From time to time, I plan to write about world events that relate to international issues that we study at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.  In my OpEd in yesterday’s Foreign Policy, I discussed my thoughts about the numbers of American and allied troops that will remain in Afghanistan after 2014. Here’s an excerpt:

At the moment, NATO officials and the U.S. commander, General Joe Dunford, are waiting for the conclusion of the “fighting season” in October before rendering a recommendation to political leadership. This recommendation will go from General Dunford in Kabul up through both a U.S. and a NATO chain of command, and a decision may not be made until deep into the fall.

Instead of waiting for months, we should move now to decide and publically reveal the commitment.

Logar Province, Afghanistan. Photo: U.S. Army

Logar Province, Afghanistan. Photo: U.S. Army

Articulating the number in the range of 15,000 total troops would break the Taliban narrative decisively, making a lie of their oft-repeated trope that “the foreigners are leaving”; it would reassure the Afghans; it would demonstrate needed leadership to the large international coalition that is awaiting U.S. decisions. It would also encourage the conclusion of the strategic agreement between the United States and Afghanistan.

Why 15,000 troops?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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One Response to Plotting The Course for Post-2014 Afghanistan

  1. arjun says:

    Dear Admiral,

    as long as the Al-Qaeda and Taliban remain active,and Pakistan continues to slide into ‘extremist and fundamentalist chaos’,the western coalition has no option but to retain a sizeable force in Afghanistan. There is a constituency, which hopes that the empowerment of the Afghan people is the only way for Afghanistan to emerge as a modern nation-state in the next few decades. I am not so sure that is going to happen in a hurry, particularly in a country where tribal loyalties still reign supreme; where the Sharia is lurking around the corner, waiting to be implemented in areas where the influence of the coalition would decline following the larger withdrawal. We also need to draw lessons from history before reaching any hasty conclusions regarding the ‘modernisation’ of Afghanistan. Notwithstanding the assertion that technology and education have the ability to overcome the adverse impact of Geography and terrain, let us not forget that for over centuries, Afghanistan has evolved around war and conflict; I predict, rather ominously, it will continue to be so at least for the next decade or so. It is only right for the younger generation of Afghans to aspire for peace and prosperity, but do they have it in them to counter the generation of Afghans who have grown up on a cocktail of Jehad, drug-running,and internecine inter-faith conflict.

    I remain a sceptic!!Look forward to your blog