The war on terrorism in Afghanistan cannot be won as long as militant safe havens exist in neighbouring Pakistan, a former American general told lawmakers on Tuesday.
“The war is not winnable under the current policy. We cannot win, and that’s the reality of it. We’ve got sanctuaries in Pakistan,” said the former vice-chief of the army, General (R) John M Keane.
Currently chairman of the Institute for the Study of War, he told members of the Senate that no insurgences had ever been defeated with sanctuaries outside the conflict area.
During a Congressional hearing on worldwide threats, he said: “Pakistani, Afghan forces do not have the enablers they need to overcome the Taliban who have resurged,”
He stressed the need for a new strategy with a commitment to force the elimination of sanctuaries in Pakistan, whose military provided intelligence, training and logistic assistance to enhance Taliban’s operational performance.
Keane said the US was in the current situation largely because the war in Iraq itself became protracted and much-needed forces could not be applied to Afghanistan.
US ground forces, particularly the army, were too small to fight two counter-insurgencies simultaneously, and the Obama policy was not to win the war but to end US involvement, he explained.
“The new administration must call for a political and security assessment and face the harsh realities of possibly squandering 15 years of US combat in Afghanistan in a war not winnable,” he asserted.
“Without an on-the-ground assessment, I honestly cannot tell you if that is sufficient, how many additional troops are required to support those functions and for how long. I do know this, without the US and Afghan resolve to win, we never will,” he said.
Senator Jack Reed, a ranking member of the committee, said maintaining 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan into 2017 and providing robust support to the Afghan forces had laid the foundation for a sustainable US and international security presence.
“The decision also sent an important message to Afghans, the Taliban and others in the region, including Pakistan, regarding the commitment of the United States to progress to do progress in Afghanistan,” he added. (PAN)