Likewise, as in Iraq, the complete withdrawal of our troops will remove a critical stabilizing factor from Afghanistan’s still-fragile politics, create a vacuum that encourages neighboring states to step up unhelpful interference and heighten the danger that the country will slide back into civil war.
To make matters worse, the administration is also planning severe cuts in U.S. funding for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) — compounding the risk of a terrorist resurgence. Unlike oil-rich Iraq, Afghanistan cannot afford to sustain sufficient security forces on its own.
The number of authorized Afghan soldiers and police — which has grown to approximately 352,000 since President Obama came to office — is slated to be reduced to 228,500 by 2018. This means cutting one-third of the Afghan end strength that we have slowly and methodically built up, and discharging more than 100,000 military-age males onto the streets of Afghanistan. It flies in the face of common sense to think the United States can simultaneously remove all of our own forces while dramatically downsizing the ranks of our Afghan allies without courting Iraq-like disaster.