Secretary Mattis in Afghanistan, Kabul Airport Hit by Rockets

Secretary of Defense James Mattis made a surprise visit to Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday.  Hours later, militants launched a rocket attack on the airport in Kabul.

The Taliban claims that Mattis was the target, although he was no longer at the airport when they attacked.  The Islamic State has also claimed responsibility for the attacks.  Both Islamic State (ISIS) and Taliban forces control territory in Afghanistan but, while they have co-operated at times on joint attacks, they seek different ends.  The Taliban desires control of Afghanistan, while ISIS pursues the institution of a global Islamic caliphate.

Mattis is a highly-regarded retired Marine Corps General, having previously served in many conflicts, including the Persian Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the War in Iraq.

Accompanying Mattis was NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.  They met with Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan, and General John Nicholson, commander of American forces in the country.  This was the first visit by Mattis to Afghanistan after President Donald Trump announced his new strategy for the Afghan war last month.

The Resurgent previously reported on the key pieces of Trump’s new strategy, but the main points are that he is loosening the rules of engagement for American forces and focussing on assisting the Afghan government and military so that they can begin to control their own country’s security.  In addition, Pakistan will be expected to assist with rooting militants from its territory, and India may be enlisted as a partner in the fight.

There are approximately U.S. 11,000 troops currently in Afghanistan, with 3,500 more being sent.  At the war’s peak in 2011, there were over 100,000 American troops there.  Since the beginning of the war in 2001, American casualties have included over 2,300 dead and 17,000 wounded.

 

Trump’s Big Asia Shift: Goodbye Pakistan, Hello India





President Trump gave what we can legitimately call a major foreign policy and anti-terror strategy speech tonight. Speaking before a military audience at Fort Myer, Va., the president called the nation to unity, healing and love.

He then made what will surely be a bombshell of a shift in American’s focus in South Asia–flipping our support from Pakistan to larger rival India, and redoubling our efforts to achieve an “honorable and enduring victory” in Afghanistan.

Trump spoke for about a half hour, and remained “on script” reading from the teleprompter. None of the pique or emotional outbursts of previous talks was evident in what was a very conventional, presidential address.

“We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other,” Trump said as a preface to announcing a fairly seismic shift in the way the so-called “war on terror” is being conducted in Afghanistan and South Asia.

The president said that his initial instinct was to end the war in Afghanistan, but after many meetings. he felt that three fundamental conclusions guided his decision:

1. Our nation must seek an “honorable and enduring outcome.”

2. The consequences of a “rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable.”

3. The security threats we face in Afghanistan and the region “are immense.”

Trump singled out Pakistan as a nation that has given a haven to terrorists. He called the terrorists “nothing but thugs and criminals and predators and…that’s right…losers.”

He laid out three “core pillars” to his plan to achieve victory over terrorists.

First, the U.S. will shift to a “strategy of conditions,” which means we will no longer focus on numbers of troops or plans for further military operations. “I will not say when we are going to attack,” Trump said, adding, “but attack we will.”

“We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists,” he said.





The second pillar is that the U.S. will no longer be silent about Pakistan’s tolerance and sheltering of terrorists. “In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner,” Trump said. “But Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day…to kill our people.”

Trump said that will have to change. “It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order and peace.”

The third pillar is India. India has historically been Pakistan’s rival. Trump noted that both countries have nuclear weapons, and he mentioned the tension between them that could develop into violence.

A shift toward India, which Trump said makes billions in trade with America, is for the “broader Indo-Pacific region.”

Finally, Trump said he’s removing restrictive rules of engagement and giving the military the tools to fight. “Micromanagement from Washington, D.C. does not win battles.”

He pledged to expand authority for U.S. armed forces to target terrorists and criminal organizations. He promised to maximize sanctions.

“Our troops will fight to win,” Trump said. “Victory will have a clear definition.”

The president once again called his paradigm “principled realism,” whereby the U.S. does not seek to recreate our culture or nation in other countries, but to focus on American interests, and seek partners who share them. Those other nations will be required to participate financially, and by showing loyalty.

Trump thanked the Afghan people for their commitment and sacrifice. He lauded those soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery and said the country must honor them by pursuing a victory worthy of their sacrifice.

Trump to Address the Nation on Afghanistan and South Asia




President Donald J. Trump will address the nation about his strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia this evening at 9:00 p.m. from Fort Myer in Arlington, VA.

