# Afghanistan OEF. Why wait to leave?

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Stein, the general overseeing the Afghanistan drawdown, headed the same process in Iraq, which turned out to be a far easier mission. For starters, the U.S. military had a relatively well-
organized system in place to hand over bases and equipment to the Iraqi government 21/2 years before American troops pulled out entirely. Security was more permissive. And, crucially, the U.S. military could use its large bases in next-door Kuwait as a staging ground for items driven out of Iraq.
So I was right about Iraq being easier?

Not "have to". No, the fact that Pakistan closed the border for a moment does not mean no equipment goes through Pakistan or across the northern border. No, a border road restriction on weapons does not mean no heavy lift (fuel, generators, bulldozers) goes over border roads. I've provided sources. If you have some to the contrary, please provide them.

Once again, I've already said that equipment has gone through Pakistan. I've stated NO WEAPON SYSTEMS OR SENSITIVE items have gone through Pakistan. We're talking M777A2, M109, 120MM, 81MM, 60mm, the massive amount of ammo storage that is attached to each system. I was hoping that my use of equipment could be used loosely since I've already stated that equipment has driven from Pakistan already.

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I'll start from the bottom. US troops risk their life because the guy next to them is doing it. Security of the nation, or operational mission has very little to do with it. ...

Agreed. I think it has always been that way. The topic of this thread however is why US leadership, and its people, should agree to keep a large force in Afghanistan through 2014 where, if the trend holds, a couple more hundred US troops will be maimed or die.

Agreed. I think it has always been that way. The topic of this thread however is why US leadership, and its people, should agree to keep a large force in Afghanistan through 2014 where, if the trend holds, a couple more hundred US troops will be maimed or die.

Because you really only have two choices. Take your time and do it right or JDAM the entire place and risk more lives by rushing the process.

*Just for the record, I'm personally in favor of JDAMing the entire place. I said that the last time I was there. In fact, if it was up to me, I'm pretty sure the village my COP was located next to would no longer exist. However, it isn't, so might as well get it done right then blow and bail.

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So I was right about Iraq being easier?
Yes no doubt Iraq was easier to supply.

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All along Mr Obama, together with his general staff, has been planning on keeping a residual force (15,000-25,000?) in Afghanistan after 2014. Now, due to his frustration with negotiating with Mr Karzai and the Taliban, he is proposing to move out completely by 2014. There is no question of moving out earlier than that. Unfortunately, soldiers are a blunt instrument of foreign policy, and they are expended when that policy is war.

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All along Mr Obama, together with his general staff, has been planning on keeping a residual force (15,000-25,000?) in Afghanistan after 2014. ...
I was unaware of residual number ever being released of that size. Do you have a source?

There is no question of moving out earlier than that.
Why not? To what policy advantage?

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I was unaware of residual number ever being released of that size. Do you have a source?

Why not? To what policy advantage?

No numbers for a putative residual force have been officially specified simply because they were under negotiation. Such numbers as I have ventured have been bandied about in the antiwar press. Their purpose would ostensibly be training Afghan government forces and chasing Taliban. Unspoken is the fact they would serve to stiffen Karzai's government should it come under duress.

Now negotiations are sputtering, it may suit policy to talk about a more rapid pullout. This would pressurize Karzai to be more compliant vis-a-vis the currently intractable Taliban negotiations. I would reiterate that we are now at about 60,000 and on a glidepath to depart next year. The tentpole would be the thousands of tons of equipment and armored vehicles requiring road transport. The roads both north and south are fraught with danger, and could easily worsen. We need the appearance of a graceful, unharried exit.

I think those numbers often quoted are people doing some dirty guesses. You first start assuming a combat brigade or a special forces group will rotate into Afghanistan to continue selected targeting in that region. With any element station you need a support element. Support element will need to have everything range from fuelers to mechanics to finance personnel to legal. You need a detachment of EOD, along with a combat aviation brigade (or maybe just a battalion.) The numbers to maintain a presence adds up pretty quickly.

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... We need the appearance of a graceful, unharried exit.
Why??! Why do you believe the US needs the appearance of an exit that will cost the lives of another several hundred US troops, more in numbers of wounded.

