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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1500 on: February 01, 2017, 09:22:19 AM »



ISLAMABAD—Pakistan, often in the headlines for terrorism, coups and poverty, has developed something else in recent years: a burgeoning middle class that is fueling economic growth and bolstering a fragile democracy.

The transformation is evident in Jamil Abbas, a tailor of women’s clothing whose 15 years of work has paid off with two children in private school and small luxuries like a refrigerator and a washing machine.

For companies like the Swiss food maker Nestlé SA, such hungry consumers signal a sea-change.

“Pakistan is entering the hot zone,” said Bruno Olierhoek, Nestlé’s CEO for Pakistan, saying the country appears to be at a tipping point of exploding demand. Nestlé’s sales in Pakistan have doubled in the past five years to $1 billion.

Although often overshadowed by giant neighbors India and China, Pakistan is the sixth most-populated country, with 200 million people. And now, major progress in the country’s security, economic and political environments have helped create the stability for a thriving middle class.

More at https://www.wsj.com/articles/pakistans-middle-class-soars-as-stability-returns-1485945001
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ya
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« Reply #1501 on: February 04, 2017, 08:49:14 PM »

ISIS recruits background in India...YA

IS suspects had formal schooling’
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT NEW DELHI:  JANUARY 20, 2017 00:00 IST
UPDATED: JANUARY 20, 2017 04:25 IST
SHARE ARTICLE  2 PRINT A A A

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said on Thursday that 80% of the persons arrested for alleged links to the Islamic State (IS) went to formal schools and only 20% had studied at madrasas (Islamic seminaries).

In one of the biggest crackdown in 2016, NIA arrested 52 persons for allegedly plotting terror attacks and being part of the banned outfit.

NIA said nearly half of the suspects were followers of Ahle Hadith (or Salafis/Wahabis who follow the puritan form of Islam promoted by Saudi Arabia) and 30% followed Tablighi Jamaat (Sunni Islamic movement). Only 20% were Deobandis (Islamic school based in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh) and none of them was from the Barelvi sect.

The NIA also said that 47 of the accused were from the Sunni sect of Islam and five had converted from Hinduism and Christianity.

Elaborating, an NIA official said four persons converted from Christianity to Islam and one converted from Hinduism to join the Islamic State.

All the five accused belong to Kochi in Kerala.

Twenty-eight of the 52 arrested persons were aged between 18 and 25, twenty were in the 25-40 age bracket and four were aged 40 and above.

An analysis of their educational qualification indicated that 20 were graduates and had professional degrees, 12 were diploma holders, 13 had done their matriculation, four studied till the senior secondary level and three were post graduates.

Thirty were from the middle income group, nine from upper middle income group and 13 from the lower income group.

The highest number — twelve each — belonged to Maharashtra and Telangana. Eleven were from Kerala, five from Karnataka, four from Uttar Pradesh, two from Rajasthan, three from Tamil Nadu and one each from Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi.


Of the 52 persons arrested for plotting terror attacks, only 20% had studied at madrasas, says NIA
« Last Edit: February 04, 2017, 08:50:46 PM by ya » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1502 on: February 27, 2017, 02:21:10 PM »

Analysis

Editor's Note: The following piece is part of an occasional series in which Fred Burton, Stratfor's chief security officer, reflects on his storied experience as a counterterrorism agent for the U.S. State Department.

By Fred Burton

When it comes to combating terrorism, Pakistan is an indispensable ally for the United States. But as the two countries' checkered history shows, it is also an unreliable one.

Pakistan seems to be a constant center of terrorism and chaos. The Taliban and al Qaeda have long been present in the country. Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden even hid out in his compound in Abbottabad, a stone's throw away from a military training compound, before Navy SEAL Team 6 took him out in a 2011 raid. Pakistani officials have denied that they knew about bin Laden's presence. But for those of us who have spent time in the world of counterterrorism, it's hard to believe that one of the world's most wanted people lived in the city for years without being detected by the Pakistani government or its intelligence agencies.

The raid took place only when CIA suspicions about the terrorist leader's whereabouts were confirmed by a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi. He used a fake vaccine campaign to obtain samples of the bin Laden family's DNA, pointing U.S. forces to the compound. For his role in the affair, Afridi was convicted by Pakistan of treason and is currently serving a long prison sentence. Afridi became a cause celebre after U.S. President Donald Trump made a campaign promise to have him freed. But when Pakistan reacted angrily to the suggestion, it became another bone of contention between uneasy allies.

Pakistan's turbulent history also includes a pattern of violence toward its leaders, who have been targets of numerous assassination attempts. In 1988, the mysterious crash of a U.S.-made C-130 claimed the life of President Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq and many of his top generals, along with U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Herbert Wassom and U.S. Ambassador Arnold Raphel. Over a decade later, President Pervez Musharraf survived several attempts on his life. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was not so lucky; she was killed in a bombing in late 2007.

In the late 1980s, I was part of a small U.S. team sent to investigate the crash of Zia-ul-Haq's C-130, a tricky case made more complex by the atmosphere we found in Pakistan. First, Zia-ul-Haq belonged to the Pakistani army, but the country's air force was the branch tasked with coordinating our investigation. As in any nation's armed forces, interbranch rivalries ran deep there. From the first briefing with Pakistani officials, it was clear that they had preconceived notions about the cause of the crash, creating immediate friction with our small team. To make an uncomfortable situation even worse, they closely watched our every move.

As an investigator, I strove to rule in or out the variables that could have caused the crash, such as sabotage, catastrophic mechanical failure or weather. Granted, the event was traumatic to Pakistan; after all, it had lost its president. But it was also unnerving for the Diplomatic Security Service. We had lost our ambassador and a brigadier general. In fact, before Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed in Benghazi, Raphel was the last U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty.

Pakistan's cooperation with the United States on that case and others has not stopped militant groups from festering in the country, despite Islamabad's campaign against them. Pakistan's hard-line Islamist factions and long-running disputes with India provide a breeding ground for militancy, and Islamabad has even had a hand in fostering groups that later committed acts of terrorism.

The recent house arrest of Hafiz Saeed demonstrates the duality of Pakistan's relationship with the United States when it comes to terrorism. As Pakistan's competition with India over Kashmir heated up in the 1990s, its intelligence services supported the development of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the armed wing of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa Islamic charity Saeed had founded. Since being turned loose in Kashmir to harass Indian troops, Lashkar-e-Taiba has pursued its jihadist agenda in other regions as well, targeting Americans among other victims.

