Foreign Policy Blogs


It's gotten to the point that Afghanistan is no longer "the other war," but is starting to claim more of the spotlight from Iraq with each day. Consider these developments:

In the months of May and June, more Americans died in Afghanistan than died in Iraq.

On June 13th, the Taliban successfully staged a well-planned out jailbreak of 400 of their kind from an Afghan prison in Kandahar.

Two Black Hawk helicopters have crashed in the last week, one by enemy fire and one apparently from mechanical failure.

Two US air attacks in the last few days that have allegedly killed many Afghan civilians.

The very fact that the US is conducting air attacks in a people's war is indicative of just how poorly the campaign in Afghanistan has been run.

Bush will launch a troop surge into Afghanistan by the end of the year.

Yesterday, a suicide carbomber hit the Indian embassy in Kabul, killing 41 and wounding 139.

And this is only the mayhem that is getting reported.

For seven years, CENTCOM has been able to keep Afghanistan at a simmer using only 8,000 troops so the rest of the Army and Marines could occupy Iraq. However, all they have been able to do with such few troops is try to contain the Pashtuns in the south. They have not been able to degrade the Taliban's numbers significantly and now we are seeing a resurgence as the Taliban conduct bolder operations and exact more casualties from the coalition than ever before. Although, the US presence has been greatly increased to about 32,000 troops, this slow buildup has not been able to make a major difference.   

From CENTCOM's point of view, the Afghanistan surge is necessary to keep up with the escalating tempo of operations that the Taliban are initiating. However, the surge will only bring us back to the simmer point and not actually make any inroads to changing the situation. For that, we need to either send in massive amounts of troops or to get completely out of the country.