Jump to content
Baseops Forums

Recommended Posts

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?

Edited by Clark Griswold
minor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

but it is time to call it complete knowing what is likely to happen and let the chips fall where they may.  

Yes.

Tell the tribal/warlord/Taliban, etc., "We are outta here.  F' all the goats you want here, but do anything to help those who want to do harm to the U.S. and we will rain MOABs down until you can't see straight.

Or a few nukes.  Which I advocated for immediately post-9/11.  al-Qaida conducted an attack that had strategic affects on us due to our advanced infrastructure.  I was/am all for doing the same to them but since they don't really have the infrastructure, a few mushroom clouds oughta give 'em something to ponder.  As it would for several others around the globe.

But, we tried to do it on the cheap under Dubya initially, then just let it spiral out of our control.

UFB.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just let the CIA put an authoritarian leader in charge, they don't need a damn "democracy" this political bullshit has cost to many lives and driven up or national debt for no reason.  This is the only way to have stability.  

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are slow learners compared to the USSR.

- 5 Years 3 months into the Soviet - Afghan War; When Mikhail Gorbachev became Soviet leader in March 1985 he called Afghanistan “our bleeding wound.” He declared that ending the war was his top priority.

- 6 Years 4 months into the Soviet - Afghan War;  Mr. Gorbachev complained in the spring of 1986, according to Politburo minutes. “We have been fighting there for six years. If we don’t start changing our approach we’ll be there another 20 or 30 years.

- 9 years, 1 month, 3 weeks and 1 day into the Soviet - Afghan War; By February 15, 1989 the Soviets had completely withdrawn from Afghanistan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/4/2017 at 10:21 PM, Clark Griswold said:

 I wanted to start a discussion on whether or not it is time to leave...

..collapse of the Afghan National / Central government is expected on withdrawal..

So how do we do this?

Gris,

Here are my thoughts after a few years focusing on the region, I'll try to keep them brief and use them as a platform for forum discussion.

The only politically palatable reason we're still in Afghanistan is terrorism.  It's the only issue that resonates with American voters, many whom believe Afghanistan is a hostile nation.  This is why every American politician from McCain to Nicholson (4 stars are politicians) hammers this issue in their public statements.

The unspoken reasons we're still in Afghanistan are resource competition, national prestige, alliance concerns, and using the country as a beachhead in a rising South Asia.  All these factors are political nonstarters - try telling your constituents PFC Snuffy got shot in the face training Afghans because we really want leverage in the region twenty years from now.

We will not abandon the National Unity Government.  It is a textbook proxy/puppet.  Ghani was an American citizen.  His wife is American.  His daughter is a Brooklyn-based hipster artist.  If we hang him out to dry, we risk losing the ability to replicate the proxy model in the future.  I've mentioned this in past posts, but we are fully joined at the hip with the NUG.  Our BSA and long term strategic relationship with Afghanistan cemented this policy.  I agree with all your comments about tribalism as being the natural fit.  Our approach makes no sense, but we committed $1T to the effort, and no one wants to admit we're crazy.

I have no problem killing extremist groups in Afghanistan ad infinium, we just don't have the technology to do it effectively yet.  The platform needs to be based outside Afghanistan, some sort of persistent surveillance/strike platform with a month-long sortie duration that doesn't need to be landed in Pakistan, Afghanistan, any of the Russian satellites, etc.

If I were king, I'd advocate for the Biden CT model.  My contrarian perspective is that Kabul can survive on funding alone.  Draw down US forces to 2K CT soldiers at BAF, then just throw cash at Kabul to keep them semifunctioning.  In many ways, this is already the plan. US taxpayers pay the salaries of the entire Afghan National Army, and they won't be Afghan sustainable at anytime in the next two decades. We do this with Egypt, Pakistan, etc.  Everyone will say "the Taliban will take Kabul", but I point towards the fact that Najibullah lasted three years after the Soviet troop withdrawal.  It was only after the Soviets stopped the cash flow that his government collapsed and he lost power (as in, hung from a light pole and having his nuts cut off).

