Sunday, April 05, 2009

"Europe praises Obama, pledges few Afghan troops"

I think that headline sums things up nicely:
Obama's new strategy has him adding 21,000 U.S. troops to an American force of 38,000.

The White House said NATO countries agreed to send 3,000 personnel on short-term deployments [emphasis added], to help stabilize Afghanistan before elections in August. An additional 1,400 to 2,000 will provide training for Afghanistan's national army...
Under the deal clinched at the Nato summit, the extra troops and trainers - including 900 from Britain - would be used to increase security ahead of the country's presidential election this summer.

Germany and Spain are among nine European countries sending more fighting forces, while France will dispatch soldiers to help train Afghan police.

Between 1,400 and 2,000 mainly special forces troops from 11 countries will be formed into teams to train Afghanistan's national army, while a 300-strong team of other mentors and trainers - led by the French - will assist the police...

The 900 extra troops being sent by Britain will be a temporary addition only [UK military planning here for a major troop increase]...
And more:
President Barack Obama won NATO backing on Saturday for his new approach to Afghanistan and European countries pledged more soldiers to protect elections, but they stopped short of new long-term troop deployments.

Commitments by the NATO leaders at a summit in the French city of Strasbourg included:

-- Deployment of 5,000 troops as reinforcements for Afghan elections and to train Afghan security forces, with 300 paramilitary police trainers, $100 million to finance the Afghan National Army and $500 million in civilian assistance.

-- Additional forces will include a battalion from Spain, 600 soldiers from Germany, 600 from Poland [in addition to 400 already planned? I doubt it - MC] and hundreds more from Britain. Italy said it would send more than 200 military trainers, 100 paramilitary police trainers, three medical evacuation helicopters and two military transport planes.

-- Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Portugal, Turkey and Slovakia pledged to send military trainers, as did Belgium, which will also send two more F-16 [emphasis added] fighter aircraft.

-- Leaders agreed to establish a NATO Training Mission to oversee training for the Afghan army and police and pledged to provide more trainers. They pledged to expand a trust fund for the army to cover running costs and to encourage international contributions to the fund.

-- Leaders also pledged to build closer political and practical ties with Pakistan.
Yet more:
President Nicolas Sarkozy, meanwhile, flatly ruled out any increase in French forces [they sent more last year, with a combat role]...
So, some temporary election security help, longer-term training help, and little for combat. The way things are going the US will have an very large preponderance indeed of combat forces in ISAF, with only the UK deploying enough such forces to be realistically considered a "partner" (though quite junior) in any true sense of the word.

Update note: The third and fourth largest ISAF combat contingents are from Canada and The Netherlands; the two countries are scheduled to end their military missions in 2011 and 2010 respectively. That will make the US preponderance yet more stark even should, say Australia, step up its contribution. See second part of this post, and look at what an experienced Aussie has to say about his country's possible future role:

Australia could increase long-term civilian and troop (combat and trainer) contributions and funds, to the top level of our present military and civilian capability, about another 900 souls, bringing our contribution to about 2000.

Australia could then contribute to the effective control of Oruzgan Province and so assist Obama's disrupt, dismantle and defeat strategy, rather than just the very limited disruption that we are at present engaging in. Our enemies will not be disrupted, dismantled or defeated with a 900-person addition to our present contribution but it would be a great start.

Alternatively, Australia could make a minimum increase, adding some combat troops (perhaps 150) for the period of the August election, adding some trainers (perhaps another 50 in total), a few civilians, and a bucket of funds.

This would probably outwardly satisfy the US, which seems to have given up on getting anything really meaningful out of any of its allies except Britain, and will now carry the war as best it can, while being extraordinarily diplomatic.

The smart money would have to be on a minimum increase, but this would just put off for one fighting season the hard decisions that have to be made. There were no signs of the promised metrics in the US strategy but the likely ones are on many websites. When the US conducts its metrics-based review of its performance at the end of 2009, the results will not be pretty. And our own limited efforts in Oruzgan, which should match the overall disrupt, dismantle and defeat strategy announced by the President, will be even more obviously inadequate.

For those who believe that the US relationship is valuable to Australia, and the Prime Minister seems to indicate that he does, then Afghanistan is as much a strategic opportunity as it is a burden. The opportunity lies in Australia making a meaningful commitment for humanitarian, moral and anti-terrorist reasons, but giving real meaning to our special relationship rhetoric [emphasis added--probably a more "special" one than ours these days, even under the Conservatives]. If Afghanistan is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

Jim Molan was chief of operations of the multinational force in Iraq in 2004-05.

Upperdate: Most Euro governments and people are not enthusiastic about Afghan combat; a Washington Post reporter is surprised to find this enthusiasm:
Some Troops Embrace Afghan War
Ties to 9/11 Build Enthusiasm for the Fight, but Deployments Have Taken a Toll

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- As the fight in Afghanistan transforms from a "forgotten war" to the U.S. military's top priority -- with tens of thousands of soldiers and Marines headed there this year -- overstretched ground troops are voicing unexpected enthusiasm about the new mission.

Afghanistan represents for some service members a far more palatable war than Iraq, one that enjoys more support among Americans because of its strong ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "It's the just war," said an Army officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record, and who has deployed several times to Afghanistan and Iraq. "People are more positive about it."

Long overshadowed as an "economy of force" effort, the Afghanistan war is gaining the attention it deserves, according to interviews with senior Army and Marine Corps leaders, midlevel officers and rank-and-file troops.

"For many of us serving there . . . as the sideshow for Iraq, we felt we were the other war and couldn't understand why," said Craig Mullaney, a former Army captain who served in Afghanistan and later advised the Obama campaign on that war. "I think a lot of us are encouraged by reallocating resources to Afghanistan."

For soldiers and Marines drawn to combat, Afghanistan is also viewed as the more challenging and sought-after duty as insurgents heighten fighting in the rugged terrain, according to several officers.

Marine Corps leaders and troops have long advocated shifting their mission from Iraq's Anbar province to Afghanistan [see this from August 2008]. "The ones in Iraq are saying, 'Hey sir, when are we going to Afghanistan?' " said Lt. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Marine Corps deputy commandant for operations...
Uppestdate: More on a new Euro focus:
In a separate statement on the Afghanistan war, alliance leaders said they would be setting up a new bureaucracy called NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan to coordinate and intensify training of officers for the Afghan national army and police. To make more training possible, they said, an international military aid fund will be expanded by $100 million -- half of it paid by Germany -- and its role will be broadened to cover more Afghan military expenditures.

Alliance leaders endorsed France's suggestion for a 300-member European Gendarmerie Force that would provide training and mentoring of Afghan national police in pacified areas [emphasis added] that are turned over to Afghan authorities. In the meantime, the White House said, European governments promised to send 70 additional military training teams to accompany Afghan army units as the country's military grows to its authorized level of 134,000.

Absent from the list of intentions was any substantial commitment for additional European fighting forces as Obama had requested several weeks ago.

Spain announced Friday, for instance, that it would slightly increase its 780-member force. Prime Minister Sali Berisha of Albania, which along with Croatia was inducted into NATO on Saturday, said in an interview that he had ordered the Albanian military to double its mission, from 140 to 280...


Blogger aka "Cactus" said...

A great blog.

12:11 p.m., April 05, 2009  

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