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Old 05-19-2006   #1
Ray
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Default Project Afghanistan: Pakistan and NATO

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EDITORIAL: Project Afghanistan: Pakistan and NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) wants closer military and political relations with Pakistan. The quid pro quo: Islamabad should support the 26-member alliance’s operation in Afghanistan. Last Wednesday, a NATO spokesperson in Brussels said that “The essence of the relationship will be pragmatic”. What he described as “technical discussion, technical cooperation, specifically related to support in Afghanistan” can be deciphered thus: we (NATO) need operational and relevant political support from Pakistan for the ongoing operation in Afghanistan and in return are ready to help Pakistan. Therefore Project Help Pakistan presumably could include support at various levels: relief work (as happened after the earthquake), intelligence sharing, equipment provision, joint training, and so on.

One thing is clear. NATO does want closer cooperation with Pakistan since it is broadening its operation in Afghanistan and relieving US troops with NATO-ISAF contingents. NATO is also putting troops on the ground in southern Afghanistan, the hotbed of the Taliban, and it makes sense for it to try and enlist Pakistan’s support. Only last week NATO deputy secretary-general, Alessandro Minuto Rizzo, was in Pakistan along with a contingent and met General Pervez Musharraf and other senior officials of the defence and foreign ministry and intelligence services in Islamabad. Mr Rizzo was accompanied by NATO’s senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, Hikmet Cetin, a former Turkish foreign minister.

The presumption seems to be that at some point the security and other interests of NATO and Pakistan converge. As the spokesperson said, Mr Rizzo discussed southern Afghanistan with General Pervez Musharraf and “Pakistan of course wants ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) to succeed. They have the same interest as we all have.” NATO took command of the ISAF in August 2003. Afghanistan is the first mission for the alliance troops outside the Euro-Atlantic area since its formation. Its broad objective currently is to fight the war on terror. The presence in Afghanistan of its troops, whose strength will shortly go up from 9,000 to 15,000, is part of that mission.

The question for Pakistan, currently a major non-NATO ally of the United States, is: Do its interests in Afghanistan converge with those of NATO, and by extension that of the United States?

The presence of the NATO delegation in Islamabad meant that NATO also wants to know the answer to this question. There are two broad theories on it. One says that Pakistan is still supporting the Taliban; the other rejects this and says that Pakistan is doing as much as it can to control the situation on its side of the Durand Line. A third theory, which combines aspects of both, argues that while Pakistan is bent on eliminating Al Qaeda, its interest in the Taliban remains, though this is primarily because Kabul seems to be dancing to New Delhi’s tune. For its part Islamabad denies that it has any soft corner for the Taliban or that it wants to destabilise Afghanistan. Indeed, Islamabad has its own gripe against Kabul for trotting out this line and has accused President Hamid Karzai’s government of advancing India’s anti-Pakistan designs by fishing in Balochistan.

Be that as it may, it should be evident that a stable Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest. It should also be clear that Afghanistan cannot go against Pakistan’s interests beyond a certain point. It is landlocked and needs Pakistan for access to the outside world. Besides, Pakistan’s relations with NATO serve the interests of both sides and there is no reason that Pakistan should try to gain tactical points and lose sight of the larger strategic picture. NATO needs Pakistan and Islamabad should take advantage of its need by helping it secure Afghanistan. General Musharraf has reportedly discussed the possibility of opening NATO schools for Pakistani military personnel along the lines of the three such schools in Europe (Rome, Munich and Norway). NATO’s presence in this region is part of its drive to open up towards the countries of this region, an effort that is underpinned by the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Initiative.

On the downside, Islamabad will have to be careful about how it communicates its interaction with NATO. The people largely look at NATO as an extension of the US, which is not entirely correct. However, this perception is strong for two reasons: the US is the core state of the alliance; and the US foots the major part of NATO’s bill. In tandem this means that the US also gets to influence NATO in a major way. However, NATO is present in Afghanistan under the UN mandate. In legal-political terms this is very different from Iraq, for instance, where the US embroiled itself against the wishes of even its own NATO allies and without a UN mandate.

