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View Poll Results: Should NATO deploy additional military forces to Afghanistan?
Yes 6 85.71%
No 1 14.29%
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Old 11-13-2006   #21
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The Economist, 13 Nov 06: Afghanistan after the Taliban: Five Years On
Quote:
...Some worry that this will prove to be the high point of progress in Afghanistan. Analysts discuss the risk of successes of the past five years now draining away. There have been real achievements, if unevenly distributed. Afghanistan has an elected and popular president, Hamid Karzai, and a parliament that, despite some doubtful members, has proved itself generally responsible. Some 4.5m refugees have come home and 6.5m children are back in school. A national army of 35,000 men has been built from scratch, along with a police force of 55,000, although the latter is woefully corrupt and needs reforming. A UN disarmament campaign has processed 63,000 members of illegal armed groups and impounded 10,000 tanks and other heavy weapons. Some 4,000 health posts and 10,000km of roads have been built or rebuilt, although it unclear how these will be maintained in the long term...

...The prospects for long-term recovery depend, ultimately, on getting stability and flattening the Taliban. NATO commanders admit that they would like more troops to do that, but Western public opinion may not tolerate a long and bloody campaign. The Taliban, by contrast, appear happy to plan for the long term. As one Taliban commander recently boasted: “You have the clocks but we have the time.”...
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Old 11-14-2006   #22
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Default Afghanistan 2006

Interesting piece on Afghanistan from The Asia Foundation:

Afghanistan in 2006: A Survey of the Afghan People

Quote:
November 13, 5:01 pm

The Asia Foundation has just released Afghanistan in 2006: a Survey of the Afghan People, one the most comprehensive surveys of Afghan public opinion. Questions ranging from government performance to security and reconstruction progress were asked of 6226 respondents throughout the country. The Asia Foundation does note, however, that due to security concerns they were unable to conduct the survey in Zabul and Uruzgan provinces.
The 128-page report contains both good and bad news. First the good, 44 percent of Afghan's believe the country is on the right path and have an optimistic view of the future. The bad news is that this number is significantly smaller than The Asia Foundation's 2004 survey (PDF) in which 64 percent felt the country was heading in the right direction.
Strangely, security is not the number one reason cited by Afghans as shaping their opinion on the country's direction. A bad economy, the lack of reconstruction progress, poor government performance and unemployment all trump security as major concerns.

Below are some of the key findings (PDF) that we think are especially interesting:
  • The national mood was found to be positive on the whole, with 44 percent of Afghans saying the country is headed in the right direction. While 21 percent felt it is headed in the wrong direction, 29 percent had mixed feelings and four percent were unsure.
  • Good security was cited as a reason for the country going in the right direction. For people who were disappointed with the direction, however, lack of security was not seen as one of the major reasons.
  • Though 80 percent felt poppy cultivation was wrong, they cited economic reasons for continued cultivation, and few made any linkage of poppy cultivation to terrorism, insecurity, or greater corruption.
  • An overwhelming majority (86%) of Afghans surveyed said they agreed to the principle of 'equal rights regardless of gender, ethnicity, and religion.'
  • A significant majority of survey respondents were in favor of women's rights to education and work.
  • Almost half of the respondents felt that men and women should have equal representation in political leadership.
  • For reporting a crime, 63 percent of the survey respondents went to the police, while for resolving problems the preference was to go to elders of the local shura (44%), followed by the police (37%). While 61 percent felt religious leaders should be consulted on problems, most reported having resolved problems through local elders. [Full Article, PDF]
One of the best aspects of this survey is that it includes a description of the methodology as well as a copy of the questionnaire used. Don't have time to read a 128-page report? Turn to page 90 and you can quickly see what questions were asked, how they were asked and the exact percentages for each answer. Take a look, the Afghan perspective provided in this survey is well worth your time.

