ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress to End the War in Afghanistan And Stop Supplying the Taliban with US Military Equipment
August 29, 2017
ActionNetwork & The Daily Kos & Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Shawn Snow / The Army Times
On August 21, Donald Trump announced that he would expand military engagement in the Pentagon's intractable, unwinnable 16-year Afghan war. In addition to risking more lives, Trump's decision also means inadvertently arming the Taliban. Over the years, armored vehicles, night vision devices, M-4s, laser illuminators and scoped optics have all found their way into Taliban hands. And at times the US has been forced to combat its own armored vehicles and weapons.
ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress to End the Endless War in Afghanistan
The Daily Kos
Sixteen years at war.
2,403 American deaths.
(August 28, 2017) -- On August 21, Donald Trump announced that he would continue military engagement in Afghanistan, prolonging US involvement in the 16 year war. Trump has previously demanded the US withdraw from Afghanistan, and characterized the war as a money-draining "total disaster." This announcement is a reversal of those past statements and continues the failed 'military-first' policy of his predecessors.
What's more, Trump's announcement failed to offer specific new troop numbers, a timeline, or anything that looks remotely like a real plan. He instead left a lot of questions unanswered and promised an approach "based on conditions."
"We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on."
There are currently 8,400 American troops already in Afghanistan. NPR reports that Trump is expected to deploy around 4,000 more troops.
This conflict has already resulted in the deaths of 2,403 Americans and the deaths of thousands of Afghans and others who have engaged in this war alongside us. It has cost US taxpayers trillions of dollars and further destabilized the region. Now Trump wants us to believe that less transparency and accountability will deliver a win, even as 16 years of history tells us different.
However, despite anything Trump says, Congress will ultimately decide whether or not we continue to engage in unsuccessful strategies in Afghanistan. Trump's escalation is reckless and Congress must rein him in.
ACTION: Enough of this endless, reckless war.
Congress must step in. Sign the petition.
PETITION: US Congress
Our Message to US Congress:
Donald Trump has laid out a military engagement plan for Afghanistan that lacks transparency and accountability. Sixteen years of history has made clear that a military solution does not exist here. Trump's plan is reckless and will inevitably lead to more American deaths and trillions more spent on a failed strategy. Congress must send a strong message in opposition to Trump's ill-conceived move to place more troops in Afghanistan.
Afghan Soldiers Sell US Weapons to Taliban
(August 29, 2017) -- Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said on Sunday that Afghan soldiers used to sell US weapons to Taliban. Forty percent of Afghan land is still under the control of Taliban, the federal minister said while speaking to Geo News. He said over 90 percent attacks on Pakistan had been carried out from Afghan side.
Asif advised the US not to blame Islamabad for their failures over the last 16 years. Peace, which is also in our interest, may be restored in Afghanistan, said Asif, who is scheduled to embark on a three-nation regional tour from next week for consultations on the new American policy for Afghanistan and South Asia.
We had suffered colossal losses after becoming US ally, however, we intend to maintain ties with Washington to remove misunderstanding, the foreign minister said.
Calling upon the US to find solution to Afghan issue, Asif sought assistance from Washington in fencing border with Afghanistan, saying Kabul has even failed to setup checkposts along with its 650 kilometers long border.
In case the US lacks trust in Islamabad, it should arrange repatriation of millions of Afghan refugees, who have been living in Pakistan for decades, first fleeing over the border after the Soviet invasion of 1979, Asif said.
Speaking about Pakistan's efforts for peace, he said that about 200,000 troops were engaged to deal with terrorism.
Taliban Awash in US Arms,
Vehicles, Complicate Afghan War
Taliban Have Looted and Stolen a Lot of US Gear Over the Years
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(July 25, 2017) – 16 years into the US occupation of Afghanistan, the Taliban insurgency is better armed than ever, fielding an ever-growing array of US-made weapons and vehicles that they've procured, either looting them from Afghan forces or stealing them outright through the legendary levels of corruption in Afghanistan.
This is, after all, the same country whose military has massive levels of desertion, and where recruits regularly stick around for their first paycheck, take that and the assault rifle they're issued, and vanish.
