Troop “Surge” in Afghanistan Ends With Mixed Results

American military says it has now fully withdrawn last of the 33,000 “surge troops” sent to pacify Afghanistan two years ago, but they are leaving behind an uncertain landscape of rising violence and political instability that threatens to undo considerable gains in security, particularly in former Taliban strongholds in the south and in the southwest. As the troops head for home, a week ahead of schedule, the American coalition and its Afghan partners are bedeviled by a host of problems. Taliban and their Haqqani network allies continue to pull off bombings, while insider killings of the Americans by Afghan troops have raised tensions between allies, forcing severe cutbacks in strategically vital training programs. Both governments are arguing publicly over whether to keep battlefield prisoners locked up without trial, while nervous officials on all sides are worrying that riots over inflammatory anti-Muslim video, have killed dozens in other countries, will break out in Afghanistan. Friday’s milestone, which still leaves 68,000 American troops in Afghanistan, was announced on the other side of the planet by American secretary of defense, Leon E. Panetta, during a trip to New Zealand, while American and Afghan officials here studiously ignored the moment, at least in public. Some Afghans supporting government of President Hamid Karzai boasted that it showed their own forces were ready to take over, while pro-Taliban forces exulted that they were not. But most Afghans just worried about what it would really mean for the final two years of the American presence here. “What did the surge give us?” a senior American official reflected on Friday, speaking anonymously as a matter of military policy. “We’re going to hit a point where, I won’t say that’s as good as it gets, but now it’s up to them to hold what we gave them. Now, really, it’s Karzai’s turn.” No one claimed there was not a great deal yet to be done against an insurgency, its foes describe as tenacious and determined. “They’re not going to go away for years,” the senior official said. “Every fighting season the Taliban, or some number of them, come out of the corner and they’re ready to fight again.” Both American and Afghan officials have acknowledged the seriousness of the so-called green-on-blue attacks, in which this year more than 50 American soldiers were killed at hands of Afghan allies. The allies’ dispute over how and how long to hold suspected insurgents has led to personal negotiations between President Obama and Mr. Karzai in recent days, while video parody of the Prophet Muhammad has cast a long shadow over relations between the two countries. “We were not happy about the arrival of the surge troops, and we are not sad that they left,” said Mohammad Naim Lalai Amirzai, an Afghan Parliament member from Kandahar. “As the American surge ends, Taliban surge will begin”. Indeed, some of the most worried voices were raised in the heartland of the surge, in Kandahar and Helmand Provinces in the south and southwest where the 2010 influx of 33,000 fresh United States Marines and Army soldiers largely subdued the Taliban on their home turf (…..)



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5 Responses to Troop “Surge” in Afghanistan Ends With Mixed Results

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Definitely, Anglo Saxon troops are not welcome in Afghanistan.

  2. When American military advisers fly into Afghan Army outposts like the one nestled on the floor of this forested valley, they keep their body armor on and their weapons loaded. Their guard was up even though they were there for a day of training Afghan soldiers without once leaving the confines of a fortified base — even when chatting with the Afghan officers over a lunch of goat meat and yogurt. Afghan soldiers and police officers have gunned down 51 American and allied troops so far this year, and now no one is taking chances. The advisers’ extreme caution lays bare the steep challenge ahead after the official end of the American troop “surge” on Friday and as the mission shifts toward the next chapter of the war: preparing the Afghans to fight on their own. “They come here and they look like they are going to fight us,” said Sgt. Abdul Karim Haq, 25, an Afghan soldier at the outpost. “They are always talking down to us like we are little children.” American military leaders say they have little choice as insider killings have become a prevalent cause of death. Attacks by Afghan forces against Western soldiers and Marines this month led to new precautions over where and when joint operations and training sessions happen. At the same time, a video and cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad are stoking outrage and violence against Americans across the Muslim world. In the field, where small teams of American advisers are now working with Afghan units, even minor misunderstandings are treated as potentially violent confrontations. When a pair of Afghan soldiers decided to take a nap in a guard tower in which the Americans had taken up a position at this outpost, the coalition advisory team commander, Capt. John Chung, 28, sent his interpreter to hustle out the Afghans with an admonishment to “be gentle. No trouble, you know what I mean.” Aside from a fear of being gunned down, the advisers said they were more vigilant because they also doubted the ability of Afghan soldiers to secure the base from an insurgent attack. “Exhibit A,” one adviser noted about the Afghans’ nap in the guard tower. “I think we need to be ready for everything. Maybe it’s coming from inside, or maybe it gets in here from the outside,” said the adviser, a young soldier who did not want to be identified for fear of damaging his career. “I mean, sleeping in a tower? There are a lot of reasons to be careful out here” (…..)

  3. Professor Uziel Nogueira says:

    “A phenomenon noticeable throughout history regardless of its place or period is the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests. Mankind, it seems, makes a poorer performance of government than of almost any other human activity”.

    Barbara Tuchman’s, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam (Afgnanistan?)

  4. With the surge of American troops over and the Taliban still a potent threat, American generals and civilian officials acknowledge that they have all but written off what was once one of the cornerstones of their strategy to end the war here: battering the Taliban into a peace deal. The once ambitious American plans for ending the war are now being replaced by the far more modest goal of setting the stage for the Afghans to work out a deal among themselves in the years after most Western forces depart, and to ensure Pakistan is on board with any eventual settlement. Military and diplomatic officials here and in Washington said that despite attempts to engage directly with Taliban leaders this year, they now expect that any significant progress will come only after 2014, once the bulk of NATO troops have left. “I don’t see it happening in the next couple years,” said a senior coalition officer. He and a number of other officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the effort to open talks. “It’s a very resilient enemy, and I’m not going to tell you it’s not,” the officer said. “It will be a constant battle, and it will be for years.” The failure to broker meaningful talks with the Taliban underscores the fragility of the gains claimed during the surge of American troops ordered by President Obama in 2009. The 30,000 extra troops won back territory held by the Taliban, but by nearly all estimates failed to deal a crippling blow. Critics of the Obama administration say the United States also weakened its own hand by agreeing to the 2014 deadline for its own involvement in combat operations, voluntarily ceding the prize the Taliban has been seeking for over a decade. The Obama administration defends the deadline as crucial to persuading the Afghan government and military to assume full responsibility for the country, and politically necessary for Americans weary of what has already become the country’s longest war. Among America’s commanding generals here, from Stanley A. McChrystal and David H. Petraeus to today’s John R. Allen, it has been an oft-repeated mantra that the United States is not going to kill its way out of Afghanistan. They said that the Afghanistan war, like most insurgencies, could only end with a negotiation. Now American officials say they have reduced their goals further — to patiently laying the groundwork for eventual peace talks after they leave. American officials say they hope that the Taliban will find the Afghan Army a more formidable adversary than they expect and be compelled, in the years after NATO withdraws, to come to terms with what they now dismiss as a “puppet” government (…..)

  5. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Another costly war comes to an end without a victory. Karzai and his extended family will do OK after US troops depart Afghanistan. Their lovely homes in Washington DC and London are ready to receive them. The Afghan people will continue their suffering of thirty years of endless wars. However, there is hope.

    China has the opportunity to help reconstruct the Asian country via trade and direct investment. Afghanistan is a natural resource rich country, particularly valuable rare minerals very much in demand today.


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