America’s Longest War…Likely to Get Longer

U.S. and Afghanistan agree on draft pact allowing U.S. troops to remain

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Aref Karimi / AFP / Getty Images

Afghan police at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, where a car bomb blew up outside the site of this week's loya jirga slated to debate extending the U.S. military's troop presence in the country, on Nov. 16, 2013.

President Obama ordered a surge of U.S. troops into Afghanistan in 2009, with a pledge that those fighting would all be out by the end of next year. Now—surprise!—he and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have hammered out a draft accord that would permit perhaps 10,000 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan indefinitely.

That means the U.S. war in Afghanistan will probably slip beyond the 4,834 days (13 years, 2 months, 25 days) between Oct. 7, 2001, when the U.S. invaded, and Dec. 31, 2014, when all U.S. combat troops are due to leave. Those likely to be left behind will be there largely to train Afghan troops, hunt down and kill terrorists, and be targets for those same terrorists. That makes the U.S. war in Afghanistan more than three times the duration of its 1,346-day (3 years, 8 months, 7 days) participation in World War II.

But Iraq, increasingly slipping toward civil war, should offer Americans a cautionary tale about U.S. troops rushing for the exits from a war-torn country they created.

It’s tough for a war-weary American public to concede, but the costs paid in American blood (2,193 killed) and treasure ($700 billion) could well be spilled in vain if there isn’t some continuing U.S. presence in Afghanistan to keep al Qaeda and the Taliban in check. It also could give a shaky and corrupt Afghan central government, under a new president (Karzai is barred from seeking a third term), enough time to mature and send extremists packing.

The Afghan security force is nearing its goal of 352,000 troops and police, and has acquitted itself well during this year’s fighting season. “There’s still a lot of work that has to occur, but this year has been encouraging in terms of how they’ve fought the Taliban,” Army Lieut. General Terry Wolff, the Pentagon chief strategic planner, said at a confab sponsored by the Defense One website last Thursday.

The size of the U.S. troop contingent will be negotiated over the coming months. Part of its mission will be ensuring that the $4 billion NATO nations are slated to invest in Afghanistan annually is properly spent. U.S. troops, likely between 5,000 and 10,000, expect to be concentrated around the capital, Kabul, and the southern city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. Hundreds of German soldiers are slated to remain in the northern part of the country, while Italian troops will be in the west.

The sticking point in both Afghanistan and Iraq was protecting U.S. troops from local prosecution while on foreign soil. The U.S. argues that subjecting its troops to punishment under the Pentagon’s Uniformed Code of Military Justice is adequate. But outsiders—particularly those who view the U.S. military as invaders or occupiers—don’t always see it that way.

“Unfortunately, Afghanistan has witnessed a poor track record of the US forces during the past 10 years of their military operations,” Ajmal Shams, president of the Afghan Social Democratic Party, wrote in a column in the United Arab Emirates’ Gulf News newspaper Sunday. “The latter were either directly or indirectly involved in incidents where innocent civilians were impacted. These included drone attacks, night raids and unnecessary imprisonment.”

After the Iraqi government insisted that U.S. troops would have to be subject to Iraqi justice if they stayed beyond 2011, the U.S. pulled out.

Local Afghan leaders will begin debating the draft accord this week, and few changes are expected. Karzai has said he will abide by their decision. Because the so-called bilateral security agreement is not a treaty, it can be enacted by the Obama Administration without a formal congressional vote.

Then again, there’s always the chance that delaying the departure of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan will simply delay the inevitable.

The weekend gave a sense of what may be to come. On Saturday, a suicide car bomber killed 12, just outside the huge tent in Kabul where Afghan leaders are set to meet in this week’s loya jirga to debate the continued U.S. military presence. Thousands of Afghans gathered in Jalalabad Sunday to protest any extended U.S. troop presence in their nation, shouting anti-U.S. chants and burning U.S. flags. Local villagers found six Afghan government contractors, building police compounds, beheaded near Kandahar. Bombings killed one coalition soldier in southern Afghanistan and a civilian in northern Afghanistan.

50 comments
ScottBienvenue
ScottBienvenue

Nothing like spending American money and lives to train future threats to how we operate our military

MartinHarris
MartinHarris

The apparent civil war in Iraq is all the more reason to pullout of Afghanistan, as scheduled in 2014. Iraq was a SNAFU to begin with. The enemy of our enemy is our friend. Saddam fought a war with Iran for years using poison gas. And what did our geniuses in Washington do? They bombed, invaded, occupied Iraq, had Saddam executed and now Iraq and Iran, both Shia, are dear friends an allies. Obama promised both during his 2 campaigns and repeatedly during his presidency that the troops would come home from Iraq in December, 2011 and from Iraq in 2014.He attempted to obtain a status of forces agreement to stay in Iraq but, fortunately for us, Maliki wouldn't buy it. Now Obama is attempting to do it again in Afghanistan and it appears that the corrupt, two faced Dictator/President Karzai will adopt it. 


