Col. Johnson At The Outpost (II)

JungleGirlPower

Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army

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Col. Johnson reads to you from

THE OUTPOST

a tome told true by Jake Tapper:

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     It was true that violence was down in his area of operations, but that wasn’t because his men had gone soft.  As Kolenda saw it, none of what he was doing had anything to do with being warmhearted.  In his opinion, counterinsurgency was a pretty damned cold-blooded strategy, all about being out there with specific goals ~ establishing stability and defeating the insurgency ~ and intelligently using the full range of available leverage, from cash, clean water, and education for local children to bullets, when appropriate, to get the desired results.  There was an element of manipulation involved.  Sure, he wanted the Afghans to have better lives ~ how could anyone not, after seeing that kind of impoverishment.  But there was also something transactional about American promises of clean water, construction jobs, and a brighter future for Afghan kids.  This wasn’t charity; the bottom line was, these offers were made to save American lives and help destroy anyone who hoped to hurt ISAF troops.  Kolenda could never understand why some folks viewed the carrots as being somehow inferior to the sticks…

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Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army

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Soundtrack:

http://songza.com/listen/long-gone-brother-cloydlovesthe

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Art by Mike Huddleston

Mike Huddleston
Mike Huddleston

Photo of Tanya Roberts

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Col. Johnson At The Outpost

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Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army

~~~

Col. Johnson reads to you from

THE OUTPOST

a tome told true by Jake Tapper:

~~~

     Anayatullah then asked the elders, “Before the Americans came to Kamdesh, had you ever heard of a development project?”  Of course not, he said.  The insurgents were making no effort to build a stronger Afghanistan, whereas the United States was trying to help.  “So,” he announced, “we need to help the Americans.”  Two days before, insurgents had fired a PKM machine gun into the Camp Keating mosque, which was used primarily by the ANA soldiers and the outpost’s Afghan Security Guards.  Firing into a mosque?  “These are not Muslims,” Anayatullah declared, “they are terrorists.  If you help the bad guys, we will destroy you.  If the local people help the enemy fighters, they are not helping the government;  they are considered to be Al Qaeda.”  Others weighed in, expressing similar sentiments.

     Meetings proceeded in this same manner over the next couple of months.  Sometimes they took place at Combat Outpost Keating, but it was preferable to hold them in the villages, because “forcing” the Americans to travel to them enhanced the elders’ credibility in the eyes of their people.  Kolenda and Hutto noticed, in fact, that there seemed to be a direct correlation between their participation in these shuras and a decline in violence.  By the end of September, attacks on Camp Keating and OP Warheit, as well as on Bulldog Troop patrols and missions, had ceased…

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Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army

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Afghanistan US Army

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Afghans Fend Off Taliban Threat

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Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army, advises villagers in Nuristan, Afghanistan…

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By Rod Nordland, Thom Shanker and Matthew Rosenberg

New York Times

October 16, 2013

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KABUL, Afghanistan — When the Taliban announced the beginning of their spring offensive, they saw few limits to their ambitions: to kill top Afghan officials across every major ministry, to plot even more infiltration attacks against Americans and to bloody, break and drive off the Afghan security forces who were newly in charge across the country.

Now, Afghan and American officials are cautiously celebrating a deflation of the Taliban’s propaganda bubble, the militants’ goals largely unmet.

With this year’s fighting season nearly over, the officials say the good news is that the Afghan forces mostly held their own, responding to attacks well and cutting down on assassinations. But at the same time, the Afghans were unable to make significant gains and, worse, suffered such heavy casualties that some officials called the rate unsustainable.

That assessment, detailed in interviews with commanders, officials and local leaders, is an important factor in urgent efforts by the Americans and Afghans to hash out a long-term deal to support the Afghan security forces, with national elections and the Western military withdrawal looming over the coming months.

Though the Afghan forces endured, they did little to answer some persistent questions about their ability and image, including whether they can handle their own planning and logistics as American forces continue to pull back. And in the rural southern Taliban heartland, the insurgents’ continued appearance as the more credible military force away from cities added weight to theories that the Taliban could control those areas after 2014.

