Wednesday, December 31, 2014

American Forces End Active Combat Operations in Afghanistan

           United States forces are successfully completing the active combat operations phase of the Afghan War, but both that war and American involvement in it will continue.

            American forces and their Afghan allies, together with a broad international coalition, removed the Taliban, who had controlled most of Afghanistan, from power in 2001, thereby denying al-Qaeda, which was responsible for the September 11 Terrorist Attacks, and other Islamist terrorists the safe harbor the Islamist Taliban had provided.  U.S. troops have trained Afghan troops and continued to help them fight the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other Islamists to prevent the Taliban from returning to power in Afghanistan and turning it once again into a safe haven for Islamist terrorists.

            A residual American force will remain until the end of 2016, unlike after President Barack Obama withdrew American forces from Iraq after failing to obtain a status of forces agreement, which allowed Islamists to conquer vast swaths of Iraq and establish a quasi-state.  Other coalition partners are also remaining in Afghanistan until they complete a phased withdrawal.

            American involvement in the war in Afghanistan is still ongoing.  As the Afghan civil war is a battle subsumed by the War on Terrorism, U.S. drone strikes against al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other Islamist terrorists in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Theater of operations will continue.  American forces will continue to be involved directly or indirectly in the Afghan civil war.  In addition to training and providing other support to the Afghan government, American troops would back-up Afghan forces, if necessary, and, as always, defend themselves from any attacks by the enemy, just as they did recently in Iraq.

            The U.S. goal must be to prevent the Taliban from regaining control of Afghanistan and providing a safe haven for terrorists like al-Qaeda or other Islamists again.  Strategic decisions on the timetable of any withdrawal of the remaining American forces should be determined by professional military leaders, based upon the conditions in theater, not Obama’s political considerations.  The schedule of withdrawal, if any, ought not to be announced to the enemy in advance, lest it wait out the withdrawal of U.S. forces to attack the Afghan government, as in Iraq.  The strategy of the Islamists has obviously been to kill enough American soldiers to wear down public support for the war to force political leaders to withdraw military forces prematurely—a strategy that cannot be allowed to succeed.  

           American servicemen have accomplished their mission and have made the American people and all the people of the world safer, for which we must express our praise and gratitude.  May the U.S. and its allies have the fortitude and courage to see through victory to the end in Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism.   

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