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So I read this the other day: The U.S. was supposed to leave Afghanistan by 2017. Now it might take decades. and since the forum has been active on Afghanistan related subjects, namely AFPAK Hands, and the basically universal consensus that it is a waste of time, I wanted to start a discussion on whether or not it is time to leave and if so how? Leaving gets misinterpreted with defeat in battle, not so. Leaving means the completion of our military training mission, determination that our rebuilding & stabilization mission has run its course and that it is time to redeploy our forces & people to the northern part of the country, former Northern Alliance territory, stabilize and monitor the situation there on a short term mission to withdraw completely in a maximum of 3 years. So collapse of the Afghan National / Central government is expected on withdrawal but what about an agreement with Provincial governments as Afghanistan and its culture are much more tribally / regionally focused? They're support and use as an intermediary to deal with regional Taliban commanders could allow for a withdrawal without a chaotic collapse of the nation as it is now, basically assist it in reverting to what it usually was, mostly autonomous agrarian based tribally divided regions, at varying degrees of conflict with each other via local warlords feuding. Buy them off individually as provinces with a medium term promise of aid for stability (probably 5 years) and slowly / smoothly leave. Get Pakistan on board with carrots to assist, sanctions partially lifted, financial aid, etc... keep the money flowing to them for a few years. I would rather see a clear cut victory but there is not likely one, they have no assailable COG as we think of it, like a hydra there leadership cadre regrows eventually with every surgical strike, no conventional enemy military to destroy, no critical supporting infrastructure to destroy and they cede territory for the most part to return as we can not occupy large swaths of the country (rural) or LOCs for indefinite periods. In lieu of victory as we usually envision it, I see leaving in a planned manner, publicly stated and executed in clear steps as the least bad COA. I spent a fair bit of time over there a few years ago, it pains me to say it but it is time to call it complete knowing what is likely to happen and let the chips fall where they may. So how do we do this?