Last edited by Jedburgh; 11-14-2006 at 05:38 PM. Reason: Fixed link to survey.
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Old 11-15-2006   #23
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CSIS, 15 Nov 06:

Transforming NATO (...again): A Primer for the Summit in Riga 2006

The portion of the report dealing with Afghanistan and its potential effects upon the Riga summit and NATO's future is on page 48 of the pdf document.
Quote:
...The NATO operation in Afghanistan is in itself a remarkable achievement. Given the distance from Brussels, complexity, and operational environment, ISAF would have been an unimaginable mission just ten years ago.

Many observers believe the ISAF mission marks the birth of a “global NATO” that is willing and able to face 21st century threats. Others, however, are increasingly skeptical about the operation’s long-term sustainability. SACEUR General James Jones called for an additional 2,000 troops in September 2006. The deafening silence that followed raised questions about whether NATO had the political will and adequate capabilities to succeed....
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Old 11-28-2006   #24
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Default NATO: More Troops for Afghanistan?

28 November NY Times editorial - Slouching Toward Riga

Quote:
When NATO leaders gather in Latvia this week, there will undoubtedly be a lot of grand talk about how the cold-war alliance has managed to elude irrelevance, bringing in new members, dispatching humanitarian aid and deploying peacekeepers beyond Europe’s borders.

But the real issue before the annual summit meeting is that NATO is failing its most significant post-Soviet test: stabilizing Afghanistan. Violence is spiraling as the Taliban and Al Qaeda reassert their power. The economy is addicted to opium production. The pro-Western government in Kabul looks increasingly powerless and irrelevant.

Unless NATO’s members commit to sending in more troops and more resources, Afghanistan could go the way of Iraq. There may not be many more chances after this week’s meeting.

The current 32,000-member NATO force is too small. Some provinces — including those along the border with Pakistan, where the Taliban have their sanctuaries — have little or no allied presence...
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Old 11-28-2006   #25
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Default Voted no

NATO cannot win there. We need to increase our commitment, reconstruction efforts, and get it done. Just call it a hunch.
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Old 12-12-2006   #26
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Default Trouble on the Canadian political front for the Afghan mission

From CBC.ca

Quote:
Duceppe threatens to topple government over Afghan mission
Last Updated: Monday, December 11, 2006 | 7:34 PM ET
CBC News

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe threatened Monday to try to topple the Harper government over the mission in Afghanistan unless the current mandate is changed.

Duceppe warned he might table a no-confidence motion if the mission isn't "rapidly and profoundly" altered, with more resources put into reconstruction instead of fighting.
....
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Old 12-13-2006   #27
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CSIS Briefing, 12 Dec 06:

Winning in Afghanistan: How to Face the Rising Threat
Quote:
Key Trends
- Development of effective government and economy will take at least 5-10 years; no instant success is possible.
- Current Afghan government, and US and NATO aid and activity levels are inadequate.
- Reconstituted enemy is more lethal and shows increased capacity for effective asymmetric warfare, including effective information operations
- Pakistan sanctuary is an enemy advantage
- Major rise in violence in West and South
- Rising threat in other areas
- Violence likely to be at least equal next year and may well be higher.
- Afghan forces developing but require major increases in aid and years of support.
- NATO effort has insufficient forces and only US, Canadian, British, Danes, Estonians,and Dutch forces are in the fight. Romanians have been in limited action but are largely road bound due to wrong APCs.
- Increased Narco-trafficking/crime
- Threat exploits limited transportation infrastructure.
- Image-risk of US defeat in Iraq strong morale builder for Taliban-Al Qa’ida
(Much more detail in the 71 slide pdf presentation)

Edit to add: Press Briefing Transcript

Last edited by Jedburgh; 12-18-2006 at 02:12 PM.
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Old 12-15-2006   #28
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Default Senlis Council Report: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE HEARTS AND MINDS CAMPAIGN IN SOUTHERN AFG

From CBC.ca
Quote:
Troops bear brunt of 'misguided' Afghan aid policies: report
Last Updated: Thursday, December 14, 2006 | 2:30 PM ET
CBC News

International agencies, including the Canadian International Development Agency, have failed to tackle the food emergency in southern Afghanistan, and NATO soldiers in the region are paying the price, a new report says.

