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Thoughts on Today’s Armed Services Committee Hearing with Gen. Allen

6:45 PM, Mar 20, 2012 • By JEFFREY DRESSLER
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During the hearing Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R, Maryland) asked attendees to imagine themselves as a rational Taliban fighter. He noted that over the past year, the U.S. has announced that it is leaving in 2014, will cease offensive combat operations in 2013, and, instead, continue with training and advising Afghan forces. Bartlett referenced what is likely the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Program, under British commander Major General David Hook, stating that the program offers fighters amnesty, training, jobs, and aid for their villages if they leave the insurgency—and they get to keep their weapons. Indeed, it is likely that some rational Taliban fighters would either wait the U.S. out or join the program under false pretences to reap immediate rewards and possible return to the insurgency at a later date. Since strategic level peace talks with the Taliban’s senior leadership stalled before they could even begin, it does not seem likely that the U.S. and Afghanistan will soon reach a political solution with the Taliban to end the war.

Allen did not directly address this, though he noted that 3,600 Taliban fighters have joined the reintegration process and another 400 fighters are set to participate. While this is certainly a sign that the insurgency is under pressure, one should not read too much into it.

Jeffrey Dressler is a senior analyst studying security dynamics in Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Institute for the Study of War and author of the recent report, “The Haqqani Network: A Strategic Threat.”

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