Wednesday, June 28, 2017

US general claims 10 to 20 thousand US troops needed in Afghanistan to defeat Taliban

General Jack Keane, former vice chief of staff of the U.S. army said that the 16-year-old U.S. involvement in Afghanistan was a disgrace.

Speaking with Fox News, Keane claimed that 10 to 20 thousand more troops were needed to win against the Taliban. Keane made his remarks just as reports emerged that Defense Secretary Mattis would send about another 4,000 troops to the country. Earlier recommendations were for from 3,000 to 5,000 to be sent.
Keane insisted that the report of 4,000 additional troops being sent is only speculation but that such an amount would not be enough to defeat the Taliban saying: "There's no doubt the 4,000 will be helpful. But the real question is: Will it change the momentum of the war to our favor? My judgment is it’s likely not to." Given that the combat mission in Afghanistan is supposed to be over and that at one time there were as many as 100,000 U.S. trips in Afghanistan and the Taliban were still not defeated it hardly seems wise to send more troops into the country. With so many troops there are bound to be more casualties. The recent reported insider attack will be but a drop in the bucket. The Pentagon confirmed with Fox News that no final determination had been made about sending additional troops. Nevertheless the 4,000 number has been reported in a number of places. Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Davis nevertheless said: "No decisions have been made." An official told Reuters last month that 3,800 troops could be sent but it could be changed depending on how many troops NATO allies were willing to send. The White House did not respond immediately to a request to comment.
Although a year ago Obama set a cap of 8,400 there are believed to be about 2,000 more than that there on a temporary basis. Keane retired in 2003. He blamed the Obama administration for failing to change the momentum of the war saying: "It’s 16 years we’ve been involved in this war and it’s an absolute disgrace that we have not ended this war before, favorable to ourselves. When we took the 100,000 plus troops out of Afghanistan – just left 8,000 – we took all the support that the Afghan Army had," including "attack helicopters and anti-IED intelligence, communications and logistics. We have to put that back if they’re going to be effective." Even Defense Secretary Mattis admitted that the US and its allies are not winning in Afghanistan and had told Senator John McCain that "we will correct this as soon as possible"":“We want a strategy, and I don’t think that’s a hell of a lot to ask." Keane also claimed that Taliban safe havens in Pakistan had to be destroyed and that the Pakistani military had to cease helping the Taliban.
Obama's withdrawal from the combat role in Afghanistan probably helped him politically. The cost in U.S. lives creates a political backlash that U.S. politicians are anxious to avoid. It is unlikely that the U.S. will throw good money after bad and sacrifice more lives for a battle that it is not clear that they can win without completely destroying Afghanistan, leaving them with an almost impossible task of rebuilding the nation, a task that the U.S. has not shown itself very willing to undertake. Any move to double or even triple the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is likely to renew controversy about the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan that after 16 years is the U.S. longest lasting conflict. However, the addition of a few thousand troops is as Keane points out unlikely to result in victory or even stop the Taliban from further advances.

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