The paper, released Thursday by the Senlis Council, an international think tank, says "misguided" policies by agencies such as CIDA and the British Department for International Development have left the local population hungry and angry towards the international community.

More...
The full report (4MB) is available at http://www.senliscouncil.net/documents/HM_report_full

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Old 12-15-2006   #29
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Default COIN and Casualties

From page 54 of the Senlis report.


Even if you don't accept the veracity of the figures, the message is still there in this chart, one I delivered to an Israeli colonel in my history seminar in 1987.

It is for this reason I still maintain that "civilian" or worse, "collateral" casualties must be treated as friendly. "Us and them" has to be "we."

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Old 01-01-2007   #30
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Culture note, from The Economist, 19 Dec 06:

Pushtunwali: Honor Among Them
Quote:
...It is over 250 years since Afghanistan was cobbled together, from many ethnic groups, and two centuries since British colonisers tried stretching their writ to India's (now Pakistan's) north-western frontier, where the plains crumple up towards the Hindu Kush. Yet, in both places, a large part of the population is still wedded to Pushtunwali. Some 15m Pushtuns live in Afghanistan, or 50% of its population; and 28m in Pakistan, mostly in NWFP, representing about 15% of the population there. Most of them are ruled by their tribal code, the notable exception being where the rival Islamist code, of the stringent Saudi variety which is preached by the Taliban and quite new to Afghanistan, is strong. Islamism has rivalled Pushtunwali for centuries; it has often gained prominence, as currently, in time of war. More typically, the two competing ways have cross-fertilised in Afghanistan, each subtly influencing the other...
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Old 01-27-2007   #31
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U.S. Says Afghan Troops Issue Critical to NATO's Future - VOA.

Quote:
A top U.S. State Department official warned Friday that NATO's future may hinge on alliance members dropping conditions they have placed on their troops' service in Afghanistan. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns says the so-called "caveats" on what various contingents may do in that country are an "existential" issue for NATO.

The Bush administration has made clear its irritation over conditions some NATO countries have placed on their soldiers' activity in Afghanistan...
NATO Allies Wary of Adding Troops in Afghanistan - NY Times.

Quote:
America’s European allies remained noncommittal about sending additional troops to Afghanistan today, even as the Bush administration sought to inject new energy into the NATO mission against the Taliban by offering more American soldiers and money.

Officially, the language at a NATO meeting here today reflected resolve and commitment on Afghanistan. NATO “is stepping up its game in Afghanistan on all fronts,” the alliance’s secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer of the Netherlands, said. “The fact that you saw so many people from the international community sitting around the table is a strong message itself.”

But beyond the sound bytes, the realities that have troubled the NATO mission in Afghanistan since the 26-member trans-Atlantic alliance took command last year remained on display. France and Germany continued to limit their combat role; both countries have refused to deploy troops in the south of the country, where Taliban forces are strongest. Germany’s Parliament has yet to approve a proposal to send six Tornado reconnaissance jets to southern Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi is battling allies in own party and government who oppose the Afghan mission and want the government to set a deadline for withdrawing the country’s 1,800 troops...
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Old 03-06-2007   #32
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Default NATO Launches Major Operation in Afghanistan

6 March Washington Post - NATO Launches Major Operation in Afghanistan by Griff Witte.

Quote:
NATO and Afghan forces launched what commanders described as a major operation in a key province of southern Afghanistan Tuesday morning, part of a bid to win back territory that has become a haven for insurgents.

The operation, the international force's largest to date in the country, was centered in the northern part of the Helmand province, where Afghan government authorities have very little control and insurgents have been able to move with relative impunity. The province's governor said 700 al Qaeda fighters recently moved into the region, and were planning to continue the wave of suicide bombings and other attacks that have besieged Afghanistan for the past year and a half.