Saeed himself is the accused mastermind of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which killed 166 people, including six U.S. citizens. The U.S. government offered a $10 million reward for his arrest and conviction for the attacks, which targeted several hotels. Despite the price on his head, Saeed continued to live openly in Pakistan, even giving occasional press conferences. That is, until he was placed under house arrest by Pakistani authorities in late January.

Why the change of heart? It could be to ensure that the new U.S. administration continues to funnel military aid to Pakistan, or to avoid being added to the list of countries with a U.S. travel ban. It could also be a sign of a larger shift in Pakistani politics. Islamabad's reasons are rarely straightforward. Either way, it's unlikely that the Pakistani government is motivated by the prospect of the reward, offered through the State Department's Rewards for Justice program, since states are not eligible to cash in on it.

The one constant I've learned over the years is that Pakistan is key to our silent and sometimes violent war on terrorism. The success of the fight also depends on the continued cooperation of men and women with Afridi's courage. I trust that the Trump administration is working behind the scenes to secure his release. Because if anyone deserves a State Department reward for helping run a terrorist to ground, it's him.
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G M
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« Reply #1503 on: February 27, 2017, 07:31:40 PM »

Fred Burton spelled enemy wrong.


Analysis

Editor's Note: The following piece is part of an occasional series in which Fred Burton, Stratfor's chief security officer, reflects on his storied experience as a counterterrorism agent for the U.S. State Department.

By Fred Burton

When it comes to combating terrorism, Pakistan is an indispensable ally for the United States. But as the two countries' checkered history shows, it is also an unreliable one.

Pakistan seems to be a constant center of terrorism and chaos. The Taliban and al Qaeda have long been present in the country. Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden even hid out in his compound in Abbottabad, a stone's throw away from a military training compound, before Navy SEAL Team 6 took him out in a 2011 raid. Pakistani officials have denied that they knew about bin Laden's presence. But for those of us who have spent time in the world of counterterrorism, it's hard to believe that one of the world's most wanted people lived in the city for years without being detected by the Pakistani government or its intelligence agencies.

The raid took place only when CIA suspicions about the terrorist leader's whereabouts were confirmed by a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi. He used a fake vaccine campaign to obtain samples of the bin Laden family's DNA, pointing U.S. forces to the compound. For his role in the affair, Afridi was convicted by Pakistan of treason and is currently serving a long prison sentence. Afridi became a cause celebre after U.S. President Donald Trump made a campaign promise to have him freed. But when Pakistan reacted angrily to the suggestion, it became another bone of contention between uneasy allies.

Pakistan's turbulent history also includes a pattern of violence toward its leaders, who have been targets of numerous assassination attempts. In 1988, the mysterious crash of a U.S.-made C-130 claimed the life of President Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq and many of his top generals, along with U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Herbert Wassom and U.S. Ambassador Arnold Raphel. Over a decade later, President Pervez Musharraf survived several attempts on his life. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was not so lucky; she was killed in a bombing in late 2007.

In the late 1980s, I was part of a small U.S. team sent to investigate the crash of Zia-ul-Haq's C-130, a tricky case made more complex by the atmosphere we found in Pakistan. First, Zia-ul-Haq belonged to the Pakistani army, but the country's air force was the branch tasked with coordinating our investigation. As in any nation's armed forces, interbranch rivalries ran deep there. From the first briefing with Pakistani officials, it was clear that they had preconceived notions about the cause of the crash, creating immediate friction with our small team. To make an uncomfortable situation even worse, they closely watched our every move.

As an investigator, I strove to rule in or out the variables that could have caused the crash, such as sabotage, catastrophic mechanical failure or weather. Granted, the event was traumatic to Pakistan; after all, it had lost its president. But it was also unnerving for the Diplomatic Security Service. We had lost our ambassador and a brigadier general. In fact, before Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed in Benghazi, Raphel was the last U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty.

Pakistan's cooperation with the United States on that case and others has not stopped militant groups from festering in the country, despite Islamabad's campaign against them. Pakistan's hard-line Islamist factions and long-running disputes with India provide a breeding ground for militancy, and Islamabad has even had a hand in fostering groups that later committed acts of terrorism.

The recent house arrest of Hafiz Saeed demonstrates the duality of Pakistan's relationship with the United States when it comes to terrorism. As Pakistan's competition with India over Kashmir heated up in the 1990s, its intelligence services supported the development of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the armed wing of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa Islamic charity Saeed had founded. Since being turned loose in Kashmir to harass Indian troops, Lashkar-e-Taiba has pursued its jihadist agenda in other regions as well, targeting Americans among other victims.

Saeed himself is the accused mastermind of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which killed 166 people, including six U.S. citizens. The U.S. government offered a $10 million reward for his arrest and conviction for the attacks, which targeted several hotels. Despite the price on his head, Saeed continued to live openly in Pakistan, even giving occasional press conferences. That is, until he was placed under house arrest by Pakistani authorities in late January.

Why the change of heart? It could be to ensure that the new U.S. administration continues to funnel military aid to Pakistan, or to avoid being added to the list of countries with a U.S. travel ban. It could also be a sign of a larger shift in Pakistani politics. Islamabad's reasons are rarely straightforward. Either way, it's unlikely that the Pakistani government is motivated by the prospect of the reward, offered through the State Department's Rewards for Justice program, since states are not eligible to cash in on it.

The one constant I've learned over the years is that Pakistan is key to our silent and sometimes violent war on terrorism. The success of the fight also depends on the continued cooperation of men and women with Afridi's courage. I trust that the Trump administration is working behind the scenes to secure his release. Because if anyone deserves a State Department reward for helping run a terrorist to ground, it's him.
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ya
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« Reply #1504 on: February 27, 2017, 09:25:48 PM »

Thanks, the question that needs to be asked is: what advantage is there for Pak to reform themselves ?, it will be a big loss for them.

Why Pak does not want reform:. If there was no worldwide terrorism emanating from Pak, their importance to the US would diminish, Coalition Support Funds would go down, and the  paki army cant have that. The paki army is perhaps the only army in the world which does everything except fight and win wars. They run sugar mills, flour mills, textiles most aspects of Pak business. When the Army Chief retires he gets a huge land allottment for building a farm house ofcourse. Land allottments are not just for the Chief, but lower ranks too, just smaller size land plots. So pak plays truant and the US obliges by becoming their sugar daddy. US support for Pak has a historic basis from the time, when India was aligned with Russia and the US wanted to support Pak to maintain balance of power. I think the US is getting tired of this game and support to Pak is declining, iron brother China is becoming their new sugar daddy. US interests align with those of India, especially to maintain balance of power with China. I expect this trend to continue.

