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, September 30, 2016

Update for Friday, September 30, 2016

UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan says a U.S. drone strike in Nangarhar Wednesday morning killed 15 civilians. They are said to be men who had gathered to welcome a returning pilgrim.

As readers know, the Afghan government is reluctant to acknowledge casualties among its forces, and I am not able to collect accurate totals. However, the Washington Post is reporting that it has seen U.S. military documents tabulating Afghan casualties for the week of August 22-29. Afghan forces averaged 18 KIA per day. (This is far more than the Afghan government has ever acknowledged, as far as I can recall.) And this is likely an understatement:

The documents reviewed by The Post contained figures tracked by U.S. troops responsible for advising the Afghan air force medical evacuation crews. Thus, the actual number of dead and wounded could be higher as the documents only pertain to those casualties lifted out by air. According to the documents, the Afghans performed 118 total air evacuation missions — the majority of which were with their aging fleet of Russian Mi-17 helicopters and C-208 Cessnas — between Aug. 22 and 29, recovering 288 patients and 125 human remains.  A U.S. officer familiar with the documents confirmed that the 125 human-remains figure refers to those Afghan security force members killed in combat during that time.
Well folks, it looks like the assault on Mosul will begin soon. I will try to provide comprehensive daily coverage.