Seit geraumer Zeit ringen die USA um eine neue Strategie für ihren Einsatz in Afghanistan. Dass es bislang keine gibt, scheint nur zum Teil mit dem Verhalten von US-Präsident Donald Trump zu tun zu haben – aus der Sicht des fernen Europa ist auch so verwirrend genug, wie die Debatte läuft. Am (heutigen) Donnerstag legte der republikanische Senator John McCain, Vorsitzender des Streitkräfteausschusses im Senat, einen eigenen Strategievorschlag vor, der als Anhang an das Haushaltsgesetz für die Streitkräfte beschlossen werden soll. Der Chef der berüchtigten Sicherheitsfirma Blackwater lobbyiert für eine Privatisierung des Konflikts am Hindukusch. Und die Streitkräfte haben auf ihre Forderungen nach mehr Soldaten für den Einsatz bislang keine Antwort bekommen.
Das ist alles recht unübersichtlich; auffällig ist allerdings aus europäischer (und deutscher) Sicht eines: In allen Vorschlägen und Überlegungen tauchen die Begriffe Verbündete oder NATO noch nicht einmal auf. Und das, obwohl die NATO unverändert – mit einem US-General an der Spitze – die Federführung in der Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan hat. Die Vermutung liegt nahe, dass die Allianz und die Alliierten da kaum eine maßgebliche Rolle spielen.
Zum Versuch einer Übersicht, erst mal als Materialsammlung: Zunächst der aktuelle Vorschlag McCains, der vor allem ein stärkeres zivil-militärisches Vorgehen vorsieht. Von seiner Webseite:
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced an amendment he has filed to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (NDAA) that offers a new strategy for success for the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
For months, Chairman McCain has urged the new administration to submit a strategy for success to Congress, but no strategy has been submitted to-date. Developed in consultation with some of the nation’s most experienced and respected former military and intelligence officials, the strategy calls for a civil-military approach to bolster U.S. counterterrorism efforts, strengthen the capability and capacity of the Afghan government and security forces, and intensify diplomatic efforts to facilitate a negotiated peace process in Afghanistan in cooperation with regional partners – supported by an enduring U.S. troop presence.
Chairman McCain released the following statement on the strategy:
“America is adrift in Afghanistan. President Obama’s ‘don’t lose’ strategy has put us on a path to achieving the opposite result. Now, nearly seven months into President Trump’s administration, we’ve had no strategy at all as conditions on the ground have steadily worsened. The thousands of Americans putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan deserve better from their commander-in-chief.
“Adopting a new strategy for achieving America’s national security interests in Afghanistan is a decision of the highest importance, one that should be subjected to rigorous scrutiny and debate within our government. But we must face facts: we are losing in Afghanistan and time is of the essence if we intend to turn the tide.
“That is why, after consulting with some of our nation’s most experienced and respected former military and intelligence officials, I have filed an amendment to the defense authorization bill that outlines the strategy we need to achieve America’s national security interests in Afghanistan and the wider region.
“The goal of this strategy is to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a sanctuary for terrorists to plot and conduct attacks against America, our allies, or our interests. To accomplish this goal, we need an integrated civil-military approach to bolster U.S. counterterrorism efforts, strengthen the capability and capacity of the Afghan government and security forces, and intensify diplomatic efforts to facilitate a negotiated peace process in Afghanistan in cooperation with regional partners.
Chairman McCain’s Amendment Providing a New Strategy for Success in Afghanistan
It is in the national security interest of the United States that Afghanistan never again serve as a sanctuary for international terrorists to conduct attacks against the United States, its allies, or its core interests.
To secure the national security interest of the United States in Afghanistan, the United States should pursue an integrated civil-military strategy with the following strategic objectives:
Deny, disrupt, degrade, and destroy the ability of terrorist groups to conduct attacks against the United States, its allies, or its core interests;
Prevent the Taliban from using military force to overthrow the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and reduce the Taliban’s control of the Afghan population;
Improve the capability and capacity of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the extent feasible and practicable to defeat terrorist and insurgent groups as well as sustainably and independently provide security throughout Afghanistan;
Establish security conditions in Afghanistan necessary to encourage and facilitate a negotiated peace process that supports Afghan political reconciliation and an eventual diplomatic resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan; and
Forge a regional diplomatic consensus in support of the long-term stabilization of Afghanistan through integration into regional patterns of political, security, and economic cooperation.