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Why??! Why do you believe the US needs the appearance of an exit that will cost the lives of another several hundred US troops, more in numbers of wounded.

Not only is the appearance of a graceful, unharried exit desirable, its actuality is critical to avoiding more casualties. Obviously, an army in retreat is extremely vulnerable. It would be a catastrophic disaster to have to fight our way out over roads mined with IED's and an ambush around every corner. To secure this peaceful exit is a goal of our negotiations with the Taliban.

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Not only is the appearance of a graceful, unharried exit desirable, its actuality is critical to avoiding more casualties. Obviously, an army in retreat is extremely vulnerable.

The US forces are not now "retreating" from ongoing contact combat in Afghanistan as in WWII or Korea, nor would they be in the next few months.

I don't see how five-six months qualifies as a particularly fast exit for 60,000 troops who have known for some time they are on the way out. If need be, the US has the air lift capacity to fly all troops and most equipment out, though I don't think there is such a need. Meanwhile troops remain in harms way.

It would be a catastrophic disaster to have to fight our way out over roads mined with IED's and an ambush around every corner. To secure this peaceful exit is a goal of our negotiations with the Taliban.

The United States is negotiating with the Taliban so that US troops can leave without threat? Is this more banter from the anti-war blogs? If there is indeed a coherent reason in writing from the US government for staying through 2014 I would like to see it.

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Coalition troops, who typically follow the US lead on withdrawal, also remain in harms way in Afghanistan.

A man wearing an Afghan National Security Force uniform opened fire on international soldiers at Kandahar Airfield Tuesday, killing one and wounding at least seven, a senior defense official said.

July 19 said:
Four US-led Polish soldiers have been killed and two others wounded in an attack in Afghanistan's central-eastern province of Ghazni, security sources say.

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IMO, the US should get the hell out of there. The Russians figured (too late, IMO) that their occupation was too costly, and now the war-mongers in the US are making bucks off this while young troops die. We cannot afford endless wars.

Coalition troops, who typically follow the US lead on withdrawal, also remain in harms way in Afghanistan.

Not really related to anything, but I never understood why people get upset with soldiers or military personnel or for that matter DoD personnel are in harms way. It's essentially what a military personnel signs up to do. Troops go into dangerous situations, it's pretty much their job.

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...Troops go into dangerous situations, it's pretty much their job.

Yes, but the US does not have armed forces simply to "go into dangerous situations" for no good reason. The authority to create and fund a military was included in the constitution to protect the security of the US. So seeing some US troops get shot up someplace in the news should not be met only with "well, that's their job", but also a recognition of why they were sent there, or remain there. Otherwise they're on a road to becoming mercenaries.

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“The United States will have been at war in Afghanistan for over a dozen years. With over 2,230 Americans dead, another 17,000 wounded and close to $700 Billion dollars of U. S. taxpayers money spent. Joseph Dunford, a U.S. general nominated to oversee the drawdown of American troops next year, acknowledges that the war has not met its primary objective: rooting out al-Qaida and the militants who give sanctuary to terrorists.” http://www.voanews.com/content/is-zero-really-an-option-for-us-in-afghanistan/1705498.html Here are some facts from Wikipedia: • Tens of thousands of s Afghan soldiers and civilians have lost their lives in the war; many more displaced as refugees. • Drug trade: UN findings say an opium market worth$65 Billion dollars funds global terrorism, caters to 15 million addicts, and kills 100,000 people every year.
• Public education, some improvements (see article below)
• War crimes by Taliban, Northern Alliance, and U.S. massacres of civilians, bombings of civilian targets, terrorism, use of torture and the murder of prisoners of war. Additional common crimes include theft, arson, and the destruction of property.
• Human rights abuses have been committed by all sides, according to UN Human Rights Watch.
• Costs: The projected total cost relating to Afghanistan from inception to the fiscal year 2011 is expected to be $468 Billion dollars. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghanistan_war “The Afghan Police Project has been a multi-billion-dollar exercise in disaster. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reported US taxpayers have spent$9 Billion dollars on a program that barely functions. Police are illiterate, are paid around $16 per month and demand bribes from citizens, often use drugs, and typically accept bribes, while their American instructors are paid six-figure salaries. According to SIGAR audits last year, billions of dollars have gone to hospitals and schools that were paid for, but never built, chiefly because the area was considered too vulnerable to Taliban guerrilla attacks. In a hearing last year, Congress disclosed that$22.4 Billion dollars in US taxpayer's money had disappeared from Afghan projects and was still unaccounted for.”
http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/15264-afghanistan-a-dark-and-fragile-future

