Mark Collins – US Kunduz Killings Mess/Five Thousand US Forces Post-2016?

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.”..

Russians, Syria and Iraq follow.  The Taliban, for their part, seem largely to have overcome earlier internal fissures (with help from Pakistan’s ISIS?):

Afghanistan: Taliban Talk–With Themselves (helped by Paks), Not Kabul

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


14 thoughts on “Mark Collins – US Kunduz Killings Mess/Five Thousand US Forces Post-2016?”

  1. POTUS being out-flanked again?

    ‘Afghanistan’s Dostum Turns To Old Ally Russia For Help

    ith the Taliban threatening to overrun large parts of Afghanistan, First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum is seeking help from an old ally — Russia.

    A graduate of the Soviet Military Academy and a general in the Soviet-backed Afghan army, Dostum is hoping his old links to Moscow will help him secure crucial military support for Afghanistan’s besieged security forces.

    A trip to Russia took him to Moscow and Chechnya, where he met with Ramzan Kadyrov on the Kremlin-backed regional strongman’s birthday on October 5.

    Dostum, who led an ethnic Uzbek militia during the civil war of the 1990s, landed in Moscow last week. He has held talks with top Russian security officials, pleading for heavy weapons and helicopter gunships for the 350,000-strong Afghan National Security Forces.

    “The Russian side is committed to support and help Afghanistan in terms of helping its air and military forces,” Dostum’s spokesman, Sultan Faizy, told RFE/RL by telephone. “We’re lacking air support, weapons, ammunition. We need a lot of backing and support to fight against terrorism.”..’

    Back to the future.

    Mark Collins

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