Thursday, August 25, 2016

This is Not Good

American forces are bolstering Afghan forces as the Taliban approach Lashkar Gah:

Around 100 U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been deployed to a southern city at risk of falling to the Taliban.

The spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan said the soldiers had arrived in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, to provide training and support to Afghan forces.

While it is good we are helping, why did it get to this point?

When last The Dignified Rant mentioned Lashkar Gah, we were helping the Afghan forces consolidate their forces to get rid of vulnerable outposts in order to better defend more important territory--like Lashkar Gah:

Army and government officials said security forces had left Nawzad district, which borders Musa Qala, and would concentrate their strength on defending the area around the provincial capital Lashkar Gah and the main highway between Kabul and the western city of Herat.

And gathering reserves by abandoning small posts was supposed to allow Afghan forces to seize the initiative and go on the offensive. That was a good concept.

Instead, Afghan forces appear still on the defensive in the south, but now holding the provincial capital against advancing Taliban.

Will Afghan forces have enough support from America and our allies to allow them to outfight the Taliban?

What the Hell happened?

UPDATE: The fall of the district capital in the east, which is the subject of this article, probably isn't significant. These are like our county seats--there are lots--and will likely be retaken shortly. But this is relevant to my question:

According to U.S. estimates reported in July by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a Congressional oversight body, Afghan forces control or influence just under 66 percent of the national territory, down from just over 70 percent at the start of the year.

The reduction was partly due to security forces pulling back from exposed areas and concentrating their strength, but after a lull following the death of former leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in May the Taliban have stepped up their summer offensive.

Some 36 of the 407 districts in the country were under insurgent control or influence, while another 104 were deemed "at risk", SIGAR said. [emphasis added]

Pulling back from exposed areas where they were tied down in small static defensive positions was supposed to free up Afghan troops who could be mobile for offensive action and to react to Taliban attacks.

What the Hell happened?