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, December 7, 2015

Update for Monday, December 7, 2015

Here is story with two interesting dimensions. Iraqi PM Abadi has ordered Turkish troops out of Iraq, with the Turks claiming they were there by invitation all along, and all they have done is rotate in a new unit. I'm not sure what this is all about between Abadi and the Turks, but what is most interesting is why the Turkish troops are there. They are in the Mosul area, training and equipping peshmerga. As the linked article says,

The Turkish military recently released details of a training program for Kurdish Peshmerga fighters that it has been operating in Iraq. The army statement came after Friday's deployment of around 150 Turkish troops to replace training forces already in Mosul. Along with the troops, 20 to 25 tanks were also dispatched to the area.

Turkish army sources said Saturday that they had been training fighters in four provinces of northern Iraq with the ultimate aim of fighting Daesh . . .
According to the Turkish military, Peshmerga forces have received training in the use of heavy machine guns, mortars and artillery. They have also received first-aid training.
More than 2,500 Peshmerga fighters, including officers, have participated in the Turkish training program, the military added.
I have said before that there appears to have been a significant rapprochement between Turkey and the KRG, but this is really a dramatic development. It should also put an end to claims that Turkey isn't really interested in fighting IS. On the other hand, Turkey's attitude toward the Kurds in Syria appears to be considerably less friendly.

 Syria has also complained about the Turkish troop presence in Iraq, I'm guessing because they don't want to see a more militarily capable Kurdistan, as well as just having hostile relations with Ankara. However, Damascus is never going to get its Kurdish region back. Again, the regional and global politics of this situation are hugely complex and make confronting IS very difficult.

Are the U.S. troops in Iraq "non-combat"? I'm not sure what that means since they are in a hostile place. Marines in Iraq get new mortars.

Four new M252A2 81mm mortars were fielded to Marines with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines just prior to their deployment to al Asad air base, enabling them to move faster, see farther and better carry out their force protection mission. The Marines arrived there in October as part of the new rotation of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force — Crisis Response — Central Command. They're tasked with protecting the air base in Iraq’s Anbar province as local troops take on the Islamic State group. . . .

Other than one illumination mission required to light up the Iraqi night, they’ve yet to engage enemy forces, but Schafer said they remain prepared. “We do gun drills for about two to three hours every day, just keeping ourselves sharp and getting ready for whatever missions we have coming down,” he said.