Thursday, August 1, 2013

Afghanistan's very bleak future

Many Americans have recently tried to block Afghanistan out of their thoughts, going forward little exist to be excited or optimist about. As with Vietnam, it seems that we may have to settle with claims of "peace with honor" as we rush for the exit. This reminds me of the experience the French had in Algeria. After years of effort, the French did not achieve victory, they only proved how difficult and expensive some of these missions can become. The announcement by President Obama that American troops would be departing leaves many people wondering about the void we will be leaving and how it will be filled.

A Place Where Violence Rules
America intends to leave only a small contingency to train and give "U.S. support" capabilities to the Afghans, this would include counter-terrorism operations. NATO says an 187,000 Afghan force is in place to provide security and protection for the Afghan people. A major problem is that the Afghan Army has been plagued by inefficiency and endemic corruption. Training efforts have been drastically slowed by the corruption, widespread illiteracy, vanishing supplies, and lack of discipline, this became apparent when U.S. trainers reported missing vehicles, weapons, and other military equipment, including the outright theft of fuel provided by the U.S

To say the many problems in Afghanistan can be overcome may be optimistic, death threats have been leveled against U.S. officers who have tried to stop Afghan soldiers from stealing. Afghan soldiers who find improvised explosive devices often snip the command wires instead of marking them and waiting for U.S. forces to come to detonate them. This just allows the insurgents to return and reconnect them. U.S. trainers frequently remove the cell phones of Afghan soldiers hours before a mission for fear that the operation will be compromised, American trainers have to spend large amounts of time verifying that Afghan rosters are accurate and are not padded with "ghosts" being "paid" by Afghan commanders who quietly collected the bogus wages.

Then there is the issue of desertion and insider attacks. Desertion has been a significant problem in the Afghan Army. One in every four combat soldiers quit the Afghan Army during the 12-month period ending in September 2009, according to data from the U.S. Defense Department. Beginning in 2011, insurgent forces in Afghanistan began using a tactic of insider attacks on the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Afghan military forces. In the attacks, Taliban personnel or sympathizers belonging to, or pretending to belong to, the Afghan military or police forces suddenly attack ISAF personnel, often within the security of ISAF military bases and Afghan government facilities.

With Karzai scheduled to step down next year, the Afghan people have reason to be concerned about their future. The challenges facing Afghanistan are both vexing and formidable, many people are concerned as to the cost and commitments to security going forward and if the Taliban will play a role, their attitude towards women would most likely set back much of the progress that has been achieved. Currently, the future of American's future involvement is not carved in stone, but it looks like a fast exit is coming. According to Obama, any agreement on troop withdrawals must include an immunity agreement in which US troops are not subjected to Afghan law. American is looking to legally protect its troops after a series of damaging incidents and disclosures involving American troops in Afghanistan occurred.

High-profile military incidents like the one involving US troops posing with body parts of dead insurgents and a video apparently showing a US helicopter crew singing "Bye-bye Miss American Pie" before blasting a group of Afghan men with a Hellfire missile, the 2012 Afghanistan Quran burning protest, and the Panjwai shooting spree have created fractures in the partnership between Afghanistan and the NATO troops. These incidents have undermined the image of foreign forces in a country where there is already deep resentment due to civilian deaths and added to the perception among many Afghans that US troops lack respect for Afghan culture and people.

Considering the strained relations between Afghanistan and the United States it may be time to exit. The President recently stated "We achieved our central goal, or have come very close to achieving our central goal, which is to de-capacitate al-Qaeda, to dismantle them, to make sure that they can’t attack us again,” Obama added. “At the end of this conflict, we are going to be able to say that the sacrifices that were made by those men and women in uniform has brought about the goal that we sought.” This may be an optimistic view of the situation by a President who like many of the American people know or feel we have spent way too much achieving very little.


Footnote; This post dovetails with many of my recent writings. Other related articles may be found in my blog archive, thanks for reading, your comments are encouraged.




1 comment:

  1. it seems the afghan war was just a face-saving substitute for failure in iraq. failure in afghanistan will be obscured by fruitless militarism in syria. america needs war to justify the expenses of munitions production, which is just a way to turn taxes into share-holders profits.
    you could reasonably accuse americans of being ignorant fools. with natural resources unmatched anywhere, they have managed to create a nation with second rate standard of living for most of their people. constant military action has begun to promote terror activity at home, not before time. and profligate assault on nature is threatening the whole planet, while many politicians profess to see no sign of environmental decay. reagan was right, there is an evil empire, shrub was right, there is an axis of evil, but both are centered in the beltway.

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