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How to Safeguard Afghan Progress

A follow-on force of no fewer than 10,000 U.S. troops is essential

Author: Max Boot, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies
April 28, 2014
Wall Street Journal


The U.S. could use a win abroad—something it arguably hasn't had since Osama bin Laden's demise in 2011. Hopes for a peace accord between the Israelis and Palestinians have been dashed, the civil war continues to rage in Syria, chaos engulfs Libya, Russia has invaded Ukraine and China's aggressive behavior in the South China Sea has leaders in Japan and the Philippines drawing analogies to the 1930s.

Amid these storm clouds, Afghanistan is a rare ray of sunshine, and an opportunity.

While the country remains desperately poor and its government much too weak and corrupt, Afghanistan has made striking progress since 2001. U.S. military figures track some of the changes: the miles of road have increased to 26,190 from 11,184; cellphone subscribers are up to 17.5 million from 25,000; the number of schools has increased to 14,034 from 1,000 and there are now 7.9 million primary and secondary students, up from 700,000; and the number of health-care facilities is up to 2,136, serving 85% of the population, from 498 facilities serving 8%.

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