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Afghanistan – What Now?


By Godfrey Garner

Konduz, Afghanistan just fell to a force comprised predominantly of Taliban members augmented by an alarming number of ISIS and al-Qaida fighters.

The setback for Afghan’s security forces (ASF) is serious on several levels. Konduz had been one of the principal areas targeted by American forces in the initial invasion, in the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom. During the operation, the Taliban suffered a symbolic loss there. Regaining control of Konduz, roughly the size of Chicago, after all these years, is conversely a huge symbolic victory for them.

The assault — no doubt led by Taliban commanders — was comprised of ISIS and al-Qaida fighters and will most assuredly serve as a guide for future “combined arms” type offensive actions. ISIS and al-Qaida influence over the Taliban additionally carries with it the potential for this formerly regional terror group to consider an international role in pressing Islamic extremist objectives.

Adding to the negative effects of this action, the defeat — on the anniversary of Afghanistan’s newly elected president’s first year of leadership — strengthens the message to Afghan nationals that the Afghan government cannot protect them.

America sent in air assets and conducted “force protection” strikes after Konduz fell, however, in announcing these actions, Obama administration officials stressed, almost apologetically that the strikes were not offensive in nature.

It is difficult for the layman to understand the actions taken by US forces in Afghanistan since there is such a noticeable lack of overall strategy. America seems to be so anxious for ASF government forces to take over that any action on our part is deemed regrettable and something for which apologies should be proffered.

America has had a presence in Afghanistan since 2001. The impetus and underlying morality that spurred our invasion can be argued, but few feel our actions were unjustified. Indeed, the majority of Afghans also welcomed us.

Soon, however, as is the nature of virtually every American military action, once things on the ground are safe and secure, policy makers and State Department officials take over. The predictable result has been a steady loss of clarity regarding mission objectives. Few today can articulate a reason for a sustained American presence in Afghanistan. Americans are weary of our mission there, and virtually no one believes Afghanistan will be a successful democracy once America and its allies withdraw completely.

Read the full article at HSToday.