The US defense secretary’s statements come as the commander of NATO Resolute Support Mission (RSM) and US troops asked for the deployment of additional troops in Afghanistan a few day ago. Gen. John Nicolson had said the US and NATO mission needed a few thousand more international troops to succeed. If a decision is to be made about the Afghan mission as per Nicolson’s recommendation, it will mean that the US will increase its troop level in Afghanistan.
In the light of the past experience, the foreign troop surge is not a solution to the Afghan conflict because the security situation of Afghanistan was not stable even when more than 150,000 international boots were here, so that is why containing the ongoing violence by adding a few thousand more foreign troops to the battlefield seems to be unrealistic and unfeasible. The deployment of more foreign troops in the country is a failed experience which, if repeated, neither can help the fight against terrorism nor will improve security.
Investment in, and political support to, Afghan National Defense and Security Force (ANDSF) is the best and least expensive alternative to foreign troop surge. If half of the money spent on coalition forces is invested in Afghan forces with transparency and accountability, the impact will be far better than that of foreign troops. Its another advantage is that the international troops cannot stay in Afghanistan for lifetime, but a strong Afghan force can eliminate the fear of the country turning again into a terror haven forever.
Taking into account that, the Trump administration should explore other ways being both affordable and effective to counter the threat other than to follow Obama’s footsteps. Besides investing in Afghan forces and equipping them with advanced weaponry, politically supporting them and concurrently putting a squeeze on countries backing and bankrolling terrorists is the best and cheapest alternative to increased American presence and heavy costs in the status quo.