Opinion: The ‘Andar Uprising’ and Progress in Afghanistan

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WASHINGTON, DC – Kimberly Kagan, president of the Institute for the Study of War, and Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project published an op-ed Thursday in The Wall Street Journal.  In “The ‘Andar Uprising’ and Progress in Afghanistan,” the authors highlight battlefield successes in Afghanistan during the recent troop “surge” and caution against prematurely withdrawing any more troops.   
 
The addition of 30,000 U.S. troops helped stabilize the country’s southern provinces by expelling the Taliban from important safe havens, working with the Afghan Army, and preventing the Taliban from reclaiming its lost territory.  The authors praise the work of the Afghan Army: “It goes underreported, but the Afghan military has fought hard—sustaining many more casualties than NATO—and held its own, partnered with NATO, even as thousands of U.S. and allied forces have left the area.”
 
The surge troops were intended to transition from the country’s southern provinces to the east, but President Obama instead withdrew those troops in September.  Yet a “militant anti-Taliban movement” emerged this year in Andar district, Ghazni Province, a long-time Taliban safe haven south of Kabul.  The local populations, tired of pressure placed on them by the Taliban, rose up with the support of NATO and the Afghan government and defeated the Taliban in what had been one of the group’s most important strongholds.  Villages in other districts are mimicking this movement, which needs to be fostered.
 
Despite these gains, success in Afghanistan is not guaranteed.  President Obama withdrew the “surge” troops at the end of September.  It is far too soon to evaluate whether the security gains will endure.  “Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups will almost certainly re-establish sanctuaries in the wake of our retreat—as they are actively trying to do while we are still there—if we do not finish setting conditions to prevent that outcome. Given those stakes, it is imperative that we persevere as long as there is still a viable path to achieving our core national security objectives.  There is.”
 
Read their complete opinion in The Wall Street Journal.
 

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Kimberly Kagan
Frederick W. Kagan