Magazine article National Defense

Focused Engagement Needed in Afghanistan

Magazine article National Defense

Focused Engagement Needed in Afghanistan

Article excerpt

* A lasting peace process in Afghanistan will not be achieved by withdrawing troops or maintaining the status quo, but by stabilizing the battlefield and promoting Afghan sovereignty, according to a new report.

"Focused Engagement: A New Way Forward in Afghanistan," offers strategic options for President Donald Trump's administration to make headway in Afghanistan, after 16 years of attempts to train the local military and stabilize the Central Asian country.

The report, released by the Center for a New American Security advocates stabilizing the battlefield by improving U.S.-Afghan strategic alignment and promoting Afghan sovereignty. This could reduce destabilizing regional competition from insurgent groups including the Taliban, and neighboring countries such as Pakistan to advance a successful and longlasting peace process, according to the report.

"The best-case outcome ... is an advantageous stalemate in which the Afghan government retains control of roughly 65 percent of the country, including Kabul and major cities, while the Taliban controls or contests 35 percent or less," the report said.

The report also recommends that the administration decentralize authority to a U.S. civil-military command in theater, while retaining National Security Council-level oversight.

The report notes that the United States has spent more on assistance in Afghanistan in real terms than it did for the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II. The cost of current U.S. engagement tallies roughly $23 billion per year, with over $5 billion going to aid and assistance and the rest supporting 8,400 U. …

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