The Collapse of the Afghan Mission

From the WaPo:

KABUL — U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been ordered to significantly scale back operations with Afghan military and police forces after a spike in fratricidal “insider attacks” that has seriously undermined U.S. trust in their local allies.

The decision, officials said Tuesday, is also linked to concerns that American field troops have become more vulnerable to attacks because of Muslim outrage over a controversial anti-Islam video.

The orders from Gen. John R. Allen, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, represent a major shift from the long-stated U.S. philosophy that American and NATO troops are here to work “shoulder to shoulder” with their Afghan partners.

Just so we’re clear, this is a huge story and yet another demonstration that our approach in Afghanistan is failed. First, the whole population-centric COIN concept collapsed under its unexamined assumptions about the sources of legitimacy and the potential for rapid state building in Afghanistan. Now the whole transition strategy based on partnering with the Afghans to prepare them for the lead responsibility is coming apart as well.

The good news is that we’re largely out of options now. All we can do is work to get out as quickly as possible. The bad news is that we could have done the same in 2009 (or before) and left Afghanistan in roughly the same condition as it is now… well, actually that is not true. Had we pulled out sooner, we’d have better relations with the Afghans. All the 2009 surge accomplished was to poison the well of future cooperation.


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