Afghanistan Military & News


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>> Are Russia, Pakistan And China Staging An Intervention In Afghanistan ?

Pakistan has warned the U.S. to sort out the “total mess” in Afghanistan, and if it doesn’t, Russia will. Moscow could penetrate Central and South Asia and stage a Syrian-style intervention in Afghanistan, the Pakistan military warns.

A senior source within the Pakistan Army is reportedly telling U.S. President Donald Trump’s new generals that Russia could sort out the “total mess” in Afghanistan if the U.S. and its allies fail to stop the advance of ISIS and the Taliban.

The unnamed Pakistani source told The Telegraph that if ISIS and the Taliban keep destabilizing Afghanistan at the current rate, Russia could stage the intervention on the pretext of protecting itself and its allies in the region. The source said the U.S. is “losing control” in the region after the significant decrease of Western troops operating in Afghanistan.

Is Russia planning an Afghanistan intervention with China and Pakistan?

ISIS and the Taliban continue to gaining strength in the region, and last month they pushed their chaos into neighboring Pakistan by killing nearly 200 people in a string of violent terrorist attacks. Now, the Pakistani source warned that Russia could intervene in Afghanistan with full force.

The death toll in Afghanistan is on the rise, with the United Nations reporting last month that nearly 3,500 Afghan civilians died in the deadly conflict last year – the highest death roll in several years. Russia has repeatedly voiced its concerns over the volatile situation on Afghan soil but has so far not announced plans to intervene directly.

However, last month Russia invited China and Pakistan to trilateral talks to discuss Afghanistan – which may have been the foundation that would open doors for sending Russian troops to Afghanistan. Interestingly, the U.S. and India – two key players on battling ISIS and the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan – were not invited to the talks.

Chinese troops already operating in Afghanistan

Multiple evidence-backed reports, however, indicate that Chinese troops are already operating inside Afghanistan. While details about China’s involvement in the war-torn country remain vague, many experts suspect that China and Russia – and possibly also Pakistan – are planning to play a much greater role in Afghanistan once the U.S. and NATO troops leave the country.

Since 2015, the U.S. has kept about 8,000 troops on Afghan soil, but there are reported plans to reduce that number to less than 1,000 in 2017. But that was the Pentagon’s withdrawal plan under President Barack Obama, while Trump has yet to outline his policies on Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region as a whole.

Afghanistan “slipping out of control”

The Pakistan military source also revealed that the country recently held a series of high-level discussions with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Resolute Support Mission Commander Gen John Nicholson.

Last month, Gen. Nicholson publicly admitted that Afghan forces are cornered by the Taliban militants. The unnamed source in the Pakistan military now says that Pakistan has repeatedly warned both Gen. Nicholson and Mattis that Afghanistan is “slipping out of control,” and if the U.S. fails to deal with the extremism and terrorism threat in the country, the Trump administration will have “a huge crisis on its hands.”

“Da’ish is also developing there, and if they leave Syria and Iraq, the next place for them to gather in is Afghanistan,” the Pakistan army source reportedly told the U.S.

Afghan army unable to deal with terrorists

While relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan remain tense – especially after last month’s terrorist attacks in Pakistan, which Islamabad blamed on the Afghan government – Pakistan continues to criticize Kabul for failing to guard its side of the border, from where terrorists are said to be launching their attacks against both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Pakistani source also reportedly explained why Kabul’s anti-terrorism efforts have been so ineffective.

“There are 350,000 troops in the Afghan army, but only about 20,000 are capable of combat missions,” the source said, adding that there are about 1,000 generals within the Afghan army, but most of those gens were appointed only because of their “tribal affiliations” rather than skills to combat the rise of extremism in the country. “The problem is that you can’t teach a donkey to gallop.”

Russia fears U.S. is using ISIS for its own purposes

But America’s inability to eliminate the extremism and terrorist threats in Afghanistan could play a cruel joke on U.S. interests in the region, as Russia and China are said to be prepared to get involved in the deadly conflict to prevent ISIS and the Taliban from spreading closer to their borders.

