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, October 6, 2016

Update for Thursday, October 6, 2016

U.S. soldier killed in action yesterday is identified as Staff Sgt. Adam S. Thomas, 31, of Takoma Park, Maryland. Thomas died Oct. 4 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, from injuries caused by an improvised explosive device that exploded during dismounted operations. [I.E., Thomas was on foot patrol.] Thomas was assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Carson, Colorado.

Fighting continues in Kunduz, with conditions in the city said to be deteriorating with shortages of food and water, and health care facilities closed. Thousands are reported to have fled their homes. Despite these reports, U.S. military spokesman Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland depicts the current status of the battle as a "mop up" operation. The U.S. and Afghan military have been claiming victory for three days, but the fighting continues.

Fighting is also reported in Farah province but few details are available.

Ten children are injured in two explosions in Nangarhar.

Taliban attack traps hundreds of travelers in Badakhshan. Again, details are not reported.

Forty four Afghan troops training in the U.S. have gone missing in the past 2 years, presumably living and working in the country illegally. This is a small fraction of the more than 2,000 who have trained in the U.S.

Brussels conference concludes with pledges of $15.2 billion in new aid to Afghanistan. Nevertheless, economic growth in the country is now the slowest since 2002. The World Bank also warns that "

The increasing number of returnees from Pakistan would exacerbate pressures on service delivery. More than 220,000 Afghans are expected to return in 2016 alone. Given the precarious security situation, low economic and social absorption capacity and the scarcity of land and shelter, forced displacement and the return of refugees pose important humanitarian and poverty challenges.

Meanwhile opium production is at a near record high with the deteriorating security situation putting an end to eradication efforts.