Both sides have said this is likely to be a bloody spring for the country, and Tuesday's operation seemed to mark a significant escalation. NATO forces said the operation began at 5 a.m. and ultimately would involve 4,500 NATO troops from the U.S., Britain, Canada and the Netherlands, plus 1,000 Afghan soldiers...
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Old 04-12-2007   #33
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Default Australia and Canada Update Thread

The Australian - Diggers Get Afghan Boost.

Quote:
Australian special forces will go back on the offensive against Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan in an effort to regain the upper hand in Oruzgan province.

The return of the special forces comes at a crucial time, with Taliban insurgents threatening to retake control of key areas in the south, including inaccessible parts of Oruzgan.

John Howard said yesterday the 300-strong special operations task group - part of a plan to double Australia's military commitment in the country - would be sent to Oruzgan for at least two years...
The Australian - Pressure on Howard to do More.

Quote:
Australia's defence chiefs are already reconciled to a long-term Australian military presence in Afghanistan.

Yesterday's announcement of a return of special forces to Afghanistan confirms that that country remains at the centre of Australia's military contribution to the global jihadist war.

The SAS and the commandos are essential to ensuring that our engineers and trade specialists can go about their civic rebuilding tasks with the support of localAfghans. The ground forces are sustained by headquarters, intelligence and logistics staff, as well as vital air support, bringing the total size of the force to at least 1000.

The experience of the past few months has shown that without aggressive, long-range patrolling and intelligence gathering by Australian special forces, the threat posed by Taliban insurgents in Oruzgan province will soon rebound. Tight rules of engagement for a number of NATO countries, including The Netherlands, inhibit their combat forces from taking on the Taliban in offensive operations.

John Howard conceded yesterday that there was a long way to go in Afghanistan, saying the war could not be won without "renewed and increased effort" on the part of coalition forces...
Globe and Mail - Death of Six Canadians Shatters Afghan Calm.

Quote:
Canada suffered its worst day in battle since the Korean War as six soldiers were killed yesterday and two injured by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

The powerful strike on their LAV III armoured vehicle marked a stunning end to a relatively peaceful winter enjoyed by the Canadian troops, who had not suffered a death by enemy action in more than four months.

The attack also signified the first major salvo from the Taliban in response to Operation Achilles, as thousands of NATO troops roll into Helmand province to confront insurgents openly defying government rule...
Globe and Mail - Two Soldiers Die in Wave of Taliban Bombings.

Quote:
Two more Canadian soldiers died in a wave of Taliban bombings yesterday, making this the military's worst week on the battlefield in half a century.

Three days after six Canadian soldiers died in a roadside explosion on Easter Sunday, a helicopter thundered into Kandahar Air Field last night and medical crews hurried onto the floodlit tarmac to unload a seriously injured soldier on a stretcher, while another staggered into the military hospital with his arms around two comrades. A second helicopter set down moments later, carrying the two bodies.

By the end of the day, three explosions had injured three Canadian soldiers and as many as 10 civilians, and raised the total of Canada's war dead in Afghanistan to 53 soldiers and one diplomat...
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Old 04-12-2007   #34
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Default Not just People this time

I just returned from Kabul performing an assessment visit for potential EOD/EDD vacancies. Hmmm, tempting offer. Where did the vacancies come from

The recent attacks also killed 7 Afgan deminers, injured two and killed two Mine Detection Dogs

The last time deminers were attacked in 2005, the UN suspended demining activities.
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Old 04-12-2007   #35
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Much as I abhor our recent casualties in Afghanistan, they came at a time which may well backfire on the Taliban. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot of concentration on the restoration of the Canadian war memorial in France and on a remebrance of the Vimy Ridge battle. Vimy holds a psition in Canadian ppular culture somewhat analogous to that of Gallipoli in Australian culture - except we won that one after the Brits and the French couldn't. I'm not sure how it will play out in popular culture, but I suspect that it will harden popular support in at least some areas. After all, we suffered over 3,000 casualties at Vimy...

