President Trump has decided that elements of the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina are needed in an effort to “advise and assist” the Afghan military struggle against the various terrorist elements that plague the Hindu Kush. Afghanistan sits between Iran to its west and Pakistan to its east. Money, weapons, sympathizers, religious fascists, and political instability flow into Afghanistan like an unending Tsunami. American and NATO forces knew this when the decision was made to withdraw most of its troops throughout the early part of this decade. Of course, new elements have complicated the fight for this land as ISIS has become the new face of terror for many westerners. But the Taliban and AL Qaeda never left Afghanistan.
The Army is not calling this deployment by the 82nd as an increase in forces, but for Afghan soldiers it will be a morale boost, maybe. During the past few years as NATO forces dwindled down, the mission for security became more the responsibility of the Afghan army and its police forces. Afghan forces started taking big losses to its forces as casualties started mounting. While the Afghan soldier was bleeding on the battlefield, the government still struggled to logistically support them. Afghanistan is still one of the poorest countries in the world relative to its need for a strong military and police force. For effective military and police forces to be able to succeed, first and foremost there must be money, training, and logistical support from the providing government. Many young men in Afghanistan do not even have a sense of national unity, national identity to motivate them to serve a central government authority. And many have deserted over the years. The Afghan army does have highly trained operatives within its ranks, but maintaining a large enough conventional force to deal with the multi faceted problems the country faces from its, and the West’s enemies, are as problematic as navigating the rugged mountainous terrain that makes up the country’s identity.
If the 82nd Airborne goes into Afghanistan, this time, and can retrain, re-equip, and reinforce Afghan forces, success stories will begin to once again pour out of the country from international news outlets. There is no better military organization than the 82nd Airborne to send in to a desperate situation such as Afghanistan. No matter how effective the 82nd is and continues to be,and the Afghans will benefit greatly on a tactical level now, what this country needs most is a commitment to its operational and strategic future with its coalition partners. No one can predict what this new Presidential administration will do for the Afghan people, and certainly the 82nd Airborne deployment is a loud statement, but if current crop of twenty something year old Afghan soldiers cannot see a future worth fighting for, then we may be seeing today’s 10-year-old American boys and girls being the next wave of twenty something year old American soldiers to be deployed once again to the Hindu Kush to “advise and assist” in the Afghan military struggle.
Photo credit: GW/counterthreatgrp.com