I invite you to click on this button below to join the Talking Proud Team. No fees. Just talk proud and be proud. Become a member and I will send you periodic newsletters about new and old articles.
President Obama has set out his plan for our withdrawal from Afghanistan, one with which his military chain of command is not pleased. I intend to start tracking this withdrawal in a serial article updated as I get new information. I began my effort on June 24, 2011.
Click here for 2017 Report
Click here for 2016 Report
Click here for 2015 report
Click here for 2014 report
Click here for 2013 report
Click here for 2012 report
Click here for 2011 report
Taliban retakes Sangin town
Afghan forces withdrew from Sangin town on March 22 or 23, 2017, leaving the town to the Taliban. US commanders say this was a planned strategic maneuver. The Afghan forces at the time moved two kilometers south of the city. The Taliban says it controls the whole district. NATO disagrees. The Taliban control the district police and government headquarters, but the US says the town was left in pretty much a shambles. There is some speculation the Russians are helping the Taliban. Afghan leaders say they are preparing for a full scale counter-offensive. The photo shows Sangin Valley. (032617)
Afghanistan at military deadlock, more US troops needed
General Joseph Votel, USA, commander CENTCOM told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 9, 2017, that he agreed with the assessment that Afghanistan was at a military deadlock ad more US troops are needed. General John Nicholson, USA, top US commander in Afghanistan, told the House Armed Service Committee on February 9, 2017 he needs more troops, but did not say how many more. Votel and Nicholson are working together to come up with their best advice for the SecDef. (031017)
US general wants more troops
General John Nicholson, USA, top US commander in Afghanistan, told the House Armed Service Committee on February 9, 2017 he needs more troops. The US now has about 8,400 there. He would not specify a number, but did say he needs a "few thousand." (020917)
The real situation in Afghanistan. Very ambiguous at best.
I try daily to get a handle on the war situation in Afghanistan, and it is exceedingly difficult to do. There is barely any news about the war available on a daily basis. Added to that, one does not know whom to believe. And the of course, I'm not sure whether very many people in the US care, other than the families of our forces deployed over there.
As a result, today, February 3, 2017, I decided to quickly canvas opinions of those who do care and have written editorial pieces. Now these are not necessarily factual, since they are editorial and we do not know the authors. I have tried to include commentaries that make sense, and exclude those that don't. I must confess my bias is I want us to get all our forces out of there, so keep that in mind.
We currently have 9,800 troops over there, due to drop to 5,500 but a schedule does not exist.
Pajiwok News reported on January 4, 2017, "5,887 people were killed and 4,410 wounded in 777 attacks in the last five months of 2016. Most of these causalities resulted from face-to-face fighting and airstrikes." On average, that's 70 killed or wounded per day.
Taliban offensives have been so persistent in Helmand Province that the US is deploying about 300 Marines there this spring. The Sangin District is there. Back in 2011 I wrote an extensive story about British and US military operations in that area, entitled, "Afghanistan’s hell, the Sangin Valley: Why Sangin? 'The Valley of Death.'" Afghan and Taliban forces are now involved in heavy figtin g in the area, and it is hard to tell who is gaining any advantage.
Robert Fisk, reporting for Britain's The Independent published on December 27, 2016, entitled his report, "You won't hear it, but news from Afghanistan is bad." He wrote, " Isis men are now fighting in their thousands in the country we arrived to 'liberate' 14 years ago, quite apart from tens of thousands of Taliban 'pushing' in to their 'heartland' around Sangin." He accused the Obama administration of deceiving the American public. He then wrote, "So just stand back and look at the script. The Taliban ended the lawless regime of the Afghan militias and controlled almost all of Afghanistan by 1996. But it also sheltered al-Qaeda post 9/11. So we invaded Afghanistan to destroy both al-Qaeda and the vile misogynist, murderous and undemocratic Taliban. But the Taliban was not conquered. And now it is winning. And today, we surely want it to fight against the even more vile, misogynist and murderous Isis."
The US Institute of Peace wrote on January 13, 2017, "Afghanistan’s war is fueled by support from within Pakistan for Taliban insurgents, and by poor governance within Afghanistan, including entrenched patronage systems and corruption, and a weak rule of law."
The Military Times reported on June 16, 2016, "The Taliban's warm-weather offensive has shown the insurgents to be bolder and better organized, holding more territory now than at any time since 2001, when their regime was overthrown by the U.S.-led invasion, according to recent U.N. estimates."
Bill Rogio, reporting for The Long War Journal on November 2, 2016, said, "The US military says that the Taliban 'influences' at least 25 of Afghanistan’s 407 districts and controls only 8 more. The numbers are at odds with an assessment by The Long War Journal of Taliban control in Afghanistan. The US military’s estimate does not explain how the Taliban is able to support multiple concurrent offensives across the country and threaten five provincial capitals ... The Long War Journal believes that the US military’s assessment of the state of play in Afghanistan’s districts is flawed ... numerous local and international press reports indicate that all of Helmand remains a battleground, and the Taliban controls or influences/contests far more than three districts ... The situation in Helmand is so bleak that the Taliban has effectively surrounded the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah for well over a year, and have launched several forays into the city ... The Taliban has also attacked four other provincial capitals: Kunduz City, Tairn Kot, Maimana, and Farah City over the past several months. Additionally, last week, the Taliban cut off the main roads to Maidan Wardak, the capital of Wardak province just outside of Kabul ... Despite the success the Taliban has had employing this strategy, General John Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan and Resolute Support, NATO’s mission in the country, has downplayed the Taliban’s control of rural areas."
And finally, Noor Sahid report for Voice of America of January 13, 2017, "The Afghan Government on Thursday pushed back against a U.S. Inspector General’s report that said Afghan forces are losing significant territory to Taliban insurgents and are not capable of keeping the nation secure ... U.S. Special Inspector General for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (SIGAR) reported that territory under the Afghan government diminished significantly in 2016 and that the Taliban made large gains."
General John Nicholson, USA, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, said on December 2, 2016, “We are stabilizing what was once a deteriorating situation and have the international support to progress even further in the coming years. The Afghan leadership remains focused on the future as the men and women of the security forces fight daily for a safe and stable Afghanistan.”
Marines returning to Helmand as Sangin may have fallen
There are unconfirmed reports the Taliban recaptured Sangin, Helnand Province, Afghanistan toward the end of 2016 - early 2017. What is for sure is the US Marines will send a task force of about 300 men back to Helmand this spring. The units will remain for nine months and rotate in and out. The task force will be known as Task Force Southwest. Andrew deGrandpre and Shawn Snow reported for the Marine Times on January 6, 2017, "Task Force Southwest will comprise mostly more-senior military personnel pulled from units across II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, including from the 6th Marine Regiment." Brigadier General Roger B. Turner Jr. will command. The Marines will replace an Army unit.
General Turner said, "We're viewing this as a high-risk mission that really requires training to ensure our Marines are capable of countering the full spectrum of threat. We're not in any way viewing this as a noncombat mission, or something to take lightly. We're following the situation [in Helmand] closely ... to make sure the training and force protection is commensurate with that threat."
From where I sit, given the British and American blood that has been spilled here, the return of the Marines signals bad news. (010717)