Vanda Felbab-Brown joined Federal News Radio to discuss the use of private military contractors in Afganistan.
: Introducing contractors into highly violent theaters, which Afghanistan has increasingly become, of course is problematic for a whole host of reasons. However, one has to ask why this policy has been adopted. There is a long history of NATO and the U.S. trying to find more helicopters to be deployed in Afghanistan.
For months, our secretary of Defense has been asking the Europeans to put in more helicopters, to move troops around, fir intelligence and interdiction missions – and these helicopters have not been forthcoming. The outcome has been we have had to rely on private contractors.
If the Indian establishment is willing to move forward with politically tricky but operationally meaningful agreements [such as the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement signed by India and the United States on Thursday], I take that as a good sign.
This suspension [of U.S. military aid] will no doubt put pressure on Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves, but I am skeptical that cutting a few hundred million dollars in assistance will induce Pakistan to make significant changes to its security policy. Today’s announcement sends a signal about the U.S. administration’s intent to hold Pakistan to account in the public domain. Whether it accomplishes more than that is yet to be seen.
The suspension [of military aid to Pakistan] is arguably more significant as a signal of Washington’s discontent than as an act of financial deprivation. The Trump administration has likely sketched out an escalation strategy, and would be wise to pause after Thursday’s announcement to give Pakistan the opportunity to quietly address U.S. concerns.