In the current presidential campaign, there is one immense issue both candidates seem to be ignoring; that there is a war happening in Afghanistan. U.S. Army and Marine Corps units have been engaged in battles with the Taliban and Haqqani insurgency groups across the country. In July of this year, 46 American and coalition troops were killed, the highest number dating back to September 2011.
While the media focuses its coverage on the eventual drawdown of combat troops and both candidates attempt to avoid the topic while campaigning, the public will enter the polling booth with many uncertainties about Afghanistan's future. The winner of the election in November will face tough decisions that will directly affect the lasting outcome of a decade's worth of war. What will the pace of the drawdown leading up to 2014 be? President Barack Obama's prior actions suggest he will order troops out in large numbers before next year's fighting season - against the recommendations of his generals. Faulting Obama for not listening to his commanders' recommended options is the only hint of a stance we receive from Romney.
In what numbers and what role will U.S. forces remain in Afghanistan after 2014? It is believed that U.S. and coalition special operations teams will stay to assist Afghan forces in securing the country. A similar plan was devised for use in Iraq before being shut down by Obama's White House, which failed to win the support of the new Iraqi government.
Will the same result happen in Afghanistan under Obama? There are many more questions that have not been clearly answered by the candidates. How largely, and for how long, will the U.S. fund and support Afghan security forces? Whether to continue strikes against the Taliban in Pakistan? Will the U.S. partake in negotiations with terror organizations?
The unanswered possibilities are vast and important. While the economy remains the premiere issue, I urge voters to ask more and candidates to answer more about plans in Afghanistan. If handled incorrectly in the coming years, a decade of sacrifice nationwide could be in vain.
Nick Lucius, New Riegel