America’s Vision in Afghanistan: What is the Sustainable End State?


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President Barack Obama chats with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during the start of a dinner at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 28, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Brian Katulis in discussions on US policy towards Afghanistan separates the silly from the serious in those who can define a workable “end state” that the US is willing to work toward and pay for.
Missouri 8th Congressional District Democratic candidate Tommy Sowers, a former Green Beret and West Point professor, writes a particularly potent critique of Congress’ dereliction of duty in defining a sustainable and workable end state in Afghanistan
This is a clip from Sowers’ piece “Who Will Pay for the Afghan Army? The Question Congress Must Answer Now” at Huffington Post:

Victory in Afghanistan relies on building the Afghan National Army and police towards a day when Afghans lead and our troops finally come home. My experience as a Special Forces officer was in building a professional Iraqi military from scratch. No easy task, but my challenges in Iraq paled next to the challenges faced by our troops in Afghanistan: the second most corrupt nation in the world, millennia of history absent a strong central government or military, poor education and infrastructure, a tribal mentality and an illegitimate government and leader.
Afghanistan’s specific challenges aside, the logistical question of the eventual size of the Afghan force is also problematic. History and General Petraeus’ own U.S. Army counterinsurgency doctrine recommends a minimum force ratio of 1:50, or an Afghan policeman or solider to keep the peace for every 50 civilians. Afghanistan’s current population is 29,121,000. Our doctrine dictates that to secure Afghanistan and bring our troops home will require training and arming, at minimum, 582,000 Afghans. This would be a force larger than the active U.S. Army.
Yet America’ current strategy is not to train the minimum force of 582,000, but to double the number of Afghan security personnel to 400,000. This will cost significant American blood and treasure to achieve, but Afghan will and funds to maintain.
400,000 Afghan security personnel will cost Afghanistan at least 15% of its GDP, far and away the greatest percentage spent on the military by any nation in the world. While U.S. doctrine states that the future Afghan military will be too few to secure Afghanistan, logistics portend that the future Afghan military will be too many for Afghanistan to maintain.
The question Congress must answer now: Who will pay for the future Afghan Army? The Afghans can’t. Our allies won’t. And America’s budget deficit and growing entitlements indicate America can’t pay forever.

The Afghanistan War planners have given the U.S. an unworkable nightmare that is sapping American power and encouraging doubt among allies and ambitions among foes.
— Steve Clemons


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