America’s war in Afghanistan is now in its 16th year, the longest foreign war
in our history. The phrase “no end in sight” barely covers the
situation. Prospects of victory -- if victory is defined as eliminating
that country as a haven for Islamist terrorists while creating a
representative government in Kabul -- are arguably more tenuous today
than at any point since the U.S. military invaded in 2001 and routed the Taliban. Such “progress” has, over the years, invariably proven “fragile” and “reversible,” to use the weasel words
of General David Petraeus who oversaw the Afghan “surge” of 2010-2011
under President Obama. To cite just one recent data point: the Taliban
now controls 15% more territory than it did in 2015.
That statistic came up in recent Senate testimony by the U.S. commanding general in Afghanistan, John "Mick" Nicholson Jr., who is (to give no-end-in-sight further context) the 12th U.S. commander since the war began. Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, he called for several thousand more U.S.
troops to break what he optimistically described as a "stalemate."
Those troops would, he added, serve mainly as advisers and trainers to
Afghan forces, facilitating what he labeled “hold-fight-disrupt”
U.S. Soldiers navigate a stream during a security patrol in Chabar,
Afghanistan, Dec. 3, 2009. The Soldiers are from Charlie Company, 1st
Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry
Division. (Photo: DoD/Tech. Sgt. Francisco V. Govea II, U.S. Air Force)