Why there can be no peace with India: Traditionally Pak army has created the India bogey, because without India as an enemy, there is really no reason for them to exist, and their budget would be in the 1.5% range. So with the constant threat of India they have a huge budget (no one knows how much, perhaps 15-20 % with all their businesses). The problem with this is, the pak army sucks most of the money away and there is nothing left for education, health and infrastructure investment. So every year the country becomes more backward, foreign investment falls and the Paki army needs a bigger share to maintain their lifestyle.

Changes with new pak army chief, Bajwa: The outgoing pak army chief, raheel shareef had a congenital hatred of India, he was a sunni muslim. Fortunately he did not get an extension (that's another story), in the power play with prime minister nawaz shareef. Nawaz Shareef played a master card by making Bajwa the new army chief. The rumour is that Bajwa is not a sunni muslim, but a qadiani (Ahmedi sect of Islam, which is not recognized as muslim by Pak, its a blasphemy to be an Ahmedi). Infact, some of his relatives are known qadianis and perhaps even his father was a qadiani. However, a qadiani cannot be army chief, so Bajwa claims to be sunni muslim. Sort of like Obummer being a closet muslim with sympathies towards the religion of peace. What ever the truth, he seems to be moderate and right from the start has made peace overtures to India. Recently he put the terrorist Hafeez saeed under house arrest (mumbai blast master mind). It is not clear, why he is doing that. Is it a genuine peace overture ?, concern that Trump might ban Paki muslims, or perhaps pressure from China (since Indo-China relations are going downhill because of terror from Pak, and the Chinese blocking India's entry to NSG). What ever the reason, no one in India believes in reformation by Pak. We have been down this road too many times to know that paki good behaviour never lasts. Infact if relations start to improve, the ISI arranges for a bomb blast in India, which immediately suts down any peace overtures. China's interest in ensuring paki good behaviour is their 50 Billion $ investment in the CPEC project which goes through Pak occupied Kashmir (territory claimed by India), for India can certainly create mayhem there. So interesting times ahead, a lot of plots with subplots in the story.



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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1505 on: March 06, 2017, 02:13:58 AM »



http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/chinese-troops-afghanistan?utm_content=bufferd5e2d&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1506 on: March 12, 2017, 07:15:27 PM »

http://ijr.com/2017/03/822619-i-had-dinner-with-the-afghanistan-ambassador-what-he-said-about-the-differences-between-trump-obama-is-stunning/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Owned&utm_term=ijamerica&utm_campaign=ods&utm_content=Politics
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1507 on: March 30, 2017, 10:22:40 PM »



http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/mar/29/us-gen-votel-russia-providing-weapons-support-tali/

I know that at some point the majority of our supplies to Afghanistan went through Russia.  I'm guessing this is still the case.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1508 on: April 13, 2017, 01:50:34 PM »

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/apr/13/pentagon-us-dropped-largest-non-nuclear-bomb-in-af/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWTJNd05HRTFNRFl4TWpZMCIsInQiOiI5RXcxR3pTaWJVd1wvY1wvZ3NGZU5kTWlFeWYxamZua3hrNDk3bG9lXC8xZTRaZU8yNmVuU1NkcFlGMld2TWFjcjBjNkk4VXZucGNyNEt1dlN2Zm1xYlFxTloxc2NXbnE2VllDU1wvYklBbkFuZFBoVTU4TE05MUg5RGZWR2pObTRCVngifQ%3D%3D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17lkdqoLt44&feature=youtu.be
« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 04:48:24 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
ya
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« Reply #1509 on: April 13, 2017, 08:04:01 PM »

https://www.thebalance.com/cost-of-afghanistan-war-timeline-economic-impact-4122493


Cost of Afghanistan War: Timeline, Economic Impact
The Ongoing Costs of the Afghanistan War

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By Kimberly Amadeo
Updated March 14, 2017
The Afghanistan War was a military conflict that lasted 14 years (2001 - 2014) and cost $1.07 trillion. The Bush Administration launched it in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks by al-Qaida. The United States attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan for hiding al-Qaida's leader, Osama bin Laden. It was the kick-off to the War on Terror.

The war's $1.07 trillion cost had three main components. First is the $773 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funds specifically dedicated to the Afghanistan War.

Second is the increase of $243 billion to the Department of Defense base budget. Third is the increase of $54.2 billion to the Veterans Administration budget. Some of these costs are also attributable to the War in Iraq. But the true cost of the Afghanistan War should include the addition to these departments, even if some of the funds went toward both wars. For more on how to determine the actual cost of defense, see the U.S. Military Budget.

Timeline of Afghanistan War Costs
Here's a timeline of what happened each year. A table that summarizes these costs is below.

FY 2001 - $37.3 billion: Osama bin Laden authorized 9/11 attacks. President Bush demanded that the Afghanistan Taliban deliver bin Laden or risk U.S. attack. Congress appropriated $22.9 billion in emergency funding. On October 7, U.S. jets bombed Taliban forces. On December 7, the Taliban abandon Kabul, the capital. Hamid Karzai became interim administration head.

That same month, ground troops pursued bin Laden into the Afghan foothills. He escaped to Pakistan on December 16, 2001.

FY 2002 - $65.1 billion: In March, the U.S. military launched Operation Anaconda against Taliban fighters. Bush promised to reconstruct Afghanistan, but only provided $38 billion between 2001 and 2009.

Bush turned attention to Iraq War.

FY 2003 - $56.7 billion: In May, the Bush Administration announced that major combat ended in Afghanistan. NATO took over control of the peacekeeping mission. NATO added 65,000 troops from 42 countries.

FY 2004 - $29.6 billion: On January 9, Afghanistan created a new Constitution. On October 9, the U.S. military protected Afghans from Taliban attacks for their first free election. On October 29, bin Laden threatened another terrorist attack.

FY 2005 - $47.4 billion: On May 23, Bush and Karzai signed an agreement allowing U.S. military access to Afghan military facilities in return for training and equipment. Six million Afghans voted for national and local councils. Three million voters were women.

FY 2006 - $29.9 billion: The new Afghanistan government struggled to provide basic services, including police protection. Violence increases. The United States criticized NATO for not providing more soldiers.

FY 2007 - $57.3 billion: Allies assassinated a Taliban commander, Mullah Dadullah.

