Small Wars Journal

U.S. Poised to Expand Military Effort Against Taliban in Afghanistan

U.S. Poised to Expand Military Effort Against Taliban in Afghanistan by Missy Ryan and Greg Jaffe, Washington Post

President Trump’s most senior military and foreign policy advisers have proposed a major shift in strategy in Afghanistan that would effectively put the United States back on a war footing with the Taliban.

The new plan, which still needs the approval of the president, calls for expanding the U.S. military role as part of a broader effort to push an increasingly confident and resurgent Taliban back to the negotiating table, U.S. officials said.

The plan comes at the end of a sweeping policy review built around the president’s desire to reverse worsening security in Afghanistan and “start winning” again, said one U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The new strategy, which has the backing of top Cabinet officials, would authorize the Pentagon, not the White House, to set troop numbers in Afghanistan and give the military far broader authority to use airstrikes to target Taliban militants. It would also lift Obama-era restrictions that limited the mobility of U.S. military advisers on the battlefield.

The net result of the changes would be to reverse moves by President Barack Obama to steadily limit the U.S. military role in Afghanistan, along with the risk to American troops and the cost of the war effort, more than 15 years after U.S. forces first arrived there.

Trump is expected to make a final call on the strategy before a May 25 NATO summit in Brussels that he plans to attend…

Read on.


Bill C.

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 11:44am

From our article above:

"The plan comes at the end of a sweeping policy review built around the president’s desire to reverse worsening security in Afghanistan and “start winning” again, said one U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations."

Herein, it would seem that we need to define what "winning" would mean.

Does it mean:

a. Transforming outlying states and societies (such as Afghanistan) -- immediately/sooner rather than later -- this, more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines? (Appears to require the prerequisite of such things as "universal western values" and the population's "overwhelming desire for our way of life, our way of governance," etc.) Or does it mean:

b. Achieving our such transformational goals for other states and societies via a much more long-term and incremental process?


On Afghanistan, Kissinger supported the initial attack on al-Qaeda and its Taliban protectors, but he looks back skeptically on the broader mission that had evolved by 2003. “The central premise of the American and allied effort became ‘rebuilding Afghanistan’ by means of a democratic, pluralistic, transparent Afghan government whose writ ran across the entire country,” he writes. But this “radical reinvention of Afghan history” was not achievable. “No institutions in the history of Afghanistan or of any part of it provided a precedent for such a broad-based effort.”

Likewise on Iraq, Kissinger initially supported the mission to topple Saddam Hussein, but he says, “I had doubts, expressed in public and governmental forums, about expanding it to nation building and giving it such universal scope.” He blames George W. Bush and his Administration for pursuing idealistic crusades that ignored earthly realities. As Bush put it in a 2003 address, “Iraqi democracy will succeed—and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Tehran, that freedom can be the future of every nation.” This ideal was, Kissinger notes, unmoored from realities. “To seek to achieve [American values] by military occupation in a part of the world where they had no historical roots,” he writes, “imbued the American endeavor in Iraq with a Sisyphean quality.” ...

... He also argued that it was a mistake to make the ouster of President Assad’s regime a policy objective without knowing what would replace it, because that was likely to lead to a chaotic civil war dominated by the most radical of the jihadist forces. ...

The key to Kissinger’s foreign policy realism, and the theme at the heart of his magisterial new book, is that such humility is important not just for people but also for nations, even the U.S. Making progress toward a world order based on “individual dignity and participatory governance” is a lofty ideal, he notes. “But progress toward it will need to be sustained through a series of intermediate stages.”


The most positive thing the Washington Post does is avoid dubbing the increase in troop levels a Surge.
The most negative is that it fails to note Obama's short comings for instance the citation that Obama"loosened" the ROEs on flying support for allied troops about to be over run? Who placed the limiting ROEs in the first place?
It also ignores that for lack of enough gunships MEDEVACs were not flown that cost American and Afghanistan troops lives. A result of Obama draw downs.
I don't know how you get the gall to claim the draw downs and cut backs were to prevent more American casualties when for lack of support deaths occurred.
Obama had limited vision, Senator Obama and the DNC peace wing continued to make false comparisons of Iraq and or Afghanistan to Vietnam.
He should never have tried to make a comparison the left has never properly understood in the first place only their own fixed and regressive understanding of conflict has comparative value.
Of course since it is President Trump's empowerment of the DOD that is taking precedence one might wonder why I should in anyway care what Obama did or didn't do in his 8 years of failure, that resulted in the growth of Al-Qaeda, the more egregious and barbaric form of Islamic radicalism, the Islamic State, and the resurgence of the Taliban. Unless it is to learn from his broad sweeping failures so as not to repeat them.
The only consistent comparison is the anti-war wing of the DNC; they never change, they never acknowledge the atrocities of our enemies and egregiously and often falsely describe the conduct of American Troops.
The USA at end of the Obama epic fail was spending more money to maintain bases in Italy than in Afghanistan or Iraq, yet all the coverage in the fake media and commentary by antiSemites would lead you to conclude it was Israel, which actually receives even less funding than Iraq and Afghanistan. When you add the cost of maintaining troops in foreign countries, Germany, South Korea, and Japan are each quadruple the cost of either Iraq and or Afghanistan.
But that will be CNNs little secret.