The war in Afghanistan is now in its fifteen year, yet conditions on ground continue to worsen preventing the President from a clear cut ending to the war. The Taliban are beginning new offensive operations and the Islamic State or (ISIS) are looking to establish a presence making the opportunity for peace dismal at best.
The instability has weakened the economy and the plummeting confidence of the public in the government. This is especially visible in the capital Kabul, as Afghan soldiers and police struggle to hold the country together even though they are backed with “$4.1 billion in U.S. taxpayer money”. The price of freedom for the Afghan soldiers and police has come at a significant cost as NATO officials state that the, “Afghan troops are displaying prowess, but suffering sustained heavy casualties – 28 percent higher in 2015 than before the international combat mission ended in December 2014”.
The Commander and Chief’s newly appointed Commander, for the Afghan mission, Lt. Gen John Nicholson said recently in his confirmation hearing that. “Afghan security forces have more than held their own against the insurgency, but are not yet self-sustainable”. According to Lt. Gen. Nicholson the losses were a result of the Taliban engaging the Afghans “more intensely than perhaps we anticipated”. In response to Lt. Gen. Nicholson’s statement, an official in the Afghan government, speaking under the condition of anonymity stated that, the Afghan did have a lot of setbacks, but this was mostly attributed to the public announcement that the U.S. led coalition would end all combat operations on Dec 31, 2015. This emboldened the Taliban to go on the offensive and achieve major victories as well as set the conditions for the Islamic State to get into the mix in Afghanistan.
The initial plan was to reduce the U.S forces down to about “5,500 troops by the end of the last year and to 1,000 by the end of 2016”. However the President decided against this course of action opted to leave the 9,800 in place for most of 2016 to perform in counterterrorism missions, and advise the Afghans, but not in an offensive combat role. As a result the Obama administration just expanded the U.S. military’s authority to offensively target Islamic State militants in Afghanistan in addition to the Taliban and al-Qaida.
I have to say reading this article frustrated me greatly as a Soldier serving this great nation for over 25 years. This article does not give me confidence in our nation’s leaders and it seems more and more it is a case of the blind leading the blind. As I pick this article apart, there are many examples of this. For starters, Lt. Gen. Nicholson’s statement that Taliban was engaging the Afghans ““more intensely than perhaps we anticipated” is an out and out blind statement. The president clearly stated that all combat operations would end on a certain date. What do you expect to happen? All of the information was out there providing a simple scenario for the bad guys. It pains me to say, but the bad guys seem to be the experts as they clearly understood the information and waited for the drawdown and attacked when the Afghans were at their weakest. The Afghan official that spoke on the condition of anonymity clearly understood it as he explained it was the reason for the increase of violence throughout the country. Additionally, the Islamic State has the ability to see the information out there as they have begun to make their way into Afghanistan, I am sure that they are after the Drug Trade as source of revenue since the U.S. war has made Afghanistan the number one producer of heroin, as our failed policy of drug control did not stem the market only expounded it. How did we not see this coming? Everyone has equal access to the same information, as we can see the bad guys see it and understand becoming the experts, but unfortunately the good guys under the current administration policy’s do not.