FY 2008 - $87.7 billion: Violence escalated in Afghanistan after U.S. troops accidentally killed civilians.

FY 2009 - $100 billion: President Obama took office. He sent 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan in April.

He promised to send another 30,000 in December. He named Lt. General McChrystal as the new commander. Obama's strategy focused on attacking resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida forces on the Pakistan border. That added $59.5 billion to Bush's FY 2009 budget. He promised to withdraw all troops by 2011. Voters reelected Karzai amidst accusations of fraud.

FY 2010 - $112.7 billion: NATO sent surge forces to fight the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. NATO agreed to turn over all defense to Afghan forces by 2014. Obama replaced McChrystal with General Petraeus. Afghanistan held parliamentary elections amidst charges of fraud.

FY 2011 - $110.4 billion: Special Forces took out Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011. Obama announced he would withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year and 23,000 by the end of 2012.

The United States held preliminary peace talks with Taliban leaders. (Source: Amy Belasco, "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11," Table A1. Congressional Research Service, March 29, 2014.)

FY 2012 - $105.1 billion: Obama announced the withdrawal of another 23,000 troops from Afghanistan in the summer, leaving 70,000 troops remaining. Both sides agreed to hasten U.S. troop withdrawal to 2013. Their presence had become unwelcome. The Taliban canceled U.S. peace talks.

FY 2013 - $53.3 billion: U.S. forces shifted to a training and support role. The Taliban reignited peace negotiations with the United States, causing Karzai to suspend his U.S. negotiations.

FY 2014 - $80.2 billion: Obama announced final U.S. troop withdrawal, with only 9,800 remaining at the end of the year. (Source: "Afghanistan War," Council on Foreign Relations. "Major Events in the Afghanistan War," The New York Times.)

FY 2015 - $60.9 billion: Troops trained Afghan forces. (Source: DoD 2015 OCO Amendment)

FY 2016 - $30.8 billion: The DoD requested funds for training efforts in Afghanistan as well as training and equipment for Syrian opposition forces. It also included support for NATO and responses to terrorist threats. (Source: DoD 2016 OCO Amendment)

FY 2017 - $5.7 billion: The DoD requested $58.8 billion for Operation Freedom Sentinel in Afghanistan, Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and the Levant, increased European support and counterterrorism. (Source: DoD 2017 OCO Amendment.)

 [RP1]I agree it’s okay not to spell this out.

Afghanistan War Costs Summary Table (in billions)

FY   Cost of Afghanistan War   DoD Budget Increase   VA Budget Increase       Total             Boots on Ground*   Comments
2001   $29.3   $6.5   $1.5   $37.3   9,700   9/11. Taliban falls.
2002   $22.8   $40.8   $1.5   $65.1   9,700   
2003   $68.4   $36.7   $2.6   $56.7   13,100   NATO enters.
2004   $92.1   $11.6   $2.6   $29.6   18,300   1st vote.
2005   $99.8   $23.6   $3.1   $47.4   17,821   Karzai agreement.
2006   $114.7   $10.5   $0.7   $29.9   20,502   Violence rises.
2007   $161.9   $20.9   $5.3   $57.3   24,780   
2008   $182.9   $47.5   $1.2   $87.7   32,500   
2009   $149.1   $34.2   $9.8   $100.0   69,000   Obama surge.
2010   $158.9   $14.7   $3.9   $112.7   96,900   NATO surge.
2011   $153.3   $0.3   $3.3   $110.4   94,100   Bin Laden killed.
2012   $120.9   $2.2   $2.3   $105.1   65,800   Troop drawdown.
2013   $93.3   -$34.9   $2.6   $53.3   43,300   
2014   $82.2   $0.8   $2.0   $80.2   32,500   Troops leave.
2015   $63.1   $1.0   $1.8   $60.9   9,100   U.S. trains Afghan troops.
2016   N/A   $24.3   $6.5   $30.8   8,370
2017   N/A   $2.2   $3.5   $5.7   N/A
TOTAL   $773.0   $243.0   $54.2   $1,070.2       
*Boots on Ground is the number of troops in Iraq. From 2001 through 2013, it's as of December of that year. 2014 - 2017 is as of May. (Source: "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11," Table A-1. Amy Belasco, Congressional Research Service, March 29, 2014.) Boots on Ground for 2015 is for the fourth quarter and 2016 is from the second quarter. (Source: Heidi M. Peters, "Department of Defense Contractor and Troop Levels in Iraq and Afghanistan: 2007-2016," Table 3. Congressional Research Service, August 15, 2016. "Historical Tables," OMB.)

Cost of the Afghanistan War to Veterans
The real cost of the Afghanistan War is more than the $1.06 trillion added to the debt. First, and most important, is the cost borne by the 2,350 U.S. troops who died, the 20,092 who suffered injuries, and their families. (Source: "Total Deaths KIA," Department of Defense, January 13, 2017.) For details on these casualties, see iCasualties.org.

Improvements in battlefield medicine meant that more than 90 percent of soldiers wounded in Afghanistan survived. That's better than the Vietnam War's 86.5 percent track record. Unfortunately, that also means these veterans and their families now must live with the effects of permanent and grave damage. More than 320,000 of soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq have Traumatic Brain Injury that causes disorientation and confusion. Of those, 8,237 suffered severe or invasive brain injury. In addition, 1,645 soldiers lost all or part of a limb. More than 138,000 have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They experience flashbacks, hypervigilance and difficulty sleeping.

On average, 20 veterans commit suicide each day according to a 2016 VA study.​ The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) found that 47 percent of its members knew of someone who had attempted suicide after returning from active duty. The group considers veteran suicide to be its number one issue. (Source: "A Guide to U.S. Military Casualty Statistics: Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom," Congressional Research Service, Hannah Fischer, February 19, 2014. "Veterans Group to Launch Suicide Prevention Campaign," Washington Post, March 24, 2014.)

The cost of veterans’ medical and disability payments over the next 40 years will be more than $1 trillion. That's according to Linda Bilmes, a senior lecturer in public finance at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “The cost of caring for war veterans typically peaks 30 to 40 years or more after a conflict,” Bilmes said. (Source: "Costs of War," Watson Institute at Brown University, September 2016. "Iraq War Lives on as Second-Costliest U.S. Conflict Fuels U.S. Debt," BusinessWeek, January 3, 2012. "Final U.S. Troops Leave Iraq," Bloomberg, March 19, 2013).

