A man in an Afghan army uniform shot and killed a NATO service member Saturday, and the Taliban said the assailant was a sleeper agent who had infiltrated the Afghan military.
From one war front to another Sunday, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta hopped from a U.S. outpost in Afghanistan's southern desert to Baghdad, where he sought to encourage Iraqi leaders to decide soon whether they want a residual American military force beyond year's end.
Eighteen months ago, President Obama ordered a surge of U.S. troops into Afghanistan, a prudent strategy reflecting conditions on the ground. Yet he also made the imprudent decision to publicly announce an arbitrary timetable for withdrawal beginning this month. This date had nothing to do with military strategy, but President Obama insisted on it, saying, "I can't lose the whole Democratic Party."
Former battlefield commanders are warning that President Obama's accelerated troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in time for the 2012 presidential election risks reversing major gains made against the Taliban.
American ambassadors celebrated Independence Day from the tranquility of the Bahamas to the front line in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, where U.S. soldiers are sacrificing their lives for a government that calls them "occupiers."
President Obama has just finished explaining to the world that he is ordering 10,000 troops home from Afghanistan this year and another 23,000 by September 2012, which will still leave some 70,000 until 2014, when his secretary walks in, notepad at the ready, and says, "The Taliban called. They said, 'Take your time.' "
President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that Afghanistan and the United States are engaged in peace talks with the Taliban, even as insurgents stormed a police station near the presidential palace, killing nine people.
Is NATO a paper tiger? With a "dim, if not dismal future," as outgoing Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates put it in a valedictory address before his NATO opposite numbers, it is "facing the very real possibility of collective military irrelevance."
I am a private-sector civilian working alongside the U.S. military here on the front lines in Afghanistan. I am part of the "civilian surge," investing 16-hour days to win the hearts and minds of Afghans by mentoring the Afghan National Army, Police and Border Patrol.