At 2000 hours Eastern time on 22 June President Obama announced his plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan (speech at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/06/22/remarks-president-way-forward-afghanistan). The ISAF Website indicated that the US had 90,000 troops in country. (Source: http://www.isaf.nato.int/troop-numbers-and-contributions/united-states/index.php). On June 23, 2011 Stratfor, often called the private CIA published its analysis (http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20110622-obamas-afghanistan-plan-realities-withdrawal?utm_source=SWeekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=110623&utm_content=readmore&elq=0cef78dfc87745459b50e62cd1bb2eb8).
Photo Source: www.whitehouse.gov
Information engagement on any front in Afghanistan is hard, the job just got harder.
One of the durable key messages from the War is “NATO is here to help Afghanistan help itself.” For 10 years the progress has been glacial and there doesn’t seem to be any indication that the Afghani people seem any more anxious to change their world.
The Stratfor article rightly points out the security and logistical challenges the draw down will have to face. The Taliban have been used to waiting for foreign troops to leave – ask the Russians. The security equation hasn’t seemed to be altered very much either. The less US troops the better the odds for the enemy unless the Afghani people can get off the dime.
The Taliban have proven their marketing acumen, the no doubt will help spread the news that NATO is pulling out. The fact that the 2014 deadline given by President Obama may not be his problem at the time in the unlikely event he doesn’t get re-elected, or he can simply change his mind because he won’t be running for re-election.
As the shadow of American security pulls back from the country side and into the city the vacuum will no doubt be exploited by the Taliban. Frankly I ‘m not sure what kind of information engagement can compete with reality on the ground.