After the visit of Trump’s National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis is the second US official who paid a visit to Afghanistan in less than two weeks. The apparent goal of the visit of McMaster and Mattis is to assess the situation of Afghanistan – in other words, to determine how many additional American troops are needed. Although neither of them announced the decision about troop surge, the posture of US and Afghan governments indicates both are willing to uphold the troop surge.
The troop surge has been recommended by Gen. John Nicolson, the commander of NATO Resolute Support Mission (RSM) and US troops. Testifying before the Armed Services Committee of US Senate on security operations and counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan a while ago, he had described the security situation in Afghanistan as a “stalemate” and said a few thousand more troops were needed to make the US Afghan mission a success.
One of the usual problems of American strategy in Afghanistan is that it is formulated based on the recommendations of field commanders. The US governments have always laid emphasis on the military solution of Afghan conflict at the behest of their commanders. In most cases, it has led the US governments to ignore the political settlement of the conflict, thereby protracting the war.
Even with its experience of the Afghan war for over a decade and half, the US emphasis on its military solution only prolongs the war. Containing the war by adding a few thousand more foreign troops to the battlefield is unrealistic and unfeasible because they could not do so even when more than 150,000 international boots were here. The time has come for Afghan and US governments to explore cheap and fruitful alternatives to the troop surge, which are the equipping of Afghan National Defense and Security Force (ANDSF), and pursuing a political solution to the Afghan conflict.