Wrote an article at thecipherbrief.com (http://bit.ly/2iPa95o). Gist is that we need to focus on building out the Afghan (and Pakistani) government. Helping people, killing Taliban, educating girls or building roads may be good things to do, but if we do these things ourselves, it just perpetuates a stalemate. Our exit strategy, from the beginning, has rested on building an Afghan government that can control its territory and prevent foreign fighters from installing themselves.
Thus, we need to spend our money directly through the Afghan government so that they deliver services and security to the population. We should build their fighting capability. If we want to do something right, DON’T do it ourselves.
As frustrating as it is to deal with Pakistan, they have the same problem: control of territory and border. We can work with them to monitor the border and to expand government control into the tribal areas, where they have recently imposed military order.
Only by supporting local capability will we be able to leave. We need to keep our focus on the exit.