So much for thanks:

“As the U.S. accelerates its exit from a decade-long $100 billion reconstruction effort in Afghanistan, American generosity is getting an unwelcome penalty in the form of taxes and fees imposed by President Hamid Karzai’s government on U.S. contractors supporting the rebuilding effort. Everything from exiting military equipment and food for troops to new federal contract dollars are facing levies, customs fees and fines — a wave of taxation estimated to slice$1 billion or more off the top of aid that was supposed to go to the Afghan people. Instead, it’s going into the coffers of the Karzai government”

“One of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's main religious advisers will not overturn a decree issued by clerics in the north reimposing Taliban-style curbs on women, in another sign of returning conservatism as NATO forces leave the country. Just days after the United States launched a \$200 million programme to boost the role of women in Afghanistan, a senior member of the country's top religious leaders' panel said he would not intervene over a draconian edict issued by clerics in the Deh Salah region of Baghlan province.”

While they have destroyed most of the Al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan, the US and its allies still have not won their war against the Taliban insurgency. We have failed to reach our stated objectives. When the Americans and its allies finally leave I expect that Afghanistan will convulse with tribal infighting, retribution killings, and chaos. The Taliban will, of course, return to power. Afghanistan will become one more failed state in many of the same ways Iraq has.

In my opinion all U.S. personnel should leave Afghanistan now. Any war material not yet removed should be destroyed in place. Already the costs in deaths and injuries on all sides are massive. Any further delay will only increase both and only delay the inevitable.

Yes, but the US does not have armed forces simply to "go into dangerous situations" for no good reason. The authority to create and fund a military was included in the constitution to protect the security of the US. So seeing some US troops get shot up someplace in the news should not be met only with "well, that's their job", but also a recognition of why they were sent there, or remain there. Otherwise they're on a road to becoming mercenaries.

Well, i'll be the last person in the world to not appreciate he sacrifice every fallen soldier makes; however, it is there job to be in harms way. We all volunteered for it at one point in our life for better or for worse. While, I whole agree completely that people should think extremely deeply before we send troops to a combat zone. Once we are there, the decision has been made, now it's time to do something. I was a big fan of delivering water to remote villages. Anyway, don't mind me this isn't extremely relevant to this line of discussion, just something I personally find odd.

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Once we are there, the decision has been made, now it's time to do something

The time to start doing something was back in 2001. Quite a lot has indeed been done since then, with regards to US security - AQ in Afghanistan wiped out, Taliban out of power, with an alternative if smelly government in place. When the mission is over (if it is) then its over. Time to leave. Now.

I don't feel like going around in circles again. In a magical world of unicorns and snow elves, leaving now would be possible. However, in our world, where things don't move when we aren't looking, this isn't exactly feasible. Let the process work, the withdraw is currently taking place right now. I personally feel that it would be much more beneficial to take ones time in this process than rushing to fulfill the whim of one person here, no matter how good the intent the person may have. Anyway, I already understand why you want it to occur now, however, I don't understand how you actually intend for that to happen if you wish is suddenly granted. Can you please describe in detail how a withdraw within whatever timeline you wish can be done safely with current resources and partnerships?

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I don't feel like going around in circles again. In a magical world of unicorns and snow elves, leaving now would be possible. However, in our world, where things don't move when we aren't looking, this isn't exactly feasible.
Yes, so you keep asserting, so far with no evidence, not one reference.

... fulfill the whim of one person here, no matter how good the intent the person may have.

