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Afghanistan has been off the national radar screen lately, but the fighting there goes on, and we get deeper and deeper into the quagmire. In spite of our escalation the Taliban’s strength and popularity among the civilian population is increasing, not diminishing. And the end is still not in sight.

Deeper and deeper:

“The Pentagon is sending 800 more American soldiers to Afghanistan in the coming weeks to work as trainers for the Afghan security forces. The contingent is needed because other NATO countries still haven’t fulfilled their pledges to send their own troops to train the Afghan army and police.

A battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division will be heading to Afghanistan soon. The soldiers will work as trainers for at least several months. The unit is beyond the 30,000 additional troops that President Obama already approved for Afghanistan this year.”

That doesn’t include private contractors:

“The latest Department of Defense numbers show there are more civilian contractors on the ground in Afghanistan than there are soldiers. The Pentagon reported 107,292 U.S.-hired civilian workers in Afghanistan as of February.”

The insurgency is getting stronger:

“A Pentagon report presented a sobering new assessment Wednesday of the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan, saying that its abilities are expanding and its operations are increasing in sophistication, despite recent major offensives by U.S. forces in the militants’ heartland.

The report, requested by Congress, portrays an insurgency with deep roots and broad reach, able to withstand repeated U.S. onslaughts and to reestablish its influence, while discrediting and undermining the country’s Western-backed government.

The report concludes that Afghan people support or are sympathetic to the insurgency in 92 of 121 districts identified by the U.S. military as key terrain for stabilizing the country.”

The end is not in sight:

“British and other foreign troops deployed in Afghanistan face a “very tough” time ahead and can expect to be engaged in a combat role for three or four more years, NATO ‘s most senior civilian official in the country said today…Thereafter, they could be expected to remain in Afghanistan, training and mentoring local forces, for a further 10 to 15 years.”

Eric Martin at Obsidian Wings sums up:

“The only question that remains is just how much money will we blow through..and just how much blood will we spill in our stubborn refusal to acknowledge that America, like all foreign powers, is ill-equipped to impose a system of government on a foreign population. At least not within any reasonable measure of the costs and benefits in the current context.

[…]

This is not going well. This will not end well.  Our moral compass is severely off-kilter. We are sustaining significant damage to our fiscal soundness, military preparedness and overall standing…in the pursuit of a fool’s gambit that has become so vague and so ethereal that few can even articulate a realistic objective anymore.”

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