Pakistan has therefore to look at its interaction with NATO only in terms of Afghanistan. It also needs to keep its interaction with NATO on a separate track from its relations with the US. When NATO sent its relief contingent for the quake-affected people, the political opposition raised Cain and accused the government of kowtowing to the US. Wild theories flew around and it seemed that NATO was in Pakistan to either take out Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal or be the vanguard of the cordon against China. The key, therefore, is to sell this idea to the people as it is. That’s the tough part. *
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default...9-5-2006_pg3_1
This is an editorial from a Pakistani newspaper Daily Times.

It raises interesting issues vis a vis the US, NATO, Pakistan and Afghanistan and with some reference to India too.

Unlike other countries, Afghanistan has always had strong warlords based polity with a nominal head at Kabul. It has been governed by tribal customs and have rarely been a cohesive nation as such. It is because of this situation that controlling Afghanistan has not been an easy task for anyone. Each warlord to his own, so to say.

Being landlocked and with a demanding terrain, while it is picturesque, it hardly supports agriculture or industries. Education has never been an attraction in Afghanistan.

In such a scenario, something more troublesome to govern that the "wild west", to have only 40,00 troops to "control" the nation and bring it to some semblance of democracy is well nigh impossible, especially since it is but small zones of tribal power centres and hardly a nation!

The current government or even the past ones were never friendly with Pakistan since there has always been the demand for Paktunistan (the land of the Pathans or Pashtuns or Pakhtoons) based on parts of Pakistan (inhabited by Pashtuns) and that of Afghanistan. And likewise Pakistan has always eyed Afghanistan with some suspicion. Afghans have never been easy with Paksitan. It must be remembered that Afghanistan is not a pure Pashtun country.

Therefore, for any organisation or country to expect Pakistan to assist without expecting anything in return is but a pipedream. That is why at regular intervals, Pakistan has to be woken from their reverie to take action in NWFP as was seen when President Bush visited Pakistan and admonished them for a tardy response to the War on Terror.

One wonders if the US is serious about bringing some semblance of order to Afghanistan. The Soviets had 120,000 troops and they failed (of course there were other reasons too). In India to contain the Pakistan sponsored cross border terrorism, there is a huge number of troops and para military (because India does not use artillery or air to control the terrorists) and yet the US expects to bring control with a mere 40,000!

One wonders how that could be possible.

Britain is sending 600 troops which is an understrength battalion in Indian terms.

Could someone explain how it is expected that Afghanistan can be 'normalised" with a mere 40,000 troops and with Pakistan being unable to control the Taliban and AQ from entering Afghanistan from Pakistan and return to their safe havens in Pakistan?

The worst case scenario being that Pakistan is actively aiding these Taliban and AQ to foment problems for ISAF!!
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Old 06-21-2006   #2
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Default NATO's Afghanistan Challenge

21 June Los Angeles Times commentary - NATO's Afghanistan Challenge by Max Boot.

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... On the plus side, the ISAF is that rare coalition in which soldiers from more than 30 nations, including such non-NATO allies as Australia and Macedonia, work together in relative harmony. In the Combined Joint Operations Center in Kabul, soldiers from different nations work side by side at computer terminals. Everyone communicates in English. The only way you can tell them apart is by the national flags on their shoulder patches...

Of course, protecting a group of visiting VIPs is one thing; protecting the people of southern Afghanistan from the Taliban and their narco-trafficker allies is a lot more difficult. This task has fallen primarily to 3,000 British, 2,200 Canadian and 1,500 Dutch troops. The other members of the ISAF prefer to serve in less perilous areas.

This points to one of NATO's biggest challenges — getting members to volunteer troops, and to do so without placing too many caveats on their deployment. In addition to limits of geography (many troops won't operate in the south or east), there are also tactical limits. For instance, some soldiers are not allowed by their governments to use chemicals like tear gas to disperse unruly crowds. This can become a major headache for ISAF commanders when figuring out how to deal with riots of the kind that rocked Kabul in May.

