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

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Update for Thursday, September 22, 2016

With U.S. air support, Iraqi forces continue to make gains against I.S. Iraqi troops have seized the city center of Shirqat, and essential link between Mosul and the staging area for the offensive in Qyara.  A U.S. air strike is said to have killed I.S. forces fleeing the town.

Iraqi forces also continue to expand control of territory around Ramadi, also here.

This is pretty inconsequential but it's being widely reported so here you go. A rocket fired in the direction of the Qayara base where U.S. troops are stationed fell harmlessly in the desert, but field tests indicated the possible presence of a mustard agent. As the linked story indicates, I.S. attempts to make chemical weapons have been crude and ineffective.

Conditions in Fallujah following it's "liberation" have not gotten any better, with no rebuilding of infrastructure and displaced people still being treated as potentially hostile by the Shiite-led government. The prospects for reuniting Iraq are not improving, to say the least.

Update: SecDef Ashton Carter testifies before Senate Armed Services Committee on U.S. force build-up in Iraq and Syria. There are now 300 U.S. troops in Syria. U.S. advisers are now placed at the Brigade level with Iraqi forces, and the U.S. is ending in more High Mobility Artillery Rocket System batteries to support the assault on Mosul. The U.S. has also provided the peshmerga with $415 million in cash.

The Pentagon is asking president Obama to authorize deployment of 500 additional troops to Iraq