Hammering out that withdrawal strategy

| November 26, 2012

The New York Times says that the Obama Administration is still playing with the numbers of the troops that will remain in Afghanistan after their target of 2014 is reached. The Pentagon is expected to offer several plans for withdrawing the 66,000 troops by the scheduled timeline;

As one of his last acts as senior American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John R. Allen is expected to submit a formal recommendation for how quickly to begin withdrawing the United States’ 66,000 troops. Two American officials who are involved in Afghan issues said that General Allen wants to keep a significant military capability through the fighting season ending in fall 2013, which could translate to a force of more than 60,000 troops until the end of that period.

Afghan forces are to assume the lead role for the war next year, and a military officer said that such a troop level would enable the United States to better support them, maintain the initiative and control critical terrain.

But such an approach may entail a heavier military involvement than the White House, which appears weary of the war, might like.

The White House is expected to ask General Allen to submit a range of options for drawing down forces next year, including some involving substantial reductions in troop levels.

“The White House has not yet asked General Allen for his assessment, nor have we begun considering any specific recommendations for troop numbers in 2013 and 2014,” said George Little, the Pentagon spokesman. “What is true is that in June 2011 the president made clear that our forces would continue to come home at a steady pace as we transition to an Afghan lead for security. That it still the case.”

Of course, we know that no matter what the military recommends to the White House, the politicians will chose an arbitrary number that they think will make their voter base happy and will have nothing to do with winning the war.

Under the emerging plan, the American counterterrorism force might number less than 1,000, one military official said.

But, they figure that they’ll have to maintain the supply lines for the Afghans and someone will have to pick up security for the sustainers and security for the counterterrorism force. We can hardly trust the Afghans to do that, given the recent green-on-blue attacks. Whatever the number the White House finally arrives at will be no where near the actual number.

Category: Terror War

Comments (8)

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  1. martinjmpr says:

    Keeping a force in Afghanistan is going to be extremely problematic. 1,000 troops is enough to make a big target for the bad guys, and probably not enough to protect themselves and their fragile supply lines.

    Iraq was a different story only because safe, friendly Kuwait is right next door. We can keep 50,000 troops in Kuwait as long as we want to – they’re out of sight/out of mind at Camps Arifjan (far to the South) and Buehring (up North near the Iraqi border.) Both camps are far, far away from any cities or towns and except for the movement of military vehicles along Kuwait’s excellent highways, the US presence is pretty much invisible to the average Kuwaiti since we closed down Camp Doha (which was on the edge of Kuwait City.)

    Not only are the Kuwaiti camps well established and safe, they are a short distance by air from almost anyplace in Iraq.

    Afghanistan is a different story entirely. There is no nearby friendly nation that will host our troops and the terrain makes stationing even a small force there very problematic – if the bad guys decide to mount a major assault during a period of bad weather (when supporting aircraft would have a hard time getting there) it could cause US forces to suffer a lot of casualties, perpetrate a political crisis here at home, and just generally be bad all around. So, as unfortunate as it is (given all the blood and treasure we’ve spent there) it would make more sense, politically and militarily, to withdraw entirely and to do all of our post-evacuation military operations from the air using naval assets.

  2. Devtun says:

    US to leave 10,000 troops in Afghanistan past 2014

    Whatever the ultimate troop levels, BO administration will kick the can all the way to inauguration day 2017 and let the next administration make the unenviable final withdrawal order. Yes its terribly cynical, but BO won’t “lose” the A’stan on his watch…you can’t blame this on BO. He will constantly remind people that Dubya left him with a terrible mess that even he couldn’t solve in 2 terms and as a result was forced to leave sizeable troops in A’stan far past 2014.

  3. martinjmpr says:

    @2: I’m not so sure. I think if Obama could “declare victory and GTFO” then he would. His peacenik supporters would love it and he could (justifiably) claim that the $$ saved will help reduce the deficit spending. Even if Afghanistan subsequently descends into chaos, as long as that chaos doesn’t come here (the way it did on 9/11/01) I doubt anyone in the US would care.

  4. Devtun says:

    Fox News’s Shep Smith also reporting possible long term troop presence…in neighborhood of 10K troops after 2014.

  5. DaveO says:

    A counter-terrorism force? Or hostages?

  6. OldSoldier54 says:

    IMO, 10k is just a slightly larger target than 1k. That place is a lost cause and we need to deedee.

    I do NOT envy whomever it is that will be responsible for the hot extract – overland, through indian country nearly every inch of the way.

  7. Nik says:

    Either stay the fuck in, or get the fuck out. Half-assed shit’s gonna just cost more lives in the long run.

  8. I watched a thing on PBS about a Marine company in Asscrackistan. They were in charge of an area that they really needed about 4 or 5 companies to patrol. (like a few places I went to in Iraq). They were trying to “secure” some little donkey village. The village elder told the Marines that the citizens would leave if they had a truck or something to leave with. But the Marines didn’t listen.
    By the end of the deployment, IEDs had damaged 30 MRAPs and other big ass trucks. At a million dollars each, they could have spent to money on building a new village in a safe place with a wall around it. put the village folks in the new village…with running water, electricity etc…and not only saved a shitload of money, but saves some Marines and a lot of time.
    Why does each commander think he’s going to go out into some shit hole and save the fucking world. Move all the good citizens to a new safe place and nuke the rest of the fucking place!