Afghanistan Weekly Reader: General Calls for 20,000 Troops to Stay in Afghanistan

With post-2014 troop levels still undecided, the top American commander in Afghanistan recommends a force of 20,000, including 13,600 U.S. troops. Also this week, USAID’s decision to abandon a $266 million construction project is cited as the latest example of ineffective aid.¬†

From ASG
Afghanistan War Distracting From Real Security Issues
Afghanistan Study Group by Mary Kaszynski

As the budget debate continues, developing a more cost-effective Afghanistan strategy is a smart move. Instead of spending billions in Afghanistan, and seeing no results, we should be investing in our own economy and defense programs that advance our national security.

General Says 20,000 Troops Should Stay in Afghanistan
New York Times by Thom Shanker

The American commander in the Middle East said on Tuesday that he had recommended that 13,600 United States troops remain in Afghanistan after the combat mission ends in 2014, a number slightly higher than the one being considered by NATO and Pentagon officials.

$100 Billion in Aid Squandered in Afghanistan
The Fiscal Times by David Francis

The decision by the United States Agency for International Development to scrap the completion of a dam project meant to supply electricity to Kandahar, the spiritual home of the Taliban in Afghanistan, is the latest and perhaps largest failure of the United States to use development dollars to create stability by building Afghan infrastructure

NATO Chief Backs Larger Afghan Force Through 2018
Associated Press

Afghanistan’s president got reassurance Tuesday that NATO intends to backstop his troubled nation’s security long beyond 2014, after NATO’s chief endorsed keeping Afghanistan’s security forces at the current strength for years to come.

Taliban Attack Trends: Never Mind
Associated Press

The U.S.-led military command in Afghanistan will no longer count and publish the number of Taliban attacks, a statistical measure that it once touted as a gauge of U.S. and allied success but now dismisses as flawed.

Failing to Understand Afghanistan
Foreign Policy by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn

The West has developed better technology for countering roadside bombs, improved methods in combat surgery, and — most famously — honed the art of drone warfare. But it still does not understand how to interact with and shape the futures of countries where it sends its troops and money

Trying to do the impossible
Foreign Policy by Rory Stewart

The problem was not that the West didn’t do it right — the problem was that it tried the surge at all. A light presence of the sort it had in 2003 was justifiable and constructive. But given the structures, the attitudes, the incentives, and the ambitions of the NATO soldiers, politicians, and civilians on the one hand, and the nature of Afghan culture and society on the other, the more ambitious Afghanistan mission was doomed to fail.

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