US Military Cedes Special Operations Control to Afghans

US Military Cedes Special Operations Control to Afghans

The  US military has agreed to transfer special operations to Afghan control, diminishing America’s role and responsibility in anti-Taliban night raids:

Under the terms of the agreement, Afghan forces can still call on American troops for help and authorize them to enter Afghan residences and private compounds. The agreement covers all night raids carried out by special operations forces. However, a small number of night operations are conducted under other auspices, including special C.I.A.-trained units, that are not covered by the agreement, military and civilian officials said.

Before the question is asked, “what could go wrong with this,” it’s important to consider this is one more important step to turning over security to the Afghan government and to get our guys out of there. However, it isn’t quite that cut-and-dried either. The US will still be very much a partner in all matters. Our special forces will be acting as teachers and in support roles. The intelligence  which the Afghan forces will act on will still rely on US resources; not to mention, financially, the Afghan government and military is totally reliant on US and western powers. For $4 billion a year, they very well should be.

The move is needed. We are far past the point of “how to win this war.” The war was won when we dislodged al Qaeda and uprooted the Taliban. Both groups, while active in pockets and still possessing some degree of influence, are no longer the type of power, administratively or financially, they were before 2001. The subsequent years of constant military pressure has done a great deal to disrupt and fracture both terrorists groups. Additionally, the US military killed Osama bin Laden. Everything we tried to accomplish beyond those points was hubris and wishful thinking.

This turnover was something Karzai wanted and needed. It is also for our benefit once the other agreements are hammered out before 2014. Whether it is successful or not need not matter. It’s what the Afghans want. It’s their country. Let them figure out what to do next. We should consider this step a major milestone. Just a few years ago, Afghanistan had no military to speak of, and now they have been passed the dagger.

Several diplomats said that the most important aspect of the agreement, which goes into effect immediately, was that the two countries could take the next steps to complete the transition to Afghan control and allow foreign forces to leave the country. “There’s still work to be done, but clearly we have some critical momentum now,” Ryan C. Crocker, the United States ambassador to Afghanistan, said as he left the signing ceremony.


Still, an American military official involved in the negotiations described the agreement as “a paradigm shift” that substantially changed who was in charge, although the official emphasized that Afghan and American officers worked as a team, sitting side by side in an operations center, sharing intelligence and decision-making responsibilities on most targets.