Cost to Economy
The Afghanistan War cost more than the $738 billion inflation-adjusted dollars spent on the Vietnam War. It's second only to the $4.1 trillion inflation-adjusted dollars spent during World War II.

Unlike earlier wars, most American families did not feel impacted by the Afghanistan War. Unlike the Vietnam War and World War II, there was no draft. There was no tax imposed to pay for the war. 

As a result, those who served and their families bore the brunt. It will cost them at least $300 billion over the next several decades to pay for their injured family members. That doesn't include lost income from jobs they quit to care for their relative.

Future generations will also pay for the addition to the debt. Researcher Ryan Edwards estimated that the United States incurred an extra $453 billion in interest on the debt to pay for the wars in the Middle East. Over the next 40 years, these costs will add $7.9 trillion to the debt. (Source: "Costs of War," Watson Institute, September 2016.)

Companies, particularly small businesses, were disrupted by National Guard and Reserve call-ups. The economy has also been deprived of the productive contributions of the service members killed, wounded or psychologically traumatized.

There's also the opportunity cost in terms of job creation. Every $1 billion spent on defense creates 8,555 jobs and adds $565 million to the economy. That same $1 billion in tax cuts stimulate enough demand to create 10,779 jobs and puts $505 million into the economy as retail sales. The same $1 billion in spent on education adds $1.3 billion to the economy and creates 17,687 jobs.

Causes
Why did the United States start a war in Afghanistan? The Bush administration wanted to eliminate the terrorist threat of al-Qaida's leader, Osama bin Laden. It also wanted to remove the Taliban from power since they provided refuge for bin Laden.

Al-Qaida had been in Afghanistan since the Taliban came to power in 1996. Before that, al-Qaida had operated in Pakistan's mountainous western border. It returned to Pakistan when the United States ousted the Taliban in 2001. (Source: "Al-Qaida Backgrounder," Council on Foreign Relations, June 6, 2012.)

The Taliban grew out of Muslim opposition to the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. They came from the thousands of mujahedeen (holy warriors) that arrived from all over the world to fight the Soviets. Ironically, the United States supplied anti-aircraft missiles to the mujahedeen to stop the spread of communism in the Middle East. (Source: "The Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan," PBS Newshour, October 10, 2006.)

When the war ended, these mujahedeen battled each other for control of the country. An Afghan contingent joined with Pashtun tribesmen to create the Taliban. They practiced a fundamentalist version of Islam called Wahhabism. The Taliban (which means student) had attended schools funded by Saudi Arabia.

The Taliban promised peace and stability. They controlled 90 percent of the country by 2001. They also imposed strict sharia law, such as requiring women to wear burqas. The United Nations Security Council issued resolutions urging the Taliban to end oppressive treatment of women. (Source: "The Taliban in Afghanistan," Council on Foreign Relations, July 4, 2014.)

Al-Qaida shared a similar fundamentalist Sunni Muslim ideology. The Sunnis believe that Shiites want to revive Persian rule over the Middle East. This Sunni-Shiite split is the driving force of tensions in the area. It is also an economic battle. Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran both want to control the Straits of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of the world's oil passes.

The Taliban's support of al-Qaida came at a cost. It caused the UN Security Council to issue sanctions against Afghanistan. These sanctions, along with the Afghanistan War, led to the Taliban's downfall from power.
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« Reply #1510 on: April 15, 2017, 08:24:49 AM »

 shocked shocked shocked
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« Reply #1511 on: April 15, 2017, 08:26:12 AM »

I read that the Russians are now supplying the Taliban.

With things as they are between the Russians and America now, I wonder what has happened to Russia being a route for us to supply our troops in Afghanistan?

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« Reply #1512 on: May 27, 2017, 11:19:39 AM »

https://www.dawn.com/news/1335574/defence-budget-set-at-rs9202bn-for-fy2017-18

Pak discloses 19.7 % military spend in budget....its probably much higher....if you spend 20 % on the military, you need to create a few bogies, namely India and terrorism, ISIS etc to justify the spend.

Defence budget set at Rs920.2bn for FY2017-18
Dawn.comUpdated about 10 hours ago
1329     82

Pakistan's defence expenditure in the next financial year will be around 7 per cent higher than it was in the outgoing year to Rs920.2 billion, the government announced in Friday's Budget 2017-18 speech.

The PML-N government's total budget outlay for 2017-18, possibly its last year in power, was Rs4.75tr, out of which 19.36pc has been kept aside under the Defence Affairs and Services head.

The operating expenses for the armed forces have been allocated Rs225.5bn, while almost Rs322bn will be sent on salaries and renumeration. The armed forces will get Rs244bn for 'physical assets' and Rs128.35bn for 'civil works'.

The government will separately pay nearly Rs180bn in pensions to retired military officials and jawans. This does not count in the budget allocated to defence services.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who presented the budget in Parliament, also announced a 10pc increase in the pay of all armed forced personnel as a 'special allowance' in recognition for their sacrifices in the ongoing conflicts across the country.

"I announce today that a 10pc will be given on the pay of all officers and jawans as special allowance. This allowance will be in addition to the increase in pay that will be announced," Dar said as he presented the Federal Budget 2017-18.

The Frontier Constabulary's jawans will also be given a fixed allowance of Rs8,000 per month, the government said. The special allowance and the fixed allowance are both separate from the defence budget.

The 'special allowance' was also topped up with a 10pc ad hoc increase in salaries for army personnel, along with other government employees.

Dar additionally said during his budget speech said the National Security Committee had recommended that 3pc of the provinces' Gross Divisible Pool should also be allocated to defence expenditures; however, the provinces have yet to get on board with this proposal.

"Large operations like Zarb-i-Azb require vast sums. This is our national duty against terrorism for which provision of resources is the responsibility of the entire nation," Dar urged during his Friday budget speech.

The government will also be launching a new scheme through the Central Directorate of National Savings (CDNS) for the welfare of families of martyrs.

Under this scheme, a guaranteed and enhanced profit will be given as a means of support for martyrs' families.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2017, 11:32:32 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #1513 on: July 13, 2017, 11:42:19 PM »

    Articles

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Forecast Highlights

    The Pentagon's move to deploy more troops to Afghanistan, should U.S. President Donald Trump approve it, would be aimed at empowering the Afghan National Security Forces to eventually inflict enough casualties on the Taliban to encourage them to negotiate.

    Until the factors that contribute to the conflict — including the Afghan forces' weakness and Pakistan's support for the Taliban — have been addressed, the prospects for ending the war will be dim.