Edited by astan777
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, astan777 said:

Gris,

Here are my thoughts after a few years focusing on the region, I'll try to keep them brief and use them as a platform for forum discussion.

The only politically palatable reason we're still in Afghanistan is terrorism.  It's the only issue that resonates with American voters, many whom believe Afghanistan is a hostile nation.  This is why every American politician from McCain to Nicholson (4 stars are politicians) hammers this issue in their public statements.

The unspoken reasons we're still in Afghanistan are resource competition, national prestige, alliance concerns, and using the country as a beachhead in a rising South Asia.  All these factors are political nonstarters - try telling your constituents PFC Snuffy got shot in the face training Afghans because we really want leverage in the region twenty years from now.

We will not abandon the National Unity Government.  It is a textbook proxy/puppet.  Ghani was an American citizen.  His wife is American.  His daughter is a Brooklyn-based hipster artist.  If we hang him out to dry, we risk losing the ability to replicate the proxy model in the future.  I've mentioned this in past posts, but we are fully joined at the hip with the NUG.  Our BSA and long term strategic relationship with Afghanistan cemented this policy.  I agree with all your comments about tribalism as being the natural fit.  Our approach makes no sense, but we committed $1T to the effort, and no one wants to admit we're crazy.

I have no problem killing extremist groups in Afghanistan ad infinium, we just don't have the technology to do it effectively yet.  The platform needs to be based outside Afghanistan, some sort of persistent surveillance/strike platform with a month-long sortie duration that doesn't need to be landed in Pakistan, Afghanistan, any of the Russian satellites, etc.

If I were king, I'd advocate for the Biden CT model.  My contrarian perspective is that Kabul can survive on funding alone.  Draw down US forces to 2K CT soldiers at BAF, then just throw cash at Kabul to keep them semifunctioning.  In many ways, this is already the plan. US taxpayers pay the salaries of the entire Afghan National Army, and they won't be Afghan sustainable at anytime in the next two decades. We do this with Egypt, Pakistan, etc.  Everyone will say "the Taliban will take Kabul", but I point towards the fact that Najibullah lasted three years after the Soviet troop withdrawal.  It was only after the Soviets stopped the cash flow that his government collapsed and he lost power (as in, hung from a light pole and having his nuts cut off).

Excellent post - discussing the points you made:

Terrorism - possibly a primary reason for staying in Afghanistan but I think a minor one.  I have no doubt the Taliban if they returned to power would allow some VEOs to operate there (besides themselves) but I think they would likely only allow VEOs that were regional actors.  Last time they allowed International VEOs to operate there they got invaded by the US & NATO, occupied for 10+ years and generally had a bad time.  My opinion they would be massive a-holes yet again when in power as they were and are now but would likely keep themselves from becoming targets of direct military action again.

Strategic reasons you listed - concur but I would ask us to question the cost to benefit of direct military and expensive financial support to the NUG.  China and Iran will get to the rare earth metals that are mineable in Afghanistan before we will be able to as they can merely walk there if they wanted to.  Their geographic presence alone makes a supported friendly proxy that is a puppet that we will use in opposition or as foil to their regional plans unrealistic IMO.  If Afghanistan were intrinsically stronger and by custom unified, then maybe but as they are weak by nation-state standards, they will be sucesptible to regional influence more easily than our support that we are willing to commit to can overcome.  They will make deals with regional powers regardless if we disapprove of them or not, we are half-way around the world and don't want to be there any longer, they're neighbors are right there, they are not going away and they will be who they trade and work with on a broader scale than us.

We made a mistake, spend an a$$ load of money and don't want to admit we were wrong - concur.  That said, it doesn't mean we want just say to hell with it.  There are only so many more billions Congress is willing to appropriate, no one wants to see that final Saigon moment when the end happens and the helicopters with the last of our folks are getting the hell out of there so let's acknowledge that is not what we want but some return of the Taliban is inevitable as we are not willing to pour another 500+ billion over 10-15 years to keep the inevitable from happening.  500+ billion can do shit load of good here, can it really do a shit load of good in Afghanistan?  If CG were running for office and my opponent were a stay the course politician, I would pummel them with that sophistry mercilessly, surprised it has not been made in national elections as of yet.  We have to acknowledge we are spending a shit ton of money to not support and defend the people of Afghanistan but the elites of Afghanistan we find less offensive than the Taliban, is it really worth it to keep them in power?

