The case for continuing the counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan

Spc. Zachary Burke/U.S. Army

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Darren C. Rickettes (left), Lt. Col. Donn H. Hill (2nd from left) and Deputy Commanding General of Afghan Development Brig. Gen. John Uberti, 101st Airborne Division, talk with an Afghan National Army commander during Operation Overlord in the Naka district of Paktika province, Afghanistan, on April 14, 2011.

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    Lessons for a Long War
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Article Highlights

  • Critical tasks remain in #Afghanistan that can only be accomplished by substantial deployment of US troops

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  • Ending counterinsurgency mission next year is a recipe for failure

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  • Question facing US isn't whether troops come home, but when and with what consequences

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U.S. and allied forces have made great progress in Afghanistan since the start of the counterinsurgency campaign in early 2010. But critical military tasks remain -- and these can only be accomplished by a substantial deployment of U.S. troops. Last May, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that he would be withdrawing 10,000 U.S. troops before the end of 2011 and the remaining 20,000 surge troops by September 2012, leaving a total of 68,000 in the country. He tabled further decisions on force levels prior to 2014, at which time Afghanistan will take full responsibility for its own security, according to the framework that NATO and Afghanistan established in Lisbon last November. The rapid dialing back of the surge is a risky strategy, though if executed correctly, and not rushed, it is workable.

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