    Lax border enforcement between Afghanistan and Pakistan will ensure that militants continue launching attacks into both countries from the border regions, further complicating efforts to end the war.

The invasion routes into Afghanistan are well worn at this point in history. The pathways leading out of the country, on the other hand, are far less clear. This is the predicament U.S. President Donald Trump faces as he weighs the Pentagon's proposal to send up to 5,000 troops to Afghanistan to support the struggling Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in their 15-year war against the Taliban. If Trump approves the measure, Washington will escalate its involvement in a conflict that has so far lasted through two presidencies. The move would entail granting U.S. troops greater authority on the battlefield, and may well invite a commensurate personnel contribution from Washington's allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

But as much as the Afghan military could benefit from reinforcements — the Taliban are intensifying their attacks as part of the group's annual spring offensive — Washington understands that more troops will only accomplish so much. The reasons for the war's endurance are much deeper and more complicated than the number of boots on the ground. And until these underlying factors are addressed, peace will continue to elude Afghanistan.

Enfeebled Forces

One of the biggest issues preventing a resolution to the conflict is the Afghan military's weakness. The ANSF lost a key source of support in 2014 when President Barack Obama ordered NATO troops to draw down from Afghanistan. In the years since, the country's forces have struggled to contain the Taliban insurgency on their own while simultaneously grappling with organizational problems such as corruption, defections and a lack of leadership. The Taliban wasted no time in capitalizing on the security vacuums that resulted, and today the group claims some 40 percent of Afghan territory.

In light of the Taliban's gains, Gen. John Nicholson, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, requested a few thousand more troops in February. The Trump administration, which has so far been willing to delegate greater authority to the Pentagon to prosecute the war, looks likely to approve the request. Yet the president must also consider the political consequences of re-engaging the United States in a distant war when much of the U.S. electorate would rather focus on domestic affairs. Consequently, the troop increase, if approved, will be a modest one.

The measure aims to turn the stalemate in the ANSF's favor to keep it from losing the war altogether, even if it can't win. At the same time, the Pentagon hopes that more U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan will help the ANSF inflict a high enough cost on the Taliban that negotiations become a more appealing option for insurgent leaders than continued fighting. But as history has demonstrated, troops alone will not guarantee progress toward peace. After all, the presence of more than 100,000 U.S. military personnel on the ground in Afghanistan in 2010 couldn't persuade the Taliban to come to the negotiating table.
 
Internal Struggles

In some ways, additional U.S. forces in the country could further undermine the ANSF. The Taliban use the presence of foreign troops on Afghan soil to advance the narrative that their country is under occupation and to recruit new fighters to their cause. The group has also made the withdrawal of foreign forces a precondition for participating in peace talks. Despite the dangers of staying in the country, however, NATO forces understand that withdrawing troops from Afghanistan would be riskier still. The Taliban would likely take more territory — perhaps eventually claiming enough land to effectively reconquer the country. Though the United States is open to a power-sharing agreement that includes the Taliban in the interest of ending the war, it won't tolerate a government led by the group. After all, the last Taliban administration abetted transnational extremist organizations such as al Qaeda by hosting them on Afghan territory.

Afghanistan's mountainous terrain, meanwhile, defies unified governance and economic development alike, posing additional challenges to the peacemaking effort. The dearth of tax revenues makes it even harder for the central government in Kabul to project power in the country's hinterlands or, for that matter, to adequately fund its military. The country's complex milieu of ethnic groups, meanwhile, adds to the difficulties of governing. The current National Unity Government, for example, rests on a shaky compromise between President Ashraf Ghani, a member of Afghanistan's largest ethnic group, the Pashtun, and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, an ethnic Tajik. The Taliban have skillfully exploited Kabul's limited reach by installing shadow governors in provinces across the country and establishing courts to mete out justice in accordance with Islamic law. Until the central government has addressed its shortcomings, the Taliban will continue to win hearts and minds in Afghanistan as they wage their insurgency.

Friends in High Places

The Taliban, moreover, has a powerful ally on their side — and just across the border. Pakistan has admitted to hosting elements of the Taliban's leadership on its territory and even nurtured the organization during its infancy, helping the group sweep across southern Afghanistan on its way to conquer Kabul in September 1996. Islamabad's long-standing support for the Taliban reflects its own national security interests: Installing a government in Afghanistan that shares some of its priorities would enable Pakistan to guard against potential encirclement by its archrival, India.

Islamabad's strategy derives in part from its experience with the Bengali independence movement of 1971. India intervened in the conflict that ensued to help East Pakistan achieve its independence as Bangladesh. In the process, Pakistan lost a chunk of its territory and half its population. Islamabad is determined to keep the episode from repeating in its restive western territories along the Afghan border, including Balochistan in southwest Pakistan. The province is home to a secessionist movement whose exiled leaders have sought India's assistance in their campaign against Pakistan's government. Cultivating a relationship with the Taliban offers Islamabad a way to keep neighboring Afghanistan from falling into India's orbit by ensuring that it will have a say in the country's post-war future.

Crossing the Line

The Durand Line, the 2,430-kilometer (1,510-mile) border that separates Pakistan and Afghanistan, has historically facilitated this effort. The border, which cuts through the inhospitable terrain of the Hindu Kush mountains, is porous, enabling Islamabad to project influence into Afghanistan through its support for the Taliban. But after 15 years of war on the other side, the boundary's permeability has become more of a liability than a selling point for Pakistan. Militant inflows into the country have aggravated Pakistan's own internal security problems, prompting Islamabad to try to secure the border. As Islamabad clears the way for a merger between its Federally Administered Tribal Areas and neighboring Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, it is even putting up fencing along the Durand Line so that it can devote greater military attention to India.

But effective border management will require Afghanistan's cooperation — something that Pakistan is unlikely to secure. For one thing, the ANSF is already stretched thin in its nationwide fight against the Taliban. For another, by guarding the border, Afghanistan would be recognizing the Durand Line's legitimacy, which it has long contested. Enforcement along the boundary will remain lax, giving militants the continued leeway to launch attacks from the border regions into both countries — and further complicating efforts to end the war.

