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What U.S. generals get wrong about Afghanistan

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U.S. Army General John Nicholson is repeating the dangerous mistakes of the past. In a recent interview he echoed the mantra of his predecessors, that the new U.S. military strategy — which includes increasing both air power and the number of American troops training Afghan forces — has fundamentally changed the situation in Afghanistan. Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and head of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission since March 2016, should know better by now.

In 2014, Nicholson’s predecessor, General John Campbell, said that he, too, had “seen the change.” General Joseph F. Dunford referenced “the inevitability of our success” in 2013. His predecessor, General John Allen, declared, “We are winning. We are winning.” In 2011, General David Petraeus said that U.S. forces had “reversed the momentum of the Taliban.” General Stanley A. McChrystal, in 2010, thought that “success is still achievable," while General David McKiernan, in 2009, observed that the United States was not “losing in Afghanistan.” And on it has gone since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban from power in 2001.

U.S. military commanders might have a better sense of what’s really going on if they spent........

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