“What we saw this year was an insurgency unable to make a decisive blow against the A.N.S.F.,” one Pentagon official said, referring to the Afghan National Security Forces. But the official added: “The Afghans still have a lot of learning to do. They had some tough brawls, and they took substantial casualties.”

Some American and Afghan commanders characterized a kind of moral victory for the Afghan forces: they mostly survived, and they did not completely give back gains from past Western offensives.

“The Taliban’s operational directive at the start of the fighting season was to press the Afghan security forces and try to break their will,” said Col. David Lapan, a spokesman for the American military commander, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. “It’s so far been our assessment they have not succeeded in any of their stated goals.”

While the Taliban’s assassination campaign did take a toll on police officials and mostly low-level district officials, an insurgent success came late in the season — on Tuesday, when the well-regarded governor of Logar Province was killed  while preparing to speak in a mosque, though the Taliban denied responsibility.

The Taliban were quick to take responsibility for many of the so-called insider attacks last year, when Afghans in uniform killed 60 members of the international military force, and vowed to intensify them this year. But with new security measures in place, there have been just 14 such killings this year.

Even the insurgents’ strategy of waging high-profile attacks against Western targets in the capital, Kabul, mostly fizzled or ended up misdirected, as in a bombing that the Taliban said had been aimed at a C.I.A. safe house but instead killed four at the International Organization for Migration.

“We knew going into this that the insurgency understood this would be the last fighting season before the elections of April 2014,” said one Defense Department official, who along with some other officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the Afghan forces’ progress. “They knew it was time to get creative, that if ever there was a time to make a spectacular impact or strike a decisive blow, this would be it.”

Though there was no such decisive blow, the cuts were deep.

In some areas of the south and east, most notably in the Sangin district of Helmand Province, the Taliban were able to restrict movement of Afghan forces and inflict heavy casualties.

Just how much those casualties have increased, however, is a matter of dispute. American officials defer requests for statistics to the Afghan authorities, saying it is now their responsibility.

Sediq Seddiqi, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said the increase was only slight  for the police forces, who suffered the greatest share of the casualties. But he refused to give any recent statistics. The Afghan military has similarly resisted giving figures for this year.

Last year, the Afghan government said 2,970 police officers and soldiers had been killed in 2012.

The toll this year is at least double that, and probably much more, said Hamayoun Hamayoun, the chairman of the defense committee in the Afghan Parliament. He said figures given in confidence to his committee by government ministries showed that 6,000 Afghan soldiers and police officers had been killed since March.

“You know the government hides the correct numbers,” he said.

Mr. Hamayoun cited a major fight in northern Badakhshan Province in August. Government spokesmen said 20 policemen had been killed, but when committee investigators went to the area, they found the total was 80, he said.

In addition, Mr. Hamayoun expressed concern about the continued high attrition rate for the Afghan National Army from desertions, casualties and resignations. In recent years, the military had to replace roughly a third of its force annually, and that has continued, he said.

“If this keeps on for a long time, the military will collapse,” Mr. Hamayoun said.

American military officials say they are not nearly so alarmed. They expected the Afghans to take some punishment once they were really on their own, and they say that so far the Afghans have not had a hard time finding replacement recruits in a country with high unemployment and widespread poverty.

Trying to blunt the effect of increased Afghan casualties, American commanders say, they flew more helicopter medevac missions for Afghan forces — despite an effort to persuade the Afghans to use ground transportation and regional military hospitals in preparation for the decreasing American support presence.

“This is their first fighting season in the lead, so we’re doing more medevacs than previous years because they’re doing more than previous years,” said Colonel Lapan, the American military spokesman.

The performance of their allies was not as poor as many American military officials had feared. One senior military officer said he would give the Afghan security forces a C-plus grade — not a ringing endorsement, but better than the C he said he would give the insurgency.

But if the Afghans’ performance has allayed short-term fears, it has answered few questions about what the long-term balance against the Taliban will look like.

One critical point will be security for the national election, scheduled for the first week in April and characterized as crucial to the government’s credibility. Some Afghan officials insist that date is too early — snow is still likely to be blocking mountain passes, potentially reducing turnout. But American officials are quietly urging the Afghans to stay on course anyway, because a later date would make it easier for the Taliban to disrupt the vote.