EdKim
EdKim

Ah, Iraq and Afghanistan.  Making the Korean War look like a good war with every passing year.  A three year conflict, 50k troops for 14 years, then 30k troops for another 20 years then 26k since then.  Plus, the Koreans pay 40% of the cost of troop upkeep and buy a lot of American weapons (jet fighters, radar systems, communications gear, AEGIS radars, etc.)

Phoenix07
Phoenix07

Our longest war (and more relevant in comparison) were the Indian Wars which took up most of the 19th Century but usually refers to the period from1865 to 1890.  We're also still involved in ROK even though the war there isn't over (1950-present).

Tommy34684
Tommy34684

If Americans stop enlisting, the war in Afghanistan will end.

Tiger-Pi
Tiger-Pi

We are missing out something.  This war by NATO and the rest of the world is  also against the Drug Lords who control a  vast empire from Colombia to Cambodia! The US o f A is being inundated  with drugs by cartels that grow most of the opium in Afghanistan.  NATO and the US just cannot abandon Afghanistan to   DRUG anarchy.  But in this war,  very few non-Aghanis have really understood the  religious feelings,culture and  tribal traditions in Afghanistan.  This conflict  can be ended only by prolonged sustained ,dedicated  honest efforts by all members of the UN, including USA.  But again no drone shooting from the skies!

Tiger-Pi
Tiger-Pi

The US of A  and NATO interfered in Iraq and  Afghanistan and  have left both   in ruins. The longest War , the KOREAN War and it's aftermath remains a festering wound. The  Cuban conflict and Vietnam War, the killing fields of Cambodia  have left behind many bitter memories. The Iranian revolution, the US Embassy HOSTAGE crisis,  Iraq-Iran war, invasion of Kuwait,  the removal of Saddam Hussein, Qaddafi, Mubarak , the festering ISRAEL-Palestine conflict and now the Syrian civil war....can poor POTUS  manage all these crises with a tottering economy and a punctured political base ? But please stop shooting people using drones if you want democracy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

11B_INF_Retired
11B_INF_Retired

This is NOT the longest war America has been in folks. There is a war.....the forgotten war it is still called and that is the Korean War! This war has not ended for NO peace treaty has been signed. Only a frail Armistice was signed. So the longest War technically speaking is NOT Afghanistan .....but the Korean War.

CarlThompson
CarlThompson

If you watch the video the guy talks about how the human terrain is the same in both countries.  This is completely wrong.  IRAQ had 1 primary language and maybe 3 MAX you had to deal with (Kurdish, Arabic, Farsi).  In Afghanistan, there are at least 2 major languages (DARI, Poshtu) and maybe 17 total (Dari, Poshtu, Pashai, Nuristani, Baluchi,- just off the top of my head).  The tribal construct is wholly different, too.  This was a bad video report with inaccurate information.  

Concerned100
Concerned100

Get the CIA out of Afghanistan and the war will go away. 

They are exporting drugs to the USA to pay the Afghanies, so they can buy weapons from the USA to keep big weapons companies in business.

If the Afghanies have no money they will not be able to fight.

The CIA can shut the heroine business down in 24 hours by burning all the crops.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

Well, well well. Can this freaking idiot ever keep his word ?

#libtardedamerica
#libtardedamerica

"But Iraq, increasingly slipping toward civil war, should offer Americans a cautionary tale about U.S. troops rushing for the exits from a war-torn country they created."

U.S. troops weren't rushing for the exits, Obama and his team of libtards was in a rush to get them out, just one of his many blunders. and now, with us in afghanistan beyond the end of the year, there's another campaign promise he isn't coming through on. great job libtards. you guys picked a real winner


RScott
RScott

"... delaying the departure of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan will simply delay the inevitable."

Perhaps a more accurate  conclusion would be...Delaying the departure of all US troops from Afghanistan will guarantee a continuation of the war, of our troops getting killed and millions more down the drain. And the continued use of  "al Qaeda and the Taliban" to define the insurgents will get some continued support from the US public of the war but as we must all understand by now, most of the "insurgents" are of the people who want to see an end of our occupation of their country. But this would not include many of the corrupt government officials and the police forces who profit from our "reconstruction" funding and the growing drug trade. Perhaps it is time for the "inevitable" to bring back some level of honesty in government...as harsh as that might again be. But lets see how honest or corrupt this next "election" might turn out to be. There is always the chance that things might change for the better. But it would likely take something like an Afghan Ataturk to make it happen.


