In recent weeks, The Post has run several opinion pieces concerning the coming withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan [“What we’ll need in Afghanistan,” Kimberly and Frederick W. Kagan, Nov. 25; “A job that 10,000 troops can handle,” David Barno and Matthew Irvine, Dec. 2; “The risks of an Afghan drawdown,” Max Boot, Dec. 24]. While I have great respect for these authors, I am disturbed by the focus on troop levels rather than on how a future U.S. presence in Afghanistan advances broader U.S. strategic interests in Eurasia.
By restricting the debate to troop levels, we approach the problem backward. The United States should first define our strategic objectives in the region and then decide how many resources are necessary to achieve them. Our strategic objectives should be to continue to disrupt transnational terrorist organizations; to retain a platform for intelligence collection and direct action in Iran and Pakistan; to project U.S. power and challenge Russian and Chinese hegemony in Eurasia; and to increase global access to the region’s energy and mineral exports.
While achieving these objectives will require a sustained military presence in Afghanistan, the scope of our future role there should be nested within a broader strategic vision for Eurasia.
Alexander Guittard, Washington
The author is an officer in the Army Reserve and an analyst at the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis. The views expressed here are his own.