Rep. Hunter: ‘I Don't Have Much Confidence’ in US Military's Afghan Strategy

Thursday, 20 Sep 2012 10:15 AM

By Todd Beamon and John Bachman

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The recent surge in “insider attacks” by rogue Afghan forces – leaving six servicemen dead just this past weekend alone – proves that the U.S. military has “no strategy” for leaving Afghanistan safely, California Rep. Duncan Hunter tells Newsmax.TV.

“If we continue to operate as we are, side by side with the same Afghan forces that are shooting our men in the back, it affects our strategy greatly,” Hunter tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “There is no strategy now, because leaving the country to the Afghans and turning it over to the Afghan police and Afghan military, that was the United States exit strategy – so there is nothing now.

Watch the exclusive interview here.




NATO on Tuesday ordered a cutback on operations alongside Afghan forces in response to so-called “green on blue” attacks over the weekend that killed four American and two British soldiers. Those attacks occurred in southern Afghanistan, from where the Taliban draws most support.

Only large military operations now will be jointly conducted, NATO said. The organization is leading a 100,000-strong coalition backing the Afghan government against Taliban insurgents.

The NATO order affects most of the 350,000 Afghan National Security Force members who will now have to operate without support from coalition allies.

Since the start of this year, 51 NATO troops have been killed by Afghan soldiers – up more than 40 percent over similar incidents throughout 2011. The change come as a 2014 drawdown of coalition forces nears.

Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran and member of the House Services Committee, said Afghanistan must not become a base for al-Qaeda.

“The goal for Afghanistan is to make sure that al-Qaeda cannot attack and any forces cannot stage out of Afghanistan and attack America. We can do that without standing side by side with radical Islamists that pose as Afghan police or military and try to shoot our men in the back,” he said. We can make sure that Afghanistan is not a launching point for terrorist attacks against the United States.”

As such, it is critical that President Barack Obama’s administration articulate a new course of action there, the Republican congressman said.

“What we need to hear from the military now is what is your strategy. What is ‘Strategy B’? ‘Strategy A’ is now impossible to do, because we can’t trust the men that we’ve been training to fight side by side with our own military. If we can’t trust that strategy, what now?

“The reason withdrawal day was set by the President was because we thought that we could train enough forces to have a secure Afghanistan to take our place as we left. If that can’t happen, then what are we doing there? That doesn’t make any sense to me. I don’t think it makes any sense to the American people.

“The military that has set this strategy needs to come back and tell Congress and tell the American people that ‘here’s our plan now,’ ” Hunter added. “And obviously if their best plan isn’t working now, then this next plan is probably not as good as this one. I don’t have too much confidence that there is Plan B to go to, to make sure that we can leave the nation secure when we leave Afghanistan.”

These attacks have decimated the morale of American forces, Hunter said, especially since they can only arrest Afghans who commit such atrocities.

“Under the rules of engagement set by this president, we have good guys from the Army or Marine Corps special forces capture a bad guy – and the bad guys know our rules of engagement,” he said. “They’ll shoot at us. They’ll put their weapons down, put their hands in the air – and we’re not allowed to shoot them.

“We arrest them, take them to the Afghans – and the Afghans do their own little interrogation that’s not up to our standards, and don’t ask the questions that we want asked. Those people are then back on the streets again, within a week or so. You can’t win a war that way.

“And, yes, the demoralization of the troops is a huge issue,” Hunter added. “They realize now that they’re simply biding time until President Obama’s withdrawal date.

“The object isn’t to kill the enemy because that’s now illegal almost with this president. The object now is to simply not get killed until it’s your turn to return home.”

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