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, May 26, 2017

Update for Friday, May 26, 2017

Sorry I haven't posted for a while. The U.S. and Iraqi military have been claiming almost every day that the battle for Mosul is nearly over -- predicting maybe two or three more weeks of fighting, which  has become a kind of mini-Friedman unit. So here is what appears to be the true state of affairs.

France, as well as the U.S., is supporting the Iraqi forces with troops on the ground. This French TV program sent reporter to Mosul. They summarize the situation:

[T]he battle is extremely difficult. The fanatics are putting up stiff resistance in Mosul’s criss-crossing of narrow streets, which are conducive to urban warfare and difficult for armoured vehicles to enter. . . .

As our team was able to witness on the ground, the battle to retake Mosul is progressing, but it is laborious - even chaotic. Soldiers are killed by friendly fire, the flow of refugees shows no sign of easing up, and the fate of prisoners is unknown - while reports are circulating of torture, rape and summary executions as many Iraqi soldiers are filled with revenge.
Additional allegations of abuse of civilians by Iraqi forces.

Rod Norland for the NYT find U.S. military leaders are no longer making predictions.

Speaking at a news conference in London, Col. Ryan S. Dillon, the American coalition spokesman for Iraq and Syria, would not predict a timeline for the Iraqi military, supported by American advisers and air power, to finally oust the extremists. “I am confident they will retake Mosul,” he said. “This is inevitable. It will happen.” . . .Colonel Dillon declined to predict whether the Iraqis would retake the city within a year of the start of their offensive.

Pentagon issues report on U.S. air strike in March that killed more than 100 civilians. They claim that IS had placed explosives in the building which caused most of the damage; and that neither U.S. nor Iraqi forces knew that there were civilians present.

U.S. service member dies in Syria in vehicle rollover.

Foreign Policy reports that U.S. coaliation allies do not publicly admit to civilians casualties.

The United States’ coalition partners in the war against the Islamic State are responsible for at least 80 confirmed civilian deaths from airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, according to U.S. military officials. Yet none of their 12 allies will publicly concede any role in those casualties. These dozen partner nations have launched more than 4,000 airstrikes combined, the vast majority of which were undertaken by the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Belgium, and the Netherlands. However, they have so far claimed a perfect record in avoiding civilian casualties. An Airwars investigation for Foreign Policy has now uncovered evidence that disproves that assertion.

U.S. lost track of $1 billion worth of arms and equpiment in Iraq, which may have ended up in hands of IS.

I will try to post more regularly in the days ahead.