Monday, December 13, 2010

US Military Surge in Afghanistan

After months of agonizing, the decades most long awaited decision has finally been made. It is a military surge of 30,000 additional troops to chart out a dignified exit for the United States, which will commence with effect from July 2011 onwards. So, basically, it is a surge to draw down, a surge to exit. The surge commencing with immediate effect is to be completed in the next six months. The total number of US troops will now be over one lakh.
The future strategy chalked out by President Obama includes: arrest the newly found Taliban momentum with the increase in Taliban controlled and High Risk areas, strengthen the capacity of Afghan Government to effectively govern the country (Afghanistan for and by the Afghans), increase the number of US trainers to get more numbers of Afghans by way of its military and police to fight for their ‘country’, increase a civilian surge in population centres such that the United States is able to transfer power to a stable Afghanistan by the middle of 2011. It is political, economic, and military compulsions that are factors for this future strategy.
US soldiers stuck in sandFor one, increasingly the cost of war in Afghanistan has become unbearable for the American people; the cost of fighting the war (trillion dollars) is economically unsustainable. Militarily, the United States no longer has the stomach to pursue an open ended conflict, a slow deterioration which prolongs the war, with implications for the political health of the democrat party. No problem that a spelt out time table may allow the Taliban to lie low and wait out the time. No problem that the population, more so than ever before, will not have the inclination to offend the Taliban. There is good logic, that setting a time table it will push the Afghan Government and its military to now stand up and be counted.
The seriousness of the situation may be gauged by the fact that President Obama has said that he is not averse to talks with like-minded Taliban who relinquish violence. Already, there is a UK led peace initiative named ‘Front for Compromise and Development (FFCD)’ to get the Taliban into the mainstream. Karzai has already proposed a ‘Jirga’ of Afghan and Pakistan elders and fighters – this initiative is likely to be headed by Abdullah Abdullah, the losing Presidential candidate.


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