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, January 24, 2019

Update for Thursday, January 24, 2019

DoD identifies U.S. service member killed in action in Afghanistan on Tuesday as Army Green Beret Sgt. First Class Joshua Beale of Carollton, VA. He was assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was killed by small arms fire in Uruzgan province, "while on an operation to counter Taliban efforts." Note that we have been told publicly that U.S. forces are not engaged in combat operations against the Taliban, but only against IS and Al Qaeda, and that the U.S. has only an advise and assist mission against the Taliban. Evidently this is not true.

An air strike in Helmand province is said to kill 16 civilians, most of them women and children. It is not clear whether the operation was by Afghan or coalition forces, but one observer attributes it to the U.S.

Talks between U.S. and Taliban officials in Qatar entered a fourth day raising hopes for agreement on a cease fire and negotiations between the Taliban and the government.

Abdullah says the U.S. has reassured him that no final decision has been made on troop withdrawals and that any withdrawal will not affect combat capacity.