Current Events and the Psychology of Politics
Loading

Featured Posts        



categories        



Links        



archives        



meta        




Nov 13th, 2010


Report Cautions Obama on High Cost of Afghan War

U.S. should ‘downsize its ambitions’ and ‘reduce its military presence in Afghanistan’

Image: Afghan blast
An Afghan police officer stands guard near the site of an explosion in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010. (Photo credit: Foulad Hamdard / AP)

By David Alexander

Nov. 12, 2010

WASHINGTON — An independent task force cautioned President Barack Obama on Friday about the high cost of the Afghanistan war and said he should consider a narrow military mission if his December review finds the current strategy is not working.

The 25-member task force, led by former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former national security adviser Samuel Berger, said it saw “hopeful signs” in Afghanistan, such as improved training of security forces, but other trends were less encouraging.

“The cloudy picture and high costs raise the question of whether the United States should now downsize its ambitions and reduce its military presence in Afghanistan,” the task force said in a 98-page report.

“We are mindful of the real threat we face,” said the task force, which was sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations think tank. “But we are also aware of the costs of the present strategy. We cannot accept these costs unless the strategy begins to show signs of progress.”

Dan Markey, a South Asia analyst at the council who was project director for the report, said the findings were a “sober reflection of a Washington consensus that is increasingly skeptical and concerned” about the war.

The task force endorsed Obama’s efforts to deepen cooperation with Pakistan and called for improved trading ties. It also pressed the administration to send Pakistan a clear message about severing ties to Islamist extremist groups like the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba. …

The task force was composed of a broad range of former government officials, military leaders, academics and journalists with expertise in the region. The report was not requested by the Obama administration but the task force did speak to officials involved with the issue.

The group gave a qualified endorsement to Obama’s current strategy, an ambitious counterinsurgency-style effort, but only if it is clearly making progress.

“If the December 2010 review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan concludes that the present strategy is not working, the task force recommends that a shift to a more limited mission at a substantially reduced level of military force would be warranted,” the report said.

Some task force members issued dissenting opinions that went further. Robert Grenier, a former longtime CIA agent with experience in the region, said the current strategy is not working and needs an army too costly for Afghans to sustain.

“The U.S. effort … cannot continue on at this level of material and human resources,” he said. “It’s very clear that the current approach is not going to be able to succeed on the timeline that we’ve given it. I think that we’ve seen enough and that we need to shift, in essence, to plan B.”

Grenier said he favored a long-term effort to gradually build a small Afghan army and mentor local militias accountable to local leaders. Those forces could counter the Taliban and be used as a platform for counterterror operations, he said.

The administration’s current strategy calls for U.S.-led forces, including nearly 100,000 American troops, to disrupt al Qaeda and its Taliban allies while training Afghan military and police to take over security. …

As the December review approaches, it is clear defense officials believe the war plan is working but needs more time, despite rising casualties and worsening violence.

Administration officials have begun to play down Obama’s July 2011 deadline for beginning to hand over security to Afghan forces and withdraw U.S. troops as conditions merit.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this week they viewed Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s plan to assume full responsibility for the country’s security by 2014 as a realistic goal NATO should endorse at its summit this month.

Administration officials have indicated the strategy review is likely to bring only tweaks rather than a wholesale reappraisal of the war effort.

——

Related reports

Independent task force conditionally supports U.S. policy in Pakistan, Afghanistan, but argues for changing strategy absent progress (Council on Foreign Relations, Nov. 12, 2010)

U.S. Strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan
(Council on Foreign Relations Task Force Report No. 65, November 2010)

——

11/15/10 Update

Karzai wants U.S. to reduce military operations in Afghanistan (Joshua Partlow, Washington Post, Nov. 14, 2010) — President Hamid Karzai said … the United States must reduce the visibility and intensity of its military operations in Afghanistan and end the increased U.S. Special Operations forces night raids that aggravate Afghans and could exacerbate the Taliban insurgency. … Karzai said that he wanted American troops off the roads and out of Afghan homes and that the long-term presence of so many foreign soldiers would only worsen the war. His comments placed him at odds with U.S. commander Gen. David H. Petraeus, who has made capture-and-kill missions a central component of his counterinsurgency strategy. … Full story

Petraeus warns Afghans about Karzai’s criticism of U.S. war strategy (By Joshua Partlow and Karen DeYoung, Washington Post, Nov. 15, 2010) — Gen. David H. Petraeus, the coalition military commander in Afghanistan, warned Afghan officials Sunday that President Hamid Karzai’s latest public criticism of U.S. strategy threatens to seriously undermine progress in the war and risks making Petraeus’s own position “untenable,” according to Afghan and U.S. officials. Officials said Petraeus expressed “astonishment and disappointment” with Karzai’s call, in a Saturday interview with The Washington Post, to “reduce military operations” and end U.S. Special Operations raids in southern Afghanistan that coalition officials said have killed or captured hundreds of Taliban commanders in recent months. … Full story

