U.S. forces have pulled out of Afghanistan's isolated Korengal Valley — the "Valley of Death" — under a new counterinsurgency policy moving soldiers from remote mountain outposts to cities and towns where most Afghans live. More than 40 American soldiers were killed fighting the Taliban in the Korengal Valley over five years. Will leaving benefit the Taliban, or help defeat them? (Watch an MSNBC report about the U.S. leaving the "Valley of Death")
This is a victory for the Taliban: It's good for the Taliban when the U.S. leaves the Korengal Valley, or any place else, says an Afghan defense official, as quoted by Agence France Presse. "They can mass there, they can benefit from the population there." The insurgents now have another safe mountain hideout.
"Taliban claim victory after U.S. leaves 'Valley of Death'"
We're not ceding Korengal to the enemy: The U.S. can always go back into the Valley of Death if it becomes a "Taliban sanctuary," says Merv Benson in PrairiePundit. Or we can use armed flying drones to "make it uncomfortable" for the enemy there, like in Pakistan's tribal areas. The soldiers in these outposts were too vulnerable — "it is probably better to pull them back and fight in a different way."
"U.S. retreats from Korengal in Afghanistan"
The U.S. is correcting a mistake: Fighting for remote mountain valleys wasn't working, says Alissa J. Rubin in The New York Times. "The near daily battles here were won, but almost always at the cost of wounded or dead." By consolidating forces in cities, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of forces here since last summer, might have a chance to "change the momentum of what had become a losing contest."
"U.S. forces close post in Afghan 'Valley of Death'"