In theory, the ISAF is supposed to concentrate on the softer side of counterinsurgency, providing development aid and security, while U.S. troops focus on hunting down bad guys. In practice, the distinction can be hard to draw. NATO troops in the south can engage in "proactive self-defense," whatever that means. Fleshing out this nebulous mandate will be up to commanders on the spot, and the widespread expectation is that British and Canadian troops will be more aggressive than their more cautious Dutch colleagues.

It is a daunting task that NATO has taken on in a country that ranks 173 out of 178 on a basic index of human development, and one whose economy is more dependent on illegal drugs and foreign aid than any other nation...
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Old 07-12-2006   #3
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I highly recommend this week's The Economist. Unfortunately, all the good stuff is restricted to "subscriber only" on-online.

This week features a very good Special Report on Afghanistan titled A Geographical Expression in Search of a State, that offers a balanced discussion of progress, failures and challenges. Couple that report with a longer (10 pages) survey of neighboring Pakistan, which The Economist calls "the most terrifying country in Asia", and it makes for an interesting read.
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Old 07-12-2006   #4
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Very detailed report from HRW:

Lessons in Terror: Attacks on Education in Afghanistan
Quote:
Brutal attacks by armed opposition groups on Afghan teachers, students, and their schools have occurred throughout much of Afghanistan in recent months, particularly in the south. These attacks, and the inability of the government and its international backers to stop them, demonstrate the deteriorating security conditions under which many Afghans are now living. While ultimate responsibility lies with the perpetrators, much about the response of the international community and the Afghan government can and must be improved if Afghanistan is to move forward. The situation is not hopeless, yet....
Pages 109 to 114 of the pdf file are an analysis of the effect, or lack thereof, of military nation-building efforts in Afghanistan. A fairly close look is taken at the PRT concept and results.


Note: I know there are those who disdain any reporting from "Human Rights" organizations. However, I have a great deal of respect for the professionalism and balance of HRW, buttressed by personal observations of some of their personnel in action in Northern Iraq when they were still carrying out investigations into Saddam's Anfal operation against the Kurds.

Admittedly, there are times when their black-and-white views don't mesh well with the multiple shades of gray in the world we operate in, but I have found HRW to be very careful and precise in its findings and judgements. This is in great contrast to AI, which tends to be far more strident, and often exemplifies the reasons why many in the military look down upon "Human Rights" sources.
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Old 08-04-2006   #5
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Default Taliban Hinder NATO 'Ink-Spot' Strategy

4 August Christian Science Monitor - Taliban Hinder NATO 'Ink-Spot' Strategy by Rachel Morarjee.

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Any Taliban fighters approaching Camp Bastion are visible for miles because the main British base in southern Afghanistan is slap-bang in the middle of nowhere. There is nothing around Bastion but seas of dust.

"We have tied up thousands of troops protecting a white elephant in the middle of the desert. The Taliban won't be able to attack us, but we are not doing anything to protect the Afghan populace with this base," says a British officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The location of the British base in southern Helmand Province highlights one of the many problems which face incoming NATO forces in the former Taliban strongholds of Helmand, Uruzgan, and Kandahar Provinces.

NATO took over command of southern Afghanistan from US forces this week, promising to breathe new life into development, which has ground to a halt in the face of a reinvigorated Taliban. With double the number of forces that their US predecessors had, NATO plans to set up secure zones, then slowly expand them outwards like "ink spots" on blotting paper. But the virulence of insurgent attacks are already taxing the force, further delaying the reconstruction needed to win over what British commander Ed Butler refers to as the "floating voter."

"There is not a popular uprising in southern Afghanistan, but people are sitting on the fence. They are no longer sure whether the Taliban or the government will be the winning side," says Joanna Nathan, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.

