The war on terror is an ongoing international military campaign led by the United States of America with the support of other NATO and non-NATO countries. The campaign was launched in 2001 with the U.S invasion of Afghanistan in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Since then, other operations have commenced, the largest being the War in Iraq, beginning with a 2003 invasion. Originally, it was waged against AL Qaeda and other terrorist organizations with the purpose of eliminating them.
The phrase War on Terror was first used by former US President George W. Bush to denote a global military & political struggle against organizations designated as terrorist and regimes that were accused of having a connection to them or providing them with support or were perceived, or presented as posing a threat to the US and its allies in general. It was typically used with a particular focus on militant Islamists and AL-Qaeda.
Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan:
On September 20, 2001, in the wake of the September 11 attacks, George W.Bush delivered an ultimatum to the Taliban government of Afghanistan to turn over Osama bin Laden and AL-Qaeda leaders operating in the country or face attack. The Taliban demanded evidence of bin Laden's link to the September 11. The US refused to provide any evidence. Subsequently, in October 2001, US forces (with UK and coalition allies) invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime. On October 7, 2001 the official invasion began with British and US forces conducting airstrike campaigns.
The US forces were able to destroy the AL-Qaeda camps and also eliminated almost one third of the terrorists. The remaining militants either dispersed in the remote areas of Afghanistan fleed the across the border to take refuge into the tribal (FATA) areas of Pak-Quetta. The tribal areas proved to be the safe haven for them because they were able to regroup and reorganized themselves and started their terrorism activities on both sides of the border.
Us and NATO forces failed to control the post operation situation in Afghanistan. Taliban along with new recruits conducted their activities against the foreign forces. They claimed that they won’t allow these for to occupy their country and announced jihad. NATO forces tried to control the insurgency but failed due to their insufficient number and lack of experience in guerrilla warfare in mountainous areas. The militancy wave achieved new heights when the war lords drug Barron and other segment of the population also joined hands with Taliban.
The Taliban retried that they will continue to fight as long as the US forces don’t surrender or withdraw. The situation therefore spun out of the control of US forces & they cede control over Afghan areas with passage of time. After 9 years of war Taliban have strengthened their grip in majority of the provinces of Afghans, The Karzai govt which was installed after toppling of Taliban in 2001, also failed to improve the situation due to to its inefficiency, corruption & internal rivalries. And after 9 years of was, Afghanistan plunged further! lawlessness & chaos.
In 2004 the Pakistani Army also launched a campaign in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan's Waziristan region, sending in 80,000 troops. The goal of the conflict was to remove the AL-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the region. United States sustained pressure on Pakistani Army to liquidate Al Qaeda and Taliban. Pakistan Army's performance has been a source of controversy for being & also for playing a dubious roll by protecting the militants.
However besides intensified operations by Pak army Al Qaeda and Taliban along with their surrogates spread the war / insurgency within Pakistan leading to destabilization of the country. So Pakistan Army's became doubly embattled both on its explosive Western frontiers and also battling terrorism and insurgency within heartland Pakistan.
Obama Takes Over - 2009:
Within couple of days, Obama has adopted the Bush approach to war on terror with only minor modifications. He also committed a fatal policy mistake by announcing his new war strategy, called, "Pak-Af policy in Mar.09. The two aspects of this strategy were.
- Intensification of the operation against Taliban.
- Surge (increase) in NATO forces by sending additional 30000 troops by Aug 10.
He also announced "Exit strategy" in Dec 09.
- Afghan army build up & construct the development projects to stabilize situation in Afghanistan.
- A bold decision- regarding the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan. He announced the cut-off date for this task as July 2011.
Despite the implementation of this policy, US failed to exploit the major gains in the region. US met with major reverses in Afghanistan. Its largest operation conducted in Apr. 10 in Marjah again could not defeat Taliban. Also for the same reasons the Kandahar operation has also been postponed.
The United States war policy (2001-10) failed" in Afghanistan in the last nine years & has led to die adverse military situation that US faces in Afghanistan today. Three US shortcomings were noticed in US policy.
- US failed to develop adequate socioeconomic programs and depended only on the use of military force which proved to be erroneous.
