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Roggio, Kagan & Tate on Afghanistan- Reality Bites

Three pieces anyone serious about knowing the situation and our options needs to read. There is a real chance that president Obama can be convinced to cut & run from A-stan as the difficulty of staying to win may be too much for his political calculations. While things are dire they re not hopeless and the cost of defeat should send a chill down the spine of anyone paying attention. First Bill from the Long War Journal.

Al Qaeda has reorganized its notorious paramilitary formations that were devastated during the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002. Al Qaeda has reestablished the predominantly Arab and Asian paramilitary formation that was formerly known as Brigade 055 into a larger, more effective fighting unit known as the Lashkar al Zil, or Shadow Army, a senior US intelligence official told The Long War Journal.

The Shadow Army is active primarily in Pakistan's tribal areas, the Northwest Frontier Province, and in eastern and southern Afghanistan, several US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.

Now Fred Kagan at NRO.

President Obama has said many times that America must succeed in Afghanistan. He is right, and he deserves our full support in that effort.

Afghanistan is in many respects harder to understand than Iraq was. Even with a good strategy and sufficient resources, success will almost certainly come much more slowly. But as a great man said two years ago, hard is not hopeless.

The keys to finding the right approach lie in nine fundamental principles.

Afghanistan is not now a sanctuary for al-Qaeda, but it would likely become one again if we abandoned it. Mullah Omar, the head of the Taliban government we removed in 2001, is alive and well in Pakistan. He maintains contacts with Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the other key al-Qaeda leaders, who are also based in Pakistan (although in a different area). Mullah Omar supports Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan from his Pakistani havens, while al-Qaeda and its affiliates support insurgents in eastern Afghanistan. Allowing Afghanistan to fail would mean allowing these determined enemies of the United States to regain the freedom they had before 9/11.

Dave Tate is actually in A-stan and will be providing us dispatches as he heads out with the Marines in Farah Province. Incidentally President O mentioned this province every time he referenced A-stan last night. Keep scrolling for all Dave's travel travails so far.

180 hours is what it has taken me to get with my unit… the longest trip I have ever taken to get embedded.  Right now, internet access is limited, so please be patient with my updates.

Currently I am in Bakwa, Farah Province embedded with India Co. 3/8 Marines at COP Barrow.  Everyone here is fine.  I just came in on a truck with six pallets of mail, which includes a lot of Christmas stuff… so know your Marines are getting their mail, just sometimes it’s a little late.

Unfortunately there was a major IED attack in Nad Ali, Helmand Province (where I originally wanted to go) today, so keep your fingers crossed the casualties aren’t too severe.

I’ll update more completely when I can.