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FACTDROP: 10 more years of American troops in Afghanistan?
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4/11/2012

10 more years of American troops in Afghanistan?

Afghan soldiers, left, walk past a U.S. Army soldier outside of a military base south of Kabul, Afghanistan.

Πηγή: Deseret News
By Dale McFeatters
April 11 2012

The U.S. and Afghanistan signed a deal Sunday that should end the worst point of friction between U.S.-led forces and the Afghan government and its people.

From now on, special operations missions, including night raids, will be conducted by the Afghan military, with U.S. troops in a supporting role, and in general pursuant to a warrant issued by a special panel.

The night raids were deeply unpopular with the Afghan people. The raids were undoubtedly terrifying and offended longstanding Afghan cultural norms, especially when the troops entered houses where women were present.

However, U.S. commanders considered the raids extremely effective in disrupting Taliban operations and keeping their leaders on the run. Only time will tell whether we've made a productive "hearts and minds" gesture or simply surrendered one of our best war-fighting tools.

By signing the agreement giving the Afghan military the lead role in special operations, the U.S. hopes it will remove an obstacle to negotiations over the U.S. and NATO's role in Afghanistan after the scheduled 2014 withdrawal date for foreign troops.

However, the U.S. agreement to limit itself to a supporting role in special operations is not a decision that, once taken, can easily be reversed. The arrangement's success depends on the ability of the Afghan military, which is expected to be at the planned full strength of 352,000 by year's end.

The Afghan forces are already being tested. March 21 was the start of the Afghan new year, and with warmer weather comes the traditional start of the fighting season. The Taliban have stepped up suicide attacks against the military and police to demoralize new recruits and to demonstrate their ability to strike in areas deemed pacified. On Tuesday, Taliban suicide bombers killed at least 16 people in the south and east, presumably to demonstrate their ability to strike at will.

Both the U.S. and Afghan governments are negotiating an agreement that would guarantee a U.S. presence there for another 10 years.

That could be a hard sell with the American people and Congress, especially considering the billions spent annually and the lack of a clear end in sight. Under this new agreement, it's up to the Afghan government and military to prove that a continued American presence is not a waste of lives and money.



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