Marc
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Old 04-12-2007   #36
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Default For Marc and the Canadians

For Marc and the Canadians. Canadian wounded at Vimy Ridge...
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Old 04-12-2007   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
For Marc and the Canadians. Canadian wounded at Vimy Ridge...
Thanks, Tom. My Great Uncle fought there (and in most of the major battles of WWI with Canadians in them). His descriptions were, to say the least, somewhat "chilling" .

On a related story from CBC

Quote:
Canadian Forces expected to renew aging fleet of tanks
Last Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2007 | 6:21 AM ET
CBC News

The Canadian Forces is set to announce plans on Thursday to refresh its fleet of aging tanks with newer Leopard tanks purchased from NATO allies.

The newer, more modern machines will be purchased second-hand from the Netherlands. But they will be of a newer generation than the 30-year-old Leopard C2s currently being used by the Canadians in Afghanistan.

In the short term, the Canadian military will likely lease 20 state-of-the-art Leopard A6Ms from Germany.
....
Canada currently has 17 Leopard C2 tanks in Afghanistan. By updating its fleet, the military has reversed the former Liberal government's decision to do away with the tanks altogether.

More...
On Vimy from CBC Shock and Awe: 1917

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Last edited by marct; 04-12-2007 at 05:01 PM. Reason: added Vimy link
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Old 04-15-2007   #38
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Default Digging in All Over Again

14 April The Australian - Digging in All Over Again by Patrick Walters.

Quote:
Australia is being slowly yet inexorably being drawn into a novel 21st-century version of the "great game" in Afghanistan as our military prepares for its most sustained fighting since Vietnam.

The upgraded Afghanistan mission promises to be long and hazardous, and Australia's defence chiefs know there is no guarantee of victory.

Our overall troop commitment is much likelier to rise than fall in the next two years as the battle intensifies to stabilise Afghanistan. But, unlike Australia's two most recent wars, in Vietnam and Iraq, the war in Afghanistan is a full bipartisan commitment from the Government and the ALP.

John Howard this week warned that Australia's national interests were involved in Afghanistan. He said the war could not be won without "renewed and increased effort" by the US and its allies. Describing Afghanistan as being at a crucial stage in its history, the Prime Minister warned of a deteriorating environment in southern Afghanistan and the threat of a resurgent Taliban and al-Qa'ida.

"But while I am very conscious of the history of Afghanistan, you can't see what is occurring there just as part of the historical continuity. There is another element and a very real element to the sort of world in which we now live," he said.

For Howard the new player in the near 200-year-old great game is al-Qa'ida and the fanatical Taliban. The risk for Australia is that Afghanistan will once again become a safe haven for terrorists as it was in the late 1990s when it was the global headquarters for al-Qa'ida and Osama bin Laden...
14 April The Australian - Rules of War by Greg Sheridan.

Quote:
Prime Minister John Howard wrote to Pakistan's military dictator, President Pervez Musharraf, in February. The tone of the letter was emollient and friendly, but it bore a heavy message. Howard likes Musharraf. They talk about cricket and the Commonwealth. There is a kind of Sam Browne belt quality to their relationship.

Howard admires the way Musharraf turned Pakistan around after the 9/11 al-Qa'ida terror attacks and made it into an ally of the West in the war on terror.

But if that Howard-Musharraf relationship was worth anything, it needed to be put to use now. This week Howard announced the effective doubling of Australia's military commitment to Afghanistan. This will reach 1000 Diggers by next year. It is one of the most dangerous and militarily important troop commitments Australia has made in decades...
14 April The Australian - PM Asks Pakistan to Curb Taliban by Greg Sheridan and Bruce Loudon.

