I’ve poked fun at Fred and Kimberly Kagan many times in the past, so when they actually come up with something worth our attention, I feel I owe them a nod. Say what you will about the conclusions of their new PowerPoint on Afghanistan, you have to admit they do get down to specifics. For example:
- Available Western “counter-insurgents” — not counting support elements — currently number less than 40,000. “Most Afghans never see a member of ISAF. Afghans who interact with ISAF forces are generally far more concerned with what those forces are doing and whether or not they are providing security than with how many of them there are. The issue of ‘foreign occupation’ is a propaganda theme, not a finely‐calibrated reality. (Cf. Gulliver.)
- An effective post-withdrawal Predator campaign in Afghanistan would require bases in either Afghanistan or Pakistan due to the UAV’s limited range. Ditto SOF raids.
- Adopting a purely CT approach would mean abrogating the U.S. commitment to the Afghanistan Compact. The U.S. would have to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement with the Afghan government to continue CT operations following a withdrawal.
Feel free to take it apart in the comments. I’m quoting it simply because I appreciate the effort to see beyond the rhetoric: What would a CT campaign actually entail? What would a withdrawal look like? You want to draw down, fine. How do you do it?