October 9, 2018 Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Gulabuddin Ghubar /Tolo News & Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis (US Army, Ret.) / Townhall
On the 17th anniversary of the US's involvement in Afghanistan, 49% of Americans say their country has failed to win the war. On this grim anniversary, ongoing Taliban attacks were reported in 14 of Afghanistan's provinces. The evidence that our war in Afghanistan is failing and cannot be won is dramatic and overwhelming.
17 Years to the Day the US Invaded,
Over 100 Killed Across Afghanistan Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(October 7, 2018) -- 17 years ago, the United States began its [illegal] invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, officially launched to pursue al-Qaeda in general and Osama bin Laden in particular. Bin Laden is long since dead, but the US still has a massive war raging in Afghanistan, one which is going extremely poorly and shows no signs of ending.
On the war's anniversary, fighting raged particularly hard, with 14 different provinces across Afghanistan reporting Taliban attacks, and many of them leading to substantial battles. All told, over 110 people were reported killed in 24 hours, roughly half of them Taliban, and the rest included 19 civilians and 35 Afghan soldiers.
Taliban attacks looked to secure territory gains in several districts, including strategically important districts along the Kabul-Kandahar highway. The main highway in Afghanistan, and one of the few major paved roads in the nation, officials say it is closed to traffic until fighting is resolved.
In the capital city, coordinated explosions caused a number of casualties. Further west, Taliban attacks seemed to be more random, provoking airstrikes in the Farah Province, where Afghan officials claimed that they had destroyed Taliban weapons caches.
These casualties add to the mounting casualties suffered by all sides this year in Afghanistan, the worst in several years. The Taliban controls more land now than at any time since before the US invasion, and as the US steadily escalates, the casualties only grow.
(October 8, 2018) -- A Washington-based research center has found that almost half of all American's feel the US's second longest war -- Afghanistan -- has after 17 years not reached its desired goals.
On 7 October 2001 the US launched Operation Enduring Freedom with the United Kingdom -- in an effort to arrest leaders of al-Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden, who had been given sanctuary by the then Taliban government.
Soon the two nations were joined by other forces, including the Northern Alliance which had been fighting the Taliban in the ongoing civil war since 1996.
In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council established the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), to assist the Afghan interim authorities with securing Kabul and in the same month, at the Bonn Conference, Hamid Karzai was selected to head the Afghan Interim Administration, which after a 2002 loya jirga in Kabul became the Afghan Transitional Administration.
In the elections of 2004, Karzai [a former employee of the US oil company UNOCAL -- EAW] was elected president of the country.
In August 2003, NATO joined and became involved in ISAF. But following their defeat in the initial invasion, the Taliban reorganized under the leadership of their late leader Mullah Omar, and launched an insurgency against the government and ISAF in 2003.
Seventeen years later, the situation has not changed -- and for many it has gotten worse -- with Afghans and Americans stating the US has failed in Afghanistan.
Washington's Pew Research Center conducted the study between September 18 and 24 this year and found that about 49 percent of all American adult respondents believe that the US has mostly failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan.
The findings show that about a third, 35 percent of the respondents, believe that Washington has reached its objectives in Afghanistan while another 16 percent says that they do not know if the US has failed or succeeded in Afghanistan.
Deputy speaker of the Meshrano Jirga (Upper House of Parliament), Mohammad Alam Ezedyar, meanwhile said: "Afghanistan should not be the battle field (for countries) in the region."
In the meantime, findings of another recent report, by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, show that after 17 years of US involvement in the war in Afghanistan, Washington was still worried about al-Qaeda's presence in Afghanistan.
"We are tired of this situation, we should try not to become an examination center (a playground) for others, especially US and Russia," senate speaker Fazl Hadi Muslimyar said.
However, concerns continue to rise over the toll the war is taking on the country -- especially on civilians.
On Sunday, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released a special report on civilian casualties due to IEDs -- both suicide bombings and other explosive devices.
The report stated that in the third quarter of this year there has been a sharp increase in civilian casualties due to IEDs. For the first nine months of 2018, 1,065 civilians were killed and 2,569 others wounded in IED and suicide bombings alone.
This spike in civilian casualties has however coincided with a change in tactics by the Taliban who have, in the past few years, launched major attacks on three key cities in the country. On each occasion, the group has managed to take control of sections of these cities for a short time.