Even before this week's handover, insurgents dramatically stepped up attacks in an apparent bid to knock off-balance the incoming NATO force. Nine British soldiers have died in the two months since they were deployed to Helmand, three of them in a well-planned ambush just a day after NATO took command of the region on July 31. Thursday, a Canadian soldier was killed by a roadside bomb, and 21 civilians died from a suicide car bomb in a Kandahar market. Over 1,000 people - most of them militants - have been killed since May.

NATO forces now number 8,000 across Afghanistan's four southern provinces, with some 4,000 departing US forces redeploying to eastern regions along the Pakistan border.

For the last four years US troops have focused their efforts on battling Al Qaeda and the fight to catch Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan's restive south. The task of rebuilding its shattered infrastructure has fallen by the wayside, and popular discontent has grown.

So has the opium crop, which is set to be the biggest ever this year in Helmand Province, which produces over 30 percent of Afghanistan's $2.8 billion harvest. In many parts of the south there are few other jobs.

Five years after the fall of the Taliban, the changes people expected to see in their lives have not materialized. Over 200 schools across southern Afghanistan have shut their doors in the face of violent threats and many more people have pulled their daughters out of the schools that remain open.

The Taliban have stepped into the security void that has opened up, setting up shadow administrations, offering people a chance to cultivate their drugs unmolested and promising a return to the law and order they enforced before 2001...
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Old 09-05-2006   #6
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Default NATO Deadline to Break Taliban: 6 Months

5 September USA Today - Deadline to Break Taliban: 6 Months by Paul Wiseman.

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NATO's commander here has set a six-month deadline to reverse a Taliban insurgency terrorizing southern Afghanistan or risk alienating Afghans undecided about whom to support.

British army Lt. Gen. David Richards said his troops must prove to Afghans in the south that the fundamentalist Islamic militia won't be able to undermine the democratically elected Afghan government or stop efforts to rebuild the shattered country.

Only 10% of the south's population supports the Taliban, Richards said, citing Afghan government surveys. In an interview, he said 70% won't declare their loyalty until they “see which side will win. They can't wait forever. We've got to show them we will win.”

Nearly five years after a U.S.-led campaign ousted the Taliban government that had sheltered al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Richards' troops have launched “Operation Medusa” in Panjwayi district in Kandahar province. The campaign aims to quell the Taliban's aggressive new offensive. NATO reported that more than 200 Taliban fighters were killed in the first two days of Medusa, which began Saturday.

The fighting also has brought NATO casualties. Monday, two U.S. warplanes mistakenly strafed NATO troops in Panjwayi district. A Canadian soldier was killed, said Maj. Scott Lundy, a NATO spokesman. A British soldier was killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul, the British Defense Ministry said. More than 130 NATO and coalition troops have died this year, the Associated Press reported, more than in all of 2005.

NATO took over responsibility for southern Afghanistan from the United States on July 31. As early as this month, NATO will take over for the U.S.-led multinational coalition in eastern Afghanistan...
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Old 09-05-2006   #7
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Default NATO Says Offensive is Cornering Taliban

5 September Reuters - NATO Says Offensive is Cornering Taliban .

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NATO said on Tuesday its major offensive to crush a revitalized Taliban in southern Afghanistan is pushing the guerrillas into a corner as heavy fighting continues.

"We are closing the circle on the Taliban -- we have got the Taliban in a bit of a trap," NATO spokesman Major Quentin Innes said.

NATO launched Operation Medusa, its biggest ground offensive against an increasingly active Taliban, last weekend in Kandahar province, the hardline Islamist group's spiritual heartland.

The operation is focused on Panjwai district, near the capital, Kandahar city, and is being supported by air strikes.

Medusa was launched after NATO forces encountered stiffer-than-expected Taliban resistance as it took over the south from U.S.-led troops, the alliance's biggest-ever ground operation.

Casualties have been high. NATO says it has killed more than 200 guerrillas, a claim the Taliban disputes. At least five Canadian soldiers have died in combat and 14 British troops were killed when their plane crashed early in the offensive...
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Old 09-23-2006   #8
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Default Afghan Campaign Testing NATO's Staying Power

23 September Wall Street Journal editorial - Operation Medusa.

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In the war on terror, few battles are as clear and decisive as the one fought these last few weeks in southern Afghanistan. Six thousand Canadian, British, American and other NATO troops trounced resurgent Taliban fighters who dared to fight in the open. "Operation Medusa" dislodged insurgents from trenches and tunnels near Kandahar, killing a thousand or more.

