The expansion of Islamic extremist groups across the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is “the worst I’ve seen it,” with Afghan insurgents receiving help from Iranian operatives and “very possibly” freelancing Pakistani intelligence agents, as well as a small but growing number of “deadly” foreign fighters, said Maj. Gen. Mike Flynn, director of intelligence for Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s headquarters here.
“I wouldn’t say it’s out of control right now, but this is a California wildfire and we’re having to bring in firemen from New York,” said Flynn, who has been tracking Islamic extremism for at least eight years in postings as director of intelligence for Joint Task Force 180 (in Afghanistan), Joint Special Operations Command, Central Command and the Joint Staff.
The U.S. intelligence community estimates that 19,000 to 27,000 insurgents are operating in Afghanistan, a roughly tenfold increase from 2004’s estimate of 1,700 to 3,200
“When it started to really show again, I believe, was probably somewhere between 2006 and 2007. And we just flat missed the signs. … [W]e were in the middle of that period of time when we were losing in Iraq, and I just think people weren’t paying attention enough, and certainly not listening to the leadership out here at that time.”
Obviously, some of the “people” who were “not listening” well enough were in the Bush administration, which supports the idea that the campaign in Iraq hurt the campaign in Afghanistan. But remember that Nancy Pelosi said, in mid-2005, the the war in Afghanistan was over.
Also, the deals Pakistan made with Taliban and associated groups in 2005-2006 must have had a huge impact. With relatively safe havens to retreat to, not only did the militants and terrorists get a chance to survive that they might not have had in Afghanistan, they got better opportunities to recruit more members. The serious problems that Pakistan’s inability/unwillingness to deal with the tribal areas near the Afghanistan border rarely get much coverage. In my humble opinion, those deals have cost us a lot.