Beyond the number of soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, a complex set of factors underpins the conflict there. Even if a troop increase alters the stalemate in the Afghan government's favor, the ANSF and the Taliban will keep hammering away at each other until one of them relents. As the Taliban reportedly once put it, the United States has "the watches and we have the time." Trump will have to consider these factors as he decides whether to recommit his country to its longest-running war.
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« Reply #1514 on: July 28, 2017, 05:07:30 AM »

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/28/world/asia/pakistan-prime-minister-nawaz-sharif-removed.html?emc=edit_na_20170728&nl=breaking-news&nlid=49641193&ref=cta&_r=0
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« Reply #1515 on: July 28, 2017, 07:00:07 PM »

This article was written before NS got booted out, amazing nation...YA

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/219584-Not-a-single-PM-completed-five-year-term-in-Pakistan

Not a single PM completed five-year term in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Will history repeat itself? Not a single prime minister in Pakistan has been allowed to complete his tenure since the country’s inception 70 years ago. All eyes are on the Supreme Court which is to announce one of the most important decisions of Pakistan’s history today regarding the fate of democratically-elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. History might repeat itself.

The political situation in Pakistan has had a bumpy ride ever since 1947, as four times democratic governments were thrown away by military dictators, one prime minister was murdered while another was hanged by judiciary, while many were sent home by presidents and one was dismissed by the Supreme Court. Another one awaits a decision of the apex court. However, never in the history of Pakistan, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has sent home a PM under Article 184-3 of the constitution which is the suo moto jurisdiction.

Pakistan’s first prime minister was murdered in Rawalpindi on October 16, 1951. He had assumed the charge of the premier on August 15, 1947. Then the second PM Khawaja Nazimuddin was sent home by Governor General Ghulam Muhammad on April 17, 1953. Nazimuddin knocked the doors of the Supreme Court where Justice Munir had to invent the doctrine of necessity to validate Ghulam Muhammad’s illegal act. Then came Muhammad Ali Bogra who too was dismissed by Ghulam Muhammad in 1954 but later was again appointed as PM but he did not enjoy majority in the Constituent Assembly therefore Governor General Iskender Mirza dismissed his government in 1955. Chaudhary Muhammad Ali succeeded in becoming the PM in 1955 but because of his conflict with Iskender Mirza who had become president as a result of 1956 constitution, Muhammad Ali resigned on September 12, 1956. Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy was the leader of Awami League and led the party through a victory in the 1954 elections for Constituent Assembly. He was the first person from another party than Muslim League to be appointed as a Prime Minister in 1956. He was deposed in 1957, due to differences with Iskander Mirza.

Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar was appointed by Iskander Mirza after the resignation of Suhrawardy. He remained prime minister for almost two months. Chundrigar resigned from the post in December 1957. Then Mirza appointed Feroz Khan Noon as the seventh prime minister of Pakistan. He was dismissed after Martial Law was declared in 1958 by Ayub Khan.

After thirteen years of Martial Law, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto succeeded to power. Bhutto remained President under special arrangement till 1973 Constitution was passed. He resigned as president to become the prime minister of Pakistan after the 1973 Constitution. He went in to elections in 1977 and succeeded but was deposed the same year through coup d'état by General Muhammad Ziaul Haq in July 1977. He was hanged in 1979 by all powerful military-judicial nexus.

In 1985 non-party elections, Muhammad Khan Junejo was elected as PM of Pakistan under the worst dictators of Pakistan. As he was a political breed, he remained a threat to the dictator therefore his government was dismissed on May 29, 1988, just days after Junejo announced to probe the Ojhri Camp incident in Rawalpindi in which military’s weapons depot was exploded killing around 100 people and injuring thousands.

As a result of 1988 general elections, Benazir Bhutto came into power as PM on December 2, 1988. An impeachment move was shot down by PPP in 1989 but President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed Ms Bhutto’s government on August 6, 1990 using the notorious presidential powers of Article 58 (2)b. Mian Nawaz Sharif followed Ms Bhutto and become PM for the first time in 1990. His government was dismissed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1993 but the Supreme Court restored it later. However, the famous Kakar formula came into play when the then Army Chief Waheed Kakar forced both, Mian Nawaz Sharif and Ghulam Ishaq Khan to resign on July 18, 1993.

Ms Benazir Bhutto again became PM of Pakistan in 1993 but her second government also could last three years and his own handpicked loyal president Farooq Laghari conspired against her and dismissed her government in November 1996 using Article 58(2)b. Mian Nawaz Sharif again became PM of Pakistan as a result of February 1997 election but on October 12, 1999, General Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency in the country and threw Nawaz Sharif out of the power.

Then three PMs under the dictator Musharraf served the office, of which Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali could hold the office for 19 months only and was sent home by Musharraf. Chaudhary Shujaat acted as a stopgap arrangement for two months before Musharraf’s friend Shaukat Aziz became PM in August 2004.

As a result of 2008 general elections, PPP succeeded to secure majority in the National Assembly and Yusuf Raza Gilani was elected as the PM. It was all well for Mr Gilani until he was convicted in a contempt of court case in Supreme Court for not writing a letter against the sitting president to the Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases. Gilani remained PM of Pakistan from March 25, 2008 to June 19, 2012. The remaining term of PPP government was completed by Raja Pervaiz Ashraf who held the office from June 2012 to March 2013.

Mian Nawaz Sharif became the PM for the third time in 2013 but as he entered the last year of his tenure, he has been engulfed by Panama Papers case in Supreme Court. The SC will announce an important judgment on Friday (today) which will decide the fate of Nawaz Sharif. Will the history repeat itself and no PM in the past 70 years would be able to complete his tenure? The answer is yet to come. Fingers are crossed.
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« Reply #1516 on: August 02, 2017, 12:27:15 PM »

As the newest administration in Washington hammers out a strategy for the war in Afghanistan, a rift has opened among U.S. policymakers about how to proceed. On one side is the Pentagon, which has proposed sending up to 3,900 troops to the conflict-ridden country. If approved, the move would escalate the United States' involvement in the war, which began over 15 years ago. On the other side of the debate is the White House, where reports have emerged of calls to draw down the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. War fatigue, spurred by an unwillingness to wade deeper into a feud whose resolution eluded the administrations of presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, is clearly setting in.

Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia and Central Asia Alice Wells will lead a delegation to the capitals of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India on Aug. 2 to discuss U.S. President Donald Trump's South Asia strategy. It will be the second American delegation to visit these areas in the past month, after U.S. Sen. John McCain led a congressional delegation to Islamabad and Kabul in early July. Despite expectations that its Afghanistan strategy would be revealed in mid-July, it appears that the Trump administration is still mulling its options.