That's a major problem for the US, which is used to having a major advantage in equipment and capabilities over their insurgent enemies, but increasingly are in up-armored Humvees fighting Taliban who have the exact same up-armored Humvees.
This is the result of many years of losses, as hardly a single "insider attack" happens which doesn't end with a Taliban infiltrator clearing out the weapons and vehicles from a police or army checkpoint and disappearing into the countryside. Where the attacker goes, no one knows, but the weapons will be seen again on the battlefield.
CNN has attempted to distract from this, focusing instead on a handful of Russian weapons seen in Taliban videos and speculating that the Taliban is getting directly armed by Russia. Yet there's no question Taliban are armed vastly more with US gear than Russian hand-me-downs, and there's never a suggestion the US is deliberately arming them.
The reality is that generations of warfare, first against the Soviet Union and later against the United States, has made the Taliban extremely good at coming up with ways to get weapons, and the longer the war drags on, the more US war materiel is being lost to them, turning the Taliban into the best-armed terrorist outfit this side of Syria, a country where the US has been deliberately arming the insurgencies.
US Weapons Complicate Afghan War
Shawn Snow / The Army Times
WASHINGTON (July 25, 2017) -- Weaponry provided to the Afghan military over the last 16 years has slowly trickled down to the Taliban through corruption and battlefield losses.
Armored vehicles, night vision devices, M-4s, laser illuminators and scoped optics have all found the way into Taliban hands over the years. And at times the US has been forced to combat its own armored vehicles and weapons.
For instance, captured US up-armored Humvees are being used as suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive devices, or SVBIEDs. This tactic has also been a favorite of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Mosul, causing coalition forces to supply anti-tank weaponry to defeat the heavily armored mobile bombs.
According to Maj. Kendra Motz -- the spokeswoman for the 300-person Task Force Southwest -- the Marine unit has launched "strikes" to destroy stolen Humvees, to prevent the resurgent Taliban threat from using them as SVBIEDs.
"There are reports of Taliban with some night-vision capabilities," Motz told Military Times. A senior Afghan defense official also confirmed that some Taliban fighters have night vision capabilities. Pictures of a few Taliban with older generation AN/PVS 7b night vision have also appeared on Taliban propaganda videos posted to the group's official website.
The US has spent billions in military aid to the Afghan military over the last 16 years. This year's request through the Afghan Security Forces Fund stands at nearly $5 billion, an increase of nearly $800 million from last year and almost $1.5 billion more than FY2016.
This year the Afghan air force will field new UH-60 Black Hawks to replace aging Russian Mi-17s, and new cell phone exploitation kits to boost intelligence collection capabilities.
The 2018 request for funds also includes upgrades and replacements to sophisticated rifle optics and night vision equipment, such as 4x magnification ACOG scopes and infrared lasers.
"The [Afghan Special Security Forces] require the ability to upgrade, procure and replace battle damaged night fire equipment, infrared illuminators, range finders and other equipment sets that support Special Forces operations during limited visibility conditions," the budget request reads.
"I never experienced the [Taliban] having a large number of their fighters with this more advanced equipment, it was always just a couple here and there," said Adam Routh, a former Army Ranger and defense strategies expert at the Center for a New American Security -- a think tank located in Washington, D.C.
"It would also surprise me if a large number of [Taliban], in the same area, had complete sets of advanced equipment," Routh added.
In areas of Uruzgan province, the Afghan National Army, or ANA, is afraid to conduct night operations, impacting its ability to hold re-captured terrain, a US military official told Military Times.
Large numbers of Taliban fighters in the area have night vision, ACOGs, and M-4s, and they are fighting an ANA force supplied with only M-16s, helmets and flak jackets, the official said. In one instance, an ANA night patrol in the region experienced nearly 20 casualties because the opponent was better equipped, the official said.
Corruption also plays a prominent role. In Uruzgan for instance, ANA soldiers have sold ammunition to locals in the villages, including Taliban commanders, to bridge the gap of wage theft committed by commanding officers, the official explained.
[You can read the full report online at MilitaryTimes.com]
Shawn Snow is the editor of the Early Bird and a reporter for Military Times.
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