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Afghanistan / Pakistan...and China
Following are some of the key points of the Defense Department’s White Paper on U.S. Policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan
Achieving our core goal is vital to U.S. national security. It requires, first of all, realistic and achievable objectives. These include:
The Interagency Policy Group concedes “these are daunting tasks.” For instance:
In a country that is 70 percent rural, and where the Taliban recruiting base is primarily among under-employed youths, a complete overhaul of our civilian assistance strategy is necessary; agricultural sector job creation is an essential first step to undercutting the appeal of al Qaeda and its allies. Increased assistance to Pakistan will be limited without a greater willingness to cooperate with us to eliminate the sanctuary enjoyed by al Qaeda and other extremist groups, as well as a greater commitment to economic reforms that will raise the living standard of ordinary Pakistanis….
Our military forces in Afghanistan, including those recently approved by the President, should be utilized for two priority missions: 1) securing Afghanistan’s south and east against a return of al Qaeda and its allies, to provide a space for the Afghani government to establish effective government control and 2) providing the Afghan security forces with the mentoring needed to expand rapidly, take the lead in effective counterinsurgency operations, and allow us and our partners to wind down our combat operations.
Expanding the Afghan National Security Forces: Army and Police
To be capable of assuming the security mission from U.S. forces in Afghanistan’s south and east, the Afghan National Security forces must substantially increase its size and capability. Initially this will require a more raid build-up of the Afghan Army and police up to 134,000 and 82,000 over the next two years….
The international community must assume responsibility for funding this significantly enhanced Afghan security force for an extended period. We will also have to provide support for other Afghan security forces such as the Afghan Public Protection Force. Salaries paid to Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police must become more competitive with those paid by the insurgents.
Engaging the Afghan government and bolstering its legitimacy
International support for the election will be necessary for a successful outcome. We should do everything necessary to ensure the security and legitimacy of voter registration, elections, and vote counting. The international military presence should help the Afghan security forces provide security before, during and after the election. International monitoring will also be required to ensure legitimacy and oversee Afghanistan’s polling sites….
The overall legitimacy of the Afghan government is also undermined by rampant corruption and a failure to provide basic services to much of the population over the past 7 years. Where Afghan systems and institutions have benefited from high quality technical assistance and mentoring, they have made great progress.
Breaking the link between narcotics and the insurgency
Besides the global consequences of the drug trade, the Afghan narcotics problem causes great concern due to its ties to the insurgency, the fact that it is the major driver of corruption in Afghanistan, and distorts the legal economy. The NATO/International Security Assistance Forces and U.S. forces should use their authorities to directly support Afghan counternarcotics units during the interdiction of narco-traffickers. The new authorities permit the destruction of labs, drug storage facilities, drug processing equipment, and drug caches and should contribute to breaking the drug-insurgency funding nexus and the corruption associated with the opium/heroin trade. Crop substitution and alternative livelihood programs that are a key pillar of effectively countering narcotics have been disastrously underdeveloped and under-resourced , however, and the narcotics trade will persist until such programs allow Afghans to reclaim their land for licit agriculture. Targeting those who grow the poppy will continue, but the focus will shift to higher level drug lords.
Increasing and broadening assistance in Pakistan
Increasing economic assistance to Pakistan – to include direct budget support, development assistance, infrastructure investment, and technical advice on making sound economic policy adjustments – and strengthening trade relations will maximize support for our policy aims; it should also help to provide longer-term economic stability. Our assistance should focus on long-term capacity building, on agricultural sector job creation, education and training, and on infrastructure requirements. Assistance should also support Pakistani efforts to ‘hold and build’ in western Pakistan as a part of its counterinsurgency efforts.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is pursuing comprehensive transformation from a mass army designed for protracted wars of attrition on its territory to one capable of fighting and winning short-duration, high-intensity conflicts along its periphery against high-tech adversaries – an approach that China refers to as preparing for ‘local wars under conditions of informatization.’ The pace and scope of China’s military transformation have increased in recent years, fueled by acquisition of advanced foreign weapons, continued high rates of investment in its domestic defense and science and technology industries, and far-reaching organizational and doctrinal reforms of the armed forces. China’s ability to sustain military power at a distance remains limited, but its armed forces continue to develop and field disruptive military technologies, including those for anti-access/area-denial, as well as for nuclear, space, and cyber warfare, that are changing regional military balances and that have implications beyond the Asia-Pacific region. [Emphasis mine]
The PLA’s modernization vis-à-vis Taiwan has continued over the past year, including its build-up of short-range missiles opposite the island. In the near-term, China’s armed forces are rapidly developing coercive capabilities for the purpose of deterring Taiwan’s pursuit of de jure independence. These same capabilities could in the future be used to pressure Taiwan toward a settlement of the cross-Strait dispute on Beijing’s terms while simultaneously attempting to deter, delay, or deny any possible U.S. support for the island in case of conflict. This modernization and the threat to Taiwan continue despite significant reduction in cross-Strait tension over the last year since Taiwan elected a new president….
Beijing publicly asserts that China’s military modernization is ‘purely defensive in nature,’ and aimed solely at protecting China’s security and interests. Over the past several years, China has begun a new phase of military development by beginning to articulate roles and missions for the PLA that go beyond China’s immediate territorial interests, but has left unclear to the international community the purposes and objectives of the PLA’s evolving doctrine and capabilities. Moreover, China continues to promulgate incomplete defense expenditure figures and engage in actions that appear inconsistent with its declaratory policies. The limited transparency in China’s military and security affairs poses risks to stability by creating uncertainty and increasing the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation. The United States continues to work with our allies and friends in the region to monitor these developments and adjust our policies accordingly.
Note: China was not happy following release of these conclusions.