Speaking today on the removal of troops from the 2010 surge from Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta declared the surge had “accomplished its mission” and was an unquestionable success. Yesterday’s announcement brought the last of the 33,000 surge troops home, leaving 68,000 remaining.
The mission, according to Panetta, was “increasing the size and capability of the Afghan national security forces.” They are certainly bigger, but the training mission has been indefinitely postponed because of the growing number of insider attacks.
The more obvious effect of the surge was a dramatic rise in the death toll, which soared as soon as the surge began and is only now starting to get off its peak again in response to the troop cuts.
Panetta conceded that there are “difficult days ahead” for the troops, and NATO has put major limitations on interaction between NATO and Afghan troops because of the number of attacks by Afghan forces. Six NATO troops, four of them Americans, were killed last weekend in such attacks.