The always excellent US security nightly newsletter, Nightwatch, put out by KGS, offers the following comments on the Taliban exchange:
“Comment: The mainstream media have covered the increased risk of hostage-taking as the direct and foreseeable result of the hostage exchange. This was not a prisoner of war exchange.
Two points not mentioned in most mainstream commentary are noteworthy. This exchange invests Omar and his Islamic Emirate with stature that neither had when the Taliban ruled in Afghanistan. It negotiated as an equal with the US and got the better deal. That sets a precedent for potential deals with other NATO members. It is a powerful disincentive for Pakistan to rein in Omar and his cohorts.
The second point is the release of the five Taliban leaders will boost Taliban morale; help improve their organizational and fighting skills and enhance their operations. It might have a ripple effect on the now divided Pakistani Taliban.
The timing could hardly be worse for Allied forces. As NATO draws down its forces, the Taliban get an influx of experienced leaders, undermining years of effort to degrade the leadership. These were men Mullah Omar trusted in the early days of Taliban rule. He now has a seasoned core around which to build a reinvigorated administration and movement.”
Nightwatch is John McCreary’s baby and his bio is here. What I like is often the “comments” are delivered with a touch of humor, but rest assured always carefully researched, with the facts differentiated from the opinion.
Now a subject I haven’t heard any military experts talk about yet and one that I have questions about is: “What impact does the release of those terrorists, in addition to the troop draw-down have on the day-to-day security situation for those remaining troops left in Afghanistan? What is the true readiness assessment of the Afghan National security services on whom they will have to rely? Will a reinvigorated Taliban potentially leave our remaining troops vulnerable? How does the draw-down affect the resupply and support situation, with an already overstretched supply route? Has the CINC ever asked about the safety of the troops he is leaving in Afghanistan- vulnerable in such small numbers? What will their mission be – hunkered down on a base or will they still be out on patrols?