Dunford: US Will Need Forces in Afghanistan Until No Insurgency Left

Joint Chiefs chair rejects Afghan peace deal that involves pullout

Speaking to the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee on Wednesday, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Joe Dunford insisted that “I don’t think anybody would want to withdraw our forces from Afghanistan or the broader Middle East more than me.” He then went on to oppose withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan.

18 years into the US occupation of Afghanistan, the situation on the ground is worse than ever. Diplomatic progress, however, is offering the possibility that the US could negotiate some sort of settlement to get them out of the country within a real, measurable amount of time.

That’s not sitting well with Dunford, who insists the US needs to keep ground troops in Afghanistan “as long as an insurgency continues.” He added that there are still 20 extremist groups in Afghanistan.

A potential problem here is that the Taliban are gaining ground, and as of the most recent Pentagon assessment, the government controls barely half of the country. The situation is worsening so rapidly, that the Pentagon decided they’re not even going to confirm territorial holdings anymore.

The Dunford strategy, then, is to hold out for a win that clearly is never going to happen, and would almost certainly derail negotiations to get the US out of Afghanistan. While most of the country has clearly lost its appetite for the Afghan War, it seems at least some of the military brass want to hang on indefinitely.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.