“It is not lost on us that the timing of the election is April, which is generally before the major fighting season starts,” one Pentagon official said. “We are encouraging our counterparts to continue moving toward that goal. If it is delayed into the summer fighting season, the A.N.S.F. will be challenged.”

There are longer-term questions as well, particularly in remote districts of eastern Afghanistan and stretches of farmland in southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban are strongest.

One American official involved with the Human Terrain System, a program that uses social science techniques to help the military understand Afghan society, said that in those areas, the perception among most people was that the Taliban remained the dominant force in their villages.

That, in particular, does not bode well for the hope that the central government will be able to exert its authority in those southern and ethnic Pashtun areas after the official end of the American combat mission next year.

“You’re looking at these people, you listen to them and you hear them out and you talk, and you realize that these are the Taliban,” said an American Army officer who served in rural areas thick with insurgents outside Kandahar, the main city in southern Afghanistan.

“It’s not that each one of them is an active insurgent — these are old men, a lot of them. It’s that they are the reason the Taliban exists. It came from where they live,” the officer said. “I think, when we take the long view here, we should be cognizant of the context. Maybe the best outcome would be Taliban in the villages and the government in the district centers.”

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Rod Nordland and Matthew Rosenberg reported from Kabul, and Thom Shanker from Washington. Azam Ahmed contributed reporting from Kabul and Sangin, Afghanistan.

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Shrinking The Government

Weena%20Scream%20Strip

Tea Party Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, with the government shut-down under their Taliban belt, continue to scare the daylights out of America with their attempted coup of the Affordable Healthcare Law.  Why don’t they just help us make it work better instead?

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Alex Wagner, NOW news-show host on MSNBC Television, warns citizens, “The House Republicans are now looking at the debt ceiling for their next kill.”

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Can Rawclyde, the White House’s favorite secret agent, stop them?

