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article imageOp-Ed: US general predicts US to stay in Afghanistan several more years

By Ken Hanly     Nov 11, 2019 in Politics
US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Mark Milley predicted that US troops would stay in Afghanistan for several more years. This is the first such estimate since President Trump refused to accept a peace plan in principle negotiated with the Taliban.
Milley's defense of the US mission
Milley defended the Afghan war of 18 years now arguing that the mission would ensure that the Afghan government would have sustainable internal security to protect the US and claimed that "the mission is not yet complete".
Afghan government no closer to defeating the Taliban
However even though the war has now lasted nearly two decades it is not clear that the Afghan government is any closer to being self-sufficient for its own security. As of January last year, the Afghan government controlled only a little over half of the country: "According to a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), as of January 31 last year, 229 districts were under the Afghan government's control, which is about 56.3 percent of the total Afghan districts. On the other hand, 59 districts, approximately 14.5 percent of all, were under the Taliban control.The remaining 119 districts, about 29.2 percent, remain contested - controlled by neither the Afghan government nor the rebels."
The situation has probably deteriorated since then. At least there is no sign of the Taliban being defeated. Yet Trump declared an agreement in principle with the Taliban to be dead. A BBC article in September reports: ""As far as I'm concerned, they are dead," he told White House reporters on Monday.Over the weekend Mr Trump cancelled secret plans to host a Taliban delegation in the US after the militant group admitted killing a US soldier."
US troop numbers may decline
Trump's presidential campaign involved promises he would withdraw from useless wars but he is often resisted by hawks within his own administration. Even though super hawk John Bolton is gone plenty still remain. Having refused a negotiated peace plan it seems that Trump will continue supporting US involvement in Afghanistan with the war stretching on indefinitely. With reduced US numbers the Afghan government control is likely to be challenged in new areas unless the US finally decides to accept a negotiated settlement with the Taliban accepting a power-sharing agreement.
The alternative would involve even more lives lost most of them of Afghans plus even more damage from the conflict.
The Afghan War
Wikipedia describes the Afghan war: "The War in Afghanistan (or the US War in Afghanistan or the Afghanistan War), code named Operation Enduring Freedom (2001–14) and Operation Freedom's Sentinel (2015–present),[56][57] followed the United States invasion of Afghanistan[58] of 7 October 2001, when the United States of America and its allies successfully drove the Taliban from power in order to deny al-Qaeda a safe base of operations in Afghanistan.[59][60] Since the initial objectives were completed, a coalition of over 40 countries (including all NATO members) formed a security mission in the country. The war has since mostly involved US and allied Afghan government troops battling Taliban insurgents.[61] The war in Afghanistan is the longest war in US history. This war was entered into without any forward planning or thought of long term stabilisation of Afghanistan.[62]"
Over the long stretch of the war, hundreds of thousands have been killed including more than 4,000 from the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) and over 62,000 Afghan national security forces as well as over 31,000 civilians and even more Taliban.
US deaths: "Since the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan through mid-2019, nearly 2,400 American service members have died.[160] Additionally, over 20,000 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department.[3][160]
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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