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

Monday, October 31, 2016

Update for Monday, October 31, 2016

Iraqi special forces take the village of Bazwaya, less than a mile from the Mosul city limits to the east. They have paused to allow regular troops to fill in.

Government and allied forces have also taken additional villages,  and counterterrorism chief General Talib Shegati says forces will cross the city limits in a matter of hours.

Some reports say they already have done so, although this may be a matter of definition. It appears they have yet to cross the administrative border of the city, but that seems an inconsequential distinction.

Al Alam says a massive explosion occurred at a meeting of IS commanders in Mosul, which could possibly be a coalition air strike, but there is no corroboration. (This has also been reported by Sputnik and Fars, relying on the same source.)

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that 300 child soldiers brought by IS from Syria to Mosul have been killed in fighting.

Iraqi media continue to report that IS is executing deserters by the dozens.

I will provide an update if warranted. Looks like the next few days will be decisive.