
security forces are an inadequate substitute. Afghan officials
figure that as many as a third of soldiers and police are
“ghosts,” existing only for payroll purposes. Attrition
rates and desertions are soaring. Reported Anthony Cordesman of the
Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Afghan National
Security Forces “performance will probably worsen due to a
combination of Taliban operations, ANSF combat casualties,
desertions, poor logistics support, and weak leadership.” To
make up for that failure, “U.S. Special Operations troops
increasingly …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.