Read more: War in Afghanistan likely to get longer for U.S. troops | TIME.com http://swampland.time.com/2013/11/18/americas-longest-war-likely-to-get-longer/#ixzz2l1DICky9

BSF1
BSF1

It's time to get out!! it's not a war, it's a joke, but a ghastly one, that so many of our troops have died, and continue to die for nothing, in a nation that doesn't want us there. WE NEED TO GET OUT!!!

justice63k
justice63k

Comparing Iraqi lessons to Afghanistan and vice versa is plain skewed, arrogant American thinking. Lord, free us from the evil of Western governments, and their insatiable desire to control everything under the sun and moon. Good luck trying. There are many standing to oppose this attempted cruel domination of the world resources by Jinn billionaires and their politico fiends. Lord help us escape the hate sowed by those who wish to kill and capture anyone who doesn't believe as they do. The time has come...

cent-fan
cent-fan

What amazes me is how important a largely worthless place like Afghanistan has become.  It was only useful to the terrorists as a land of little oversight where they could practice shooting guns and nobody would call the cops.  It certainly doesn't have any money except for the opium trade... and I don't think the drug lords keep their loot and higher politics there when they have Pakistan next door.

The idea that we fight them there so they don't come here makes as much sense as believing that if the gangs in Compton are arrested your house in Pasadena will never be robbed. 

Don_Bacon
Don_Bacon

Actually the US nd Afghanistan have not agreed on a pact. Obama and Karzai agreed, but unlike in the US, in Afghanistan there is a modicum of democracy. The Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) must be agreed by a 300-person Loya Jirga (Nov 21) and then by the Afghan parliament. (The situation is similar to what transpired in Iraq, democracy on one side - Iraq.)

And it doesn't look good.   The US insistence on legal jurisdiction might slip by, but its insistence on night raids of Afghan houses may not.  Karzai has repeatedly complained about the raids, and many Afghans understandably don't like them and have so demonstrated.

bojimbo26
bojimbo26

( WW1) September 1939 " This conflict should be over by Christmas " , 4 years later .............. .

BobJan
BobJan

Time to go back to the protesting era of the 60's. These clowns in D.C. have got to go. Lobbying at it's best is what's keeping this war ongoing. 
Let's get the heck outa' there and next war they come up with has to have Congress and their families fight it.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Just think if a certain Texas Clown had put one of the biggest Opium dealers in charge of the country, the rural populace might never have turned back to the Taliban,

j45ashton
j45ashton

It only goes on as a war of choice.  I can forgive Obama misstating that people can keep insurance policies if they like them.  But the promise was we'd be out of Afghanistan by 2014.  Not to do so would be a breech of public trust that I and many would hold against him.

BrianDors
BrianDors

@EdKim You make it seem like our sacrifice in the ROK was not worth it.. May I need to remind you that the KPA pushed all the way down to Busan? To Busan... In one month... They had the entire peninsula. But after Incheon we pushed back to the Yalu River and the Chinese got involved. The Armistice talks started in 1951. 1 year after the invasion of the communists from the North. You know. I am kind of sad that I read your comment. I have spent 2 years in the ROK because I absolutely love it. I love the people, the food, and the country. Not only that, but I serve up in the JSA. I have pulled security for peace talks involving everything from YP-Do to the KI complex. I live and work with the ROK army and for a man who has done his 2 years of military service I must ask. Do YOU truly think that a conscript Army can hold it's own? Look at pictures of Seoul in 1953 and then again 60 years later in 2013. Our 60 years of commitment to the Korean Pen has helped corps like Samsung, LG, Hyundai etc.... Of course indirectly... 40% of the cost? DO you KNOW how many Korean's the US Army employs in the ROK. We supply thousands of jobs for people and are here because your military, as well as government wants us here. 

.... There is only one other country in this world that I would have the honor, and love to defend.
That's the Republic of Korea. 

bl
bl

@EdKim Not only that, but anytime anyone asks "Was it worth it?" we can look north across the DMZ, then back at the ROK, a prosperous, free, advanced society, and say "Oh yes, yes it certainly was."

If anything is the definition of a "good war", that was it.

BrianDors
BrianDors

@tkulaga And then you would probably be speaking Farsi, Mandaren or Russian.

bl
bl

@tkulaga 
Why?  We left Iraq, but the Iraq war rages on.  
It will not end without us.  It will merely change.  

MartinHarris
MartinHarris

@Tiger-Pi 

There was no opium production in Afghanistan when the Taliban were running the country but girls were not allowed to go to school. It seems to me like a good trade off. Home school the girls and eliminate the opium production 

bl
bl

@Tiger-Pi 
North Korea is a prison.  The South is a free, modern, prosperous nation.  The only "festering wound" in Korea is the north.  We simply were not ready to do what was required to defeat China.  

KenOlson
KenOlson

@11B_INF_Retired But Retired, we're not actively in a war zone, as we are in the middle east.  Sure there are troops amassed on both sides of the DMZ, but not a single bullet has been fired at either side since the mid 1950s.

