The New Afghan Combat Timetable

February 2, 2012

The New Afghan Combat Timetable
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The U.S. plan to end its combat mission in Afghanistan by mid-2013, shifting to an "advise and assist" role, may make it more difficult for Afghan national forces to become self-sufficient in maintaining security, says CFR Senior Fellow for Defense Policy Stephen Biddle.

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"The administration has been struggling to find a balance between what they see as real but limited U.S. interest in Afghanistan and some way of waging the war that would be of commensurate cost and sacrifice," says Biddle. As a result, he says, the Obama administration has been pushing for earlier drawdowns of U.S. troops and increased reliance on Afghan national forces.

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One of the serious problems, Biddle argues, is that earlier U.S. drawdowns will leave Afghan forces facing "a harder mission than was anticipated." He adds: "In all likelihood, what we will be handing off to the Afghans is a problem that they will not be able to do better than a stalemate with, and they may have some degree of difficulty even in maintaining a stalemate."

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