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 9, 2017

Update for Tuesday, May 9, 2017


When you're in a hole . . . U.S. military leaders will ask for an increase in U.S. forces in Afghanistan of 3,000 to 5,000 troops. "The new military strategy would also give the Pentagon, not the White House, the authority to set troop numbers in Afghanistan. It would also give the military more authority to use airstrikes against the Taliban, and lift Obama-era restrictions that limited the mobility of US military advisers on the ground."

Paul Szoldra does not think this is a good idea.

Sending in 3,000 more troops, as the Trump administration is reportedly debating, will do little, especially when the 100,000 boots on the ground during Obama’s “surge” didn’t result in “winning.” . . .
The US military can train a complete civilian off the street and turn them into a highly-capable soldier or Marine over a period of about three months. But we still can’t claim Afghan security forces are a “strong, sustainable force” after training them for 15 years.


Heavy fighting reported near Kunduz city.




Monday, May 8, 2017

Update for Monday, May 8, 2017

A border skirmish between Pakistani and Afghan forces on Friday resulted in the death of 50 Afghan soldiers, according to the Pakistani military. Afghan sources deny that, saying there were only two military and one civilian death. The conflict erupted as Pakistan took a census in villages that are apparently in disputed territory.

The U.S. military says it has confirmed that Abdul Hasib, commander of IS in Afghanistan, was killed in the raid in Nangarhar in which two U.S. soldiers died. Hasib was successor to Hafiz Saeed Khan, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike last year. However, some commentators argue that killing senior leadership of the group has little effect.

A provincial official is assassinated in Kandarhar.

Taliban take control of a district in Kunduz, Afghan forces are counterattacking in an attempt to reclaim the territory.

Warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar comes in from the cold and signs a peace accord with the government. The linked essay speculates that the U.S. viewed him as a potential asset and so refrained from droning him. He also has ties with the Pakistan ISI.

Iraq

It gets little attention, but many U.S. mercenaries are working for the Iraqi government.

Iraq's interior minister was once accused of providing weapons to Shiite militias attacking U.S. troops and involvement with the Iranian al Quds militia. He was imprisoned by the U.S. for nearly two years.

IS attacks a Kurdish base where U.S. advisers are stationed, but the attack is thwarted by peshmerga.

Civilians fleeing Mosul continue to tell horrific tales:

Iraqi officials say they hope to liberate the city completely within three weeks. But civilians fleeing on Friday report that the renewed push has been accompanied by mounting civilian deaths. "My uncle died yesterday," said Mrs Ibrahim. "His house collapsed in a strike." The housewife had fled her own home earlier that day with her husband and their two young children and new-born baby.

Life under Isil had grown increasingly difficult in recent months, she said, but it was only when soldiers approached that they deemed it safe enough to flee. When she gave birth at home two weeks ago, there was no doctor available to assist the delivery or prescribe medicine when her baby became ill. "Look, my baby's face is blue," she said.
The family hoped to receive medical care but no medics were immediately available at the muster point, which was being managed by the Iraqi army. Over 1500 civilians arrived at the site on Friday and there were chaotic scenes as soldiers distributed food from the back of trucks.

As civilians scrambled among rain-soaked cardboard boxes for cans of food and bottles of fruit drink, many reported it was their first food other than bread that they had eaten in weeks.

The slow advance into Mosul continues, with troops hoping to open more escape routes for civilians.

Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, of Falmouth, Maine, is killed in action in Somalia. (The SEALs are now officially called "special warfare operators.")

Monday, May 1, 2017

Update for Monday, May 1, 2017

U.S. soldier killed by IED near Mosul on Saturday is identified as army 1st Lt. Weston C. Lee, 25, of Bluffton, Georgia. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was a recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

Iraqi Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi says the humanitarian situation in Mosul is catastrophic. He cites famine among the hundreds of thousands who remain in the city.

The Pentagon says U.S. air strikes have killed at least 352 civilians during Operation Inherent Resolve. Others say the total is much higher, by an order of magnitude.

Here's an analysis of the problem of civilian casualties from an AP reporter.

Iraqi army chief of staff Lieutenant General Othman al-Ghanmi expects the battle for Mosul to be over before the end of May. However, we have heard some overly optimistic projections in the past.




Read more here: http://www.macon.com/news/local/article147764159.html#storylink=cpy