Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gen. Dunford doesn't share Obama's affinity for telegraphing withdrawal timelines to the Taliban, He also expresses concern about Afghanistan's future in light of Obama's timelines, And he hopes the President doesn't bungle Afghanistan like he did Iraq

President Obama's affinity for withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan when violence in the country is continuously on the rise is well-known. Additionally, the President's affinity for telegraphing to the Taliban the timelines he has set for US troops to withdraw from the country - thereby boosting the enemy's morale while deflating the morale of the Afghan and allied forces - is also well-known.

The President first exhibited his fondness for telegraphing to the Taliban his set timelines for withdrawal in December of 2009, when he announced a troop surge in Afghanistan and noted simultaneously that the troops would begin to withdraw from the country in 18 months.

More recently, the President exhibited his inexplicable affinity for telegraphing the enemy his timelines for troop withdrawals, when he announced that all US troops would be out of Afghanistan by 2017.

However, while Obama may take great pleasure in telegraphing inspirational messages to the Taliban, the current commander of NATO and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Dunford, does not share the same sentiment.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Gen. Dunford expressed his disapproval with the President's decision to announce the date when US troops will complete their pull out from Afghanistan.

Gen. Dunford, who appeared before the Committee on Thursday for a hearing on his nomination to become the next commandant of the Marine Corps, was asked by Sen. John McCain as follows:

"Is there any doubt in your mind that the announcement of a complete withdrawal by 2017 has had an effect on the morale of the Afghan Army?"

Gen. Dunford responded: "Senator, I think all of us in uniform, to include the Afghans, would have preferred for that to be a bit more ambiguous."

A bit more ambiguous, heh.......

Sen. McCain then went on to note that: "In fact, we were told recently in Kabul by Afghan military officers - they said, 'you are abandoning us'! That's they what told me... And I don't think they would have any reason to tell us otherwise."

According to the Washington Post, Dunford also noted that the President's plan to withdraw nearly all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 will weaken the United States’ ability to perform counterterrorism missions there.

“In accordance with the plan right now, we would have…a Kabul-centric approach,” Dunford said. “That would reduce our collections capability, our signals intelligence, our human intelligence and our strike capability. So it would be a significant reduction in our overall counterterrorism capability.”

The Post also reported that Dunford, in his testimony, acknowledged that, in 2017, when all U.S. troops exit the country, the Afghan forces, in all likelihood, will not be “capable of conducting the kind of operations we’re conducting” of applying strong pressure on al-0aida and other extremists who pose a security threat to Afghanistan.

“There’s no doubt that the Afghan forces of today are not capable of conducting the operations we’re conducting today … not if you project forward the threat as it exists today,” he said.

Dunford said that he did not see how it would be possible to rely on the Afghan forces to contain al-Qaeda and other extremist groups that reside near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and how it would be possible to depend on the Afghan military to prevent these terrorists from threatening the US homeland.

When asked whether doing so would be a "high-risk strategy", Dunford said that “from a CT [counterterroism] perspective,” the aforementioned Obama strategy would indeed be a high-risk strategy.

Gen. Dunford also expressed his hope that the Obama administration would not make the same mistake in Afghanistan as it did in Iraq and that the Obama administration would conduct "a responsible transition from Afghanistan, as opposed to a withdrawal.”

“In Iraq, we withdrew, with the associated consequences,” Dunford said. “We knew when we left Iraq that there was work remaining to be done to develop sustainable Iraqi security forces, as well as to ensure that political stability existed in Iraq, such that security and stability would continue. In Afghanistan, we’ve got a chance to get that right, and my argument, in fact, is for us to do a responsible transition from Afghanistan, as opposed to a withdrawal.”


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