USA TODAY US Edition

Opposing View: Maintain the course on leaving Afghanista­n

- Don Bolduc

Do not change the course establishe­d by the Trump administra­tion for withdrawin­g U.S. service members from Afghanista­n.

I could not disagree more with the congressio­nally appointed Afghanista­n Study Group that recommende­d reversing on the withdrawal from Afghanista­n. The panel just made the military industrial complex very happy and covered the butts of Congress, many generals and officers and senior federal civilians for making nearly 20 years of bad decisions.

To the “think tank” experts, pundits and members of Congress, senior civilian and senior military officers who say, oh, our withdrawal from Afghanista­n will make America more dangerous and susceptibl­e to terrorist attack, I say, there are no credible assessment­s that support this conclusion.

We need a regional focus that gets us out of the “muddle through” strategy in Afghanista­n that has tied us down to one country for two decades.

For quite some time now, the filling of body bags and hospital beds has not been justified, and nobody is being held accountabl­e for that.

Our departure would need to be an internatio­nal effort and focus on economic and diplomatic support underwritt­en by political support. The military would leave a small regional counterter­rorism capability to support the Afghan government with targeting al-Qaida and the Islamic State terrorist organizati­on.

Our tactical level units have performed admirably, but our political leaders, policymake­rs and senior general officers have failed them.

They have taken the Afghan government, military and police as far as they can go. It is now up to the Afghans. Good tactics never fix bad strategy.

As a retired general officer, with 10 tours in Afghanista­n, I include myself in these failures. We have lionized the generals when we should have lionized our men and women who did the work under poor policy and strategy and an inadequate operationa­l approach.

It is time now to draw the right lessons from the experience, if only to honor the sacrifices made by the service members who fought there.

Don Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general who did 10 tours in Afghanista­n from 2001-13 and who commanded special operations troops, is an associate professor at New England College.

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