Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A residual force of US troops in Iraq, and in Afghanistan - there's a huge distinction between the two

U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) issued the following statement on the Al-Qaeda splinter group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seizing control of the Iraqi city of Mosul today:
“Our worst fears about Iraq are being realized today. The black flags of Al-Qaeda are flying over Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, just as they do over Fallujah.

"Al-Qaeda affiliated militants are now pressing their offensive into other parts of western Iraq and possibly beyond. This growing threat to our national security interests is the cost of President Obama’s decision to withdraw all of our troops from Iraq in 2011, against the advice of our commanders and regardless of conditions on the ground.

“Unfortunately, the President is now making the same disastrous mistake in Afghanistan, increasing the risk that Al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies will return there just as they are in Iraq. It is not too late for the president to reverse this catastrophic decision and instead make any withdrawal of U.S. forces after this year contingent on conditions on the ground.

"At the same time, we call on the president to explain to Congress and the American people how he plans to address the growing threat to our homeland and our national security interests posed by the rapidly expanding Al-Qaeda safe haven[s]."
President Obama is planning on retaining a residual force of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, until 2016, when all US troops will be withdrawn from the country except for a military advisory group.

In 2011, the President refused to leave behind a residual force of US troops in Iraq; he even boasted about it and proclaimed triumphantly that he was withdrawing every last soldier from the country.

It should be noted, however, that there's a huge distinction between leaving behind a residual force of US troops in Afghanistan in 2014 and retaining a similar force of troops in Iraq back in 2011.

In 2011, the country of Iraq was mostly quiet after the US military routed Al Qaeda and the Iranian-backed insurgents. A residual force of US troops could have prevented a reemergence of the insurgency because, after all, it's a lot easier to prevent an insurgency from reemerging than it is to squash a full blown insurgency already in progress. But Obama stubbornly chose not to retain such a presence in Iraq.

However, unlike the sense of calm that existed in Iraq in 2011, the current situation in Afghanistan is much different. Violence in Afghanistan has not subsided at all; on the contrary, it has increased. Hence, there is no reason to assume that a residual force of US troops will have sufficient manpower to deal with the situation.

That's right, Afghanistan in 2014 is not Iraq in 2011.

A residual force of US troops in Iraq in 2011 could have maintained the calm and the peace. In Afghanistan, however, as US troops continue to facilitate the Obama-mandated pull out, i.e. the President's "exit strategy", no such calm exists, hence a residual force most definitely will not have the ability to create a peaceful and calm environment. A huge difference.

And, in 2016, when the residual force of US troops packs up and leaves Afghanistan, the situation will only get worse.

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