Tags: Afghanistan | Exclusive Interviews | MidPoint | afghanistan | troop | presence | barack obama

Ex-Green Beret: Prepare for a Long Stay in Afghanistan

By    |   Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015 06:19 PM

It may not be 100,000 troops, or even 10,000, but a sizable U.S. military presence in Afghanistan will be a fact of life for a very long time if we're serious about keeping the instability there from following us home again as it did on 9/11, says a former Green Beret.

The alternative is to vacate Afghanistan and "just reap what we sow," retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Scott Mann told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Tuesday.

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Joined on air by retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. William Russell, Mann discussed revisions to the official timetable for U.S. withdrawal and the prospect of a deployment extending well past the target end date of December 2016.

President Barack Obama told reporters on Tuesday that just under 10,000 U.S. troops will stay in Afghanistan through 2015 — thousands more than the 5,500 troops originally called for by year's end.

The comments followed a meeting at the White House with newly elected President Ashraf Ghani.

Mann and Russell both welcomed any U.S. move that doesn't cede the battlefield and embolden regional adversaries, but they cautioned against pursuing half-measures in the chaotic birthplace of the Taliban, al-Qaida and the 9/11 plotters.

"It took 30 years to break that society down to the level it is right now," said Mann. "It is an important area to violent extremists, and it will continue to be so. We're going to be in Afghanistan for a long time, and we're going to have to work at the local level with tribes and clans that are resisting.

"It doesn't mean that we need the big 100,000- or even 10,000-person footprint," said Mann, a counterinsurgency adviser to Concerned Veterans of America who served with special forces in the Middle East and Central America. "But Green Beret and other advisors are going to have to be out in those badlands working with tribes."

Russell, an anti-terrorism specialist, said the American people will need to hear straight talk from their political leaders about the reasons for staying in Afghanistan.

"Part of it is clarifying what the mission is," said Russell, "and if the mission is to go over and – just as Scott pointed out – work from the bottom up."

Russell said Americans will accept the risks involved if they "can understand the clear purpose of that engagement — that it's not going in to crush or conquer the land, but rather to work with these various groups, keep a finger on the pulse."

He said the ultimate aim is "to keep the American people safe here at home, because a small presence there — whether we talk about in Iraq or in Afghanistan — would have done wonders to help prevent this re-rise of ISIS."

Mann said the American people "have the will" to do the necessary work. He was less certain about Obama.

"I question the disposition of this current administration," he said.

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It may not be 100,000 troops, or even 10,000, but a sizable U.S. military presence in Afghanistan will be a fact of life for a very long time if we're serious about keeping the instability there from following us home again as it did on 9/11, says a former Green Beret.
afghanistan, troop, presence, barack obama
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2015-19-24
Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015 06:19 PM
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