US-NATO military success and failures in Afghanistan
US Republican Senator and the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain's frustration on the failure of the US forces in Afghanistan is clear indication of the failure of the US-NATO forces in containing the desperate terrorists and their terrorism networks.
There are failures of the international forces that carried out their missions in Afghanistan under the UN Security Council resolution. The UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was engaged in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014, led by NATO commanders since 2003, the force aimed to assist the Afghan government to ensure security and effectively fought insurgency thorough out the country loosing many of their lives.
Following thousands of US-NATO airstrikes on the Taliban's strongholds, ambushes, drone attacks and Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) dropped by the US, the Taliban being imbibed with the spirits of the spring's warm charming weather and their one after one deadly attack, offensives has proved the terrorists insurgents to be much more bolder and better organised than the US- NATO international forces.
They are holding more territorial lands than at any time since 2001, when their monstrous, diabolical brute regime was overthrown by the US led invasion. Since the post-Soviet Afghanistan or post-Taliban era, US-NATO has so far failed to draw a robust strategy with other alliance members to control and eradicate terrorism from Afghanistan.
Two types of terrorism are rampant in Afghanistan, one is led by the Taliban, newly emerged ISIL in Afghanistan and another one is led by the local warlords. After 15 years of conflict with all sorts of modern and sophisticated weapons and warfare against an uneducated, under resourced group of insurgents and terrorists, world could ask the US-NATO four star generals, gentlemen, "What war you are fighting for and what achievement you made in Afghanistan"?
Why the US commander in Afghanistan asking now to send more troops, when 140,000 US-NATO soldiers in the field during the troops compact surge could not do? This is like a SOS from the US commander in Afghanistan to the Pentagon and the State department, sensing a doomsday or a total collapsing or failure of the ongoing massive and gigantic military operation against the Taliban, ISIS is imminent?
US-NATO four star generals so-far failed to seal and block the insurgent terrorists movement routes from Pakistan, failed to find out Taliban's financiers, arms and ammunition suppliers, sympathizers . US-NATO inability to severely deal effectively with Pakistan on the vital issue of Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan, has been the major and vital ignored problem.
US-NATO failed to take into consideration on topmost first and urgent priority basis, that the Taliban issue is the main issue that had to be resolved with the Pakistani government urgently, as soon as possible without further delay.
As reported since long time, the Taliban rely on safe and secured dens and sanctuaries in Pakistan under the cordial nourishments and hospitality by the Pakistan Military Intelligence (ISI).The current US commander in Afghanistan General Nicholson during his hearing acknowledged to the US Congress that "it was very difficult to succeed on the battlefield when your enemy enjoys external support and safe haven".
He urged a "holistic review" of American policy towards Pakistan. General Nicholson has very appropriately and thoroughly placed his assessments and understandings before the US Congress, the commander has very sincerely expressed his actual assessment reports, and he did not hide the facts and realities on the grounds in Afghanistan.
Without obtaining any recorded, classified, signed assurances of non-cooperation with the Taliban from the Pakistani regime, it will be totally impossible for US-NATO forces or the Afghan National Army (ANA) to fully contain and eradicate terrorism or the Taliban. US- NATO forces also failed to compel the Pakistani regime to totally band and destroy the bases and network of the Haqqani fighters and other militants, blamed regularly for attacks in Afghanistan.
US- NATO commanders so far failed to get any assurances or signed any specific agreement with the Pakistani military of severing all ties, cooperation, sheltering or providing training and arming the Taliban and other terrorist organizations, operating from their safe hideouts in Pakistan. Since Pakistan is enjoying the status as a major non-NATO ally in 2004 from the then President George Bush it was an attempt to recognize Pakistan as an important ally against al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists insurgents.
Pakistan received billions of US Dollars from the USA since 2002, but who knows since then, what the US administration has received feedback in return from the Pakistani regimes? US- NATO commanders also failed to totally destroy and eradicate opium cultivation from the Afghan land, as the opium is widely nourished protected, and used by the Taliban and other terror organisations as their main source of weapons purchasing funding and their livelihood.
However, the DDR program resumed following the execution of the Bonn Agreement of 2001, worked as most essential concomitants of the then transitional process, backed by the UN. But enormous caches destroyed or confiscated by US-NATO forces, including anti-tank guns and rockets, as well as fire arms, the local war lords throughout the country did not hand over most of the weapons they were possessing at the time of the UN backed DDR program started.
Now who knows and takes accounts of their secret stocks of illegal weapons in their possession? Because the war lords supported the USA on anti-Taliban invasions in Afghanistan and became dearer to US-NATO forces, did not handover most of the weapons they were holding.
It was reported before that the USA had relied on some of the war lords to overthrow the Taliban and it was also reported that, the CIA paid them to work with the US led forces. The war lords got all the assistances from the US-NATO forces and became dependant on the dauntless War Lords for transportation of their supplies and their security needs.
State building and institutions in most of the provinces and districts had been quite weaker and disorganised. Re-building of the Afghan institutions got new momentum after the UN took over its operational mission in 2003, facing numerous challenges. Rebuilding some of the national institutions still did not get its complete and full powers and capabilities, because of the power imbalance and lack of funding and security.
National Insecurity is the main concern of the country. Since the declared Spring attacks started by the Taliban, heavy deadly attacks and causalities been occurred on the Afghan National Army and on the innocent civilians either by Taliban or by US-NATO forces during their operational attacks, which is increasing uncertainty in the minds of the Afghan population.
This type of ongoing indiscriminate wrong targets and killings are creating economic downturn and loosing trust and faith on US-NATO forces as well as on the Afghan government. This damaged national confidence has to be controlled, repaired, and restored at any cost.
It has to be fixed to get cooperation and supports from the hearts and minds from the mass population of Afghanistan. Otherwise, only increasing the number of attacking the US or multinational coalition forces will not help in gaining trust and confidence from the Afghan people.
US-NATO military operation against the terrorists will be a flawed one and the country will head only towards an uncertain failed state for the coming years. The UN- US-NATO Mission has not failed, but has fallen well short on its final goals.
There is no dearth of frantic efforts and international financing and backing, the tough and difficult tasks cannot be fulfilled by only military empowerment, without having credibility and confidence in the citizens and their cooperation.
I would like to strongly recommend that under no circumstances the UN, the USA, NATO and other international stakeholders should lose their patience, hopes and aspiration, rather they should invigorate and boost their noble efforts to save this South Asian country from being the total safe haven and hub of the terrorists, in collaboration and direct supervision and control of the Pakistan military and ISI.
Kazi Salim worked in Afghanistan as Regional Civic and Voters Education Coordinator, under the UN