Mark Collins – Afghanistan: POTUS Backs Down on US Forces Draw-Down (plus NATO)

Further to these posts,

Afghanistan: NATO and US to Keep Substantial Troops Through 2016

No Canada though. But if training in Iraq vs ISIS is such a great thing according to our new government, why not in Afghanistan too? Just wondering. Actually kidding. Afghanistan is just so yesterday for us.

POTUS Bites a Bullet, Loosens US Forces in Afghanistan Somewhat

the president is pretty much holding the troop line and simply passing decisions onto his successor in January 2017 (with video):

Obama Puts Off Drawdown of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

President Obama said on Wednesday [July 6] that he would leave 8,400 American troops in Afghanistan until the end of his term, further slowing the drawdown in a 14-year war that Mr. Obama had pledged to end but now seems likely to grind on indefinitely.

Acknowledging that security in Afghanistan remained tenuous, Mr. Obama said he was adjusting, yet again, a plan to gradually draw down American forces by the end of his term. His announcement leaves his successor with a substantial military commitment in the country…

“The security situation remains precarious,” Mr. Obama said in a brief statement at the White House. “Even as they improve, Afghan security forces are still not as strong as they need to be. The Taliban remains a threat. They’ve gained ground in some cases.”

The United States currently has slightly fewer than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan who train and equip Afghan forces and carry out counterterrorism operations. Mr. Obama had left open the option of reducing that number to 5,500 by the end of 2016 or early 2017.

Now, more than 8,000 troops will remain, and it will be up to Mr. Obama’s successor to decide on any further reductions. Mr. Obama recently loosened the rules of engagement for American troops to give them the ability to fight the Taliban directly and more flexibility to carry out airstrikes and wage ground combat in support of Afghan forces.

Mr. Obama cast his decision as a vote of confidence in Afghanistan’s unity government and NATO members and other partners, who have contributed 6,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. But it also reflects that the American hopes of building a viable Afghan force, capable of securing the country, have fallen far short…

As for NATO:

NATO summit set to approve Afghanistan mission for another year

The Western military alliance is set this week to commit to extend its support of government forces in Afghanistan, where Taliban insurgents have made significant gains since international combat forces withdrew 18 months ago.

In outlining the agenda for NATO’s two-day summit in Warsaw, Poland, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Afghanistan will be one of the top items under discussion when member states begin their meetings on Friday [July 8]. Others are a buildup in eastern Europe, by deploying four battalion-strength multinational units in the Baltics and Poland [see “Canadian Army Battalion for NATO in Latvia“], and steps to improve cyberdefense and a ballistic missile shield.

Stoltenberg on Monday [July 4] pledged support for Kabul through next year, mainly through the extension of the Resolute Support training and assistance mission, and continued funding of the Afghan security forces until 2020.

…While there may be further cuts in the 13,000-strong NATO force, which includes about 6,800 Americans, alliance officials and analysts now say a robust training and assistance mission will remain in Afghanistan at least until the end of 2017.

Although there hasn’t been a publicized decision on U.S. troop levels for 2017 [see above, up to new president], NATO is expected to request about 9,000 troops, including about 5,500 Americans, officials said…

The webpage on NATO’s Resolute Support mission is here; scroll down here for a “placemat” giving the strength of each country’s troop contribution (the US has some 3,000 other forces–special operators, aviation, etc.–operating outside NATO).

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


8 thoughts on “Mark Collins – Afghanistan: POTUS Backs Down on US Forces Draw-Down (plus NATO)”

  1. Compare with Aussies:

    ‘Australia extends military mission in Afghanistan into 2017

    Australia on Friday [July 8] extended its military mission in Afghanistan by six months to mid-2017 and potentially longer as the troubled nation battles a resurgent Taliban.

    Australia also pledged to continue its $100 million a year commitment to the Afghan National Army and National Police until 2020.

    “It is vital to continue to build the capacity of the Afghan security forces to defend the Afghan people against the Taliban and other terrorist groups,” Australia’s caretaker government said in a statement.

    President Barack Obama said Wednesday the United States would scale back plans to draw down troop numbers, with 8,400 to remain in Afghanistan next year.

    Australia ended combat operations in Afghanistan at the end of 2013. But 270 troops remain on a training and assistance mission, which was due to conclude at the end of 2016. They will now stay at least until mid-2017.

    Australia’s troops are based in the capital Kabul, where they support the Afghan National Army Officer Academy…’

    Mark Collins

  2. Things get bit more dicey in Afstan?

    Christian Thiels @ThielsChristian very much worth following at twitter:

    Mark Collins

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