Picture taken during my first Deployment in 2002-2003
As we prepare to depart Afghanistan after 13 years of WAR what has been accomplished? The initial foray into Afghanistan was primarily to oust the Taliban who had been harboring Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Within just a few weeks US SOF and Intelligence assets along with the Northern Alliance pushed the Taliban from Afghanistan into Pakistan. Bin Laden was purported to have been in the Tora Bora region then slipped through the hands of US and ally forces. Hamid Karzai was then instated and later elected to the Afghan Presidency. In the next few years it was relatively quiet. The process to build the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police began.
The Taliban safe in the borders of Pakistan our supposed allies, began to build their insurgency. Aided by a corrupt Afghan Government which did more to line their own pockets than build a productive country the Taliban began to re-emerge. The exact timeline is difficult to say as many would be insurgents just kept quiet for a while biding their time. Plus it’s hard to tell insurgent Taliban from run of the mill warlords and their relatives.
President Obama then ran for election on the idea the Iraq was the wrong war and Afghanistan was the good war. A surge was sent. To what end it’s hard to say since at the same time the same administration also set a timeline for withdrawal. Thus effectively muting the surge and we lost many lives and limbs for a very unclear message.
Now Karzai openly opposes our efforts by not signing an agreement to maintain a small number of US/ISAF forces to continue training the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) and maintaining an on the ground intelligence capability. Karzai brags of releasing known Taliban and Al Qaeda prisoners while telling the world it’s none of the US’s business what the Afghanistan government does. He has in recent years continually blamed the US as we have worked side by side with Afghan forces for deaths as the results of these operations. All the while we’ve been funding this very same administration and country.
So, after 13 years of war we find a country that has increased its ANSF(Afghan National Security Forces) forces to over 300,000 thousand strong yet it’s still unable to maintain itself. I don’t want to downplay the huge change in the ANA which has improved greatly. However, we have an ally that we don’t trust nor does it trust us. A government listed as one of if not the most corrupt in the world. All done right under our noses as we were unwilling to lead but rather be led. The region is less stable than it was in 2003 and chaos reigns nearby. Pakistan is nearly and all out enemy now, Iran is on the march toward nuclear weapons, Syria and Libya all are leaning toward the Islamist. I hold out hope for Egypt although had we promoted liberty rather than appease the Muslim Brotherhood they may have avoided much violence. Democracy for the sake of Democracy isn’t the same as liberty.
President Obama seems to wish a complete withdrawal and just end this situation regardless of the consequences to the region.
This is only one sign of our complete loss of any coherent foreign policy. A policy guided by either incompetence or indifference. The United States right now seems unable to believe in itself or it’s ideals. So as the slogan goes “lead or get the hell out of the way”, we seem to be taking the get the hell out of the way path. Once again leaving others to pay the price for our half-hearted measures and many veterans wondering what was the point.
Yes Osama is now dead, well we are told anyway, but are we safer?