The Obama administration has floated the idea that 3,000 to 4,000 troops will be a sufficient presence in Afghanistan after the military drawdown in 2014, but that’s not enough, says Frederick Kagan, director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project.
“The divergence mirrors a more general disjunction in U.S. policy and perceptions regarding Afghanistan,” Kagan and his wife Kimberly Kagan, president of the Institute for the Study of War, write in The Wall Street Journal.
“Americans think the war is going badly. But the Obama administration says that the process of "transitioning" responsibility for security to the Afghan military is going well enough to justify dramatic reductions in American forces this year and after 2014.”
Gen. John Allen, U.S. commander in the region, says 6,000 to 20,000 troops are needed.
The White House is wrong, the Kagans say. The key issue in Afghanistan is removing al-Qaida permanently. “It might be comforting to imagine that killing Osama bin Laden and other key leaders has neutralized al-Qaida, or that the terror group is no longer seeking to return to Afghanistan when other theaters of jihad are available.”
Unfortunately, that’s not the case, the couple says.
The reduced troop levels wouldn’t be adequate to keep out the terrorists. “Neither would there be enough U.S. forces to assist the Afghan army,” they state. “Brave as the Afghan soldiers are, they simply cannot stand and fight without U.S. support.”
Bottom line: “If a much-reduced U.S. force level is announced, Afghans will say that the Americans have abandoned their country,” the Kagans write. “They will be right.”
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