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, April 29, 2016

Update for Friday, April 29, 2016

Perpetrators of the attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz that killed 42 civilians will receive sternly worded letters. Yes, this means their military careers are over, but that's the worst of it. The Pentagon has apparently released a heavily redacted version of its internal investigation of the incident, which is 3,000 pages long. As soon as some close reading of it is available, I'll put it up here. But there doesn't seem to be any news beyond what has already been leaked. As The Guardian reports:

According to the then-commander of US forces in Afghanistan, John Campbell, elite US forces operating out of Kunduz called in an airstrike on a building seized by the Taliban miles from the hospital. But the AC-130 launched early, flew off course, dodging what the inquiry determined was a surface-to-air missile, and experienced a series of on-board communications and sensor system failures largely cutting it off from the ground during the pre-dawn mission. After a further sensor failure, crew mistakenly became convinced the hospital was the area it was ordered to attack through visually identifying the likeliest physical location. A higher headquarters, based hundreds of miles away at Bagram airfield, failed to recognize the coordinates the crew provided for strike permission as belonging to the hospital.
In other words, it is not a violation of military law to destroy a building and kill the people inside it without knowing for sure what it is and who the people are. Mistakes were made.

Update: I jumped to the conclusion that the 16 would likely see their military careers come to an end. Not so. Stripes is reporting that some of them will undergo retraining or counseling and may return to their former jobs including 3 air crew members.  Wow. Just wow.