Thursday, March 19, 2009

Afstan: Will anyone supply 4,000 troops, even temporarily?/Troop strengths (note Poles and Danes)

A tough question:
Nato calls for 4,000 extra troops to safeguard Afghanistan poll

Nato appealed to its member states for up to 4,000 extra troops for Afghanistan yesterday [March 18], amid fears that the Taleban will step up operations to try to sabotage elections there this summer.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the Secretary-General, said that the alliance needed four more battalions in addition to the 60,000 troops already in the country — and on top of the additional 17,000 personnel pledged by President Obama — to provide security for the voting in August.

Mr Scheffer’s call came despite promises from Italy and Germany to provide several hundred extra troops [see Update here; Italians seem rather more serious] and it piled pressure on members to announce more forces at Nato’s 60th anniversary summit in Strasbourg on April 3 and 4. Poland also said that it was prepared to find extra personnel as it continued to push the candidature of its Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, as the replacement for Mr Scheffer, who steps down after the summit...

[Poles are really serious, never mentioned in our media:
Poland’s plans to send another four hundred soldiers to of next month the Polish contingent will number 2,000 troops, of which 1,200 will be involved directly in combat operations[emphasis added]. RZECZPOSPOLITA writes that the Polish contingent – in control of Ghazni Province – is likely to be reinforced by two hundred Mongolian troops [emphasis added--contrary to the myth being expounded by many these days Genghis Khan had no problem dealing with Afstan]...
A planned American offensive is to push the Taliban away from Kabul and from the south of the country. This will force them to withdraw through the Ghazni province controlled by the 1600 strong Polish contingent. The Poles shall have no other choice than to directly face the retreating Taliban forces. It will be a tough task for the Polish troops, but there's not much that can be done to help them as my soldiers [3rd Brigade Combat Team] will simultaneously be engaged in other combat operations, frankly admits the US commander in the region, colonel David Haight...]
His [Mr Scheffer’s] call for four battalions [emphasis added--what a lot to ask, eh?] marks the first time that he has put a number on the shortage of troops facing Nato, with a battalion made up of about 850 troops.

Britain, whose Defence Secretary, John Hutton, held talks in Washington yesterday, has the second-largest contingent of combat troops in Afghanistan at 8,300 and has lost 152 personnel since the Taleban was ousted from Kabul in 2001. Brigadier Gordon Messenger, the commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said yesterday that his troops in Helmand province were overstreched [emphasis added]. “There’s a limit to what we can put in,” he told the BBC...
But help for the Brits is on the way:
The U.S. is deploying 8,000 marines to Afghanistan [for a total of 10,000 in country] and many of them are destined for nearby Helmand province [emphasis added]. It is thought they may be bringing tanks [the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade coming certainly can bring tanks].
US additions and other countries' current troop strengths:
The United States is sending a combat aviation brigade of some 3,500 soldiers with more than 100 helicopters over the next six weeks [emphasis added, mainly to KAF-- more here and here], doubling the number of U.S. helicopters in the country.

A further 8,000 U.S. Marines with another 50 helicopters will arrive over the next two months followed by a Stryker brigade of some 3,500 to 4,000 troops [see middle of this post], the U.S. military said.

Here is a breakdown of current national deployments in Afghanistan, which total at 70,140 troops as of March 18: Country Troops:

United States 38,000
Britain 8,300
Germany 3,640
Canada 2,830 [emphasis added]
France 2,780 [some combat]
Italy 2,350
Netherlands 1,770
Poland 1,590
Australia 1,090 [see here and here]
Romania 900
Spain 780
Denmark 700 [emphasis added-- fully in combat--more at Update here]
Turkey 690
Czech Republic 580
Other countries 4,140

Source: Reuters; U.S. military; NATO (


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