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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Update for Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Well, you could see it coming. Gen. John Campbell, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, says he wants to keep troops there "as long as possible." [I wonder how long that is?] "In 2016, Campbell said, Afghan forces will need to devise a better system to drive down attrition rates, take to the fight to the Taliban instead of manning checkpoints, root out bad commanders and do a better jobs of recruiting." [Well, they've had 12 years to work on this.]

NATO air strike hits two Afghan army positions in Logar, killng 7 Afghan soldiers. District governor says the incident is likely a mistake due to "bad coordination."

Afghan minister of public health says 40% of children in the country are malnourished. He specifically blames imported foods which are unfortified with micronutrients. [The back story here is that diets heavily dependent on grain are incomplete. Wheat flour in the U.S. is routinely fortified with folic acid and iron.]

Security forces in Helmand province have said negligence on the part of senior security force members in Sangin resulted in the fall of parts of the district to the Taliban.

U.S. soldiers took bribes to award trucking contracts worth millions. Two have plead guilty. An Afghan business owner has now been charged in the case.

Russia will provide weapons to Afghan security forces.

IS holds hundreds of civilians in captivity in Nangarhar, their fate unknown. The motive is principally ransom. It appears that those who are not ransomed are killed. [Note: Obviously this means the group also controls territory.]

In Iraq, the defense minister says Ramadi is 80% destroyed. The devastation includes 260 schools, which would require half a billion dollars to rebuild.

UNICEF says an entire generation in Iraq is at risk due to lack of education and health care. Malnutrition is also widespread and water supplies are deteriorating. "More than 2 million children in Iraq are out of school, up to 3 million more have had their education disrupted by the war, and nearly one in five schools have been damaged, destroyed or used for other purposes, the U.N. children's fund UNICEF says. Of the schools that are still in use, classes are often overcrowded and lessons taught in shifts."

Mass grave with 120 bodies, mostly Iraqi security forces, is found in Nineveh province

The dispute between Iraq and Turkey over the presence of Turkish troops near Mosul continues, with Iraq now threatening unspecified military action. [This is really about the antagonism between Russia and Turkey, with Iraq as a proxy. -- C]

Pentagon claims to have killed an IS leader in Syria who had ties to a planner of the Paris massacre.