The intensity of the fighting surprised some NATO allies, who this summer took over the lead in southern Afghanistan from the U.S. More tests are to come. The insurgents will surely regroup, shun direct engagements with Western troops, and resort to the ad hoc terrorism perfected in Iraq. To adapt NATO's nomenclature, the Medusa was injured but the snakes are very much alive...
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Old 09-29-2006   #9
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Default Nations Limit Use Of NATO Forces

29 September USA Today - Nations Limit Use Of NATO Forces by Jim Michaels.

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Countries sending their troops to Afghanistan have placed a web of restrictions on how they can be used, creating headaches for combat commanders and hurting the coalition's ability to fight a resurgent Taliban.

The restrictions, also called caveats, vary and are imposed by governments who fear casualties or don't agree with all parts of the mission. Other caveats are due to a lack of training or equipment.

The result is some forces can't fight at night or in the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan...

Some restrictions

Germany (2,300 troops): No combat.

Netherlands (1,400 troops): No ground combat.

Others (identities classified by Pentagon): No night fighting.
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Old 10-18-2006   #10
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Default Afghanistan: NATO Faces ‘Window of Opportunity'

18 October Globe and Mail - NATO Faces ‘Window of Opportunity' by Paul Koring.

Quote:
Military successes over the Taliban in recent months have opened a crucial six-month “window of opportunity” to prove to Afghans in the south that long-promised reconstruction and security can be delivered, NATO's commander in Afghanistan said Tuesday.

However, British Lieutenant-General David Richards warned that “if we fail to deliver on the promises that they [the Afghan people] feel have been made to them,” the Taliban will be back in strength next summer. “If you do not have the consent of the people in a counterinsurgency, at the end of the day, you're probably going to lose. So we need to explore these ways to get the people onside.”

The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan failed to follow through as it should have after ousting the Taliban government in 2001, setting the stage for this year's deadly resurgence, he said. The mistake consisted of adopting “a peacetime approach” too early.

Gen. Richards stressed the urgent need for reconstruction, the development of a reliable and honest police force and alternatives to the poppy production that supports southern Afghanistan's economy.

Gen. Richards stressed the urgent need for reconstruction, the development of a reliable and honest police force and alternatives to the poppy production that supports southern Afghanistan's economy.

“At some point the military can do no more, because we don't offer solutions to all the other complex issues that are confronting the country. We are just part of the solution,” he said...
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Old 10-21-2006   #11
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...a decidedly pessimistic point-of-view from Michael Scheuer at the Jamestown Foundation:

The West is Running Out of Time in Afghanistan
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...The old adage that familiarity breeds contempt is no place on earth truer than in Afghanistan, and there it additionally always breeds armed resistance. In the Afghans' view, the U.S.-led coalition has occupied Afghanistan for five-plus years, has failed to deliver a more prosperous and safer society, has killed a large number of Afghan civilians and shows no sign of planning a near-term departure. Always short of patience in regard to foreigners running their affairs, most Afghans probably would concur with Taliban spokesman Mutamen's statement that "the people of Afghanistan...never accept foreign dominance...America has attacked Afghanistan without any reasonable plan or suggestions. The Americans, therefore, get nothing but the death of their soldiers in Afghanistan. We want NATO and other foreign troops to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible" (Afghan Islamic Press, October 7). Ominously, another Taliban leader, Mullah Mehmood Allah Haq Yar, claims that not only has the Pashtun-dominated Taliban's patience run out, but that the forces of the late Ahmed Shah Masood—heretofore backing Karzai—are beginning to decide that they did not defeat and evict Moscow only to be ruled by the West. In late spring 2005, Yar claims to have talked with Northern Alliance representatives who "condemned the foreign presence in the country, but insisted that the Taliban take the lead [in attacking it] and then they would follow suit." Yar claims that the Taliban's contacts with the Alliance commanders are continuing (Asia Times, October 5).