So stop trying to play the 'I know more than you' card.  It's a bad look.

bl
bl

@RScott 
You said that about Iraq.  We're out.  Why is enemy still setting off bombs, then?
You were wrong about that, and your're wrong about this.  If we leave, the war will go on.  Just like Iraq.  

#libtardedamerica
#libtardedamerica

@justice63k

"Comparing Iraqi lessons to Afghanistan and vice versa is plain skewed, arrogant American thinking"

no, dumb@ss, it's not. it's taking lessons learned in a similar (albeit different) military situation and applying those lessons tactically to the situation at hand. that's not skewed, or arrogant, or anything. it's not talking about the cultures of the two countries. from a military standpoint, there was a lot to be learned from iraq, and afghanistan is where that can now be applied. you clearly don't have a military background.

Don_Bacon
Don_Bacon

@DonGettys Armistice, 1954 -- the best of both worlds. Now it's a war, now it isn't, just spend, spend spend. It's the gift that keeps on giving to the MIC, and the US gets permanent bases one air-hour from Shanghai and Beijing.

jmac
jmac

@j45ashton   That's right.   The world is black or white in a lot of American minds and we certainly can't nuance, change our minds, or negotiate on a matter.   When Bush said Saddam had to go (very early in his presidency),  it was written in blood and, by God, he kept his promise with just a few little teeny lies to sell to the American people.   Certainly no breech of public trust because he kept his word.   

Tommy34684
Tommy34684

@bl @tkulaga The war in Iraq ended for us and that is what matters for me and my family and the US. If anyone from the US wants to be a war monger no one is stopping them from going to Iraq on their own but for the US it is all done.

bl
bl

@KenOlson @11B_INF_Retired 
"but not a single bullet has been fired at either side since the mid 1950s"

So very very NOT true.   Ask any US soldier who was deployed to the DMZ in the 60's, 70's and 80's.  Ask  the surviving crew of the Cheonan.  Ask the people who endured the artillery barrage at 
Yeonpyeong.



RScott
RScott

@bl @RScott I don't remember having commented on Iraq. I know little about it except what the media has said about the splits among the Shias, Sunnies, Kurds etc etc.. But I have worked in Afghanistan off and on since 1971. Will the war end when and if we leave Afghanistan? Probably not. We took out the Taliban government and replaced it with what is there now. Many in the country do not see it as a legitimate government and certainly corrupt. One way or the other the present government will probably have to go for the fighting to stop. If we go perhaps the Afghans will talk and be able to come up with a solution. Maybe not. But the Northern alliance people (the minorities) do not want to talk to the Pashtuns who have basically ruled the country since about 1746.

justice63k
justice63k

In AFG and Iraq = 10 yrs total overseas experience with civilian agencies and 5 yr intel with Army. I have seen the wars of revenge up close. Like using Afghan PRT idea in Iraq. Or using Sons of Iraq in Afghanistan. Can't the military get innovative? Both places are unique: urban vs. rural; sophisticated vs. illiterate societies; tribal vs. regional identifying markers; no oil in AFG and lots of oil in Iraq. Many differences and why strategies should've been different. Treating everything the same is the problem, and this stems from ignorance and arrogance.

BrianDors
BrianDors

@Don_Bacon @DonGettys 1954? Read a History book... April 27th 1953. #Facepalm
No... It's not about the MIC. Not in the Korean instance.. although in many other times I will agree with you, not Korea bud.


RScott
RScott

@deekee420 @DonGettys  

But there are two separate Koreas( countries). In Afghanistan as long as our troops are there, there will be continued fighting or at least road-side bombs.  Loss of troops, lots of money and "civilians" that make up most of the "insurgents".

BrianDors
BrianDors

@tkulaga @bl Funny... It took almost 100 years to finally change the south after 1865..
o.O

justice63k
justice63k

@bl @justice63k Army intel find me?  So what. You obviously don't understand what freedom of speech is all about.  no incitements, just freedom to discuss  feelings. aren't you American enough to not fear what you say, or do you think America is losing freedoms? if so, maybe we should stand up against those trying to take our freedoms, people who call themselves Americans but are the farthest thing from it.  More authoritarianism.

bl
bl

@justice63k 
intel with the army?  I doubt it, unless you mean in an uncleared  support role.

The only people with high clearance levels who use phrases like "...the 
evil of Western governments, and their insatiable desire to control everything under the sun and moon...." are the occasional turncoats like Snowden.  And even Snowden knew that once you take the mask off, you'd better run where they can't get you.  And if you were army intel, you'd know that "they can't find out who I am from a web post" is bull.  They can, and do.

So unless I read in the near future about an ex-army spook on the run in Bolivia or wherever, I'll assume you were not in Army intelligence, and more likely, if at all military, something more like "pediatric dentist".  Hey, that's the MOS code for 63K!