Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Surge™ for Afghanistan?

In recent weeks the Pentagon has begun discussing adding up to 7,000 addition American Soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan to make up for shortfalls from NATO allies as they begin to draw down forces or withdraw completely. If the options currently being discussed are carried out, it will raise the number of American service personnel to about 40,000 - higher than at any time in the six-and-a-half-year-old war.
The increasing proportion of United States troops, from about half to about two-thirds of the foreign troops in Afghanistan, would be likely to result in what one senior administration official described as “the re-Americanization” of the war.

“There are simply going to be more American forces than we’ve ever had there,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing future military planning.

A dozen NATO countries have pledged a total of about 2,000 troops, according to senior NATO officials, who provided the information on condition of anonymity according to standard diplomatic rules. Senior alliance commanders in Afghanistan have said they need about 10,000 more troops.

Only one country so far has actually begun preparing more troops to deploy: France, which is sending 700 to Afghanistan, NATO officials said.

Few of the additional troops are expected to arrive any time soon, the officials added.

Officials stressed that no formal new American deployment plans for Afghanistan had been presented to the Pentagon or the White House, and that the decision could be left to the next president, though they would not rule out the prospect that Mr. Bush would order a troop increase.

Mr. Bush has long faced criticism that the Iraq war distracted the country from confronting the Qaeda threat in Afghanistan, and Democrats as well as Republicans have expressed general support for shifting more attention to Afghanistan.

There are about 62,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, about 34,000 of them American, up from just 25,000 American troops in 2005. The American troops are divided into a force of 16,000 who operate under NATO command and 18,000 who conduct counterterrorism and other missions under American command outside the NATO structure, according to Pentagon statistics. The initial planning under way would send about two additional brigades of American forces, or about 7,000 troops, to Afghanistan next year. That would meet two-thirds of what commanders have portrayed in recent months as a shortfall of three brigades, or about 10,000 troops, including combat forces, trainers, intelligence officers and crews for added helicopters and troop carriers.

Initially, the Bush administration asserted that NATO ought to step into the breach and cover some American tail because the good ole U.S. of A is bogged down in Iraq - and publicly, the administration has applauded the efforts of the alliance. But...
The results of the NATO session disappointed commanders in Afghanistan. A NATO military spokesman issued a diplomatically worded statement this week. “In the run-up to and during the Bucharest meeting, nations added extra contributions,” the statement from Kabul said. “However, shortfalls still exist.”

Julianne Smith, director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan policy institute, said the meeting did not live up to the expectations or the public celebration during the session.

“If you look at what the NATO commanders got, it’s hard to see the silver lining,” she said.

So Gates is looking at options to fill the void, and one of them is replacing the 3,200 Marines that were added in recent weeks under the understanding that the troop increase was temporary, when their rotation ends. He also said last month that the U.S. was preparing to increase troop levels in Afghanistan in 2009, but made no indication of degree. One unnamed official said that Gates made that statement after consulting with Bush, and impressing upon the empty-headed little nimrod that a public proclamation of commitment - putting your Marines where your mouth is - was necessary to retain the remaining support with out allies.

However, 7,000 is about all the forces the U.S. can muster - thanks to the fact that Iraq is eating resources and manpower at a phe-fucking-nomenal rate, and bin Laden laughing his skinny ass off from across the border while the Taliban regroups and gains strength and grows more effective.

Another reason to get the hell out of Iraq, fully fund the VA and the DoD health care systems, start rebuilding the Army and start the culling of the feckless from the herd where the senior officer corps is concerned. You want to know how to judge a senior officer? Provide his or her full, unvarnished bio - for instance, if you are reviewing Boylan you damned sure bring up that knife wound sustained off post in Korea, and you put that tall tale under the microscope - a million soldiers who have rotated though Korea would lose liquids through their nasal passages upon hearing that bullshit story that flies by civilians unchallenged - and then you stand that person in front of a group of current and former military personnel and give them the option of saluting, or turning their backs

If the feckless bastard sees shoulders, that's all you need to know.

No comments: