Elephants in Afghanistan: The Military’s Counterinsurgency Failure
An interesting article. I disagree with its conclusions. Our fight in Afghanistan has failed because the locals don't want what we are selling: democracy.
Earlier this year, several former ISAF commanders and diplomats wrote President Barack Obama, imploring him to freeze troop levels in Afghanistan until the next administration takes office. Obama ultimately agreed to keep 8,400 troops in country, but while President-elect Donald Trump said many things about many foreign policy during the election season, he gave few hints as to how he would handle the conflict. As the transition is underway, U.S. military planners are still grappling with building effective Afghan security forces — an effort that could take many more years, if not decades. Such an extended endeavor may be in order to secure U.S. interests in Afghanistan, but Trump would do well to ask a few questions of our military leadership before writing another blank check.
I never met a senior Afghan officer who had not paid a “tribute” to secure his position. In 2013, the going rate to be a kandak (battalion of 300 to 500 personnel) commander in the border police was the equivalent of $50,000. This meant that each officer was similarly incentivized to take pay from those under his command and to use his position to recoup his payment. Such payments are foreign to Americans and distasteful to our sense of propriety, yet are an understandable byproduct of blindly pumping billions of dollars into an undeveloped, war-torn country governed by patronage networks.
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