Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The forever war: Afghanistan drawdown slowdown

Our forever war is either a farce or a 21st century version of Zeno's paradox:
The Obama administration is considering slowing its planned withdrawal from Afghanistan for the second time, according to U.S. officials, a sign of the significant security challenges that remain despite an end to the U.S. and NATO combat mission there.
Under the still-evolving plans, Army Gen. John F. Campbell, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, could be given greater latitude to determine the pace of the drawdown in 2015 as foreign forces scramble to ensure Afghan troops are capable of battling Taliban insurgents on their own, the officials said.
The options under discussion would not alter what is perhaps the most important date in President Obama’s plan: ending the U.S. military mission entirely by the time he steps down in early 2017.
But officials said Campbell might temporarily retain more than the 5,500 troops slated to remain in Afghanistan at the end of 2015, keep regional training hubs open longer than planned or reorganize plans to close bases including Kandahar Airfield, a major endeavor that would draw troops away from efforts to advise Afghan security forces.
Campbell and top Obama aides are expected to discuss the options at a White House meeting Wednesday.
Despite all the empirical evidence (not to mention the mounting pile of maimed and dead bodies) that the US military engagement in Afghanistan has never been able to ---how did the Post writer put it?---meet the 'significant security challenges' or to 'ensure [that] Afghan troops are capable of battling Taliban insurgents on their own' (probably because the many of the former are also the latter), the US military refuses to own up to the futility of this enterprise. The cynical among us might suggest that their stubbornness grows from their career objectives---command in a combat zone helps speed a military career along, no matter that the engagement is a failure. And let's not forget that those in the Afghan government and military who want to extend the US occupation are making a fortune from stealing the money and equipment flowing their way.

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