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32 House Republicans Who ARE The Government Shutdown:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/10/32-republicans-who-caused-the-government-shutdown/280236/

~~~

Kerry Goes To Afghanistan

US soldiers and Afghan trainees

U.S. Army soldiers look on as Afghan National Army soldiers zero their weapons during basic rifle marksmanship training on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Feb. 11, 2009 (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jill LaVoie)…

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by Matthew Rosenberg

New York Times

October 11, 2013

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KABUL, Afghanistan — Last Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry called President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan with a simple question: If Mr. Kerry came to Kabul, would it help break a deadlock in negotiations to keep American forces in Afghanistan beyond next year?

The Afghan leader suggested it would, and Mr. Kerry arrived here on Friday for a previously unannounced visit that, in the estimation of many Afghan and American officials, represented the best and, possibly, the last chance to head off a complete American withdrawal when the NATO combat mission here ends in 2014.

Mr. Kerry’s decision to make the trip provided a respite from the pessimism that has spread rapidly in Kabul over the past week as the depth of the impasse faced by negotiators became apparent. Some Afghan and American officials reasoned that Mr. Kerry would not make such a public bid to rescue the talks if his chances of success were slim.

Still, few here thought success was a given for Mr. Kerry. Hours before his arrival, a senior Western diplomat put the odds of a deal at “no better than 50-50.”

Alongside the deadlocked negotiations, Afghan and American officials have also struggled in the past week to contain another potential crisis. A week ago, American forces intercepted a convoy of Afghan intelligence agents and seized a senior leader of the Pakistan Taliban, an offshoot of the Afghan insurgent movement, whom the agents were taking to Kabul, said Aimal Faizi, the spokesman for Mr. Karzai.

The Taliban leader, Latif Mehsud, was turned by Afghan intelligence roughly two years ago and had become a valuable asset, said an Afghan familiar with the situation. He was on his way to meet with senior Afghan intelligence officials in Kabul when American forces took him away at gunpoint along a road in Logar Province, south of the capital. He is now believed to be in American custody at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul.

American officials said the Afghans had turned over Mr. Mehsud at the request of American forces, but the officials did not provide any additional details.

Mr. Karzai is said to be furious about the seizure of Mr. Mehsud by the Americans, raising further doubts about his readiness to compromise on a deal with the United States.

The doubts surrounding the talks to keep troops here are a sharp departure from only months ago, when American generals spoke of a post-2014 force as an inevitability and Afghan officials said the only question was how many troops would remain, not if they would get any at all.

But that certainty has given way to a last-minute scramble after nearly a year of talks. The Obama administration has set an Oct. 31 deadline for their conclusion, and Mr. Karzai and Mr. Obama have both signaled they are willing to walk away if necessary.

The sticking points are two Afghan demands that Mr. Karzai has said are crucial to the country’s sovereignty, but that the Obama administration says it will not consider.

The first is Mr. Karzai’s insistence that the United States guarantee Afghanistan’s security as if it were a NATO ally. That could compel the United States to send troops on raids into Pakistan, an ally of Washington and a nuclear-armed power.

Mr. Karzai is also refusing to allow American forces to continue hunting here for operatives of Al Qaeda. Instead, he wants any intelligence gathered by the United States handed over to Afghan forces, who would then conduct the raids on their own.

Mr. Kerry, one of the few American officials who still have a good relationship with Mr. Karzai, arrived late Friday afternoon and headed straight to the presidential palace for meetings and a dinner. The evening concluded with him and Mr. Karzai taking a short walk together alone.

The two sides were “candid about their differences,” a senior State Department official said. But the “differences coming in were narrowed,” the official said, declining to elaborate.

Mr. Karzai raised the seizing of the Pakistan Taliban leader, the official said, adding that talks were to continue Saturday morning before Mr. Kerry left for Paris.

American officials sought to temper expectations that Mr. Kerry would walk away from Kabul with a final agreement.

“The negotiations were going on before he got here. They’ll be going on after he leaves,” the State Department official said. “What this is really about is building momentum for the negotiators.”

A complete American withdrawal would force the European allies to pull out as well, and would most likely lead to a steep drop in the billions of dollars in annual aid, which pays roughly 80 percent of Afghanistan’s bills and props up its biggest businesses, American and European officials have said.

The Taliban, meanwhile, remain a potent threat that Afghan forces are not yet ready to face entirely on their own. Most of the post-2014 force, as envisioned by American commanders, would be assigned to train the Afghans; a smaller element would be made up of Special Operations forces focused on targeting Qaeda operatives.

Mr. Kerry has previously cajoled Mr. Karzai into taking a deal he initially opposed. After the disputed 2009 election here, Mr. Kerry persuaded Mr. Karzai to accept a runoff against his leading contender for president. His rival then conceded the race as part of the deal brokered by Mr. Kerry.

Thom Shanker contributed reporting from Washington.

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Talks on Security Pact Moving Forward

APTOPIX Afghanistan National Army

New police women in the front rows of their graduation ceremony, bravely face repression of their gender in Afghanistan…