Overall, the increasing pace of the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan suggests it is only a matter of time until the commanders of the U.S.-led coalition are faced with telling their political leaders that a decision must be made to either heavily reinforce coalition forces—it appears that more than the 120,000 men Moscow deployed to Afghanistan in the 1980s would be necessary—or begin preparations to withdraw from the country. If taken now, such a decision would be made in the context of polls showing popular opinion in Canada and Britain turning decidedly against continued participation in the Afghan war and media reports that France may begin to withdraw its special forces from Afghanistan next spring (Associated Press, October 15).
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Old 10-23-2006   #12
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ISN, 23 Oct 06: Perspectives: Insurgency in Afghanistan
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NATO's mission in southern Afghanistan, the alliance's first land deployment outside Europe, is proving its toughest yet. NATO's command has set a six-month deadline to wipe out the Taliban insurgency in order to work toward its original goals, hoping to reverse the situation before the onset of winter. Much is now riding on NATO's ability to see its mission through, and many experts agree that Afghan stability will depend on the alliance's success in the southern region. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer warned that without greater international help, Afghanistan could again become a breeding ground for terrorists.

Violence in Afghanistan continues to escalate, and is said to be worse than at any time since US-led forces invaded the country in 2001 to remove the Taliban. As such, NATO's mission has seen its mandate and its rules of engagement expanded well beyond the original duties of peacekeeping.

Complicating matters, last week, air strikes by NATO helicopters hunting Taliban fighters tore through three homes in southern Afghanistan as villagers slept, killing at least nine civilians, including women and children, according to news agency reports. Residents of the village of Ashogho condemned the attack. At around the same time on Wednesday morning, a rocket struck a house in a village to the west, killing 13 people. The strikes come at a time when NATO was counting on local support for the counterinsurgency.

Is NATO capable of handling the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan or will troops be there for two more decades, as one British military official opined recently, thanks to the sidelining of the Afghan mission because of the invasion of Iraq?

ISN Security Watch asked you to share your views on NATO's mission in Afghanistan...
Some interesting commentary follows...
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Old 10-23-2006   #13
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Default HRW reporting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
Very detailed report from HRW:

Lessons in Terror: Attacks on Education in Afghanistan


Pages 109 to 114 of the pdf file are an analysis of the effect, or lack thereof, of military nation-building efforts in Afghanistan. A fairly close look is taken at the PRT concept and results.


Note: I know there are those who disdain any reporting from "Human Rights" organizations. However, I have a great deal of respect for the professionalism and balance of HRW, buttressed by personal observations of some of their personnel in action in Northern Iraq when they were still carrying out investigations into Saddam's Anfal operation against the Kurds.

Admittedly, there are times when their black-and-white views don't mesh well with the multiple shades of gray in the world we operate in, but I have found HRW to be very careful and precise in its findings and judgements. This is in great contrast to AI, which tends to be far more strident, and often exemplifies the reasons why many in the military look down upon "Human Rights" sources.

Jed,

I generally like HRW. Their work in Rwanda was excellent; that said, they operate from their core belief that all violence and all war is a violation of human rights. In particular, HRW "reporting" of organized killings by the new GOR in late summer/early fall was suspect in my view then and remains so today.

Other organizations like AI are highly suspect; they draw funding by making dramatic claims, many of which are effectively proved to be overstated or even false. Then again there is MSF; if I talk about the MSF in Rwanda we will have to move this post to the "rant" column. Then again MSF in Goma was one of the few NGOs willing to speak out against what was happening in the camps and act on it.

I did a quick scan read of this one; looks good and well judged in its assessments.

Best
Tom
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Old 10-23-2006   #14
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Default Canadians to extend their tours?