Funding can keep the NUG in power / functioning for some period of time after we withdraw all or most of our forces - concur.  So let's act on that fact and start to move towards the door of this party we want to leave while still chatting with the attendees. Relocate the mission slowly to Mazar e Sharif as the north is less Pashtun and hence less Taliban, fund as required the NUG, bribe as required local warlords / criminals to keep the Taliban busy, directly fund provincial governments to keep the shit to shoe level in there provinces and keep the NUG from stealing all the money and then at an appropriate time, probably in the winter as the fighting will be less then, pull the plug, cross the Friendship Bridge like the Red Army did in 89 and call it good.

There will inevitably be some loss of national prestige (temporarily) and political clout/influence in Central Asia for a time but if you carefully and smoothly step back, you will not be or look like you got chased out with your tail between your legs rather you did your part, the NUG just could not pull it together and they failed.  

Charlie Wilson was right, we did amazing things and then we fucked up the end game, was true in the 80s and true now, the task is how to minimize the long term negative consequences of poor previous choices not continue making them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Astan777 touched on a good point. Afghanistan provides basing options in area of the world that we used to have limited access to. Being next door to Kashmir, China, Iran and a load of former Soviet republics has some strategic advantages. Maybe not worth the blood and treasure it consumes, however.

I remember the report about 5 years ago saying there was ~$1
T in minerals worth mining in country. Why haven't we tried investing in mining and the requisite infrastructure (roads, electricity, railroads, etc)? It seems like the US could've provided a hell of an economic incentive to build, educate, and provide a more legitimate basis for the economy.


Sent from my iPhone using Baseops Network Forums

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, MechGov said:

Astan777 touched on a good point. Afghanistan provides basing options in area of the world that we used to have limited access to. Being next door to Kashmir, China, Iran and a load of former Soviet republics has some strategic advantages. Maybe not worth the blood and treasure it consumes, however.

I remember the report about 5 years ago saying there was ~$1
T in minerals worth mining in country. Why haven't we tried investing in mining and the requisite infrastructure (roads, electricity, railroads, etc)? It seems like the US could've provided a hell of an economic incentive to build, educate, and provide a more legitimate basis for the economy.


Sent from my iPhone using Baseops Network Forums

You mean like how China has been trying to mine there since 2008?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, MechGov said:

I remember the report about 5 years ago saying there was ~$1T in minerals worth mining in country. Why haven't we tried investing in mining and the requisite infrastructure (roads, electricity, railroads, etc)? It seems like the US could've provided a hell of an economic incentive to build, educate, and provide a more legitimate basis for the economy.

 

14 hours ago, Sprkt69 said:

China

For many US policy makers, the value of natural resources alone are worth less than the perceived value of controlling or influencing the terrain it lies underneath.  Our involvement in Syria and Afghanistan is at least partially reflective of this logic.  We don't really care about $1T worth of lithium in of itself, but we do want to make sure the Afghan government is forever amiable to our interests and can squeeze markets and control economic access when we demand it.  The US believes having a (theoretically) stable and US-dependent Afghanistan in South Asia is worth more than purely mineral rights.

Here is how we compare to the Chinese regarding resource competition:  We offer security assistance packages and a pathway toward greater legitimacy in the international arena in exchange for durable partnerships with god-forsaken third world countries.  The Chinese offer immediate cash infusions and capital investment, but not a whole lot more.  Textbook example is all the activity going on in Africa. China is there bigtime, we're just starting to show up.  If you think 365s to Afghanistan are bad, wait until we start sending tens of thousands of troops to obscure corners of Africa (take a look at current AFRICOM requirements, then map the trend data over a five year period).  I expect 10K plus US troops in Africa by the mid-2020s.