The Pakistani army source reportedly said that the Russian government fears that the U.S. could be using ISIS as “a plot to destabilize its backyard,” which explains why the West’s anti-terrorism efforts in the region were doomed from the very beginning. Russia, which is often praised for its counter-terrorism operation in Syria, could use its fears as an excuse to get militarily involved on Afghan soil.

Russia establishes contacts with the Taliban

During the trilateral Russia-China-Pakistan talks last month, Moscow called for dialogue with the Taliban, as Beijing, Moscow and Islamabad all seem to agree that peace in Afghanistan can be achieved only through negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Russia has already reportedly started back-channel contacts with the Taliban, which may be the starting point of its intervention in Afghanistan. Establishing those contacts could help Moscow build proxy assets in Afghanistan in order to extend its military operation from Syria into the other war-torn country.

Would the U.S. stop their military intervention?

One could argue that Russia hosted trilateral talks with China and Pakistan with the exclusion of India, Afghanistan and the U.S. for a reason. Both China and Pakistan are equally interested in halting the terrorist threats emanating from there.

Pakistan recently experienced firsthand the deadly threat of terrorism and extremism, while China wants to ensure that no threats obstruct the implementation of its ambitions with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. Clearing Afghanistan from terrorism would also prevent the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which is associated with ISIS and the Taliban, from destabilizing China’s Xinjiang province.

If Russia, China and Pakistan announce a joint military operation against terrorists on Afghan soil, will anyone be there to stop them? Has the Trump administration made up its mind about Afghanistan and the region as a whole? Or when exactly are Trump’s generals planning to outline their plan to halt ISIS and the Taliban from further advances? Russia, China and Pakistan seem to be losing their patience by the day.

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Cost of Afghanistan War: Timeline, Economic Impact (Part 1)

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The Afghanistan War was a military conflict that lasted 14 years (2001 - 2014) and cost $1.07 trillion. The Bush Administration launched it in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks by al-Qaida. The United States attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan for hiding al-Qaida's leader, Osama bin Laden. It was the kick-off to the War on Terror.

The war's $1.07 trillion cost had three main components. First is the $773 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funds specifically dedicated to the Afghanistan War.

Second is the increase of $243 billion to the Department of Defense base budget. Third is the increase of $54.2 billion to the Veterans Administration budget. Some of these costs are also attributable to the War in Iraq. But the true cost of the Afghanistan War should include the addition to these departments, even if some of the funds went toward both wars. For more on how to determine the actual cost of defense, see the U.S. Military Budget.

Timeline of Afghanistan War Costs

Here's a timeline of what happened each year. A table that summarizes these costs is below.

FY 2001 - $37.3 billion: Osama bin Laden authorized 9/11 attacks. President Bush demanded that the Afghanistan Taliban deliver bin Laden or risk U.S. attack. Congress appropriated $22.9 billion in emergency funding. On October 7, U.S. jets bombed Taliban forces. On December 7, the Taliban abandon Kabul, the capital. Hamid Karzai became interim administration head.

That same month, ground troops pursued bin Laden into the Afghan foothills. He escaped to Pakistan on December 16, 2001.

FY 2002 - $65.1 billion: In March, the U.S. military launched Operation Anaconda against Taliban fighters. Bush promised to reconstruct Afghanistan, but only provided $38 billion between 2001 and 2009.

Bush turned attention to Iraq War.

FY 2003 - $56.7 billion: In May, the Bush Administration announced that major combat ended in Afghanistan. NATO took over control of the peacekeeping mission. NATO added 65,000 troops from 42 countries.

FY 2004 - $29.6 billion: On January 9, Afghanistan created a new Constitution. On October 9, the U.S. military protected Afghans from Taliban attacks for their first free election. On October 29, bin Laden threatened another terrorist attack.

FY 2005 - $47.4 billion: On May 23, Bush and Karzai signed an agreement allowing U.S. military access to Afghan military facilities in return for training and equipment. Six million Afghans voted for national and local councils. Three million voters were women.

FY 2006 - $29.9 billion: The new Afghanistan government struggled to provide basic services, including police protection. Violence increases. The United States criticized NATO for not providing more soldiers.

