Taliban fighters massacred more than 57 Afghan military personnel and police officers in four separate attacks across northern Afghanistan, Afghan officials told the New York Times on Monday, the latest in a series of devastating and demoralizing attacks on security forces there.
The war in Afghanistan, America's first and most enduring foray into the Forever Wars, continues to go poorly, according to a quarterly report to Congress from the Special Inspector General Report for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) published on April 30. And while the Pentagon seems convinced that the tide is definitely turning (any minute now!), here's how the first few months of 2018 have shaped up:
You know the story. On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacked our nation. A few weeks later, we sent over a couple of Special Forces ODAs, a battalion of Army Rangers, and a few brave CIA paramilitary officers to extract a price from the responsible parties, as well as anyone who harbored them.
Back in 2008, Adm. Michael Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made what seemed like a self-evident observation, seven years into the Afghanistan war and five years into Iraq: “We can’t kill our way to victory.” Nine years and nearly 2,000 U.S. combat deaths later, the U.S. Naval Institute has published Can’t Kill Enough to Win? Think Again, an op-ed by two retired lieutenant colonels who charge that Mullen was dead wrong, in thrall to a culture of weakness that has permeated and hamstrung the U.S. military. The USNI is a serious outlet for professional military thought; the authors of this particular piece, David Bolgiano and John Taylor, are former paratroopers and JAGs. This article is serious but sorely misguided, another reminder that the military is slow to adapt and has never fully adjusted to counterinsurgency.
For months now, U.S. leadership has been working with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani to stand up a new “territorial force” to fend off Taliban elements on the local level. The new security force would consist of “self-defence units of locally recruited men serving in their own villages… to stabilise areas cleared by regular security forces and establish law and order,” as The Guardian puts it.