Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Afstan combat switcheroo?

French to east rather than south, with some US troops from east to south (in addition to the Marine MEU, arriving in March?):

1) France to send troops into Afghan combat: Le Monde
France may send hundreds of ground troops to eastern Afghanistan where NATO-led forces are fighting al-Qaeda-backed insurgents, Le Monde newspaper reported on Tuesday.

It said the move would be part of a new Afghan policy being worked out by President Nicolas Sarkozy and his advisers.

France has about 1,900 soldiers under NATO's Afghan command, most of them based in relatively calm Kabul, and Le Monde said the fresh troops would be deployed outside the capital.

"Their destination would be zones of potentially fierce fighting, preferably the eastern region of Afghanistan close to the tribal areas of Pakistan," it said.

Early last year, France withdrew 200 special forces soldiers who had been operating under U.S. command in Afghanistan, but Le Monde said Paris was now expected to sanction the return of the special forces. About 50 remained to train Afghan commandos.

A presidential spokesman declined to confirm or deny the newspaper report. "The president has not made a decision. We are in discussion with our partners, inside NATO but not exclusively," he said.

Washington is heading a campaign for what it calls a fairer sharing of the burden in the fight against Taliban insurgents. Britain, Canada, Poland and others have backed the U.S. demand...

Earlier this month, senior Canadian officials had talks in Paris on a possible offer of French support for 2,500 Canadian troops in southern Afghanistan.

Le Monde said Mr. Sarkozy would announce France's extended military commitment at a NATO summit in Bucharest in April.

Since his election in May, he has sent more combat aircraft to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan and beefed up French efforts to train the Afghan army.
2) Military 'musical chairs' could aid Harper's Afghan plan: France expected to deploy 700 soldiers to volatile Pakistan border region
A possible plan to send French troops to eastern Afghanistan could provide Ottawa with the extra NATO support it's demanding as a condition to extend the Canadian mission in the region.

Canadian officials had been hoping that France would deploy a large number of soldiers to southern Afghanistan's Kandahar region, where 2,500 Canadian troops are already stationed...

That move could indirectly help the Canadian forces, NATO sources told CBC News.

A scenario the alliance has worked on envisions French soldiers replacing American soldiers in the east with the Americans shifting to support the Canadians in the south, the CBC's David Common reported.

"It's a game of military musical chairs," Commons said.

Sarkozy is said to still be mulling over the final decision, which will be announced when NATO heads of state meet in early April in Bucharest, Romania. France already has about 1,100 troops in Kabul.

In a NATO meeting earlier this month, French officials indicated that France could be prepared to send up to 700 soldiers to the volatile region of southern Afghanistan to help in the fight against the Taliban. Defence Minister Peter MacKay said he had received positive signals from France...
3) Why the French may want to go east--OMLTs (from the Le Monde story):
...L'option d'un déploiement français dans l'Est de l'Afghanistan aurait, selon Paris, l'avantage de faciliter la cohésion du dispositif militaire français, puisque c'est dans ces régions que sont déjà déployées quatre équipes françaises d'instructeurs militaires (Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams, OMLT), chacune comportant 50 soldats insérés dans des unités de l'armée afghane...


Blogger Rivenshield said...

My guess is they'll wait until the last possible second or the last possible minute and present themselves as saviors... and it won't be 700, but a French contribution to a polyglot *contingent* of 700. Which will be composed of support and recon troops or some sh*t like that.

You already know what I think of continental Europe, so I won't foul your bandwidth by beating that drum all over again. Suffice it to say those people used up the last speck of my benefit of the doubt a long, long time ago. I'll believe it when I see it.

5:09 p.m., February 26, 2008  
Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

I have to second Rivenshield's comments. However, I wouldn't say "continental Europe", as that disparages the Brits, Danes, Dutch, Poles, Romanians who ARE there, fighting. Kudos to them. I'd focus my contempt on France, Germany and Italy.

I'd like nothing better than for us skeptics to be proved wrong and see this so-far "vaporware" French infantry battalion be a real combat unit heavily engaged in actual combat operations. I doubt that'll be the case.

7:53 p.m., April 03, 2008  

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