——

Related reports on this site


A crowd of Afghan protesters destroy a car during clashes with police following Friday prayers in Kabul on July 30, 2010. Rioting erupted when scores of Afghan men set fire to two U.S. embassy vehicles after one collided with a civilian car killing a number of occupants, officials and witnesses said. (Photo credit: Yuri Cortez / AFP — Getty Images)

Afghanistan Strategic Thinking (Sept. 25, 2010)

‘Tough Days Ahead’ in Afghanistan (Sept. 3, 2010)

Taliban Slaughter in Afghanistan (Sept. 1, 2010)

Support for Afghan War Plummets (Aug. 4, 2010)

Afghan War Deadlier Than Ever (July 31, 2010)

Deadliest Month in Afghanistan (July 5, 2010)

1,000 Troops Killed in Afghanistan (May 29, 2010)

Tough Days Ahead in Afghanistan (May 13, 2010)

Grim Milestone in Afghanistan (Feb. 24, 2010)

Outside the Box in Afghanistan (Dec. 20, 2009)

Public Opinion on Afghan Surge (Dec. 17, 2009)

Iraq, AfPak Have Little in Common (Dec. 5, 2009)

Afghan Price Tag Equals Health Care Cost (Dec. 7, 2009)

Obama Rolls Dice on AfPak War (Dec. 2, 2009)

Obama Speech on Afghanistan (Dec. 1, 2009)

Afghanistan Tougher Than Iraq (Nov. 28, 2009)

Iraq Projects Down the Tubes (Nov. 21, 2009)

Afghanistan War Strategy Review (Oct. 3, 2009)

Afghanistan “Mission Failure” (Sept. 21, 2009)

Trillion-Dollar Wars Since 9/11 (March 30, 2009)

——

FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — November 13, 2009

Troop Morale Down, Suicides Up

Video
For soldiers, channeling stress is constant battle (NBC Nightly News, Nov. 13, 2009) — The psychological difficulties many U.S. troops face when returning home from combat is one reason violence has spiked in military communities. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports. (02:41)

One year ago today, I reported that morale had fallen among soldiers in Afghanistan, while those in Iraq showed improved mental health amid lower violence. There were 133 reported active-duty Army suicides from January 2009 through October 2009, compared with 115 for the same period in 2008.

——

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — November 13, 2008

Iraqi Soldier Kills U.S. Troops

Men look at their destroyed vehicles at a parking ...
Men look at their destroyed vehicles at a parking lot after a bomb attack in Baghdad, Nov. 12, 2008. (Photo credit: Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud / Reuters)

Two years ago today, on Nov. 13, 2008, I reported that an Iraqi soldier fired automatic weapons at U.S. soldiers at a military base in Mosul, killing two and wounding six before dying in a hail of bullets; that bombers struck Baghdad for a third straight day, killing 23 people and wounding scores in a string of attacks in mostly Shiite areas; that a suicide bomber driving an oil tanker detonated his explosives outside an Afghan government office in Kandahar, Afghanistan during a provincial council meeting, killing at least six people and wounding 42; that Iran test-fired a solid-fuel, high-speed Sajjil long-range surface-to-surface missile with a range of about 1,200 miles; and that North Korea announced it would shut the country’s border with South Korea.





21 Responses to “Afghanistan War Cost Too High”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Afghan War Set to Drag On Says:

    […] Karzai stunned U.S. officials when he told The Washington Post that NATO should reduce the visibility and intensity of its military operations. […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Afghan Price Tag = Health Cost Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » ‘Limited Chance of Success’ in Afghanistan Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  4. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » One American Dead Every 18 Hours in Afghanistan Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  5. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Reinforcements for Afghan War Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  6. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Afghan Spring Offensive Looms Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  7. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Afghanistan Roundup Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  8. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Petraeus Testifies Amid Waning Support for Afghan War Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  9. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Trillion-Dollar Wars Since 9/11 Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  10. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Iraq Projects Down the Tubes Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  11. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » More American Lives Cut Short in Afghanistan Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  12. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Obama Hell-Bent on Afghanistan Pull-Out Says:

    […] Obama sees a military mission accomplished, without ever using those words. Yet the political context also has changed significantly. A sovereign Afghanistan has tired of the U.S. presence, the financial toll of the war has become entangled with the U.S. debt debate, and people in the U.S. long for an exit. […]

  13. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » No Way Forward in Afghanistan Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  14. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Neverending U.S. War Price Tag Hits $4 Trillion Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  15. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Will U.S. Leave Afghanistan a Failed State Ruled by Warlords? Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  16. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Record Number of U.S. Troops Killed in Afghanistan Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  17. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Senseless Waste of U.S. Taxpayer Dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  18. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Many Veterans Sour on Iraq and Afghanistan Wars Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  19. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » On 10th Anniversary of Invasion, Anti-American Demonstration in Afghanistan Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  20. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Afghan War ‘Not Worth Fighting’ Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

  21. Immelman vs. Bachmann » Blog Archive » Seven U.S. Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan Helicopter Crash Says:

    […] Afghanistan War Cost Too High (Nov. 13, 2010) […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.