- US failed to give proper priority and allocation of resources to build up the Afghan National Army.
- US failed to deploy troop in sufficient number to achieve decisive military results.
- The United States "strategic fault" facilitated the Taliban remnants in Afghanistan & tribal areas of Pak to generate the threatening scenario in the region which the US Obama Administration had to face.
Challenges To The United States Today are;
- Al-Qaeda and Taliban stand regenerated and regrouped in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistani sanctuaries in KPK, FATA and Baluchistan.
- The Taliban is now a force to be reckoned with in large areas of southern Afghanistan. They control vast region of Afghanistan giving tough time to NATO forces. US and NATO forces in Afghanistan with their limited numbers and limitations have been “unsuccessful” in preventing the rise of the Taliban which is destabilization of Afghanistan.
- The two prized fugitives sought by USA, namely Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar are yet out of reach to United states.
- The Afghan national army is not receiving the priority to build its strength commensurate to force levels required for security of Afghanistan.
In the next couple of months (from Oct 10 to July 11) the likely directions that can emanate in Afghanistan and Pakistan are as follows.
- Additional troops ie. 30000 have reached in Afghanistan So United State has completed its planned troop buildup in Afghanistan (Afghan national army) with concentrations in military strength in Southern and Eastern Afghanistan.
- Intensification of US & NATO Forces military operations in these regions against AJ Qaeda and Taliban.
- United States likely not only to intensify drone operations against the Talit in their sanctuaries opposite Southern and Eastern Afghanistan but also extend drone operations to Baluchistan.
- Enhance reconstruction activities.
- The further deterioration of law & order situation.
- Pakistan Army’s domestic image has already taken a beating. Its faithful execution of US Af-Pak policy role assigned to it could damage Pakistan Army image still further by being projected as US lapdog fighting an American war against its coreligionists.
- Pakistan army could face a strong upheaval within its own widening ranks of islamists who sympathize and lean towards Al Qaeda and Taliban. Al-Qaeda and Taliban could make a concerted bid to gain control of Pakistan’s nuclear assets bot by direct attacks but through islamist elements within the Pakistan army engaged in nuclear assets security.
- The Afghan national army may not be competent enough to control. situation. The target date of 2014 set for handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan national army may be in jeopardy.
- The withdrawal in some areas will signify that those areas may be turned over to Afghan control. The uncertainty about Afghanistan's future could be heightened. Afghanistan's resurgent Taliban may promote extremism to a level of political legitimacy. The Taliban would successfully exploit the situation, ongoing poverty, and the flawed aggressive foreign military operation to the extent that they could increasingly be viewed by local populations as representatives of their legitimate political grievances.
- It may become impossible for the international community to deliver critical aid to those in most need (i.e. southern Afghanistan) - a triple failure in humanitarian, effective COIN, and 'smart power' policies.
- The proxy wars among the regional actors could increase in Afghanistan. Pakistan & India would try to solidify their influence/presence in Afghanistan.
- Another period of isolation & bloodshed in Afghanistan. The transition of power may not take place smoothly in the absence of a negotiated political settlement.
- The ongoing/future talks with the Taliban, which President Karzai has sought by announcing his 'reconciliation' plan may not achieve success.. While Washington is firmly opposed to 'reconciliation' before military gains are made by ramping up the campaign in the Taliban's heartland. This is aimed at creating the so-called "conditions" to force the Taliban into talks and enable negotiations from "a position of strength".
- United Nation
- Terrorism | War on Terror (Part 1)
- Pakistan Afghan Transit Trade Area
- The association of southeast Asian Nations-ASEAN
Possible scenario in case US withdraws from Afghanistan.
Conclusion- The end game in Afghanistan:
War on terror has been a war without any clear objectives & has remained an inconclusive. Americans have been forced to quit Afghanistan with heavy losses. The victory has remained illusive despite the deaths of 3000 American soldiers & spending of trillion of dollars. Ultimate situation is that Taliban control vast area of Afghanistan today & they are also taking time to recoup themselves till the exit of foreign forces.
The war has seriously damaged the American prestige as a super-power as well. The time has come for US to seriously expedite the dialogue process reconstruction & rehabilitation of the Afghan society before the withdraw from the region.