HARB-MAIDON TRAINING GROUND, Tajikistan, Oct 23 (Reuters) – A Russia-led military exercise held over six days near the Tajik-Afghan border, designed to demonstrate Moscow stands ready to protect Dushanbe in the event of an incursion from the south, reached its conclusion on Saturday.
Tajikistan’s relations with the Taliban leadership in Kabul have been strained from the start and reports of troop build-up on both sides of the border have alarmed Moscow, which operates a military base in the former Soviet republic.
America’s war in Afghanistan is now over, but the war over the war has only just begun. The sudden collapse of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police looms large in these new debates among policy wonks, politicians, and journalists.
Images of captured U.S. equipment in the hands of the triumphant Taliban brought bitter reminders of Islamic State soldiers celebrating in American armored vehicles after Iraqi security forces suddenly collapsed in 2014. How could these security forces, which the United States had spent so much time and resources training and equipping, collapse so quickly?
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The deeply partisan US Congress is rarely a conducive place for national introspection and Tuesday’s Senate hearing on the Afghanistan withdrawal did not provide an exception.
In the midst of the point-scoring and blame-shifting on display in the senators’ questions to the nation’s military leadership, it was clear that it was a contest to apportion shares in failure.
And behind the debacle of the pullout that left tens of thousands of vulnerable Afghans behind, there were fleeting references to the far deeper failure of the preceding two decades – a reckoning that has only just begun for the Pentagon and the US foreign policy establishment.
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