Code 141561
PublishDate: Monday, June 24, 2019 18:10

Opinion: America’s three big mistakes in Afghanistan

16U.S. military tactical level units have performed admirably, but political leaders, policy makers, and senior general officers inside and outside of Washington have failed them. Good tactics never fixes bad strategy. The lack of a consistent comprehensive strategy in Afghanistan has prevented the nation from attaining even a minimal level of stability. For quite some time now, the filling of body bags and hospital beds has not been justified, and nobody is being held accountable for that. Countering these negative trends requires a return to the comprehensive strategy approach. Absent such a change, we should leave.
Misstep No. 1: The expansion of US forces and the introduction of large conventional units into the vast expanse of Afghanistan.
We essentially took all the lessons learned by the Russians and threw them out. By taking responsibility for the fight and imposing American-imposed solutions to Afghanistan’s problems, we disincentived the Afghans from leading and chose to ignore thousands of years of history. We forgot fairly quickly why Afghanistan was such a humiliation for the British and the Soviets and why the term “graveyard of empires” very much applies.
We also forgot that while Afghans welcome help, they can quickly turn on a foreign force if it stays too long. Instead of investing in local Afghan security and governance, we choose to emphasize top-down solutions by increasing the power of the national government. We decided to build the house from the roof down, and the roof has been leaky ever since.
Misstep No. 2: Allowing the Taliban resurgence to occur in Afghanistan-2003-2009 and 2014-2019
The second misstep was taking our eyes off the ball. The Taliban’s resurgence is an inevitable outcome of an ineffective NATO-led coalition, an inadequate organizational structure, and an ineffective strategy. The diversion of attention and resources to the Iraq War and an inaccurate assessment of the Taliban’s strength and longevity led to the movement’s resurgence.
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By 2004, the Taliban began organizing themselves into an insurgent force by co-opting village elders a

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