After a seven-month review of options in Afghanistan, during which President Trump expressed frustration about continuing to follow a losing strategy, Trump and his advisors have decided upon a strategy. The decision emerged from a meeting he held Friday with Vice President Mike Pence, Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, national security advisor H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and other top advisors at the presidential retreat at Camp David, in rural Maryland.

The details of the Trump strategy havens been revealed but Defense Secretary Mattis offered a few comments about the strategy Sunday:

“The process was rigorous,” Mattis said Sunday, speaking to reporters in Amman, Jordan, as he visited the region. “And it involved all members of the Cabinet, of the national security staff, writ large.”



Without going into detail, Mattis said the strategy “involves significant allies,” presumably members of the NATO coalition that have fought at the U.S.’s side in Afghanistan since the invasion that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“The president has made a decision,” Mattis said. “I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous.”

“It is a South Asia strategy,” he added. “It is not just an Afghanistan strategy.”

Reports say that the new strategy includes an increase in troop strength of 4,000 troops. That’s not really new because President Trump authorized the troop increase in June. Mattis refrained from building up the American force there until Trump agreed on a broader strategy.

Jonathan Swan of Axios reports that, “Trump’s top national security advisers all agree the only way they’ll win their missions in Afghanistan is to modestly increase troop levels, keep training the Afghan military, and keep a strong CIA and special forces presence to run aggressive counter-terrorism operations.” Mattis has reportedly “been using this line in meetings: ‘Mr. President, we haven’t fought a 16-year war so much as we have fought a one-year war, 16 times.’”

Trump’s advisors presented him with other scenarios, which included a gradual withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan (a continuation of Obama’s failed strategy), and counter-terrorism-only options. Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon wanted Trump to gradually withdraw the U.S. military from Afghanistan and replace it with private paramilitary forces to hunt terrorists. Swain tells us that Mattis and company never took that idea seriously:

I’m told the Bannon strategy has never been part of the NSC paperwork, though the former chief strategist circumvented the official process and took his arguments directly to the president.

According to Swan, despite his reluctance, Trump “doesn’t want to be the president who loses the country to the terrorists.” Should Trump order a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, advisers believe he’d all but ensure the Taliban completes its takeover of the country. Al-Qaeda and ISIS would be allowed to flourish, and you’d have a terrorist launching pad similar to before 9/11.

President has told his advisors that while he thinks the war in Afghanistan has been a disaster, and the U.S. is losing, he thinks total withdrawal would be bad. Trump saw what happened when Obama withdrew from Iraq and believes that doing so precipitously in Afghanistan would allow the Taliban to take over, and Al-Qaeda would be resurgent.

The new strategy will only work if the Taliban is denied its sanctuaries in Pakistan. Reuters reports that Trump’s advisors are split on how much to pressure Pakistan:

Nicholson, McMaster and Lisa Curtis, senior director for South and Central Asia at the National Security Council, favor taking a strong hand with Pakistan to deal with Taliban militants using that country as a base from which to plot attacks in Afghanistan, current and former officials say.

On the other side are State Department officials and others at the Pentagon, including Dunford, who take a broader view of Pakistan’s strategic importance and are less convinced that harsh actions will secure more cooperation from Islamabad, they said.

I don’t see how we can win in Afghanistan unless the Taliban is denied safe haven in Pakistan and Iran and Russia are made to stop sheltering, training, funding and arming Taliban insurgents.

Think Progress: It’s the Army’s Fault We Traded Five Terrorists

The shark has officially been jumped by the left. Think Progress, the left wing site that has no intellectual honesty, actually has a post entitled “Did Sergeant Bergdahl Desert The Army Or Did The Army Desert Him?

They allege that Bowe Bergdahl might have been mentally ill and the Army should have done a better job of dealing with him instead of letting him wander off base.

First, doesn’t that make Joe Scarborough’s comments about Bergdahl’s father exactly accurate?

Second, really? I mean really? The guy leaves the base in search of the Taliban and it is the army’s problem? This is desperate spin from desperate people who still can’t answer one question: why trade five terrorists for one deserter? No one is saying we should have left Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan. But a lot of people are asking if this deal to get him home was worth it.

Again people, it is time to laugh at the left. In their desperation to salvage a narrative, they’re left with this. Next they’ll be hoping Bowe Bergdahl pulls a Bradley Manning and becomes Chelsea. Then he’ll no longer have mental issues, just a lifestyle choice we should all honor and respect.