The United States should pursue an integrated civil-military strategy that would achieve U.S. strategic objectives in the following ways:
Bolstering the United States counterterrorism effort in Afghanistan by:
Increasing the number of U.S. counterterrorism forces in Afghanistan;
Providing the U.S. military with status-based targeting authorities against the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other terrorist groups that threaten the United States, its allies, and its core interests; and
Pursuing a joint agreement to secure a long-term, open-ended counterterrorism partnership between the United States and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, which would include an enduring U.S. counterterrorism presence in Afghanistan;
Improving the military capability and capacity of the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) against the Taliban and other terrorists groups by:
In the short term, establishing U.S. military training and advisory teams at the kandak-level of each Afghan corps and significantly increasing the availability of U.S. airpower and other critical combat enablers to support ANSDF operations; and
In the long term, providing sustained support to the ANSDF as it develops and expands its own key enabling capabilities, including intelligence, logistics, special forces, air lift, and close air support;
Strictly conditioning further U.S. military, economic, and governance assistance programs to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan upon measurable progress in achieving joint U.S.-Afghan benchmarks for implementing necessary institutional reforms, especially those related to anti-corruption, financial transparency, and rule of law;
Imposing graduated diplomatic, military, and economic costs on Pakistan as long as it continues to provide support and sanctuary to terrorist and insurgent groups, including the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, while simultaneously outlining the potential benefits of a long-term U.S.-Pakistan strategic partnership that could result from Pakistan’s cessation of support for all terrorist and insurgent groups and constructive role in bringing about a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan; and
Intensifying U.S. regional diplomatic efforts working through flexible frameworks for regional dialogue together with Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, India, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and other nations to promote Afghan political reconciliation as well as to advance regional cooperation on issues such as border security, intelligence sharing, counternarcotics, transportation, and trade to reduce mistrust and build confidence among regional states.
The President should ensure that the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and U.S. military commanders have all the necessary means, based on political and security conditions on the ground in Afghanistan and unconstrained by arbitrary timelines, to carry out an integrated civil-military strategy as described above, including financial resources, civilian personnel, military forces and capabilities, and authorities.
Unterm Strich bedeutet das nicht zuletzt: Mehr Spezialkräfte, mehr Beratung für die afghanische Armee (erneut) bis hinunter zur Bataillonsebene, mehr Luftwaffe – also schlicht: mehr US-Soldaten.
Mehr Bewaffnete und Unterstützung bis auf die Bataillonsebene sieht auch der – bislang nicht offizielle – Plan des Blackwater-Gründers Erik Prince vor. Dessen Vorschläge würden das stärkere Engagement allerdings von den Streitkräften auf private Dienstleister, faktisch: auf Söldner verschieben.
Aus einer Analyse der Washington Post:
Prince has described the proposal in interviews this week as a plan to send 5,500 private military contractors to embed with Afghan National Security Forces units at the battalion level to fight the Taliban, supported by a 90-plane private air force. Prince presents the plan as an alternative for President Trump to the proposal put forth by his top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, who has publicly called for a “few thousand” more U.S. troops to be added to the approximately 8,200 U.S. soldiers there now.
Prince wants Trump to appoint a “trustee” to preside over all U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan with authority over the military commanders, the U.S. ambassadors and even the Afghan military’s own decision-making regarding operations, targeting, rules of engagement and internal promotions.
That handover of control to what Prince has called a “viceroy” is a non-starter for many on Capitol Hill, especially since that person would also control spending and contracting.
Die rechtlichen Probleme einer solchen Privatarmee am Hindukusch werden hier sehr ausführlich analysiert.
Entschieden ist da ja noch nichts; insbesondere gibt es keine Entscheidung des US-Präsidenten. Für Deutschland wie die anderen im NATO-Rahmen in Afghanistan engagierten Nationen wird allerdings die Frage, wie sie mit einer erwartbaren, unilateralen Entscheidung der USA umgehen (können).
(Archivbild: U.S. Sen. John McCain talks with Air Force Lt. Col. Karl Weinbrecht, 41st Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron commander, at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, July 4, 2015 – U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Michael Mortellaro)