The commander of the NATO-led war in Afghanistan warned on Wednesday of a significant increase in fighting in the country’s east this summer.
“As I look to reduce the numbers of U.S. forces … I will use significant combat power in the east, anticipating we are going to have some good bit of fighting in the east this year,” U.S. General John Allen said Wednesday in an interview.
The unwelcome warning comes as support for the war has hit all time lows after successive high-profile failures, including and especially the unprovoked massacre of 17 Afghan civilians. The debacle in Afghanistan, to the detriment of the Obama administration who is still trying to sell the war and save face, has carried zero good news of late. Predictions of a “good bit of fighting” this summer doesn’t help the case.
Washington is engaged in negotiations with the government in Kabul on a security deal for what U.S. military presence in Afghanistan will look like beyond 2014. Still, the Obama administration and the military leadership is sticking to the talking points about a complete withdrawal by the end of that year.
Gen. Allen, who commands 130,000 NATO troops in the country, said that by the end of summer in 2013, Afghanistan “will be protected by Afghan security forces in the lead.” Training will continue, he added, until the end of 2014.
But the predictions seem overly rosy given conditions on the ground, particularly the utter failure of NATO to build an Afghan security force to speak of. In fact, the ongoing stability is likely to continue up to 2014 and will likely be used to justify sustained U.S. presence. As a U.S. official told Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations, the “U.S. isn’t ‘pulling out’ of Afghanistan in 2014. Plan is for ‘decade of transition’ til 2024,” which would mean a total of 23 years in the country.
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