The Taliban is expected to claim a victory in the U.S. decision to abandon the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. The U.S. officially said it was a mere “realignment” that “responds to the new population-centric counterinsurgency strategy.”

Yeah, right. In this case, I am inclined to believe the Taliban.

Why were they not “aligned” correctly to begin with? Why didn’t we pick the correct strategy before? What kind of “centric” were we before? Dirt-centric? Mountain centric? Goat centric?

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To be specific, I think some military genius in Afghanistan finally saw what I saw in two National Geographic TV documentaries that I wrote about at this Web site. See and and

It was obvious to me, and I said so, that U.S. troops in Afghanistan are spread too thin. I compared the number of troops we have there to the numbers in other wars by geographic area and enemy population. I also noted that the terrain and altitude in Afghanistan are so extreme and different that, if anything, the American troops in Afghanistan need more troops per square mile than we had in Vietnam. The high mountains decrease the range of artillery so you need more artillery bases to cover the same amount of territory. Altitude makes it harder to use helicopters. The lack of a coast or a friendly adjacent country essentially means everything and everybody that goes into or out of Afghanistan needs to be FedExed or the military equivalent of FedEx.


One lesson we learned or should have learned in Vietnam is that you cannot allow the enemy to have sanctuary in an adjacent country. The Korengal Valley is on the Ho Chi Minh Trail of Afghanistan. Surprisingly, I could not find a map on the Internet. It’s on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border—the infiltration route from Pakistan into Afghanistan.

U.S. troops abandoning the Korengal Valley facilitates the Taliban using Pakistan as a sanctuary.

Not opposed to the abandonment

I am not opposed to the abandonment of the Valley. But it should be part of abandoning the country because letting the enemy have sanctuary in Pakistan kills Americans. Either put more troops into Afghanistan and the Korengal Valley, or pull them all out of the country.

As I said in my other articles, U.S. troops are spread way too thin in Afghanistan. Get all in or all out.

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John T. Reed