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Expert: US Transition Strategy in 'Forgotten' Afghan War a Recipe for Failure

Expert: US Transition Strategy in 'Forgotten' Afghan War a Recipe for Failure

President Obama’s strategy to transition security responsibilities and rush the United States out of Afghanistan is a recipe for failure, revealed a scathing report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).   

Anthony Cordesman, former intelligence director at the Pentagon and the report’s author, criticized Obama for ignoring military commanders’ recommendations to maintain a larger post-2014 force in Afghanistan.  

He was also critical of the President setting a date to end U.S. combat operations in the “forgotten” Afghanistan war regardless of ground conditions, arguing that such a move contributed to a plan for American military failure.   

“It sets an arbitrary date for slashing and then ending the US military role in helping Afghan forces regardless of the conditions already emerging on the ground,” wrote Cordesman. “It puts domestic politics before workable military plans and a capacity to provide a conditions-based response if this go wrong.”   

“The current realities on the ground strongly indicate that the present US approach to Transition in Afghanistan will fail at the military, political, economic, and governance levels,” he added.   

Cordesman pointed out that under Obama, the U.S. “is cutting its presence in Afghanistan so quickly that its Transition efforts may well fail.”   

He warned that the current U.S. approach to Afghanistan “has far too many parallels in the failures and lessons of the Vietnam and Iraq conflicts.”  

Obama critics, which now include Leon Panetta, a former official from the President’s own team who served in the upper echelon of the CIA and Pentagon, have blamed Obama for rushing U.S. troops out of Iraq and leaving behind a vacuum that allowed militants from the Islamic State and other groups to flourish in the country.  

As the U.S. prepares to end combat operations in Afghanistan, the conflict remains “the forgotten war at a time when the Taliban is making steady gains, civilian casualties are rising, the Afghan economy is in crisis, and there still are no clear plans for any post-2014 aspect of transition,” Cordesman wrote in the report. 

American troops will end their combat role in a few months, at the end of this year. By the end of the 2014, the U.S. military in Afghanistan will be reduced to about 9,800. 

That force will be further shrunk to nearly half of the 9,800 by the end of 2015.  

The year 2017 will find the U.S. military practically out of Afghanistan, with the exception of a small force that will be there to secure the American embassy.  

According to the CSIS report, U.S. commanders recommended that post-2014 force of 16,000 stay behind until the country is secure, based on conditions on the ground. That level was reduced to about 9,8000 “as a result of political pressure from the White House.”

The author of the report blasted the current transition strategy as a recipe for failure.   

“It means cutting a 9,800 level in half at the end of 2015,” wrote Cordesman, adding, “Without a clear schedule or plan for how this will be carried out during the first campaign season Afghan forces will really be on their own.”

“It then means leaving by 2016 regardless of the conditions involved – while the US will be in Transition to a new President – and without clear military or civil aid plans or even a clear plan for the future development of Afghan forces – is scarcely a recipe for success,” he continued. “The end result seems highly likely to be a premature and poorly planned withdrawal, and Vietnam and Iraq scarcely set a reassuring precedent.” 

The Erratic US Military Role in Afghanistan: Surging far Too Late and then Running for the Exits:


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