American troops are pulling out of a remote region in Afghanistan where years of bloody fighting with high numbers of U.S. casualties
has failed to root out insurgents, The New York Times
reports. The decision to turn over the rugged Pech Valley, in the Kunar Province, to Afghan National Army forces has sparked intense debate in both countries over the wisdom of leaving a place once considered vital to the war effort.
The U.S. military says it’s simply redeploying troops to areas where they can do more good and provide more security to the larger Afghan population. But some soldiers and veterans worry the sacrifices they made in the valley will be wasted in a strategic “realignment” that could be construed as a Taliban victory.
Some Afghans fear the pullback seriously endangers two groups of people left behind: Afghans in the valley who work for the U.S.-backed government and the home-grown army that must protect them.
An Afghan major who led a battalion in the Pech Valley said it is “a suicidal mission” for his country’s Army to try to hold the area without American forces’ help.
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