The cities attacked by the Taliban were Kunduz, Farah and the latest Ghazni -- in August -- which witnessed heavy fighting for three days.
But as one Military Training Academy commander, Amin Wahidi, said: "As the enemy changes its tactics, we change the level of training."
Defense Ministry spokesman, Ghafoor Ahmad Jawed, said however that people do not give the security forces enough credit. He said: "Morale, power and our achievements are more than what people say."
Say No to an 18th Year of War on Afghanistan. World BEYOND War (October 2, 2018)
(October 6, 2018) -- Seventeen years after the start of the war in Afghanistan, it is well past time to re-evaluate our strategic and military interests in the region. The evidence that our war in Afghanistan is failing and cannot be won is dramatic and overwhelming.
After serving two tours in Afghanistan, I can confidently state that on this, the 17th anniversary, it is time terminate the war on the best terms available. Anything less will deepen our loss and further weaken our national security.
Everything that has transpired since my last combat tour ended in October 2011 has served to strongly reinforce my assessment.
Two examples of missions I conducted in Afghanistan, spaced six years apart, were typical of thousands of other combat actions executed by other troops over the decades, that when examined together, provide clear evidence of why continuing the status quo cannot produce victory for the US
I was first deployed to Afghanistan in 2005-2006. At that time, the insurgency was little more than a strategic nuisance. Shortly before the end of my deployment, I went on a mission to dedicate a new police recruiting facility in the northern city of Mazer-i Sharif. The security situation was so passive at the time that I was able to travel in an un-armored truck, without body armor, carrying only a pistol.
After the ceremony, the security environment was so passive and the sensitivity of US combat forces among the population was so benign that we were invited into the famous Blue Mosque by the imam. However when I returned five years later for my second combat deployment at the height of Obama's second surge, such a visit would have been unthinkable.
In my second deployment, I could not venture out the gate of my Bagram headquarters unless I was wearing 80 pounds of combat gear -- including body armor and a Kevlar helmet, armed with an M4 carbine and a 9mm pistol. Five years, new strategies, and an increase of 80,000 US troops had not moved us closer to success, and in fact saw the security situation deteriorate markedly.
On one particular occasion in 2011, I joined a US infantry unit in a foot patrol through a village near the border of Uzbekistan. Part of our route took us through a local bazaar in which both sides of the street were lined with small open-air shops. I was positioned at the mid-point of the approximately 30-man patrol.
As we neared the end of the business district, I turned to watch the remainder of the US infantrymen making their way forward. I noticed a group of several Afghan men on the left side of the street having a conversation. They were not paying any mind to the US infantrymen in full battle gear -- bulletproof vest, helmet, and carrying an M4 carbine at the ready.
Our patrol took approximately five minutes to walk from one end of the bazaar to the other. Such tactical missions in that neighborhood took place once every month or two, I was told. So far as I am aware, no patrols ever diverted from that street and never ventured into any of the alley ways or adjacent neighborhoods.
Meaning, despite the fact there was a heavily armed US base within visual range of the village, our presence there was little more than an episodic inconvenience to their daily lives. Because we didn't speak the language, they could literally be actively plotting to attack us and we would never have known.
Our presence there has never "prevented" Afghanistan from being used by terrorists for any purpose. Thus, keeping troops there does not keep our homeland safer. Instead, it merely cements the perpetual bleed of treasure and troops and guarantees the war will never end.
As a business leader, President Trump is well acquainted with recognizing a losing venture. Since at least 2009, US troops in Afghanistan have been at a stalemate, yet no leader has had the wisdom or courage to call for a withdraw. The best way Trump could protect American interests and preserve our military strength is to sensibly end the war and redeploy our troops.
We will continue to defend our homeland and citizens from terrorist attacks from wherever they originate around the world -- whether Afghanistan, ungoverned territories in Pakistan, Africa, or anywhere else -- with robust intelligence, surveillance, and global reconnaissance assets in close coordination between CIA, FBI, and local law enforcement. Perpetuating the permanent failure of 17 years of troops on the ground in Afghanistan, however, must come to an end.
Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the US Army who retired in 2015 after 21 years, including four combat deployments. Follow him @DanielLDavis1.
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