On of the comments following the ISN piece was

Quote:
The lynchpin to watch is Canada. Since moving into the south of the country this summer, its troops there have borne some of the heaviest fighting. At the same time its political investment in the success of the Afghan adventure is more in line with European members than with America or even the UK. The fear that a Canadian withdrawal will prompt a strategic re-evaluation in European capitals is a very real one.
Coming on top of that, CBC.ca just posted an interesting story

Quote:
Military considers longer tours of duty in Afghanistan
Last Updated: Sunday, October 22, 2006 | 11:32 AM ET
CBC News

The Canadian military wants to increase the time served by its troops in Afghanistan to nine months, up from six, a general told soldiers gathered in Edmonton on Saturday.

Brig.-Gen Mark Skidmore spoke after a change of command ceremony that put him in charge of army forces in Western Canada.

The career soldier from London, Ont., took over the job from Brig.-Gen. Tim Grant, who will become commander of Task Force Afghanistan for six months.

"If you're a member of the Canadian military, particularly a soldier with a skill set that's required in Afghanistan, and you haven't been yet, I think chances are very good that the opportunity is going to be there to serve," Skidmore told the assembled troops at the Jefferson Armouries.

On Wednesday, Gen. Rick Hillier, chief of defence staff, said the Armed Forces will be looking outside combat units to find troops.

"We will re-role people that are in the training system right now but who are designed to be something else," he told the Commons defence committee.

... more
There are some very odd maneuvers going on politically here

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Old 10-23-2006   #15
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One cannot wipe out the Taliban with the way it is being approached.

Unless one "seals" the border (though that is well nigh impossible), the Taliban terrorists will keep coming in and going into the areas cleared.

Therefore, two types of force is required.

One, those that seal the border.

Two, rear areas security force i.e. those that clear the area and then ensure that whatever trickles in is removed forthwith.
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Old 10-23-2006   #16
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Default Sealing the border

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Originally Posted by Ray View Post
One cannot wipe out the Taliban with the way it is being approached.

Unless one "seals" the border (though that is well nigh impossible), the Taliban terrorists will keep coming in and going into the areas cleared.

Therefore, two types of force is required.

One, those that seal the border.

Two, rear areas security force i.e. those that clear the area and then ensure that whatever trickles in is removed forthwith.
Good points but, unfortunately, there is no way it can be done as things now stand. If you look at the case in the south-east, the border into North and South Waziristan is wide open and the Pakistani Government has no hope of being able to seal their side. One totally radical suggestion, that I know the Pakistanis won't accept, is to return Waziristan to Afghanistan (they used to be Afghan provinces and are dominated by the Pashtun tribe). The key to "winning" in Afghanistan, IMHO, lies to a large degree in recognizing that the current borders are illusions and operating on that recognition.

We lost the best chance for "winning" when the Loya Jirga met in 2003 and the king was shuffled aside - Karzai doesn't have the same personal authority, either moral or organizational. And, while I do respect him for a lot of the work he has done, he is not going to be able to unify the country as long as he is viewed as a puppet for the West. A victory in Afghanistan must be a victory by Afghans along the lines of the 2nd Afghan war (1878-1881).

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Old 10-31-2006   #17
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Default Troops Turn Away From 'Ink Spots' For Control

31 October London Times - Troops Turn Away From 'Ink Spots' For Control by Anthony Loyd.

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... “If you listen to all the rumours then you would never go out or do anything,” said Colonel Ian Huntley, the Royal Marine commander in the capital of the restive Helmand province of Afghanistan. “It was always expected that there would be a period of asymmetric war, suicide bombings, et cetera. Generally, though, the place is relatively benign. I’m sure there are many worse places in the world to work.”

The colonel’s phlegmatic approach typifies the attitude of 3 Commando Brigade, which arrived in Helmand a month ago. Its mission — to support the Afghan Government with the necessary security measures to allow civil development — had been slanted more to war fighting than reconstruction after the outgoing 16 Air Assault Brigade spent the summer engaged in heated battles with insurgents.

