The United States was always abundantly clear that it could not strategically afford a complete military exit from Afghanistan. President Obama’s statement this week that United States will be withdrawing about 30,000 US troops by summer of 2012 from Afghanistan amounts only to a limited response to the compulsions of the next year’s US Presidential elections campaign season. The remainder 70,000 or so US troops are likely to continue to stay embedded in Afghanistan till 2014, the deadline set for the Afghan National Army to take over security responsibilities for the defense and security of their nation. Strategic imperatives will dictate that even after 2014, the United States would continue to be embedded in Afghanistan under a Mutual Security Treaty on the pattern of the United States-Japan security relationship
Pakistan’s strategy in the last decade was to prompt the United States for a hasty military exit from Afghanistan by inducing combat fatigue in the United States. It gave shape to this strategy by using the Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban and other Al Qaeda associates in North Waziristan to mount attacks on US & NATO Forces in Afghanistan from safe sanctuaries provided by the Pakistan Army in the frontier regions.
Also factored in Pakistan Army’s calculations was the factor of a US presidential election year campaign in which President Obama would be forced to make compromises by ordering the exit of US Forces in response to domestic politics demands.
The unfolding United States strategic blueprint for Afghanistan has upset Pakistan Army’s ambitions to reclaim Afghanistan on exit of US Forces, once again through proxy use of the Afghan Taliban, the Al Qaeda affiliates in North Waziristan and other Islamic Jihadi surrogates of the Pakistan Army.
I had always maintained in my writings for the past one decade on Afghanistan that the United Sates Forces and United States Generals commanding those forces were never militarily incompetent. They were fighting with one hand tied back politically by successive US Administrations which were pandering more to the unjustified strategic sensitivities of the Pakistan Army Generals rather than ensuring the military success of US Forces in Afghanistan by politically unfettered operational freedom.
My strategic assertions stand borne out today with the successes gained and headway made by US Forces in Afghanistan whereby a situation has been achieved that the US President feels strategically confident to order a partial and graduated drawback to begin with. This has been made possible by President Obama becoming less mindful of Pakistani Army’s strategic sensitivities on Afghanistan.
It also needs to be asserted that with more than 70,000 US forces continuing to be embedded in Afghanistan, it will not be easy for the Pakistan Army to indulge in any large-scale disruptive activities in the void created by a partial drawdown of US Forces. I am sure that the United States military establishment would have reckoned in their military planning that should the Pakistan Army indulge in disruptive activities against United States strategic interests, they would have the option to carry out a fresh surge of US Forces to Afghanistan
United States strategic imperatives dictate that the United States enters into a Mutual Security Treaty with Afghanistan whereby the United States keeps a Forward Military Presence in Afghanistan of about 30,000-40,000 US troops on the lines it does in Japan and South Korea.
Lastly, a decade of Pakistan Army double-timing the United States war effort in Afghanistan should now force the United States to recognize the hard reality that the Pakistan Army was never a trustworthy or loyal ally/partner of the United States in the region.