C.J. Radin. The Long War Journal, 08 May 2012.
On May 1, the US Department of Defense (DoD) released its latest semi-annual report on security and stability in Afghanistan. The report documents significant progress in both developing the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and in degrading the Taliban insurgency. A thorough analysis also requires an evaluation of risk, however. While there is progress to report, it is important to note that there are also high, and increasing, risks.
DoD Semi-Annual Report on the Security and Stability of Afghnaistan, April 2012
Carlo Munoz. The Hill, 06 May 2012.
President Obama’s pledge to not build any permanent military outposts in Afghanistan could throw a wrench in the Pentagon’s postwar plans for the country, once U.S. troops leave in 2014. The president’s promise, made during Tuesday’s nationally televised speech from Afghanistan, is an integral piece of a postwar agreement between Washington and Kabul.
Spencer Ackerman. Danger Room, 23 April 2012.
To be blunt: Afghanistan is valuable to the United States because it’s the most logical place from which to conduct a war in Pakistan that’s primarily fought by armed drones and occasionally special operations forces. It’s not really valuable in and of itself. The U.S. interests in Afghanistan, as defined by the Obama administration, are to keep Afghanistan from internal collapse so al-Qaida doesn’t return.
Philip Ewing. DoD Buzz, 23 April 2012.
Washington had no good choices on Afghanistan. The White House probably hopes its agreement will give enough distance that most American troops can come home and force the Afghans to step up, as planned, but also keep Afghanistan close enough that it doesn’t again offer a vacuum to be filled by terrorists. So after more than 10 years, all that’s certain is that the next 10 years in Afghanistan will be critical.
Jefferson Morley. Salon.com, 5 April 2012.
… the Reapers are now launched from two locations and carry out five sorties per day. The Air Force anticipates that activity will double in 2013 to four locations and 14 sorties a day. By 2015, the scope of the Reaper program is expected to double again to nine locations carrying out 46 sorties a day. By 2016, the plan is that Reapers will be launched from 11 locations carrying out 66 sorties per day.
Seth G. Jones. RAND, 27 March 2012.
By early 2012, there were approximately 432,000 counterinsurgency forces in Afghanistan – approximately 90,000 U.S. soldiers, 30,000 NATO soldiers, 300,000 Afghan National Security Forces, and 12,000 Afghan Local Police. In addition, the United States spent over $100 billion per year and deployed a range of sophisticated platforms and systems. The Taliban, on the other hand, deployed between 20,000 and 40,000 forces (a ratio of nearly 11 to 1 in favor of counterinsurgents) and had revenues of $100-$200 million per year (a ratio of 500 to 1 in favor of counterinsurgents).
Elisabeth Bumiller and Allison Kopicki. New York Times, 26 March 2012.
The latest New York Times/CBS News poll…found that more than two-thirds of those polled — 69 percent — thought that the United States should not be at war in Afghanistan. Just four months ago, 53 percent said that Americans should no longer be fighting in the conflict.
International Crisis Group. Asia Report N°221, 26 March 2012.
A negotiated political settlement is a desirable outcome to the conflict in Afghanistan, but current talks with the Taliban are unlikely to result in a sustainable peace. There is a risk that negotiations under present conditions could further destabilise the country and region. Debilitated by internal political divisions and external pressures, the Karzai government is poorly positioned to cut a deal with leaders of the insurgency. Afghanistan’s security forces are ill-prepared to handle the power vacuum that will occur following the exit of international troops. As political competition heats up within the country in the run-up to NATO’s withdrawal of combat forces at the end of 2014, the differing priorities and preferences of the parties to the conflict – from the Afghan government to the Taliban leadership to key regional and wider international actors – will further undermine the prospects of peace. To avoid another civil war, a major course correction is needed that results in the appointment of a UN-mandated mediation team and the adoption of a more realistic approach to resolution of the conflict.