USA TODAY US Edition
Opposing View: Maintain the course on leaving Afghanistan
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.