As we have discussed often here over the last few years - there was a chance to achieve something acceptable in Afghanistan, a good chance. All it required was about another four-five years of patience. Of course, that 4-5 from now is based on an alternative history where we did not announce our retreat in DEC 09 ... but what is, is.
District by district "Shape, Clear, Hold, Build" was a solid way to do it - but just as it was getting roots as the surge soaked in, we stopped feeding it. The following results will be sadly predictable.
Well within half a standard deviation of where history should take us, WaPo's outline of the NIE is pretty good.
The National Intelligence Estimate, which includes input from the country’s 16 intelligence agencies, predicts that the Taliban and other power brokers will become increasingly influential as the United States winds down its longest war in history, according to officials who have read the classified report or received briefings on its conclusions. The grim outlook is fueling a policy debate inside the Obama administration about the steps it should take over the next year as the U.S. military draws down its remaining troops."Grim outlook?" Good googly moogly man - was there no one in the administration or in uniform who had the clue enough of history and the art of war back in '09 to at least provide an outline "Most Dangerous COA" or is all we briefed was what they wanted to hear? Well, to ask the question ...
Some officials have taken umbrage at the underlying pessimism in the report, arguing that it does not adequately reflect how strong Afghanistan’s security forces have become. One American official, who described the NIE as “more dark” than past intelligence assessments on the war, said there are too many uncertainties to make an educated prediction on how the conflict will unfold between now and 2017, chief among them the outcome of next year’s presidential election.Well, hello there Miss Mary Sunshine. Has that person actually been to AFG in the last half-decade? Has he/she done more than chat with those in starched ACU in higher HQ? Talked 1-on-1 with anyone in uniform under 2-stars on background?
What a hack ... and that is a summary is who are keeping the eyes on our AFG policy; political hacks.
The field is lost. We have poisoned our own wells. Our politicians have abandoned us. As it has been for awhile - the loss of every American life in 2014 in an unnecessary waste that dishonors us all. This shame is and fully on those in the beltway and in Brussels; not for those in the field.
Where will this end? Somewhere between Taliban control of most Pashtun majority areas with ethnic warlords owning others, and outright civil war.
At this point, there isn't much more we can or should do but focus on the most efficient retreat possible. If we were a bit Roman ....