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Insurgent Sanctuary

The U.S. has deliberately chosen to lose the counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan. The key to defeating insurgencies is, and always has been, the insurgent sanctuary. Sanctuary is everything to an insurgency.

Sanctuary gives the insurgency an unchecked ability to continuously regenerate combat power, to operate safe, interior supply lines. Sanctuary guarantees that an insurgency will never be defeated. Such is the case in Afghanistan. The Taliban and other insurgent groups enjoy sanctuary in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan Province of Pakistan. All of their arms, ammunition, and supplies flow into Afghanistan from this sanctuary. Suicide bombers in Afghanistan come almost exclusively from Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan. The leadership of most insurgent groups — the Taliban, Hezb-i-Islami, the Haqqanis, and al Qaeda — enjoy a good quality of life in Pakistan.

This is not a new lesson. There is no military planner in the Pentagon who doesn’t understand the simple fact that an insurgency cannot be defeated without destroying sanctuary. From the beginning, our government leaders never intended to do the simple things needed to win. That we would waste so much American blood and treasure while refusing to win is beyond immoral.

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