As Iraq remains a mess and Russians go pretty big in Syria (more on that at the Foreign Policy link below), Afghanistan remains, er, unsettled–though in my estimation still in considerably better shape than the other two “countries”. Surely POTUS cannot risk letting the Taliban win for lack of pretty minimal US backing of the Afghan government forces?
At Foreign Policy:
Situation Report: New Afghan plans; Kunduz continues to roil; Syrian mission creep for Moscow; new FP podcast ready; Russia targeting CIA-trained rebels; Iraq would welcome Russian planes; and lots more
The war remains the same. After 14 years of war in Afghanistan, top generals at the Pentagon continue to craft options for the White House to keep thousands of U.S. troops committed to the fight past President Barack Obama’s 2016 withdrawal date.
Before stepping down as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last month, Gen. Martin Dempsey presented a plan to Obama to keep as many as 5,000 U.S. troops focused mainly on counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan after 2016, the Washington Post’s Missy Ryan and Greg Jaffe report. The proposal comes in addition to the options Gen. John Campbell — who leads the war effort — sent to the White House earlier this fall, which range from an embassy-based force of about 1,000 troops to as many as 8,000 troops to to help train Afghan forces. There are currently 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with several thousand more from NATO countries deployed to train the Afghan army and police.
The news of Dempsey’s plan — which the White House appears to favor — comes as Campbell prepares to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday morning. It also comes as the fight for the northern city of Kunduz rages on amid international outrage over the U.S. airstrike there that killed 22 at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the city. Defense Secretary Ash Carter is traveling in Europe this week, wrapping things up at the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels on Thursday, where Afghanistan should manage to break through the concerns about Russia.
No agreement. What happened in the skies over that hospital in Kunduz remains a matter of debate. The U.S. military on Monday offered a new account of the lethal airstrike, saying the raid was requested by Afghan troops under fire and not American troops. But that new explanation drew an immediate and angry response from Doctors Without Borders. The organization’s General Director Christopher Stokes, demanded an independent investigation into the case, saying, “the reality is the U.S. dropped those bombs. The U.S. hit a huge hospital full of wounded patients and MSF staff.”..