US: A new strategy for soldiers settled in Afghanistan?

The long expedition in Afghanistan left a mark on US Army. It will end in 2014, but President Karzai asks for help, in order to avoid instability growing in the country. However, the US are likely to develop a new strategy, passing through Africa.

Countdown is already a reality, especially in America. Somebody even developed a website in order to put pressure on peace talks. Its name? Countdown to Drawdown, obviously. However, the situation might not be as stable as hoped. As underlined by Afghan officials, “without ongoing military assistance, training and funding, the government could collapse and Afghanistan would enter a civil war”. On the other hand, Afghans still do not accept American settlement in their country. Consequently, the strategy elaborated by president Hamid Karzai moves towards several directions.

First of all, the quest for Democracy: Karzai convened the Loya Jirga. The convocation aims to come to an agreement between all the authorities composing the assembly: local and religious leaders, military chiefs and so on. It is a remarkable event indeed, since in the last 100 years the Loya Jirga has been exclusively convened on the occasion of fundamental moments in Afghan history, such as taking a vote on constitutions or on the engagement in the First World War.

Aware of his weak control on the region, Karzai declared his will to respect the decision of Loya Jirga, even if intellectuals as political scientist Hamidullah Farooqi and legal expert Farooq Bashar declared the need for Karzai to proceed with the agreement without interference. Bashar denounces the high cost of the meeting (40 million dollars); he does not understand the Democratic value of such a choice. Moreover, there is still a strategic aim: preparing a solid relationship with local authorities, in order to find a solution with neighbours. An American drone raid occurred in Islamabad, while an Afghan delegation was leaving for Pakistan in order to start peace talking with Talibans being in control of the region. A big mistake “fallen” on a plan meticulously elaborated.

However, talks in Afghanistan are far from being completed. Loya Jirga will last at least until Sunday, but there is no deadline, according to Afghan law: it will endure until a common agreement is reached. A difficult agreement, because of the will to avoid foreign troops staying in the country. Moreover, US diplomacy is working to obtain immunity for American soldiers. A point of view sharply declined by Afghan people. The assembly clearly asked for a temporary presence, until the Government will be able to defend the territory independently. It asked for guarantees that the American Cabinet cannot afford: it cannot because people in the US want peace, but also because of the lack of will for a long-term agreement. Consequently, the main strategy elaborated by the Army for Major Theater War scenarios, as the one of invasion by Pakistan – anticipatory self-defense, resistance, counterattack – needs immunity and the power of searching houses and other estate properties. All unacceptable limitations to Afghan sovereignty.

Therein lies the problem: on the one hand, Afghanistan’s need for protection without sacrificing independence; on the other hand, the US’s request for the control of a strategic area, without increasing expenses and victims. An important change in American management of the Army, overwhelmed by a 67 mln cost for personnel (2012), even if the turnover for arms manufacturers has grown impressively. The response will be clear in the next years, but it is likely to be a shift from Major Theater War to Smaller Scale Contingency, scenarios where to operate even with no more than a squadron or a brigade (1500-4000 soldiers): important operations, such as the one in Somalia in 1993 (Restore Hope), though having a lesser effect on public opinion. A strategy that could be proved by recent news concerning US Army.

Part of the Libyan Army will be trained by the American troops in Bulgaria. It will not be only the standard support operation outlined by Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren. As reported by Global Research, “U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Africa […] was widely seen as evidence of the White House’s broader foreign policy objectives […] including expansion of U.S. military operations across Africa. With the forces leaving Afghanistan, the Army is looking for new missions around the world. «As we reduce the rotational requirement to combat areas, we can use these forces to great effect in Africa», Gen. David M. Rodriguez, the head of the Africa Command, told Congress”. A wide plan to fight terrorism in the continent, starting with a 100 missions program involving First Infantry Division. Other troops have been already allocated in Djibouti, in order to defend American embassies after the attack in Benghazi, while training has been provided to local troops in Tanzania and Kenya in order to counter the offensive of jihadist group al-Shabaab. According to Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee Magee, American “goal is to help Africans solve African problems without having a big American presence”. Something like the Stay Behind strategy. Something disquieting.

Perhaps, after abandoning the infamous Bush Doctrine in order to assure control with drone attacksBarack Obama created another historical case, after Bay of Pigs invasion, capable of convincing us to be really careful with Democrat American Presidents great declarations. However, it is a new strategy; consequently, it must be understood in order to avoid damages for the entire community.

Photo: Expert Infantry/Flickr

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