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Afghan National Army – cannot survive beyond 6 months without US support

January 23, 2018

Summary: President Ghani states that the Afghan army cannot survive more than 6 months without US support

Wasn’t sure if this was an unguarded moment under pressure or a planned insertion into the interview.  Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was interviewed by US CBS News.  Confirming the more or less absolute dependence of the Afghan security forces on the United States, Ghani asserted that:

We will not be able to support our army for six months without US support, and US capabilities

Very much shades of the early 1990s Najibullah regime here, which managed – to the surprise of many – to hold together with Soviet backing.  When the plug was pulled, in terms of finance, training and weapons as the Soviet Union collapsed, the Afghan regime followed swiftly.  The assessment sounds about right and should not come as a surprise.  But the US government, with Trump at the head, seems quite prone to lurches in policy direction, even if currently talking tough about defeating the Taliban…

WASHINGTON: President Ashraf Ghani has said that the Afghan National Army will not last more than six months without US support and the Afghan government will also collapse.

Mr Ghani acknowledged his government’s almost absolute dependence on Washington in an interview to a television show CBS 60 Minutes, broadcast earlier this week.

But Gen John Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said in the same programme that with America’s new strategy and with increased US pressure on Pak­istan to cooperate, he was certain he could win Washington’s longest war, which was now in its 16th year.

According to a transcript released on Tuesday, a CBS journalist asked the Afghan president to comment on what she had heard from people in Afghanistan: “If the US pulled out, your government would collapse in three days.”

“From the resource perspective, they are absolutely right. We will not be able to support our army for six months without US support, and US capabilities,” President Ghani responded.

In a report titled “Kabul under siege while America’s longest war rages on”, the US news channel noted that “in 16 years, the Afghan war has cost 2,400 American lives and $1 trillion. But with the country’s capital under siege, the end still seems far away.”

“Did you just say that without the US support your army couldn’t last six months?” the journalist, Lara Logan, asked again. “Yes. Because we don’t have the money,” Mr Ghani said.

The US contributes around 90 per cent of Afghanistan’s defence budget and observers in Washington say that in 16 years the US and its allies have only made some moderate gains. They claim that the Taliban still control large chunks of land in the Pashtun belt and the government in Kabul has so far been unable to dislodge them.

In the interview, President Ghani also acknowledged the threatening presence of 21 international terrorist groups in his country, adding that dozens of suicide bombers were also being sent to Afghanistan.

“There are factories producing suicide bombers. We are under siege,” he said. “By terrorising the people, the Taliban have sown deep doubts about the government.”

This campaign of terrorism, he added, brought out “angry protesters in the capital chanting death to Ashraf Ghani”.

“If you can’t secure the capital, how are you going to secure the rest of the country?” the journalist asked. “You tell me. Can you prevent the attack on New York? Can you prevent the attack on London?” Mr Ghani replied.

Unlike President Ghani, Gen Nicholson appeared confident that he could still win the war. Asked if he had everything he needs, the general said: “Yeah, with the new policy I do … this is the end game. This is a policy that can deliver a win.”

Last week US officials said the Pentagon would deploy an estimated 1,000 new combat advisers to Afghanistan and would send additional drones and helicopters.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2018

3 Comments leave one →
  1. sues57 permalink
    January 23, 2018 5:58 pm

    Also, like the collapse of the Najibullah regime, there are also Islamists waiting in the wings, and not just the Taliban. Hekmatyar has pulled off quite an amazing second act, Sayyaf is still a presence, and both them have lived through this scenario. Of course, they may well be designating to younger loyalists, but the similarities should be studied *now.* Before, you know, the last flight out of Sai…

    • January 24, 2018 8:59 am

      Very much a case of history rhyming. Trump and the US military have a superficially tough stance, but I can see a Trump wobble – perhaps triggered by some US military casualties in Afghanistan – coinciding with assertive warlords (Atta, Raziq, Dostum…), causing the whole experiment to come off the rails…

  2. sues57 permalink
    January 24, 2018 7:25 pm

    That is why I doubt that the Territorial Army plan will be pursued with any real commitment; the NUG just won’t allow it.Yes, I can see Trump changing this tune, but with Mattis in charge, and I’m certain he is, it’s just a matter of time before China and Russia start really pushing for negotiations. (Also, I wonder how PK is regarding the spike in online hostility, from Afghans, directed at Pakistan. It’s definitely heated up.) The MOI has a hand in it, I think, but it’s a risky game. The Taliban hate their tether to the ISI, yet ostensibly, it’s Taliban aggression that drives the anti-Pakistan rhetoric. What a mess.

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