Afghanistan Weekly Reader: Long-term Plan Unclear Despite Drawdown Announcement

In the State of the Union address, President Obama announced that 34,000 of the 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will be withdrawn over the next year. The post-2014 military presence is still unclear, though the Pentagon reportedly favors a phased reduction, starting at 8,000 troops and declining over the next two years. Meanwhile, on the nonsecurity side, a U.S. government watchdog called for more oversight of Afghan aid programs, finding that Afghanistan lacks the capacity to manage the large amount of funding promised by international donors.

From ASG
Report: Afghans Paid $3.9 Billion in Bribes Last Year
Afghanistan Study Group by Mary Kaszynski

Half of Afghanistan’s population paid at least one bribe to public officials over the past year, for a total of $3.9 billion, according to a recent UN report on corruption.

Decision on Afghan Troop Levels Calculates Political and Military Interests

New York Times by Michael R. Gordon and Mark Landler

President Obama’s decision to remove 34,000 American troops in Afghanistan by this time next year represents a careful balancing of political interests and military requirements.

Afghanistan can’t handle direct aid, U.S. watchdog says

Reuters by Susan Cornwell

Afghanistan’s government does not appear able to manage the large amounts of direct aid that the United States and other countries have pledged, the U.S. watchdog monitoring funds spent on Afghan reconstruction said.

Rural Afghanistan force with shady reputation may grow

LA Times by David Cloud and Shashank Bengali

In an effort to fight the insurgency after U.S. troops leave Afghanistan by the end of next year, officials in Washington and Kabul are planning to dramatically expand a 3-year-old rural police force that has been implicated in human rights abuses and criminal activity.

In Afghanistan pullout, Pentagon favors phased reduction over 3 years

Washington Post by Rajiv Chandrasekaran

The Pentagon is pushing a plan that would keep about 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan once the NATO military mission there ends in 2014 but significantly shrink the contingent over the following two years, according to senior U.S. government officials and military officers.

Face reality in Afghanistan

Philadelphia Inquirer by Daniel L. Davis
It is time to accept that we are not going to turn 12 years of a failed Afghan tail into a strategically successful leg by leaving a few thousand combat troops on the ground after 2014. To do so would be to increase the cost of failure.

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