Quote:
John Howard has written to Pakistan's military dictator, imploring him to do more to stop the flow of Taliban forces into southern Afghanistan in an effort to reduce the threat to Australian troops being sent to the region.

As Australia was preparing to double its troop commitment in Afghanistan, the Prime Minister told Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf in a personal letter sent in February, that the Taliban flow from Pakistan threatened the lives of Australian troops sent to Oruzgan province.

But General Musharraf yesterday lashed out at Western critics of his attitude to the Taliban and al-Qa'ida, bluntly threatening to quit the war on terror unless criticism of him abated.

US President George W.Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other Western leaders have put pressure on General Musharraf to crack down on terrorist activities along the border between his country and Afghanistan.

Western military analysts believe Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency is continuing some level of co-operation with the Taliban - a claim General Musharraf attacked this week...
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Old 04-15-2007   #39
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Default Deadly 'IED Cell' Aims to Disrupt Canadian Efforts

14 April Globe and Mail - Deadly 'IED Cell' Aims to Disrupt Canadian Efforts by Grame Smith.

Quote:
Canadians and their allies are hunting for a group of Taliban bombers who have infiltrated the farmland west of Kandahar from neighbouring Helmand province, military officials confirmed yesterday.

But the insurgents' strike with an improvised explosive device in Zhari district this week, which killed two Canadians, does not mean the Taliban's spring offensive has arrived, said Lieutenant-Colonel Rob Walker, the battle group commander. Nor does the bombing mean that the security situation in Zhari has deteriorated, he added.

“We were just in the process of starting operations to target that particular cell when we had this most recent IED strike,” Lt.-Col. Walker said.

“It's my understanding that this IED cell is still there, and it certainly will be a focus of both the Afghan national army and police, and our collective efforts over the next number of days, to try get better definition on it, so that we can collectively work together to try to detain, capture, or persuade them to leave the area.”...
13 April Globe and Mail - Rising Toll Prompts Purchase of Tanks by Alan Freeman.

Quote:
Insisting that tanks can save the lives of Canadian soldiers deployed in its increasingly dangerous Afghan mission, the government announced yesterday it would spend $650-million to acquire up to 100 second-hand tanks from the Netherlands and lease 20 more from Germany.

The German-designed Leopard 2 tanks will replace Canada's 30-year-old Leopard 1 tanks deployed to Afghanistan last fall, which are not air-conditioned and could leave troops sweltering in 60-degree temperatures in the Afghan summer.

“We feel that it's best for our troops that we acquire stronger, heavily armoured main tanks that increase protection,” said Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor, who made the announcement at the end of a meeting of defence ministers from the eight countries participating in the NATO-led force in southern Afghanistan.

The acquisition of 100 tanks for a mission that now uses only 17 indicates that the armed forces have persuaded the government that Canada will need a robust tank force in the future...
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Old 04-18-2007   #40
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Default Afghan Offensive to Test NATO Credibility

18 April Washington Times - Afghan Offensive to Test NATO Credibility by David Sands.

Quote:
The United States and its NATO allies are making progress in Afghanistan but face a critical test of the alliance's credibility from an expected spring offensive from the Islamist insurgency, Dutch Ambassador to the United States Christiaan Mark Johan Kroner said in an interview yesterday.

The U.S. and Dutch armies are among the few NATO countries carrying out the bulk of the military operations against resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan's restive south and east.

The 2,100-member Dutch force has taken command of the volatile southern sector from Canada, but several NATO powers have placed restrictions -- known as "caveats" -- on the deployment of their forces to Afghanistan's more dangerous regions.

The war is a "critical test of NATO's credibility," Mr. Kroner said in a luncheon with editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

"If NATO does not succeed there, it will be a disaster -- not just for Afghanistan and the region but for NATO itself," the veteran Dutch diplomat said. "It would certainly be a blow to the credibility of the West to deal with a crisis."...
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