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How grounded is the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Afghanistan?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 16:27

The US President Barack Obama has repeatedly stated that the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan will begin in 2011 and will be completed in 2014, but may this be done in the present circumstances, when the Taliban movement is still too strong to give up.
After recovering from the defeat in 2001-2002, the organization of Taliban gained strength again and moved in a slow attack in 2007-2009. The United States missed an opportunity to get complete victory over the Mujahedeen in a short war. This was possible thanks to the campaign in Iraq in 2003. A new battleground demanded transfer of a large part of the military contingent from Afghanistan. Taliban used this situation as a benefit. They began to strengthen their position in the southern part of the country, especially in the so-called "Tribal Areas". From 2002 to 2005, Mujahedeen gained such influence that the U.S. military had to take the help from their allies in the coalition, expanding coverage of mixed ISAF forces and in the areas in southern Afghanistan. In May and June 2006 in these areas was conducted operation called "Mountain breakthrough", in September of that year - "Medusa", and from September 2006 to January 2007 - "Mountain Fury". The number of the U.S. troops in the country at that time varied from 19 to 40 thousand people according to different estimates. Such a number of military troops along with the troops of the allied countries of the U.S. could not hold back the onslaught of the Taliban, which gradually spread their influence to other parts of the country.
The activity of militants can be seen in quantity of losses contingent of ISAF in Afghanistan. So, after the defeat of the mujahedeen in 2001, in this country was a temporal lull. During the period from April to December 2002 among the U.S. troops 10 people were listed as dead. Strengthening the position of the Taliban movement had an effect on the losses among the troops of the Western states. The U.S. military commanders had to start a new conquest of Afghanistan. Thus, during the counter "attack" of the Mujahedeen in 2007-2009 were killed about 600 people of the U.S. military personnel. Only in 2009 the US forces lost more than 300 people. In 2010, there were killed twice as many U.S. soldiers as in 2009. The last losses are associated not with the increased activity of the Mujahedeen, but with the transfer of the new compounds of the U.S. troops to Afghanistan and the beginning of the next major attack of the coalition forces. In 2010 the number of the U.S. and allied military units exceeded 150 thousand. Such a sharp increase in the number of foreign military was due to the fact that NATO commanders began to pay much more attention to the stability in Afghanistan. In Iraq, the situation in the past few years was much more relaxed than in Afghanistan. The functions of law enforcement there were provided by a contingent of security forces of more than 660 thousand people.
Today the situation in Afghanistan is hardly quiet. In a country there are regular clashes. Here are just a short summary of the events in Afghanistan for 10 days in April-May 2011:
• On April 26-27 in the eastern province of Ghazni were consistently committed two attacks on the transport columns of the coalition forces. As a result, 16 trucks with food were destroyed.
• On April 27 there was fire at the headquarters of Afghan air forces in Kabul. Nine soldiers of ISAF were killed.
• On April 28 there was the attack on Kabul airport. Two rockets, fired by the Taliban, didn’t reach the goal, no one was hurt.
• On April 28 in the western province of Herat 15 militants and the leader of the group surrendered.
• On May 1 the beginning of a new "spring attack" was announced by the Taliban. This day there were a series of bombings, which killed at least 9 people and about 20 were injured. All of them were local residents.
• On May 2 another group of militants in the number of 85 people laid down their arms.
• On May 3 we found out about the destruction of 25 militants who planned to commit acts of revenge for the death of Osama bin Laden.
Such messages are typical for modern Afghanistan: in one province, a group of Mujahedeen laid down their arms, while in the other made there was a successful attack on a military of ISAF, or on the convoy. Thus, despite the presence of 150 000 group of coalition forces in the country, the situation is far from stable. Also we can not say that the United States and the allies have a decisive advantage during the confrontation. Yes, they have the advantage in manpower and technical equipment (even in the best times the Army Taliban was estimated at 60-80 thousand people), but on the side of the Mujahedeen there is extreme poverty and illiteracy of the majority of the population, which provides a constant flow of those in their ranks, who want to fight against foreign military, and according to the standards of Afghanistan, a good fee (about $ 300). According to the International Centre for Security and Co-operation, if in 2009 Taliban in varying degrees controlled 62% of the country, then in 2010 the figure was already 82%.
Thus, we conclude that the war between the Taliban, the IMU, Al Qaeda and other organizations against coalition forces of ISAF, Afghan National Army and police has varying success, and at this point it’s hard to say that the initiative is fully intercepted by one of the parties.
When analyzing the various news reports the 2011th is indicated with the increased positions of pro-American forces. The growth of military force of ISAF forces made itself felt. The greatest increase in the number of foreign military was in the USA. The latter occupy the most difficult part of the territory of Afghanistan - the east and south of the country, the zone of the Pashtun tribes, who make up the backbone of the Taliban. As a result of intense fighting in these areas, the mujahedeen suffered significant losses; according to the Americans about 900 Taliban influential commanders were killed.
But this strategy has a clear disadvantage - Taliban fighters, feeling that the pressure increased significantly, are leaving the southern and eastern Afghanistan, and go to the northern and western parts of the country, and also to the neighboring Pakistan. Areas of north and west of IRA are poorly controlled by coalition forces, the backbone of whom are German, Spanish and Italian military. They do not show such zeal in the fight against local extremists, as the Americans do, but the most important is the fact that their number is insufficient for conducting active military operations. For example, in 2010 there were 4388 German people, 3300 Italian people, 1537 Spanish people, 507 Hungarian people, and 351 Norwegian men. Can 10 thousand military effectively control the entire north and west of Afghanistan, and maintain active offensive operations? In addition, Germany announced that in 2011 it will begin a gradual withdrawal of German troops from the conflict zone. It has, in fact, already begun this process: after an increase in troops in 2008 to 4,800 people, there was a decrease up to 4388 people in 2010. In 2009 the Commander of the Bundeswehr in the north of the IRA, Brigadier General Joerg Follmer, gave a report, where he pointed out that with the available forces at that time it was impossible to control the situation in the entrusted region. What to say about the current situation, when the Taliban from the eastern and southern regions of Afghanistan that are controlled by the Americans are moving to safer northern and western regions, close to the borders of Central Asian states. Moreover, among the analytic community often raises the issue that IMU militants, especially immigrants from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, now prefer to return home.
According to the logic of military thinking, in the current situation the United States should significantly increase the size of its contingent in Afghanistan, rather than reduce it. Although, it is possible to achieve some success in the south and east of country, but the risk of new outbreaks of resistance in the relatively stable north and west of the IRA increases. The influx of Mujahedeen in these areas, of course, will increase anti-American propaganda, and there will be another enhancement of the Taliban movement.
It must be assumed that the decision to withdraw U.S. troops in this situation is purely political in nature and, in reality, it ignores the military aspect. The President Barack Obama is clearly preparing for the upcoming 2012 elections, keeps his promises to the voters. The main promise was the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. Especially, taking into account the fact that he can not boast the results of the promised reforms of education and health.

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