Afghanistan
Obviously Afghanistan has been the primary focal point in the War on Terror since September 11, 2001 when the United States was attacked and about 3,000 people were murdered. The US government identified Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda organization based in and allied with the Taliban, the Islamic government in Afghanistan, as the perpetrators of the attacks. While political and military mistakes have been made in this 10 year conflict, we have been successful and destroying the violent Al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership and allowing a government friendly to its neighbors to hopefully evolve. This evolution will take time and be difficult, so our commitment should not waver, but our need for regular military forces in Afghanistan has ended. Continuing to watch and appropriately react to developments in Afghanistan will be an important political issue.

Nighttime Raid in Afghanistan Reveals New U.S. Strategy

12/5/18
from The Wall Street Journal,
12/5/18:

American commanders see each battlefield win as a means of strengthening the allied position in peace negotiations.

U.S. commanders have long abandoned hope for a purely military victory in the 17-year conflict. Instead, they see this kind of calibrated military pressure—an approach they call “metering the violence”—as a means of strengthening the American and Afghan position in peace negotiations. The escalation inherently means greater risks to American troops, whose main job is training and advising Afghan forces. The raid that played out last month in Chimtal, a desert-dry collection of steep hills and rugged villages in northern Afghanistan, is just one of many similar operations being carried out in one form or another all over the country, where U.S. and Afghan forces are escalating offensive operations against the Taliban this fall.

On Saturday, a U.S. airstrike killed Abdul Manan, a senior Taliban leader and the group’s shadow governor in Helmand province, according to American and Taliban officials. Helmand, in southern Afghanistan, is the country’s top opium producer and a major source of illicit revenue for the insurgency. “You turn the dial up,” said Gen. Scott Miller, commander of allied forces in Afghanistan, in an interview at his Kabul headquarters. “The purpose is not just to kill,” he said. “It’s to shape the political environment.” Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad, President Trump’s lead adviser on Afghanistan, has met with Taliban representatives multiple times since early October, and U.S. officials sense a new willingness on the Taliban’s part to strike a deal. The terms of an agreement—would, for instance, the U.S. retain bases in Afghanistan to strike al Qaeda and Islamic State militants?

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