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Tom Engelhardt – Been There, Done That

With General John Campbell’s tour of duty in Afghanistan finished, a new commander has taken over.  Admittedly, things did not go well during Campbell’s year and a half heading up the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) there, but that’s par for the course.  In late 2015, while he was in the saddle, the Talibantook the provincial capital of Kunduz, the first city to be (briefly) theirs since the American invasion of 2001.  In response, U.S. forces devastated a Doctors Without Borders hospital.  The Taliban is also now in control of more territory than at any time since the invasion and gaining an ever-firmer grip on contested Helmand Province in the heart of the country’s poppy-growing region (and so the staggering drug funds that go with it).  In that same province, only about half of the “on duty” Afghan security forces the United States trained, equipped, and largely funded (to the tune of more than $65 billion over the years) were reportedly even present.

On his way into retirement, General Campbell has been vigorously urging the Obama administration to expand its operations in that country. (“I’m not going to leave,” he said, “without making sure my leadership understands that there are things we need to do.”)  In this, he’s been in good company.  Behind the scenes, “top U.S. military commanders” have reportedly been talking up a renewed, decades-long commitment to Afghanistan and its security forces, what one general has termed a “generational approach” to the war there.

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