The president of the United States had hoped to withdraw most US military forces from Afghanistan by now, leaving behind just a small force. Yet, in one of Obama’s biggest failures as President, the troop surge in Afghanistan has continued. Now the Marine Corps will send a new task force of military advisers to southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province this spring, returning to a region where tens of thousands of Marines fought during the Obama administration and hundreds were killed.
The United States still has around 8,400 military personnel in the country. President Obama sought to withdraw US military presence abroad and resisted committing ground troops to various international conflicts, yet victims of Obama’s foreign policy have been Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Syria, leaving the Middle East in a violent mess.
The US dropped 947 bombs in Afghanistan in 337 separate airstrikes in 2015. Thousands of Afghan soldiers, civilians and Taliban fighters have been killed in one of the bloodiest fighting seasons of the 15-year US war in the country. More than 60,000 Afghans have been injured or killed in 2016 in the face of a resurgent Taliban, who now hold over two-thirds of the country, the most territory held by the insurgent group since the beginning of the war, according to Kabul. This points to a complete failure of the American policy and more importantly the Ghani administration that has alienated the country further into international isolation.
A rash of attacks against American, Afghan and coalition forces by militants have prompted Afghan commanders and their US counterparts to launch combat operations for the first time against the Taliban and the Islamic State during the traditional winter lull in fighting. But the move could have little effect on stemming the violence without more US troops, say analysts.
Ghani’s government is grappling with relentless poverty and insurgent violence, and the president faces unprecedented internal dissent and public attack. Disillusionment is deepening among ordinary Afghans as the government has failed to bring jobs or security. With an influx of violence and major crises unfolding all around him, he is accused of being an autocratic micromanager and a remote academic with no feel for the common man. He is failing to tackle the insurgency and placing the entire onus on the American government, a move he will come to regret if the Trump administration decided to withdraw and leave Afghanistan to its own devices.