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The Taliban Is Surging In Afghanistan: What Will Be The U.S. Response?

ArmchairPolitiicianAfghanistan, June 19, 2017, by Brad Peery, WWW.ArmchairPolitician.US, ArmchairPolitician.US@gmail.com

The 16-year war in Afghanistan has reached a crossroads. The Taliban has achieved renewed success, and ISIS has established a foothold. A U.S. attack on ISIS in eastern Afghanistan recently cost the lives of 3 U.S. soldiers.

American and other foreign forces have declined from a peak of 150,000 in 2009, with over 100,000 of them being U.S. soldiers, to about 14,000 now, with 8,400 of them being U.S. troops. About 4,000 more U.S. troops could be added, with the announcement coming this week. The Trump administration is pushing for more NATO troops to be sent.

According to a UN report, the Taliban controlled areas with 8.4 million Afghans at the end of 2016, up from 5 million a year earlier. The territories over which the Taliban controlled or has significant influence increased from 30% to 40% over that year.

According to Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the additional troops will assist the Afghan military in planning operations providing aviation support, while Kabul increases its’ combat air power.

Afghanistan is almost completely Sunni Muslim, but its divisions lie along ethnic rather than religious lines. The country is made up mostly of Pashtun and Tajik ethnic groups, as well as minority Uzbeks and Hazaras and various other smaller groups. Pashtuns, which also make up most of the Taliban, have dominated senior government and leadership positions, leading to increased ethnic tensions and difficult internal military and government coordination.

According to a Fox News article by Hollie McKay, the Taliban is attempting to take Kunduz, which is situated at a key logistical juncture with highways linking Kabul to the south, Sher Khan Bandar to the north and Mazar-e Sharif to the west. The Taliban has gradually infiltrated the city, and the government has not provided resources to fight them.

Several officials cautioned Fox News that Kunduz, even if Taliban areas are soon retaken by Afghan forces, will inevitably fall to the Taliban again unless local support for terrorists is rooted out and ethnic rivalries are addressed. Furthermore, the government forces themselves are not as strong as they should be, with leaders said to be put in place not based on performance or experience, but on tribal and family connections.

An Afghan local noted that Afghans themselves need to be the foot soldiers They are the ones who are familiar with the area itself. More U.S.-led air support would be of helpful, However, ensuring fair representation among ethnic groups and stamping out corruption in military leadership, putting the most capable in the top jobs rather than those with the right connections, are fundamental. The Afghans themselves need to be the soldiers, and are the ones who are familiar with the areas themselves. While more U.S.-led air support would be of benefit, ensuring fair representation among ethnic groups and stamping out corruption in military leadership, putting the most capable in the top jobs rather than those with the right connections, are crucial. This could be a viable objective for the U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary, General Mattis, and the Pentagon are revising their middle east policies, including Afghanistan, with the plan to be disclosed to the Congress in Mid-July.

Armchair Politician Opinion:
Afghanistan is a difficult battlefield because of government corruption, and the need to vet the people to identify Taliban supporters. The locals can be organized to fight the Taliban or ISIS, and the best locals should be put into positions of authority. It is also difficult because of many Pashtun Taliban in powerful positions in the government in Kabul.

The overall middle east and Afghanistan policies will be important to analyze when they are revealed to the Congress in mid-July.

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