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Afghanistan Express Daily Newspaper

October 8, 2013

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Washington and Kabul are moving forward to ink the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that will roadmap the U.S. presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014, says Marie Harf, the Deputy Spokeswoman of the U.S. State Department.

“We have made progress, but these kind of negotiations are complex in any country, as we know, from sort of the technical to the tough security issues,” Marie Harf told AFP.

According to Afghan officials who spoke to TOLOnews earlier this week, the two provisions of the security pact that remain contested are those related to defining what a “threat” is to Afghan national security and the parameters of U.S. unilateral operations post-2014. Dr. Rangin Dadfur Spanta, the Afghan National Security Advisor, assured those debates would be resolved soon.

“We always expected that there would be sticking points and bumps in the road that needed to be resolved at some point in the process,” Harf said.The comments from Ms. Harf came after President Hamid Karzai, at a press conference held in Kabul city on Monday, announced that the proposed Loya Jirga to decide on the fate of the BSA would be held in a month’s time.

“The people of Afghanistan are the rulers, the decisions of this country lie with the people of Afghanistan, so whatever the people of Afghanistan decide, the government will obey,” Karzai said at the press conference.

Washington has been pressing the Afghan government to ink the BSA as quickly as possible. But, the Afghan authorities made it clear that they will sign the agreement only if the U.S. accepts all the terms and conditions put front by Kabul. Given Karza’s most recent announcement, it would appear that even if the Afghan demands are accepted, however, the ultimate decision on whether or not to go forward with the security pact will be up to the Jirga.

There are around 100,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, out of which around 68,000 are Americans. (Tolonews)

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loya loya

Loya Jirga…

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http://theafghanistanexpress.com/talks-on-security-pact-moving-forward-u-s

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Our House Republicans

Welcome!

~

So you shutdown the government

while we’re still at war

a congressman, a Republican, with more

manure on your face than a barn floor

~

Your excuse is worse than hate

to kill healthcare for the poor

my God, man, step out the door

your stench overwhelms forevermore

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We’re not yet out of Afghanistan

you bite the Commander-in-Chief’s hand

like a snake in the forbidden land

of fork-tongue treason bloody-beach sand

~

You blame everybody but yourself

stealing bare the grocery-store shelf

in every neighborhood but your own

you’re too foul to be a dog bone

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And you actually think you’re winning?

a premature fat-headed  boaster

you’re winning nothing but

the backseat in a broken roller-coaster

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You threaten to wreck the economy

to cause so much pain and rain you’re insane

you shoulda been aborted before being born

you’re not American, you’re just a butt thorn

~

Rawclyde!

~

32 House Republicans Who ARE The Government Shutdown:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/10/32-republicans-who-caused-the-government-shutdown/280236/

~

My Son The Taliban

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Oh Taliban Taliban

where

do

you roam?

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Have you made the

Republican

Party

your new home?

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Guns for the children

death

for

everyone else

~

No healthcare for millions

Is this all

you

can tell’s?

~

5512016605100910655_Org

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You shut down

the government

you threaten

the economy

~

You’ve crossed

the ocean

become

my local enemy

~

Oh Taliban Taliban

you’ve

become

the Tea Party too

~

Democracy is a

good thing

Don’t you believe

that is true?

~

talibanafghanistan630

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The Second Amendment

has

handed you

your gun

~

You cock that

thing

expect everyone

to run

~

Well I guess

you need a little more

education

oh Taliban son

~

Go watch the

go go girls dance

and

have a little fun…

~

by Rawclyde!

Old Timer Chronicle

editor & writer

~

lizzyfrost-small

Go Go Dancer

http://lizzyfrost.wordpress.com

~

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A Smooth Exit Out Of Afghanistan

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U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Gregory Moore, combat videographer with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, sits on the back of a KC-130J Hercules to capture imagery of AV-8B Harriers flying over mountains in Helmand province, on December 6, 2012. (USMC/Staff Sgt. Loobens Alphonse)

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by Geoff Burt, Mark Sedra, and Michael Lawrence

The Globe & Mail via CIGIOnline

December 7, 2011

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The international community’s 2014 exit strategy from Afghanistan rests on two pillars: training an Afghan security force that can stand on its own feet, and fostering regional co-operation on a conflict that defies borders. Forging a political settlement with the Taliban is considered by most to be the indispensable third pillar of this strategy, even if U.S. and NATO officials are reticent to recognize it as such. Unfortunately, an assessment of progress in all three areas gives cause for serious concern.

September’s assassination of former president Burhanuddin Rabbani, who chaired the Afghan high peace council overseeing negotiations with anti-government groups, appears to have derailed efforts to find common ground with the Taliban. Pakistan’s absence from the just-concluded Bonn II Conference over an accidental NATO bombing that left 24 of its soldiers dead has similarly left prospects for a regional strategy bleak. The final pillar, the training program for the Afghan National Security Forces, has fared little better.

