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Rapid Fire 2012-02-17: Sculpt, Don’t Just Cut

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* German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the first rule of peace talks with the Taliban is, you don’t talk about peace talks. Well, he didn’t actually paraphrase Fight Club, but that’s the substance of his position expressed during a joint press conference with his American counterpart. * Panetta and de Maiziere were also meeting to announce changes planned for US troops in Germany. The US Army will inactivate its 170th and 172nd infantry brigades this year and in fiscal 2014, respectively. Overall the US plans a rather moderate cut of 10,000 troops in Europe to a total of 70,000 by 2017. The Lexington Institute is asking where is the much-touted strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region? * The RAND research firm published a paper trying to assess in what state al Qaeda currently is and notes that even though terrorist organizations rarely meet their strategic goals, some go on for decades. On Afghanistan: “A victorious Taliban might offer al Qaeda asylum, although it could not guarantee immunity from continued American air strikes and special operations. For this reason, al Qaeda is not likely to be able to establish the large, accessible training camps it had in Afghanistan before […]

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