Right Wing Nut House

5/11/2011

Thoughts of Draw Down in Post-Osama Afghanistan

Filed under: FrontPage.Com, The Long War — Rick Moran @ 1:10 pm

My latest is up at FrontPage.com and I examine the impact of OBL’s death on the coming debate over our withdrawal from Afghanistan.

As sample:

When the president announced the 30,000 increase in troops for Afghanistan in December of 2009, it was with the understanding that the number of soldiers to be withdrawn beginning with the July, 2011 target date would depend on both the military success on the ground as well as the progress made by Afghan police and army units in their training. To date, the military is pleased with their counterterrorism strategy that has seen substantial progress in the south, especially in Kandahar province where the Taliban is strongest.

But the success in training the Afghan army and police has been uneven at best. For example, in February, we withdrew units from the Pech Valley in northeastern Afghanistan, turning over security to Afghan forces. Within weeks, the Taliban was back, setting up bases and taking over towns and villages that once had been cleared of them. In some villages, the newly trained police and army simply melted away. While there have been local successes with the new Afghan units, the military believes the training will go on for a decade or more before the Afghans will be able to take complete responsibility for their own security.

But there are some in the administration who believe that bin Laden’s death will change the psychology of the war and lead to a more measured draw down of troops. Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates calls bin Laden’s death a “gamechanger” and believes that besides delivering a blow to al-Qaeda, the terrorist’s death may make it easier for the Taliban to agree to a negotiated a settlement with President Harmid Karzai’s government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also sounded optimistic about the salutary effect in Afghanistan as a result of the al-Qaeda leader’s death. “We must take this opportunity to renew our resolve and redouble our efforts,” she said.

Others, like Senator Lindsey Graham, believe now is not the time to pull back, but rather, to increase our efforts. Graham believes the killing of bin Laden has given the US effort in Afghanistan “momentum” and that what “we ought to do is pour it on now.”

But voices in Congress calling for a quick pullout from Afghanistan see bin Laden’s death in a different light. A leading Republican war critic in the House, Representative Jason Chaffetz, wrote that “it was not the 100,000 troops that took out bin Laden.” He believes we can still be effective fighting terrorism even if we bring most of the troops home.

If we wait on the Afghans to take responsibility for their own security, we will be there for a decade. That’s why it appears that we are going to go ahead and remove most of our combat troops by 2014 as Obama promised and give special forces the responsibility of standing up the Afghan army.

Will it work? It has a chance if, at the same time, some of the Taliban can be brought into Karzai’s government. But unless we make things very unpleasant for the Taliban - both in Afghanistan and their sanctuaries in Pakistan - it is more likely that they will just await the right opportunity to mount the kind of final offensive they launched in the early 90’s to take control of the country. We’ve told them when we are leaving , which makes their job that much easier.

If I were Karzai, I’d make sure my life insurance was paid up.

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