A journalist on Twitter points out that any drawdown closing bases as far east as Jalalabad would result in longer flight times for drones and the closure of Chapman, a base the military shares with the Central Intelligence Agency.
– The Washington Post on the coming drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan:
Groups within the Obama administration are pushing to keep no more than a few thousand troops in Afghanistan after 2014, U.S. officials said, raising the prospect that the United States will be unable to keep its promise to fully train and equip Afghan security forces.
As the debate over the size and scope of the post-2014 coalition mission nears its end, some in the administration are pressing for a force that could be as small as 2,500, arguing that a light touch would be the most constructive way to cap the costly, unpopular war.
Those troop levels are significantly lower than what some senior military officials have advocated, arguing that a sudden disengagement could lead to the collapse of a frail state and the onset of a new civil war. The low number also is a far cry from figures in the 10,000-to-30,000 range discussed among NATO allies and some U.S. officials as recently as a year ago.
The scope and size of a post-2014 force are at the top of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s agenda during his visit to Washington this week, which includes a meeting with President Obama on Friday.
– Former General McChrystal, on what the force presence could look like and what it would entail:
“I think some engagement with military forces on the ground is good. It helps them develop their military and actually it helps us do the same,” McChrystal said.
The U.S. still has work to do to train the Afghan military and their government ahead of the withdrawal, McChrystal explained. U.S. forces have spent only three years “seriously” working to build up the Afghan National Security Forces.
“What I believe American policy now is to try to leave in place an Afghan government and security sector that is strong enough that withstands the kinds of pressure an insurgency gives,” McChrystal said. “I think a lot of that has been done, but clearly it’s not as far along as we would like, particularly in things like governance.”
ON THE FIGHT
Al-Qa’ida rebels have advanced towards southern Mali, provoking fears of a new conflict as the United Nations weighs assistance to aid in recapturing the country’s north from the rebels. The Islamist rebels have established new positions near the outskirts of a Niger River trading town that marks the south’s last outpost under government control. The rebels entered the area around the sparsely populated town, Mopti, on Monday
Adam Elkus examines the historical record and concludes that calls to disarm the CIA and move it away from paramilitary action is in direct contravention of what presidents have expected it to do since its inception.
Two men who may have assisted or possibly directly took part in harming or killing two American citizens working abroad for the United States Agency for International Development.
Tunisia has freed the chief suspect in the deadly attack on Special Mission Complex Benghazi.
Officials at the Department of Justice are trying to decide whether to drop their case against Ali al-Bahlul after a legal setback involving another suspect, Salim Hamdan.
Obama’s use and interpretation of executive power have taken shape, and they’re considerably more expansive than those invoked by former President Bush.
ON SECRECY – OR LACK THEREOF
A New York judge has put a stop to a common practice of the New York Police Department: the stop-and-frisk, but only in certain areas of the city.
Bradley Manning’s sentence has a few less hundred days on it, but with his sentencing just around the corner this spring he’s not out of the woods yet.
The New York Times editorial page takes issue with the Central Intelligence Agency’s duplicity when it comes to secrecy.
Robert Caruso is a veteran of the United States Navy, and has worked for the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, Business Transformation Agency and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.