FY 2007 - $57.3 billion: Allies assassinated a Taliban commander, Mullah Dadullah.

FY 2008 - $87.7 billion: Violence escalated in Afghanistan after U.S. troops accidentally killed civilians.

FY 2009 - $100 billion: President Obama took office. He sent 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan in April.

He promised to send another 30,000 in December. He named Lt. General McChrystal as the new commander. Obama's strategy focused on attacking resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida forces on the Pakistan border. That added $59.5 billion to Bush's FY 2009 budget. He promised to withdraw all troops by 2011. Voters reelected Karzai amidst accusations of fraud.

FY 2010 - $112.7 billion: NATO sent surge forces to fight the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. NATO agreed to turn over all defense to Afghan forces by 2014. Obama replaced McChrystal with General Petraeus. Afghanistan held parliamentary elections amidst charges of fraud.

FY 2011 - $110.4 billion: Special Forces took out Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011. Obama announced he would withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year and 23,000 by the end of 2012. The United States held preliminary peace talks with Taliban leaders. (Source: Amy Belasco, "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11," Table A1. Congressional Research Service, March 29, 2014.)

FY 2012 - $105.1 billion: Obama announced the withdrawal of another 23,000 troops from Afghanistan in the summer, leaving 70,000 troops remaining. Both sides agreed to hasten U.S. troop withdrawal to 2013. Their presence had become unwelcome. The Taliban canceled U.S. peace talks.

FY 2013 - $53.3 billion: U.S. forces shifted to a training and support role. The Taliban reignited peace negotiations with the United States, causing Karzai to suspend his U.S. negotiations.

FY 2014 - $80.2 billion: Obama announced final U.S. troop withdrawal, with only 9,800 remaining at the end of the year. (Source: "Afghanistan War," Council on Foreign Relations. "Major Events in the Afghanistan War," The New York Times.)

FY 2015 - $60.9 billion: Troops trained Afghan forces. (Source: DoD 2015 OCO Amendment)

FY 2016 - $30.8 billion: The DoD requested funds for training efforts in Afghanistan as well as training and equipment for Syrian opposition forces. It also included support for NATO and responses to terrorist threats. (Source: DoD 2016 OCO Amendment)

FY 2017 - $5.7 billion: The DoD requested $58.8 billion for Operation Freedom Sentinel in Afghanistan, Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and the Levant, increased European support and counterterrorism. (Source: DoD 2017 OCO Amendment.)

*Boots on Ground is the number of troops in Iraq. From 2001 through 2013, it's as of December of that year. 2014 - 2017 is as of May. (Source: "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11," Table A-1. Amy Belasco, Congressional Research Service, March 29, 2014.) Boots on Ground for 2015 is for the fourth quarter and 2016 is from the second quarter. (Source: Heidi M. Peters, "Department of Defense Contractor and Troop Levels in Iraq and Afghanistan: 2007-2016," Table 3. Congressional Research Service, August 15, 2016. "Historical Tables," OMB.)


Cost of Afghanistan War: Timeline, Economic Impact (Part 2)

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Cost of the Afghanistan War to Veterans

The real cost of the Afghanistan War is more than the $1.06 trillion added to the debt. First, and most important, is the cost borne by the 2,350 U.S. troops who died, the 20,092 who suffered injuries, and their families. (Source: "Total Deaths KIA," Department of Defense, January 13, 2017.) For details on these casualties, see

Improvements in battlefield medicine meant that more than 90 percent of soldiers wounded in Afghanistan survived. That's better than the Vietnam War's 86.5 percent track record. Unfortunately, that also means these veterans and their families now must live with the effects of permanent and grave damage. More than 320,000 of soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq have Traumatic Brain Injury that causes disorientation and confusion. Of those, 8,237 suffered severe or invasive brain injury. In addition, 1,645 soldiers lost all or part of a limb. More than 138,000 have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They experience flashbacks, hypervigilance and difficulty sleeping.