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Foot Soldiers in the Real War on Women

Five more foot soldiers are headed back to the front lines of the real war on women thanks to President Obama. Abdul Haq Wasiq was a deputy minister of intelligence for the Taliban and helped Al Qaeda. He has been accused of murder and torture.

Mullah Norullah Noori was a military commander for the Taliban. He fought American forces in Afghanistan and, according to Fox News, “Noori has been implicated in the murder of thousands of Shiites in northern Afghanistan.” Noori said the killings were necessary as the Taliban worked to create their “ideal state.”

Mullah Mohammad Fazi is the Taliban’s former deputy defense minister. He commanded a division of the Taliban’s army and serve as the Chief of Staff to the Taliban Army. He maintained ties with various terrorist groups and coordinated with them.

Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa is the former governor of Herat province. We know he represented the Taliban in meetings with Iranians and had close times to Osama Bin Laden. The government is also pretty certain he trafficked in opium in addition to maintaining a terror training camp in Afghanistan.

Mohammad Nabi Omari smuggled weapons for the Taliban and possibly Al Qaeda. He maintained close ties to the Taliban’s leadership in Afghanistan and with local terror networks.

For all the Democrats’ shrill rhetoric against Republicans being engaged in a “war on women,” these men really were. They were foot soldiers in the Taliban’s war on women before they turned to war with Al Qaeda against the United States. They believe women should be fully covered. They believe in stoning women and keeping them from an education. They believe if a woman is raped she deserved it. They also believe in death to America. They have been released from Guantanamo Bay on orders of President Obama for an American soldier named Bowe Bergdahl.

Bowe Bergdahl appears to have walked off his military base in Afghanistan without permission. His colleagues believe he deserted. They suggest he was sympathetic to the Taliban and disillusioned with the American military.

On CNN, his former squad leader, Staff Sgt. Justin Gerleve, told Jake Tapper that Bergdahl “totally deserted.” While Gerleve said, “I can’t say for sure the leakage was from Bergdahl” he noted that after Bergdahl left the base attacks from the Taliban “did get more direct, the IEDs did get more pinpoint to our trucks rather than the side of the roads, and everything like that.” Gerleve also confirmed Bergdahl left the base in search of the Taliban.

Other soldiers who have come forward to confirm Bergdahl’s troubling actions say that when it became apparent Bergdahl had left in search of the Taliban, the military insisted the soldiers sign nondisclosure agreements. Several of those who have spoken out say they felt compelled to break their non-disclosure agreements because of what President Obama has done.

The White House clearly was caught off guard by the reaction. The President’s team thought they’d be praised for doing everything they could to get one soldier back. They did not seem to understand that while the American public wants all our soldiers home, they do not necessarily want five prominent terrorists exchanged for one deserter. That is not a fair or good trade. The White House apparently thinks there is no difference between a soldier captured on the battlefield and one who deserted in search of the enemy.

What is most shameful now is Obama Administration officials’ reaction to the soldiers who are speaking out. They are accusing the soldiers of “swift boating” Bergdahl — a derisive term relating to the soldiers who attacked John Kerry’s Vietnam service. Brandon Friedman, the Public Affairs Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, took to twitter to refer to the non-deserting soldiers who served with Bergdahl as “psychopaths.” Meanwhile, the President’s National Security Advisor claims Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction.”

The Obama Administration, yet again, seems confused by who are and are not the bad guys. They refuse to negotiate with “hostage taking” Republicans, but free five terrorists for one deserter to satisfy the hostage taking Taliban.

To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM

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Why You Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists 101

Ronald Reagan refused to negotiate with terrorists. Heck, most American Presidents have refused to negotiate with terrorists. Maybe the President needs to watch “The Wind and the Lion“.

In any event, the Taliban feels emboldened to engage in more high profile kidnappings now. Yes, they’ve talked to Time.

A Taliban commander close to the negotiations over the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl told TIME Thursday that the deal made to secure Bergdahl’s release has made it more appealing for fighters to capture American soldiers and other high-value targets.

“It’s better to kidnap one person like Bergdahl than kidnapping hundreds of useless people,” the commander said, speaking by telephone on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “It has encouraged our people. Now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird.

Well done Mr. President. Maybe you need another Nobel Peace Prize.

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