Learning from the Iraq Withdrawal

General Dunford the nominated Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff made an excellent point during his Senate confirmation hearing that should not be overlooked.

He rightly notes that removing U.S. Forces from a war zone should be determined by conditions on the ground. Translation…pulling out troops based on political campaign promises or dates on a calendar is not wise. America must be smarter about how we disengage from Afghanistan than we did in Iraq. Our entire government and our allies in Afghanistan must work towards a responsible conclusion and not hurry to leave based on political pressure from any quarter.

My team worked closely with General Dunford in preparation for his mission in Afghanistan. We found him smart, curious, and calm. He also had a great sense of humor and showed humility. I wish him luck in this challenging role.

Senate Question: “What are the lessons learned from the drawdown and post-combat operations in Iraq that should be applied to the drawdown and post-combat operations in Afghanistan?”

General Dunford response: “Iraq demonstrated that decisions about the drawdown and post-combat operations in Afghanistan should be based on conditions on the ground, with the flexibility to make adjustments as those conditions evolve. In addition, the drawdown from Iraq shows that whole-of-government cooperation is required to sustain security gains. We learned that U.S. forces can only mitigate the effects of security threats that are fueled by underlying political or sectarian problems. Ultimately, it is critical to have credible and capable local partners.”

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