|A Place Where Violence Rules|
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.