August 23, 2021

Extend the Afghan mission now, before it's too late

Originally published in The Hill

The Biden administration’s rhetoric and approach to the crisis in Afghanistan betrays two fundamental problems: gradualism, and an attempt to “define down” the problem. A crisis of this magnitude demands immediate mobilization of all resources that might be required rather than the piecemeal mobilization and deployment as the situation evolves. And it also requires remaining fixed on the original task and requirements, rather than allowing the objectives to slip to those that seem achievable within our own self-imposed constraints. 

President Biden needs to give orders — right now — to extend the deadline, to deploy the military and non-military assets needed for a longer-term operation, and to keep the objective of the operation as the evacuation of all Americans and all eligible Afghans.

Getting military assets mobilized and into a conflict zone is difficult and can be time-consuming. There is a tendency in a fast-moving, time-delimited crisis to focus on the immediate requirements and to put off decisions on assets that might be needed if the crisis protracts. That tendency is visible here.

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