U.S. Should Extricate, Not Escalate, Afghanistan Presence
This article was originally published in the Baltimore Sun. You can read the full article there.
America’s longest war isn’t getting any younger. With its 15-year anniversary five months behind us, there’s no telling when the Afghanistan war might end. But if our time there has taught us anything, it’s that sending thousands more American troops into the fray would only prolong it further. Yet, with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis preparing a recommendation on the path forward in Afghanistan, the administration may be considering just that.
Last month, Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the American-led military coalition in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. has “a shortfall of a few thousand” troops in Afghanistan that he sees as necessary to turn the tide in our favor. On Thursday, Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, echoed that assessment, testifying before the same committee that there is “a shortfall of a few thousand personnel needed to conduct the complementary mission of training, advising, and assisting” the Afghan military.
Given the Taliban’s intractable position in Afghanistan in spite of a 15-year campaign to wrest territory from its grasp, it takes a special kind of relationship with reality to think that a few thousand more troops will accomplish what over 100,000 couldn’t. That’s all the more true when you consider that civilian contractors working for the Pentagon in Afghanistan outnumber U.S. troops by a 3-to-1 margin.
You can read the rest of the article in the Baltimore Sun.