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Ben Farmer, of The Telegraph, reports that America And Afghanistan are close to signing an agreement which would commit US forces to stay in Afghanistan until 2024.  US troops may stay in Afghanistan until 2024. I could find no estimates for how much additional domestic spending will have to be cut in order to pay for this unfunded extension of military expenses while staying within the new budget spending caps.

The agreement would allow not only military trainers to stay to build up the Afghan army and police, but also American special forces soldiers and air power to remain. The prospect of such a deal has already been met with anger among Afghanistan’s neighbors including, publicly, Iran and, privately, Pakistan.

It also risks being rejected by the Taliban and derailing any attempt to coax them to the negotiating table, according to one senior member of Hamid Karzai’s peace council.

The current US - Afghanistan Strategic Pact requires the withdrawal of American troops from the country, by 2014, leaving a danger that funding for continued defense operations in Afghanistan could be jeopardized, in the budget conscious US budget debates.

Also, in the Update, Leon Panetta says Iraq has agreed to allow US troops to stay beyond the previously announced 2011 withdrawal date.  So Iraq and Afghanistan both, are open ended committments at this point.

"But Afghans wary of being abandoned are keen to lock America into a longer partnership after the deadline."  Many Afghani's are concerned that if the US were to withdraw our troops, the US Congress may no longer be willing to continue to spend over $10 billion/month in Afghanistan, given the vigorous discussions of the need for budget cutbacks in the US House.

Both Afghan and American officials said that they hoped to sign the pact before the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan in December. Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai agreed last week to escalate the negotiations and their national security advisers will meet in Washington in September. ...

“If [the Americans] provide us weapons and equipment, they need facilities to bring that equipment,” he said. “If they train our police and soldiers, then those trainers will not be 10 or 20, they will be thousands. ...Afghan forces would  US fighter aircraft an helicopters, he predicted. In the past, Washington officials have estimated a total of 25,000 troops may be needed." “If the job is not done, then several thousand troops, even special forces, will not be able to do the job that 150,000 troops couldn’t do. It is not possible

Our DOD estimates that there may be as many as 50 to 100 al Qaeda forces remaining scattered throughout Afghanistan, but as an organized fighting force, al Qaeda in Afghanistan has been demolished. Without some new rationale, military experts in both Afghanistan, and the US have grown concerned that American's will not remain supportive of spending over $120 billion/year indefinitely in country with little geopolitical significance to the US.

The Taliban has made the complete withdrawal of American forces by 2012, a precondition for negotiations with Karzai government.  Mr. Avetisyan says, any such deal will totally wreck any prospects of a negotiated peace. Apparently, the Karzai government sees this as an additional advantage of an agreement extending the commitment of US forces until 2024.

We need more debate withing Congress, before we endorse a committment to troops and expenses to Afghanistan for 10 more years. Without more justification, and a broader agreement about how we fund this without taking it out of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, I can not support this 10 year extension of what is already the longest war in US history, and one which no longer has a compelling rationale.  

Sorry, this does not compute.

How many eldery Americans are we willing to force of Medicare, Medicaid, and other last line of defense saftefy programs, to continue this useless war for 10 more years?

Those here who warned us that the US government intented to keep permament bases in Aghanistan and Iraq, all along, despite repeated denials from the US government seems to have called it right.


5:28 PM PT:

Meanwhile, Leon Panetta claims that Iraq as relented and agreed to allow US troops to stay in Iraq past the previously announced 2011 withdrawal dates.

Iraq denies striking deal on U.S. troops staying beyond 2011

BAGHDAD, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- Iraq denied what the U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said about agreeing to allow some U.S. troops to stay in the country after the 2011 withdrawal deadline, official television reported on Saturday.

"The Iraqi government denies what the American Defense Minister Leon Panetta said that Iraq agreed to extend the presence of U.S. troops in the country after 2011," the state-run television of Iraqia quoted government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh as saying.

Dabbagh's remarks came after Panetta said in interview on Friday with two U.S. newspapers that Iraqis had made up their mind to extend the presence of U.S. troops beyond the year-end withdrawal deadline.

"My view is that they finally did say, 'Yes,'" Panetta said.

On August 3, the Iraqi political leaders agreed to give green light to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to start talks with the United States about stationing some of its troops in Iraq beyond the end of 2011 deadline for training the Iraqi security forces on new weapons that Iraq proposed to purchase mainly from the United States to arm its fragile forces.

Originally posted to Military Community Members of Daily Kos on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 04:50 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Amateur Left and Progressive Policy Zone.

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