Support The Long War Journal
Support The Long War Journal


Dear Long War Journal readers: A heartfelt thank you to all of you who helped us reach our fundraising goal of $25,000. Your generous donation will ensure we can continue our mission to report on the Long War. - Bill Roggio, Thomas Joscelyn, Lisa Lundquist, and the contributors.



US begins drawdown of forces from Afghanistan


Afgh-drawdown-map.jpg

The drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan, announced by President Barack Obama in his speech on June 23, has begun. Two units, comprising about 1,000 troops, will leave Afghanistan over the next two weeks.

Background

There are currently 100,000 US troops stationed in Afghanistan. President Obama's speech announced that the drawdown would start this summer with a total of 10,000 troops withdrawn by the end of 2011. An additional 23,000 would be withdrawn by September 2012. These 33,000 troops comprise the surge of forces sent to Afghanistan that began in December 2009.

The first withdrawals

The first unit to withdraw will be 650 troops from the 1st Battalion, 113rd Cavalry Regiment, part of the 2/34th National Guard brigade, which arrived in November 2010. The 1/133th Cav is based in Parwan province, a relatively stable area just north of Kabul. They replaced a National Guard battalion already stationed there. The mission of the 1/113rd Cav was to secure the province, including the area around a major US base at Bagram. In addition, they trained and advised the local Afghan National Police (ANP). After they leave, these 650 troops will be replaced by 300 troops drawn from other units already in Afghanistan. The unit that was to replace them (elements of the 45th National Guard Brigade that have arrived from the US as part of the regular rotation of units) was diverted to Iraq.

The second unit to withdraw will be the 1st Squadron, 134th Cavalry Regiment. They also deployed to Afghanistan as part of the 2/34th National Guard brigade in November 2010. Their mission was to train and advise Afghan National Police units in the Kabul area.

Later withdrawals

The withdrawal of a third unit has also been announced, but it isn't scheduled to leave until later, in November 2011. There are 800 Marines of the 3rd battalion, 4th Marine Regiment currently stationed in an area south of the town of Sangin in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province. Sangin has been the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in Afghanistan over the past year. The two successive Marine units preceding them had been part of the surge; before that, the area had not been occupied by US forces.

The Marines' mission was to clear and then provide security along a strategically important road. The road connects central Helmand (which includes the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah and the ring road that connects to the rest of Afghanistan) to northern Hemand province (which includes the towns of Sangin, Musa Qala, Now Zad, and Kajaki). Sangin, Musa Qala, and Now Zad have been the sites of major combat with the Taliban for control of northern Helmand province. Kajaki is the location of the economically important Kajaki dam and its electrical generators which could provide electricity for the entire region.

"Their presence there in that area took a lot of pressure of [sic] those road builders and, again, disrupted the enemy in an area where he had not expected to see coalition troops," said Maj. Gen. Richard Mills, then the top Marine commander in Afghanistan, in March. "It was one of his few remaining hideouts, if you will, within the province. Because of the fact that you only have them for a short period of time, we're not in a hold phase with those troops, but we're doing some clearance and some disruptions."

Therefore it is likely that a replacement for 3/4th Marines will be found, drawn from other units in the area.



Advertisement:


READER COMMENTS: "US begins drawdown of forces from Afghanistan"

Posted by Ben at July 16, 2011 1:48 AM ET:

The journey from the Great Game to end-game is not very long and the endgame has already started looking like a game-changer. If this continues, militants may end up owning half the world after the draw-down comes to an end. Emboldened by the end-game (read: US defeat), they will have South and Central Asia to themselves and will have the lever too. And they have proved that they can fix the lever wherever they want. They will move and shake the whole world at will and with incredible ease. South and Central Asian region will not be the only candidate for destabilization. The instability has the inherent tendency of travelling faster than the bush fire. Read more at: http://pksecurity.blogspot.com/2011/07/from-great-game-to-endgame-militants.html

Posted by Graham at July 16, 2011 3:53 AM ET:

The thing about the Long War is that it's not fought on a single front, but rather several smaller ones.

"Afghanistan is where we were attacked from on Nine-Eleven!" our leaders say from their podiums. "We can't let Al-Qaeda reestablish a safe haven there". True, but we also can't let them establish safe havens in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, or the Sahara, which they already have. Say our COIN efforts were to flawlessly succeed in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda and other transnational terror gangs would simply relocate.

Then there's the threat of sleeper cells. How many operatives, either homegrown or foreign are there on Western soil, waiting to carry our strikes? Well, in all likelihood, probably not many. But military action in foreign countries isn't going to deter them.

Rather then fighting just Karzai's war, we should instead shift our tactics to globe-spanning counter-terrorism, spearheaded by drones, intelligence, and special forces.

Posted by ABN CAV SGT at July 16, 2011 1:49 PM ET:

En route home now. It will take a few days. Glad we at least got noticed here. I can assure you, that as the only real maneuver unit in Kabul, our absence is already noticed by a lot of people there. This war is being run by a committee of lawyers. What a BAD idea! If we're not willing to kill our enemies with extreme prejudice, we should really get out of the world domination business. This whole COIN deal is just creating a welfare state in AF. Oh well, I can truly say we did our best this year. Maybe we swayed a few people in Kabul. Who knows?
1-134 CAV!

Posted by Nic at July 17, 2011 11:58 AM ET:

@ABN CAV SGT: A sincere thanks for a job well done. Because of guys like you, the Kurdish area of northern Iraq is flourishing : http://www.iq.kejsa.com/index.php/28/1/9/128 , http://www.iraq-businessnews.com/2011/01/04/new-mall-to-be-built-in-kirkuk/ , Iraqis have water: www.usaid.gov/oig/public/fy05rpts/e-267-05-004-p.pdf , the people of Fallujah will be able to flush a toilet: http: www.grd.usace.army.mil/news/Essayonsforward/documents/EF_V4N4.pdf and Najaf has a shortage of four star hotels: http://todayiraq.com/2011/04/iraq-najaf-witnesses-hotel-boom-as-pilgrims-proliferate/ .
Because of guys like you, Afghanistan is getting electricity from wind, solar and hydro sources: http://tcktcktck.org/2011/04/treehugger-bringing-solar-wind-power-afghanistan-video/ , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqfjB7G2--c ,
http://www.aed.usace.army.mil/AES/EngineeringFreedom/EF_V2_2.pdf . I could keep going but I want to get back to reading "Lions of Kandahar" by Bradley.

Posted by Zeissa at July 17, 2011 10:40 PM ET:

Nic: Doesn't mean things wouldn't go easier with a bit more fascism though... killing declared enemies in bucketloads does tons for building a state.

Posted by crusader at July 18, 2011 3:36 AM ET:

BILL:

will the long war journal continue once the troops are called back?