Washington, Feb.11 (ANI): A leading US military expert has warned that the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan will be lost by the end of the summer, if dramatic changes in counter-insurgency strategy fail to take place.
Colonel John Nagl, an Iraq veteran who helped devise the successful strategy there under the guidance of General David Petraeus, who is now the CENTCOM commander, told The Telegraph that the gains made by the Taliban over the past two years need to be reversed by the end of the traditional fighting season in Afghanistan, around late September or early October, or else the Taliban will establish a durable base that would make a sustained Western military presence futile.
"Counter-insurgency campaigns have momentum. Like a football game when the crowd senses something before it happens. Right now the Taliban has that momentum," said Nagl, who co-authored the recently published US Government Counterinsurgency Guide.
Nagl is consulting the US Government as it conducts four separate policy reviews on Afghanistan, and his warning comes amid fears that unless the insurgents' advance is halted, Afghanistan will become the new president's Vietnam.
The Chairman, US Joint Chief of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen has said he expected to announce the deployment of a further 30,000 US troops soon, even though the Obama administration is waiting to evaluate the reviews.
"The commander on the ground has asked for additional forces and meeting those requirements against the overall strategy is something that I have an expectation to get directed to do," he said.
The anticipation in military circles is that the president will agree not only to the extra troops but to the adoption of the approach that worked well in Iraq, whereby US forces concentrate less seeking out and killing insurgents.
Like other military thinkers, Nagl believes that a change in military tactics also urgently needs to be accompanied by a "civilian surge", which will clarify the roles and goals of international agencies and governments trying to steer the impoverished country's development.
Nagl does not expect the "clear, hold, build" strategy to produce the same rapid results in Afghanistan as in Iraq, for Afghanistan has never been modernised, has a weaker tribal structure that was crucial in supporting the surge in Iraq and has a booming opium trade. To add to this, militants have a safe haven across the border in Pakistan.
Like other experts and Pentagon officials, he believes the current Afghan army size of 70,000 - just a quarter of the Iraqi army - will need to double if not triple to establish itself as a convincing security force. (ANI)