While Afghan troops are holding their own with diminished American support, the price has been high:
Yeah, the data -- the data I gave you, it was -- it was killed in action, 4,350 for 2013 and 4,634 for 2014. Those are -- those are killed in action. No, this is not sustainable.
I worry about what it will be when Afghanistan is providing their own air support without us:
Remember in 2015, the ANSF has full responsibility. So as they keep working their MI-17 program, their MI-35 program, the MD-530s, the A-29s, all the things that they're trying to complement, supplement, air weapons teams, that will be their version of close air support.
While we will have air assets available, it will be mostly for our force protection and only in unusual cases in support of Afghan forces. I don't know how Afghanistan sustains the air element of their force.
But what I really want to note is that about 4,500 deaths per year is seen as too high for the Afghan security forces (about half army and half police) to endure for long.
Assad's army has suffered 40,000 soldier dead in the last 3 years of war, and add 27,000 militia dead--so 23,000 per year--from a far smaller population base.
If Afghan forces can't sustain their losses, how can Assad's forces keep going long enough to win?
Even aside from the wrongness of supporting Assad against ISIL, I get the feeling that even if backing Assad as a lesser of multiple evils was the right thing to do, we'd only back Assad just to see him lose anyway and alienate the majority of Syrians who resist Assad now.