Todd Johnson / October 17, 2017

16 Years in Afghanistan

It is incumbent upon the president to explain what is at stake and how we can emerge victorious.

Last week marked the 16th anniversary of the United States’ military and political involvement in Afghanistan, and sadly, there is no end in sight. The counterinsurgency operation has been at best a draw, and considering the amount of blood and treasure that has been expended, a tremendous disappointment for a nation that spends on more on its military than the next 10 nations combined.

More distressing than the lack of tangible progress on the ground is the lack of congressional input into the decision-making process. The latest news emanates from the Senate, where the Republican-led chamber recently voted down a proposal from Senator Rand Paul to sunset the current authorizations for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Paul, an avowed critic of the U.S. operations in the Middle East, voiced the concerns of many Americans when he stated that the original authorizations no longer are applicable to the changing dynamics of the battlefield. He also railed against his colleagues for allowing “a perpetual war until the end of time.” His measure failed, 61-36, and was followed a couple of days later by the Senate’s 89-9 decision to fund a $700 billion dollar defense budget.

The peculiar decision-making in Washington, DC, hasn’t been relegated only to the halls of Congress. The Army Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley, was quoted at last week’s AUSA Conference saying, “We are training, advising, and assisting indigenous armies all over the world, and I expect that will increase and not decrease.” His statement was surprising for many reasons, primarily because the U.S. government’s (primarily the Defense Department) record of building indigenous forces in Afghanistan has been undistinguished.

According to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan (SIGAR) report, released in September, not only was the United States government unprepared to build an Afghan army and police force in the early 2000s but its efforts in the interim have “lacked a comprehensive approach to SSA [security sector assistance] and a coordinating body to successfully implement the whole-of-government programs necessary to develop a capable and self-sustaining ANDSF [Afghan National Defense Security Forces].”

And while it’s true that the Trump administration has underwritten a new set of rules of engagement (ROE) that allow U.S. forces to “employ air power without a requirement that the intended objects of attack be ‘proximate’ to U.S. forces or U.S. advised Afghan forces,” it isn’t clear how this new set of tactics will facilitate the American mission of building Afghan security forces capable of defending their country.

Since Trump took office, the pace of airstrikes against the Taliban and Islamic State in Afghanistan has reached a seven-year high. However, these strikes and new ROE also make it more likely that non-combatants will die and as a result create more fighters willing to engage U.S. advisers and Afghan forces on the ground. Quite simply, the tactics aren’t nested with a cogent national strategy and that means billions of dollars will be wasted in the future.

It is incumbent upon the president, his secretary of defense, and the rest of his national security team to be up front with the American people and explain what is at stake in Afghanistan and how we can emerge victorious, however that is to be defined. It’s important that success be achieved soon because our nation’s Armed Forces are going to be facing a critical manning issue in the very near future.

It was recently reported that the vast majority of American 17-24-year-olds (71%) can’t meet the minimum criteria for service in today’s Armed Forces. And, according to the Army Recruiting Command, while there 33.4 million Americans between the ages of 17-24, there only 136,000 who are interested in service and meet the basic requirements. Simply put, there aren’t going to be enough people to fight “forever wars.”

After 16 years, something needs to change, and soon. Republics weren’t meant to fight prolonged wars and if the United States wants to continue being the primary international power its leadership must either decide to go all in for the mission in Afghanistan or withdraw. Our country deserves better than to be involved in a stalemate and only time will tell if the executive branch and Congress are up to the task.

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2022 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.