The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Monday, November 30, 2015

Update for Monday, November 30, 2015

Analysts question the U.S. explanation for the assault on MSF hospital in Kunduz. Nothing you didn't read here first, but:

[A] catalogue of errors General Campbell listed that ultimately resulted in the AC-130 gunship firing on the hospital went against safeguards that had "long been standard operating procedure," Kate Clark of Afghanistan Analysts Network said. "The question remains whether the disregard of these procedures was intentional," she wrote, underscoring the need for an independent international inquiry into the strike which killed 30 people and which observers have said could amount to a war crime.

Analysts have also pointed to unanswered questions in the report — particularly regarding what Afghan forces on the ground were doing throughout the attack — and said some of the systems failures described were beyond comprehension.. . .
Among the claims made by General Campbell that analysts stumbled over was his statement that targeting systems on board the AC-130 had been "degraded" after the plane changed its flight path believing it had been targeted by a missile. This reduced the crew — who had taken off early, without a proper mission brief or the no-strike list — to searching for the "closest large building" near to where the AC-130's systems were telling them to fire.

Meanwhile, U.S. embassy in Kabul warns of an "imminent attack", but gives no details. "Citing the country's "extremely unstable" security situation, the State Department continues to advise American civilians against traveling to Afghanistan"

A less than usually ridiculous body count announcement as MoD says 8 ANA soldiers killed in past 24 hours in various locations  with 4 Taliban dead. As usual, Taliban claim a higher number of government casualties.

In Iraq, in a sign that the long-awaited assault on Ramadi may be imminent, the government urges civilians to leave the city. Of course they are not exactly free to do so, with IS imposing a $6,000 exit fee. (But that may be a sign that they are in difficult financial straits, as one would expect them to forbid departure entirely.)

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