Development was all but non-existent in Helmand by the time the Marines arrived, its concept still pinned on the failed idea of “ink spots”, whereby isolated northern towns, including Musa Qala and Sangin, were supposed to be the seeds of an expanding stability rather than the scenes of fierce fighting and rancour.

In the absence of officials from the Department for International Development, who rarely venture out of Kabul, the development of Helmand — the key to making progress in southern Afghanistan — has fallen largely on the military’s shoulders. The “ink spot” idea has been killed off, replaced by the concept of the “ADZ”, the Afghan Development Zone, a lozenge-shaped area, approximately 40 km (25 miles) long by 20 km wide, stretching along the Helmand river valley from the town of Gereshk to the city of Lashkar Gah.

Despite the threat of the suicide attacks, British patrols are deploying daily from their base in Lashkar Gah, home to about 350 soldiers and Marines, and assessing the potential of redevelopment sites within the ADZ.

The speed of progress might be slow, but the mission is up and running. And unlike in Iraq, where British officers and men have expressed doubts openly about the advantage of their continued presence in the country, in Helmand hope in the mission still remains high...
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Old 11-02-2006   #18
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ICG, 2 Nov 06: Countering Afghanistan’s Insurgency: No Quick Fixes
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...The desire for a quick, cheap war followed by a quick, cheap peace is what has brought Afghanistan to the present, increasingly dangerous situation. It has to be recognised that the armed conflict will last many years but the population needs to be reassured now that there is a clear political goal of an inclusive state. Actions to fight the insurgency must be based on and enforce the rule of law with priority given to the reform of the police and judiciary. Short-term measures such as reliance on ill-trained and poorly disciplined militias, harsh, ad hoc anti-terrorism legislation and discredited power brokers from past eras will only undermine the long-term goal of building sustainable institutions. Political strategy talk seems to focus increasingly on making a deal with the Taliban. That is a bad idea. The key to restoring peace and stability to Afghanistan is not making concessions to the violent extremists but meeting the legitimate grievances of the population – who for the most part have eagerly supported democratisation...
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Old 11-07-2006   #19
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7 November Los Angeles Times editorial - Make a Drug Deal with Afghanistan.

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... The Afghan people are rebelling because the U.S. government is currently committed to destroying 60% of their economy. In the name of the "war on drugs," a U.S. corporation, Dyncorp, is being paid to barge into the fields of some of the poorest people in the world and systematically destroy their only livelihood.

These Afghans are growing poppies — from which heroin is derived — out of need, not greed. A quarter of all Afghan babies die before their fifth birthday. The Senlis Council warns that if Western governments continue this program of economic destruction — and the negative propaganda bonanza it creates — the Taliban may be sufficiently rejuvenated to march on Kabul, depose President Hamid Karzai and pin up a "Welcome home, Mr. Bin Laden" banner.

There is an alternative to this disastrous spiral. The world is suffering from a shortage of legal opiates. The World Health Organization describes it as "an unprecedented global pain crisis." About 80% of the world's population has almost no access to these painkillers at all. Even in developed countries, for cancer care alone there is an unmet annual need for 550 metric tons more opium to make morphine.

Afghan farmers continue to produce the stuff, only to be made into criminals because of it. Meanwhile, in a Kabul hospital, half the patients who need opiates are thrashing about in agony because they can't get them, while in fields only a few miles away opium crops are being hacked to pieces.

The solution is simple. Instead of destroying Afghanistan's most valuable resource, Western governments should buy it outright and resell it to producers of legal opiate-based painkillers on the global market. Instead of confronting Afghan farmers about their crop, our representatives should be approaching them with hard cash...
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Old 11-07-2006   #20
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Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
The solution is simple. Instead of destroying Afghanistan's most valuable resource, Western governments should buy it outright and resell it to producers of legal opiate-based painkillers on the global market. Instead of confronting Afghan farmers about their crop, our representatives should be approaching them with hard cash...
Actually, this is one that the Western governments really shouldn't do - the UN or private companies operating under UN and national government oversight should. There are just too many resonances with the Opium War if national governments by themselves are doing it.

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