Sarasota News Leader

02/15/2013

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Sarasota News Leader February 15, 2013 OPINION The Soviet withdrawal and post-withdrawal strategy was formulated by Marshal Sergei F. Akhromeev, then chief of the General Staff of Soviet Armed Forces. In March 1986, Akhromeev reported to the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that the war in Afghanistan was irretrievably lost. He recommended the following: (1) undertake a speedy withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan; (2) keep the communist government in Kabul in power; (3) prevent a clear victory for the mujaheddin; (4) assure the ability to conduct counterinsurgency operations post withdrawal; and (5) create conditions for a political settlement of the conflict. Akhromeev believed that if the above conditions were met, and the Kabul regime had a sufficiently strong military force supporting it and it were supplied with enough military equipment, then it would be able to function as first among equals on a decentralized political and military landscape. Page 65 consisted of trying to build bridges to the mujaheddin. Ultimately, it came to nothing and no political solution to the conflict was forthcoming. After the February 1989 Soviet withdrawal, Moscow continued to support its Kabul client, the Najibullah regime. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, however, that support ended. In April 1992, Najibullah was unable to pay his mercenaries, principal among them, Abdulrashid Dostum, who commanded the 20,000-strong 53rd Jowzjani Tribal Militia, a formidable Uzbek fighting force. Dostum changed sides, and Najibullah and his government fell in a matter of days. In many respects, the Obama Administration���s formula for withdrawing from Afghanistan copies Akhromeev���s exit strategy: (1) speedy withdrawal; (2) maintain President Hamid Karzai in power; (3) deny the Taliban a clear victory; and (4) create the conditions for a political settlement. Importantly, there is no provision in the U.S. plan to conduct counterinsurgency operations after withdrawal. Accordingly, communist Afghan forces (miliThe Obama Administration���s goals are Pantary, police and state security) were increased glossian: to 302,000. This was the official figure, which was understood as inflated, but at the time 1.The withdrawal pace of U.S. troops is indeed swift: an 87 percent drawdown of was accepted as an optimistic goal. The deforces in less than 18 months with more to sertion rate in all services, however, was high; follow. One wonders, however, what effect more than 10 percent annually. can 1,000 American troops have in 2017 that In 1987, the Afghan communist regime initieluded more than 100 times as many troops a decade earlier? ated a policy of national reconciliation. This

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