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

Friday, December 18, 2015

Update for Friday, December 18, 2015


I delayed posting today, waiting for greater clarity on what appear to have been some friendly fire casualties of Iraqi forces resulting from U.S. close air support. Earlier reports claimed much larger numbers of casualties. We'll see how this sorts out.

Some reports have spun this as indicating strength on the part of IS, but in fact it appears that a wide-front assault on peshmerga territory near Mosul failed badly. The story I've linked to emphasizes the role of Canadian forces in the battle, which clearly places them as ground combatants. However, air strikes appear to have accounted for 180 IS dead, along with an unknown number killed by peshmerga fighters. The Kurds claim to have killed 42 IS fighters near Khazar. The attack on the Turkish base appears to have been the first volley in this attempted IS offensive. It appears that IS has no hope of prevailing in an open battlefield operation such as this given allied air power.

The Pentagon will give more arms and equipment to the peshmerga. I'm not sure about the politics of this as peshmerga forces have already advanced well beyond the borders of the KRG and it is obvious the Baghdad is getting nervous about the U.S.-Kurdish alliance which is independent of the Baghdad government.




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