Edited by astan777

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You mean like how China has been trying to mine there since 2008?


In a sense, yes. This isn't really about us trying to take the resources (a la "we should've taken the oil"), but a chance to build a large industry that requires significant infrastructure investment. An investment that could have been made by some corporate/government combo and could do quite a bit of nation building that required something to show for the effort.


Sent from my iPhone using Baseops Network Forums
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone on here really think we should continue to stay in Afganistan?  Have we learned anything from the past 15 years?

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Keep minimal assets to sustain the CT mission (there is merit there), everyone else GTFO and immediately stop this nation building/FID bullshit. Whatever strategic reasons there are, they aren't worth the last 16 years and they won't be worth the next 16 years. 

 

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/6/2017 at 0:22 AM, Clark Griswold said:

We made a mistake, spend an a$$ load of money and don't want to admit we were wrong - concur.  That said, it doesn't mean we want just say to hell with it.  There are only so many more billions Congress is willing to appropriate, no one wants to see that final Saigon moment when the end happens and the helicopters with the last of our folks are getting the hell out of there so let's acknowledge that is not what we want but some return of the Taliban is inevitable as we are not willing to pour another 500+ billion over 10-15 years to keep the inevitable from happening.  500+ billion can do shit load of good here, can it really do a shit load of good in Afghanistan?  If CG were running for office and my opponent were a stay the course politician, I would pummel them with that sophistry mercilessly, surprised it has not been made in national elections as of yet.  We have to acknowledge we are spending a shit ton of money to not support and defend the people of Afghanistan but the elites of Afghanistan we find less offensive than the Taliban, is it really worth it to keep them in power?

I bet you a bottle of Jeremiah Weed we're still in Afghanistan 15 years from now, unless the NUG suffers a violent collapse.  We'll do everything possible to keep that from happening.  Wild card:  Our new policy and mini-surge strategy works, the Taliban negotiate, and Afghanistan becomes stable.  Then we withdraw.

The thing is, Congress doesn't give a f*&k about our mission in Afghanistan.  $500B is nothing over 10-15 years, Congress will be glad to spend it. Politicians like Senator Chris Murphy are more interested in pumping money into their district at the expense of US soldiers who have to train the Afghans on the equipment (UH-60 contract) their district builds.  We keep the war low-key enough that your average American doesn't feel too guilty about some youngster from fly-over country getting blown-up in Helmand/Kunduz/Kabul.

Edited by astan777

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎5‎/‎5‎/‎2017 at 11:22 PM, Clark Griswold said:

  

Charlie Wilson was right, we did amazing things and then we ed up the end game, was true in the 80s and true now, the task is how to minimize the long term negative consequences of poor previous choices not continue making them.

Absolutely right. But you can find a much more recent example. Think Iraq.

 

On ‎5‎/‎5‎/‎2017 at 9:28 PM, astan777 said:

 

I have no problem killing extremist groups in Afghanistan ad infinium, we just don't have the technology to do it effectively yet.  The platform needs to be based outside Afghanistan, some sort of persistent surveillance/strike platform with a month-long sortie duration that doesn't need to be landed in Pakistan, Afghanistan, any of the Russian satellites, etc.

 

This...Persistent surveillance/strike. As much as can be mustered overhead. Maybe the tech isn't to where we like it yet but what is state of the art now will sure as hell will give them something to think about. Wouldn't be many public executions by the Taliban on the Kabul soccer field when the executioner will likely get a Hellfire on his head when it's all over. Swift justice from above. About as biblical as it gets. While we're at it paint "To Protect and Serve" on the side

Edited by fire4effect
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I bet you a bottle of Jeremiah Weed we're still in Afghanistan 15 years from now, unless the NUG suffers a violent collapse.  We'll do everything possible to keep that from happening.  Wild card:  Our new policy and mini-surge strategy works, the Taliban negotiate, and Afghanistan becomes stable.  Then we withdraw.
The thing is, Congress doesn't give a f*&k about our mission in Afghanistan.  $500B is nothing over 10-15 years, Congress will be glad to spend it. Politicians like Senator Chris Murphy are more interested in pumping money into their district at the expense of US soldiers who have to train the Afghans on the equipment (UH-60 contract) their district builds.  We keep the war low-key enough that your average American doesn't feel too guilty about some youngster from fly-over country getting blown-up in Helmand/Kunduz/Kabul.