One person? What are you talking about? Do you imagine you speak for everyone else?
http://www.gallup.com/poll/153260/half-say-speed-afghanistan-withdrawal.aspx

Can you please describe in detail how a withdraw within whatever timeline you wish can be done safely with current resources and partnerships?
As you say, we've already been there. I'm not an S4, nor need one be the S4 to note the much heavier brigades in Iraq came out fast enough to empty Afghanistan by 2014. Fly everything out if Bagram, though that's not necessary with the overland exits.

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I provided my arguments, which every article you have posted backs up. I'm not exactly sure what more information you could possibly want. You're the one that seems to think that it is physical possibly to move every unit out within an unspecific time line (less than a year I guess) but fail to explain how this would be possible in your world view. Not only that, but you bring up Iraq as an example but completely neglect the different geography between the two countries and the current established methods of transportation of equipment. We've been through this before. You cannot move personnel out of Afghanistan by land in the same way as you did for Iraq, what about this do you not understand? Therefore comparing military movements in Iraq is completely irrelevant!

Lastly, if you're going to use military jargon, please use the appropriate level of jargon. A movement of a theater level operation is a G-4 or in this case a CTF-J4 operation, so even if you were an S4 it's mute.

P.s. your last article says NOTHING about MRAP going into Afghanistan by land. In fact, it spells out the challenges of moving it by Air and Sea. I imagine that 'by land' part was an outdated reference to Iraq since at that time operation New Dawn was still in effect.

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Damn it.

USNews said:
Two targeted roadside bomb explosions left three Air Force troopers wounded this weekend, ...

And a dear friend of mine was killed July 23rd by an IED. Let's not use deaths(injuries) of people you do not know to provoke some emotional argument.

"Saturday night's attack was a complete and total failure," he added. That patrol insisted on completing its mission.

Because they are damn professionals.

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...

P.s. your last article says NOTHING about MRAP going into Afghanistan by land. ...
That is an MRAP shown disembarking an Army Roll-on/Roll-off "at the seaport of Karachi."

Says nothing about it being flown or driven through.

Edit: Assuming that it is driven through, you weren't only solved one issue. Doubtful Pakistan will allow a staging area for US military to prepare for these vehicles to be moved back to the states. Unless your awesome plan is to drive non-stop from xxx fob to the ship with no staging area...

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Says nothing about it being flown or driven through...

US armored vehicles unloaded in the seaport of Karachi, Pakistan? Please, enough, you are derailing the this thread with tedious pedantry and sarcasm, all without references. Why not use your personal experiences to point out relevant public references that all can share.

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And a dear friend of mine was killed July 23rd by an IED.
I'm am sorry for your loss.

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...You cannot move personnel out of Afghanistan by land in the same way as you did for Iraq, what about this do you not understand? Therefore comparing military movements in Iraq is completely irrelevant!

Another straw man. Please, I've agreed they (Afghanistan and Iraq) are not the same. They have similarities in that both theaters have moved equipment in/out over land. While Iraq has had much more capable land access, it also had far, far more heavy equipment. The two situations are not the same, but they are relevant.

Another straw man. Please, I've agreed they (Afghanistan and Iraq) are not the same. They have similarities in that both theaters have moved equipment in/out over land. While Iraq has had much more capable land access, it also had far, far more heavy equipment. The two situations are not the same, but they are relevant.

That's like saying, traveling to California from Texas is the same as traveling from Texas to Mexico. You're both traveling, presumably driving, and probably taking clothes with it. Heck, because California is further, you end up taking more clothes, therefore you should be able to plan the trip the same. Of course not, you have to take initial steps, like gather a passport, maybe learn the language, and the general preparedness that comes with traveling to a different country.

Yes, Iraq had more tanks to move out, and had the ability to move it out. However, in every source you posted, the generals and leaders involved have argued that Afghanistan is a much more difficult problem. You seem to think that it is possible to move the same amount of material in Afghanistan as we did in Iraq. I don't disagree in principle that this is possible. However, I disagree vehemently that it can be done as smoothly and as safely as it was done in Iraq. You have failed to shown that Afghanistan has the ability to complete it's mission of retrograde in the timeline you wish in a safe and efficient matter.

If your goal is to save lives, then allow the timeline to go on as it is. A rush job only leaves to more needless destruction and stress on the troops.