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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Update for Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Casualties in the suicide attack near Bagram are being identified.

Air Force Major Adrianna Vorderbruggen is the first openly gay woman to be killed in action. "Facebook postings on Tuesday by Vorderbruggen’s loved ones mourned her death and sent condolences to her wife Heather and son Jacob. The family lives near Washington DC, where the couple was married in June 2012, the year after the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gay service members was repealed"

Reuters lists the remaining dead  as:

  • New York City Detective Joseph Lemm, a 15-year veteran of the NYPD who also volunteered in the U.S. Air National Guard and was on his third deployment to war zones.
  • Serviceman Chester McBride Jr., who was remembered by the principal of Statesboro High School as "a young man of high character with a great smile." 
  • Serviceman Michael Anthony Cinco of Rio Grande Valley, Texas.
  • Staff Sergeant Peter Taub, whose family lives in the Washington, D.C., area.
  • Staff Sergeant Louis Bonacasa from New York.
 Remember that the much larger number of Afghan casualties generally remain anonymous.

The siege of Sangin continues, with U.S. and British forces reportedly in the area. However, the situation appears desperate with hold-out government forces outnumbered and poorly equipped. "Helmand province’s deputy governor, Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar, has resorted to attempting to contact President Ghani on Facebook to beg for help. “The command and control system is a mess,” he wrote. He later told the Associated Press: “I can’t hold my tongue any more.”

In Iraq, Iraqi forces are advancing in Ramadi in a push to eliminate the IS holdouts in the city center. In an important change in policy, no Shiite militias are participating in the operation. Some 4-10,000 civilians remain trapped in the city along with the IS forces. It is unclear how many of them will be able to escape.