Kabul, Afghanistan. There is a line in an old American movie about hunting a huge shark called “Jaws” and one of the group says, “Your going to need a bigger boat.” One could make the case he is in the Pentagon, as America is on the verge of sending more troops to Afghanistan.
American commander of the 15,000 American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, asked for reinforcements. Within a few days Donald Trump is expected to provide them. His military and foreign-policy advisers have come up with a plan to send up to 25,000 more troops, both special forces and trainers to advise the Afghan army. The rest of NATO, too, will be expected to come up with additional troops to compliment American forces.
This marks a huge reversal of Barack Obama’s policy, which was to pull nearly all the remaining American occupation troops out of Afghanistan. In the end, faced with a rapidly deteriorating security situation, he backed off a bit, leaving 8,400 American soldiers and around 6,500 from other NATO countries.
It has not been enough, General Nicholson told Congress. The Taliban insurgency is making steady territorial gains and the Afghan army and police are suffering an unsustainable number of casualties. Sounding as upbeat as he could, he described it as a “stalemate”.
As well as calling for an increase in troop levels, the review also recommends allowing trainers to work at the sharp end with Afghan combat troops, rather than at the command level. Such trainers are far more useful than those restricted to barracks, but the risk of casualties rises.
The generals also want to give American commanders in Afghanistan more flexibility in the way they provide air support for their Afghan allies. Mr Obama relaxed the rules last year, but not enough to allow the use of air power for offensive operations.
The reason for the increase in special forces is that they will be needed to spot targets from forward positions. The new plan will not set any deadlines for force reductions and may also give commanders some latitude to call on additional resources if they prove necessary to better occupy the Afghan nation.
Military analysts and intelligence experts both agree, that the promises of Trump in election 2016 to bring the troops home, get out of NATO and end foreign wars is truly one gone with the wind, as America readies itself for a “bigger boat” full of its troops.