Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Afghanistan truth

An exceptionally important article in today's Washington Post that, unintentionally, shows what an exceptionally clueless moment Sen. Obama (D-IL) had last week WRT Afghanistan.

With a focus on the efforts of the Dutch in the literal South Central province of Uruzgan, specifically the Deh Rawood district, it gives clear insight into the problems the NATO forces are having Tactially and Operationally with a flawed and outdated NATO Strategic Plan to deal with the Taliban.

The USMC "one time" gap fill due to NATO's poor resourcing and the inability to reinforce the Canadian, Dutch and British in the South is the real AFG conversation we should be having this election.
Lt. Col. Wilfred Rietdijk, a 6-foot-7 blond Dutchman, took command of his military's reconstruction team in the southern Afghan district of Deh Rawood in September. Tranquil and welcoming, it seemed like the perfect place for the Netherlands' mission to help rebuild this country.

Intelligence reports indicated that the district was free of the Taliban, allowing the soldiers greater freedom of movement than elsewhere in Uruzgan province.

"We could go out on foot," Rietdijk said.

Reconstruction teams, escorted by a platoon of soldiers, fanned across the fertile countryside, building bridges over streams and canals, repairing irrigation systems, and distributing books and pens to local schools.

But the day after Rietdijk arrived in Afghanistan, his field officers reported hundreds of villagers suddenly fleeing parts of Deh Rawood. "Within a few weeks, everybody was gone," Rietdijk said. "We didn't understand why."

Now the Dutch say they realize what happened. Even as the soldiers believed they had won the support of the local population, the Taliban had secretly returned to reclaim Deh Rawood, home district of the group's revered leader, Mohammad Omar. It took only a few months for the Taliban to undermine nearly six years of intelligence work by U.S. forces and almost two years of goodwill efforts by Dutch soldiers.

In the year and a half since NATO took over southern Afghanistan from U.S. forces, its mission has changed dramatically. Dispatched to the region to maintain newly restored order and help local Afghans reconstruct their shattered communities, Dutch and other troops from the alliance now find themselves on the front lines of a renewed fight with a more cunning and aggressive Taliban.

More foreign soldiers and Afghan civilians died in Taliban-related fighting last year than in any year since U.S. and coalition forces ousted the extremist Islamic militia, which ruled most of the country, in 2001. Military officials here expect the coming year to be just as deadly, if not more so, as the Taliban becomes more adept militarily and more formidable in its deployment of suicide bombers and roadside explosives.

The Taliban's growing strength, which surprised Dutch forces here, helps explain why NATO members are reluctant to send more troops to an increasingly dangerous battlefield and have instead adopted a strategy based less on military force.
It is a good strategy only if you get enough military strength to create a aafe and secure environment. That is the failure.
Uruzgan Gov. Assadullah Hamdam....has heard the Dutch say dozens of times that it is up to him and his security team to provide security for his people.

He shook his head. He knows the Dutch are committed to remain in Afghanistan only another 2 1/2 years. He now has just over 1,300 police officers; his police chief says they need 3,000.

"There's not enough force," Hamdam said. "The police are not strong enough, and we can't depend on the Afghan army. The police can't go alone without the coalition forces.

"If they were not here," he said, "who knows what would happen."
Though I wish the Dutch would stay to see the job done, I won't fault them too much. They were on the bleeding edge of the Continental NATO nations trying to do their duty. Their neighbors failed them. A nation of only about 17 million, The Netherlands has done more than the much larger France and Germnay. She tried, but it looks more and more like the non-English speaking NATO failed to live up. Sure, a thousand plus Poles (pop. ~35 million), a few hundred Danes (pop. ~5 million) and Estonians (pop. LT 2 million) are nice - but without the French (pop. ~60 million), German (pop. ~82 million), or Turk (pop. ~71 million) trigger pullers - this will turn into a mostly US operation once again down the road as the Dutch, Canadian and perhaps others head for the door.

Tomorrow or later this week we'll look at Canada.

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