As the 2014 target for the withdrawal of most international troops looms, NATO’s training mission is scrambling to add nearly 50,000 soldiers and police to Afghanistan’s 306,000-strong security force over the next year (2012). The Afghan security forces are now responsible for seven geographic areas accounting for 25 per cent of the population. The prospects, however, of creating a force capable of assuming security responsibility for the entire country by 2014 remain dubious.

According to U.S. government sources, only one of the Afghan National Army’s 161 units is capable of operating independently; this represents a regression from the four units that were rated as independent in June. No units of the police are capable of functioning without direct coalition assistance, and no sections of the ministries of Interior and Defence (which will soon be charged with managing the security situation) are capable of autonomous action. All are rife with corruption. Meanwhile, the number of security incidents confronting the Afghan security forces continues to increase, with the UN citing a 39-per-cent rise in 2011 over the previous year.

Some view these problems as transitory amid a record of steady improvement, a message trumpeted at Bonn. The real dilemma, however, is that even if Afghanistan could achieve the desired force levels and improve the impact of its training programs, the force would be fundamentally unsustainable without massive and prolonged international subsidies. The U.S. Defence and State departments have requested more than $5-billion to sustain the Afghan police and military in 2012. Continued training and operations add further billions to the tab. Contrast these figures with the Afghan government’s revenues in 2010, which were a paltry $1-billion.

Although donors in Bonn have pledged to finance the Afghan government over the next decade, several U.S. accountability offices note that there has been no comprehensive study of the actual costs of sustaining the Afghan security forces after withdrawal, and the conference simply postponed any concrete assessment. In a climate of economic crisis and fiscal austerity, it seems unlikely that donor countries will continue to bridge such a glaring resource gap for the foreseeable future.

After 2014, Afghanistan will almost assuredly be stuck with a bill it can’t pay – but if it does not keep training and developing the security forces, attrition will quickly decimate NATO’s achievements. One in seven soldiers and police desert each month, and for every 10 soldiers trained another 13 trainees drop out. Any disruption in salary payments to the security forces that will likely accompany a drop in international subsidies will compound this problem.

With all three of the pillars of the international exit strategy teetering, what is the likely outcome of the transition? What is at stake?

If the Afghan security forces do prove unsustainable after 2014, they will likely splinter into factions led by various strongmen. (The army’s leadership is largely comprised of former Northern Alliance commanders.) In the best-case scenario, Afghanistan will feature controlled instability and limited sovereignty with the Taliban controlling the bulk of the south and parts of the east of the country, various warlords controlling the central and northern regions, and the government controlling an enclave around Kabul and some key urban centres, with low-level conflict along the fringes. In the worst-case scenario, the country will return to the civil war that devastated it during the 1990s. Either outcome could easily sacrifice the most basic goal and achievement of international intervention: ousting al-Qaeda and denying safe haven to it and other Islamist militant groups. Even more worryingly, it could foist upon Afghanistan yet another humanitarian crisis.

The real tragedy of the situation is that international assistance may have inadvertently created the conditions for renewed civil war. When Operation Enduring Freedom commenced in 2001, the Taliban controlled over 90 per cent of the country and the Northern Alliance was barely hanging on. The intervention has restored a rough parity, which could portend a long and bloody struggle. Indeed, most Afghans view the past 10 years not as the beginning of a new era of peace, but rather as a temporary lull in an ongoing conflict.

While the international community is struggling to implement its Plan A for the future of Afghanistan, Afghan groups and regional states such as Pakistan, Iran and India are already onto Plan C, making strategic calculations about which Afghan factions will best serve their interests and security following the international withdrawal.

The optimistic final communiqué from the Bonn II Conference belies the harsh realities on the ground in Afghanistan, tragically demonstrated by Tuesday’s suicide bombings, which killed dozens of Shia worshippers celebrating Ashura. Instead of trying to grasp victory from the jaws of defeat, NATO and its international partners will soon have to acknowledge the severity of the situation and work to head off its most dire consequences.

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Mark Sedra is a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and teaches at the University of Waterloo. Geoff Burt and Mike Lawrence are research officers at the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

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bodunk boogie

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Afghan Analytica

http://www.afghanalytica.com

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Tea Party Revealed As Taliban!

Morlocks

Disarm them & kick them over the cliff, America!

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“So much for compassionate conservatism” says Alex Wagner, news commentator on MSNBC television.

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John Boehner Attack

Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, tries to wrestle healthcare away from the American people.  It turns out he’s Taliban too!

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The Latest (Slightly Bias) News:

http://mykeystrokes.com

http://thelastofthemillenniums.wordpress.com

http://qqduckus.com

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