A troop increase would help the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, which currently number 352,000 troops, break their ongoing stalemate with the resilient Taliban. If deployed, the U.S. forces would support Washington's two ongoing missions in Afghanistan: Operation Resolute Support, which is led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and focuses on training, advising and assisting the Afghan military, and Operation Freedom's Sentinel, a counterterrorism mission targeting al Qaeda and the Islamic State's Khorasan chapter. By contrast, a troop decrease would satisfy U.S. lawmakers eager to pull out of the conflict. But with the Afghan army already straining to keep the Taliban in check on its own, withdrawing U.S. troops without compensating for their removal in some way would tip the scales in the Taliban's favor.

Regardless of which path the Trump administration takes, one thing is clear: The Taliban are winning. The militant organization continues to control or contest up to 40 percent of the territory in Afghanistan — a level of dominance that has spurred the Pentagon's request for more troops in hopes of inflicting enough damage to force the insurgents to lay down their arms and negotiate.

How Did We Get Here?

In December 2014, Obama ordered the end of Operation Enduring Freedom — the mission Bush launched in October 2001 in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks — and with it formal combat operations in Afghanistan. The decision moved the United States, along with its NATO and coalition allies, into a smaller supporting role for the Afghan military, which became responsible for fighting the war. But in the year following the drawdown, the diminished international troop presence had serious consequences on the battlefield. The Taliban conquered 24 district centers in 2015, compared with only four in 2014. Moreover, casualties (defined as deaths and injuries) saw a 37 percent increase in 2015 over 2014 — an uptick that particularly affected civilian women. 2015 was also the year that the Islamic State's Khorasan chapter formed in Afghanistan, injecting a new and destabilizing element of transnational jihadism into the conflict. Finally, September 2015 saw the Taliban briefly overrun Kunduz, marking the first time since 2001 that the group had taken control of a city.

These clear signs of trouble factored into Obama's decision in October 2015 to keep 9,800 troops in the Resolute Support and Freedom's Sentinel operations through January 2017. (This number was later modified to 8,400 troops.) In doing so, the president reneged on his promise to end the war before leaving office, passing the conflict on to his successor instead. So while Trump said little about Afghanistan on the campaign trail, his new administration has been paying attention to the moves of Gen. John Nicholson, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan. And during a congressional testimony in February, Nicholson requested a few thousand more troops, hoping to break the ongoing stalemate.

Washington is now weighing its options to determine whether it will fulfill that request. If it does, most of the U.S. troops deployed would join Operation Resolute Support to train, advise and assist the Afghan military. But they would do so at the brigade level rather than the higher corps level, meaning they would be closer to ground-level operations in Afghanistan. This move takes its cue from the Afghan Special Security Forces, which boast only 12,000 personnel and yet are considered the most effective of Afghanistan's combat forces. (They take advice from NATO down to the tactical level.) Fresh U.S. troops would also help to advance Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's military road map. His four-year plan, which includes strengthening the Afghan air force, calls for nearly doubling the number of Afghan special operations forces and placing them at the center of offensive operations, supported by conventional forces. The new U.S. troops would likely arrive during the summer fighting season that commenced on April 28 under the name Operation Mansouri, named for the slain Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour.
At its highest, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan reached over 100,000.

The Pakistan Problem

The Pentagon's most recent six-month review of the war in Afghanistan revealed that Pakistan is yet another complicating factor in Washington's efforts to make real progress in the conflict. The report cited Nicholson as saying that the sanctuary Pakistan has given to the Taliban and Haqqani network presents the greatest external threat to NATO's counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan. Washington and Kabul have accused Islamabad of playing both sides in the conflict: While Pakistani forces continue to attack militant outposts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas bordering Afghanistan, Islamabad also has a reputation for hosting insurgents. In fact, Pakistan has admitted to harboring Taliban leaders before, and in 1994 the country was instrumental in nurturing the jihadist group during its infancy, supporting its eventual conquest of Kabul in September 1996.

Pakistan's rationale for helping the Taliban highlights its fundamental divergence from the United States on the matter of Afghanistan. Washington, for its part, remains committed to its goal of stabilizing the country so that extremist organizations cannot use it as a base for launching attacks against the United States or its allies. The White House supports an Afghan-led peace process, which would end the war by forging a political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Islamabad, however, views Afghanistan through the prism of its relationship with Pakistan's archrival, India. Islamabad's support for the Taliban rests on the expectation that if the group enters a power-sharing agreement with the Afghan government, it will serve Pakistan's interests by limiting India's presence in the country.

Of course, Pakistan is aware that India could respond by encouraging Pakistani secessionists in the borderland province of Balochistan, which would jeopardize the construction of Islamabad's flagship economic project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. But Islamabad also believes that an Afghan government including the Taliban would naturally prioritize religious motivations and would not be interested in spurring the unification of the ethnic Pashtun regions on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. (In the 1970s, Kabul floated the idea of merging these regions into one state called Pashtunistan, an initiative that would carve a sizable chunk out of Pakistan's western territories.)

Aware of Pakistan's motives in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is pushing a strategy that would pressure Islamabad, by withholding aid and launching more drone strikes in and beyond the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, to take a more serious stance against jihadist sanctuaries. But there are limits to how much the United States can afford to alienate Pakistan, since it cannot resolve the Afghan conflict without Islamabad's help. Indeed, Washington's ultimate goal is to use Islamabad's cooperation to bring Taliban leaders to the table. But Pakistan, whose strategic imperative is to limit India's influence in Afghanistan, will keep supporting the Taliban and frustrating the United States' plans. As a result, an eventual end to the insurgency will largely depend on the Afghan military's ability to rein in the Taliban on its own.

A Murky Future

In the wake of more pressing foreign policy challenges, including North Korea's missile program and the Syrian civil war, the war in Afghanistan has become a lower priority for the United States. Should Washington give in to its war fatigue and pull its troops out of Afghanistan, it's unclear just how big the drawdown would be. Either way, the presence of fewer troops will force the United States to turn to other measures, such as a greater emphasis on special operations forces and drone strikes, to maintain in its missions in Afghanistan. If, on the other hand, the Pentagon succeeds in sending more troops, the increase will still be only modest, suggesting the United States is interested in conflict management rather than conflict resolution. Regardless of the path the Trump administration chooses, none seem designed to successfully end the war as it rapidly approaches its 16th year.
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« Reply #1517 on: August 05, 2017, 12:58:05 PM »

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/05/world/asia/iran-afghanistan-taliban.html?emc=edit_ta_20170805&nl=top-stories&nlid=49641193&ref=cta&_r=0
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