Wednesday, March 25, 2015

President Obama, Finish the Job We Started in Afghanistan - ASAP

Dear Mr. President,
We join you in noting the vital importance of the U.S. “finishing the job we started” in Afghanistan, are pleased to see you are reassessing the pace of our troop withdrawal and are encouraged your administration has recommitted to funding Afghan forces at a vigorous level through 2017.  After yesterday’s positive conversations at Camp David, we hope the administration will continue to build on the broad, bipartisan consensus that has emerged in the U.S. national security community and the Congress:  that a full U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 will unnecessarily put at risk hard-won gains of the last 13 years, gains that came in part through the great sacrifices of American soldiers, diplomats, intelligence officers, and development professionals.  With patience and commitment, Afghanistan’s continued trajectory of success will yet become an Afghan - American success story.
We see reasons for optimism in 13 years’ worth of human gains made by the Afghan people and in the new government, particularly in its genuine commitment to reform, including fighting corruption. After facing many challenges, we hope to see the national unity government continue to address the necessary reforms it has identified. But we also see huge risks: there is a stalemate between the insurgency and Afghan forces in many areas and Afghan forces still rely heavily upon American air, intelligence and logistics support. The Taliban are intensifying their pressure on Afghan civilians; as you know, last year the UN reported significant increases in civilian casualties.  Meanwhile, the political and economic situation is fragile.
The United States walked away from Afghanistan once in the past, a decision that contributed to gender apartheid, the collapse of the state, brutal Taliban rule and ultimately the attack on 9/11.  More recently, we have watched the rise of ISIS and the unraveling of large swaths of the Iraqi state.  At this delicate security, political and economic juncture in Afghanistan’s transition, we believe the current security drawdown plan should be altered to avoid triggering a level of increased instability that could be exploited by extremist forces. 
Since you announced the withdrawal timeline in May 2014 much has changed. After a tumultuous election process and a peaceful transition of power, President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah have taken office at the head of a unity government supported by most Afghans.  The ANSF are now leading the fight and have demonstrated their resolve in the face of Taliban attacks. It’s heartening the United States is continuing to reassess Afghanistan’s security needs to account for opportunities presented by full partnership with this new, reform-minded Afghan leadership.  There is still time for the train, advise and assist mission to be extended, increasing the likelihood that a stable Afghanistan will remain a firm U.S. partner and ally in helping to develop a rights respecting security force that can combat the terrorist threats that still emanate from the region.
 To help Afghanistan capitalize on its first peaceful transition of power and protect our hard won security gains, we respectfully suggest that the U.S.:   Read More at President Obama, Finish the Job 

President Obama, Finish the Job We Started in Afghanistan ...


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