On average, 20 veterans commit suicide each day according to a 2016 VA study. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) found that 47 percent of its members knew of someone who had attempted suicide after returning from active duty. The group considers veteran suicide to be its number one issue. (Source: "A Guide to U.S. Military Casualty Statistics: Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom," Congressional Research Service, Hannah Fischer, February 19, 2014. "Veterans Group to Launch Suicide Prevention Campaign," Washington Post, March 24, 2014.)

The cost of veterans’ medical and disability payments over the next 40 years will be more than $1 trillion. That's according to Linda Bilmes, a senior lecturer in public finance at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “The cost of caring for war veterans typically peaks 30 to 40 years or more after a conflict,” Bilmes said. (Source: "Costs of War," Watson Institute at Brown University, September 2016. "Iraq War Lives on as Second-Costliest U.S. Conflict Fuels U.S. Debt," BusinessWeek, January 3, 2012. "Final U.S. Troops Leave Iraq," Bloomberg, March 19, 2013).

Cost to Economy

The Afghanistan War cost more than the $738 billion inflation-adjusted dollars spent on the Vietnam War. It's second only to the $4.1 trillion inflation-adjusted dollars spent during World War II.

Unlike earlier wars, most American families did not feel impacted by the Afghanistan War. Unlike the Vietnam War and World War II, there was no draft. There was no tax imposed to pay for the war.

As a result, those who served and their families bore the brunt. It will cost them at least $300 billion over the next several decades to pay for their injured family members. That doesn't include lost income from jobs they quit to care for their relative.

Future generations will also pay for the addition to the debt. Researcher Ryan Edwards estimated that the United States incurred an extra $453 billion in interest on the debt to pay for the wars in the Middle East. Over the next 40 years, these costs will add $7.9 trillion to the debt. (Source: "Costs of War," Watson Institute, September 2016.)

Companies, particularly small businesses, were disrupted by National Guard and Reserve call-ups. The economy has also been deprived of the productive contributions of the service members killed, wounded or psychologically traumatized.

There's also the opportunity cost in terms of job creation. Every $1 billion spent on defense creates 8,555 jobs and adds $565 million to the economy. That same $1 billion in tax cuts stimulate enough demand to create 10,779 jobs and puts $505 million into the economy as retail sales. The same $1 billion in spent on education adds $1.3 billion to the economy and creates 17,687 jobs.


Why did the United States start a war in Afghanistan? The Bush administration wanted to eliminate the terrorist threat of al-Qaida's leader, Osama bin Laden. It also wanted to remove the Taliban from power since they provided refuge for bin Laden.

Al-Qaida had been in Afghanistan since the Taliban came to power in 1996. Before that, al-Qaida had operated in Pakistan's mountainous western border. It returned to Pakistan when the United States ousted the Taliban in 2001. (Source: "Al-Qaida Backgrounder," Council on Foreign Relations, June 6, 2012.)

The Taliban grew out of Muslim opposition to the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. They came from the thousands of mujahedeen (holy warriors) that arrived from all over the world to fight the Soviets. Ironically, the United States supplied anti-aircraft missiles to the mujahedeen to stop the spread of communism in the Middle East. (Source: "The Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan," PBS Newshour, October 10, 2006.)

When the war ended, these mujahedeen battled each other for control of the country. An Afghan contingent joined with Pashtun tribesmen to create the Taliban. They practiced a fundamentalist version of Islam called Wahhabism. The Taliban (which means student) had attended schools funded by Saudi Arabia.

The Taliban promised peace and stability. They controlled 90 percent of the country by 2001. They also imposed strict sharia law, such as requiring women to wear burqas. The United Nations Security Council issued resolutions urging the Taliban to end oppressive treatment of women. (Source: "The Taliban in Afghanistan," Council on Foreign Relations, July 4, 2014.)

Al-Qaida shared a similar fundamentalist Sunni Muslim ideology. The Sunnis believe that Shiites want to revive Persian rule over the Middle East. This Sunni-Shiite split is the driving force of tensions in the area. It is also an economic battle. Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran both want to control the Straits of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of the world's oil passes.

The Taliban's support of al-Qaida came at a cost. It caused the UN Security Council to issue sanctions against Afghanistan. These sanctions, along with the Afghanistan War, led to the Taliban's downfall from power.


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