15 years - even by our recent reluctance to admit mistakes and change course that would be epic

My guess is another 5 and when/if we cross the 20 year mark without a viable partner in the NUG - we'll call Knock It Off and RTB


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This...Persistent surveillance/strike. As much as can be mustered overhead. Maybe the tech isn't to where we like it yet but what is state of the art now will sure as hell will give them something to think about. Wouldn't be many public executions by the Taliban on the Kabul soccer field when the executioner will likely get a Hellfire on his head when it's all over. Swift justice from above. About as biblical as it gets.

Concur - I think we could have finished that op and many other fight stabilize missions by not expecting too much from the host nation - SK is a good example of how to save an ally stabilize then modernize them to self sustaining - it just takes decades, patience and not expecting a lot at first


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, brabus said:

Keep minimal assets to sustain the CT mission (there is merit there), everyone else GTFO and immediately stop this nation building/FID bullshit. Whatever strategic reasons there are, they aren't worth the last 16 years and they won't be worth the next 16 years. 

 

100% agree.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How to leave Afghanistan?

As quickly as possible. :mosh:

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/7/2017 at 2:48 PM, astan777 said:

I bet you a bottle of Jeremiah Weed we're still in Afghanistan 15 years from now, unless the NUG suffers a violent collapse. 

So what's the bet exactly?  Because I'll bet a 20YO bottle of scotch the US is NOT fighting in AFG 15 years from now.  "Still in" lacks depth of meaning, we have embassies all over the world, on purpose, so we might very well still be in AFG from that perspective.  But we aren't fighting there anymore, and if we are I will mail you a bottle of Scotland's finest.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, tac airlifter said:

So what's the bet exactly?  Because I'll bet a 20YO bottle of scotch the US is NOT fighting in AFG 15 years from now.  "Still in" lacks depth of meaning, we have embassies all over the world, on purpose, so we might very well still be in AFG from that perspective.  But we aren't fighting there anymore, and if we are I will mail you a bottle of Scotland's finest.

Still in Afghanistan = maintaining a force-presence of some sort, either conducting CT or TAA (or both).  This could be 500 or 5000 troops.  Embassy presence doesn't count.

Our BSA is good through 2024, so that's 7 years right there.  I bet we'll be there through 2030 and beyond.

Maybe Trump will surprise us.  I'll send a PM for a shipping address if he does a 180 and brings everyone home.  :jd::beer::beer:

Edited by astan777

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, astan777 said:

Maybe Trump will surprise us.  I'll send a PM for a shipping address is he does a 180 and brings everyone home.  :jd::beer::beer:

Done.  Be prepared for an epic thread revival on 01 Jan 2033 when I collect.

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How about multiple trips over there? Tac Airlifter would get about 69k if that’s the deal.

  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 5/4/2017 at 8:10 PM, brickhistory said:

but it is time to call it complete knowing what is likely to happen and let the chips fall where they may.  

Yes.

Tell the tribal/warlord/Taliban, etc., "We are outta here.  F' all the goats you want here, but do anything to help those who want to do harm to the U.S. and we will rain MOABs down until you can't see straight.

Or a few nukes.  Which I advocated for immediately post-9/11.  al-Qaida conducted an attack that had strategic affects on us due to our advanced infrastructure.  I was/am all for doing the same to them but since they don't really have the infrastructure, a few mushroom clouds oughta give 'em something to ponder.  As it would for several others around the globe.

But, we tried to do it on the cheap under Dubya initially, then just let it spiral out of our control.

UFB.

Turn the whole thing into a glass floored, self lit parking lot.  We’d be better off.

we have bases in China and Russia’s back door, you think we gonna leave?

Edited by matmacwc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.




×
×
  • Create New...