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, May 31, 2016

Update for Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Pentagon spokesperson says that 2 U.S. service members have been injured by indirect fire, 1 in Iraq and 1 in Syria. Although the Pentagon is being circumspect, it appears both injuries were serious.
The spokesperson goes out of his way to say the troops were not engaged in "active combat." [It is unusual for the Pentagon to announce non-fatal injuries. As we know, U.S. troops are deployed in what used to be called Forward Operating Bases near the front lines. Whether you want to say they are in "active combat" or not they are obviously vulnerable to indirect fire, and to breakthroughs by the enemy, both of which have happened previously. -- C]

Nearly 3,700 civilians have managed to flee Fallujah but 50,000 remain trapped.

It appears only one family that recently escaped is from central Fallujah, and aid agencies are gravely concerned for the fate of those that remain.

The government advance on the city is slow, and was met by a counterattack in the suburb of Naimiyah, which was eventually repelled with the aid of air support.

In Afghanistan, Taliban abduct 200 travelers at a fake checkpoint on the Kunduz-Takhar highway. They release 154 after interrogation, and kill 17 who were carrying documents as government employees. The fate of the remainder is unknown.

Amnesty International says the number of internally displaced civilians has doubled since 2013, to 2.1 million. Their situation has worsened as the government has failed to provide resettlement services.

Ministry of Defense admits setbacks in Helmand, with total reported fatalities among National Police in the past 3 days now at 60. The police are not receiving support from the army, according to members of parliament, who also call for air support from NATO. The MoD says the army is involved in Helmand but does confess to a lack of coordination among security services.