21 August 2013

Afghanistan: "Support" role for US troops can be even more dangerous

Are we in an "Endless War" in Afghanistan, and what does a support role mean for US troops on the ground there?

As the US increasingly transitions to a "support" role in Afghanistan, it's important to note that this change does not imply less risk on the ground.  In fact, in many cases missions become inherently riskier.  

Why, you may ask? Consider parallel circumstances in Iraq as the US handed off "lead" authority to Iraqi Security Forces after the much-debated updated SOFA.  A typical mission requires substantial planning upfront, with implicit instinctive decisions and assumptions made by a patrol leader -- for example, what infil are we going to take and why?  What data do you base this on?  Is this based on any intel, or is this conjecture (which may be all the leader has to go on)?

When local security forces take lead, they are assuming primary responsibility for planning and executing missions, to include considering the Law of Unintended Consequences. This means that US troops, in support, are put in a position to accommodate the tactical strategy being recommended by their local counterparts.  Of course, US forces conduct their own analyses beforehand, but putting local security forces at or near the tip of the spear (in non-SOF missions) can effectively means that US troops are susceptible to planning and judgment flaws that may occur on behalf of local security leaders.

The support mission will not necessarily be small, nor will it be free of combat missions, either.  Some Pentagon options have up to 20,000 US troops remaining in Afghanistan from 2015 until at least 2024.

What lasting impacts do you believe we can have in Afgh in a scenario like this?  Do you agree or disagree with our perspective on this?

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1 comment:

  1. I think it will turn out like Iraq. I believe it would be a good thing for us to keep a small force there for support needs till they deem themselves capable of supporting their own missions instead of an outside force contributing to their success.