Afghanistan – Pakistan policy described to local MOAA

Rett Benedict

CW2 Gino Elsea (USA Ret.) a resident of SaddleBrooke, was the speaker for our meeting on Saturday, January 20 speaking on US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He served 20 years in the U.S. Army with assignments in Conventional, Airborne, and Special Operations units and then 20 years in DoD Civil Service with his last assignment on the Joint Staff, working South Asia-related issues.

The US has designated 98 different terrorist organizations around the globe, and 20 of them operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan. One of the US’s top priorities is the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP). As befitting the ISKP activities, its leadership is at high risk from US and NATO forces. Average time in office for the commander appears to be a few months before their demise. The Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network are two other significant terror organizations and their leadership operates from Pakistan! This has led to recent White House decisions to suspend significant aide funds to Pakistan until they are more active in controlling these terrorist organizations.

The US military support in Afghanistan under President Obama rose to over 100,000 and shrunk to almost 8000 before the end of his second term. The Trump Administration has approved recommendations to increase troop strength to about 14,000. Plus, there are over 8000 contractors supporting the fight. US forces are training the Afghan army to be able to operate on its own, down to the tactical level, where most of the fighting actually occurs. The focus is to get them on the move so they can surprise the enemy, instead of the other way around.

Moreover, we are training Afghan pilots, specifically moving them from the old Russian helicopters (MI-17) to highly capable and refurbished US Blackhawks. CW2 Elsea has worked with the current military leaders in the Pentagon. They have extensive experience and the respect of the troops. Our forces are making progress, but the key is the Afghan Army. They need to want security more than we do to be successful.

The next Catalina Mountains Chapter of MOAA meeting will be held on Saturday, February 17, 2018, at 11:30 a.m. in the Catalina Room of the Mesquite Grill in the MountainView Country Club Complex, 38759 S. Mountain View Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85739. The speaker will be L/C Doug May, USAF Ret., speaking on his space experiences and possible North Korean missile flight profiles relative to the US. L/C May had several AF assignments in the space arena and is currently an adjunct faculty member at the University of Arizona.

For additional information, contact Col. Rett Benedict, President, 825-7424, [email protected] or Col. Bill Nagy, MOAA Treasurer, 355-5064, [email protected]. Check website for information.

The Catalina Mountains Satellite is part of the Tucson Chapter and encompasses North West Tucson to include Catalina, Oracle, parts of Oro Valley and Marana, SaddleBrooke and Sun City.

The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is a nonprofit veterans’ service association dedicated to maintaining a strong national defense and to preserve the earned entitlements of members of the uniformed services and their families and survivors.