NATO forces in Afghanistan are in a "strategic stalemate," as Taliban insurgents expand their control of sparsely populated areas and as the central government fails to carry out vital reforms and reconstruction, according to an independent assessment released yesterday by NATO's former commander.NATO is just not, as an Alliance, stepping up to the plate.
"Make no mistake, NATO is not winning in Afghanistan," said the report by the Atlantic Council of the United States, chaired by retired Gen. James L. Jones, who until the summer of 2006 served as the supreme allied commander of NATO.
Jones said several steps are needed to "regain the momentum that appears to have been lost" in Afghanistan: a comprehensive campaign plan that integrates security and reconstruction work; the appointment of a United Nations High Commissioner to coordinate international efforts; and a new regional approach to stabilizing Afghanistan that would include conferences with neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Iran.That is about right. He also mentions something I have been bringing up both here and professionally - it is well past the time to take AFG away from CENTCOM and give it to EUCOM - a COCOM who is very used to working with NATO and the Russians.
"The United States and the international community have tried to win the struggle in Afghanistan with too few military forces and insufficient economic aid," the report said. It highlighted the lack of a clear strategy needed to "fill the power vacuum outside Kabul and to counter the combined challenges of reconstituted Taliban and Al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a runaway opium economy, and the stark poverty faced by most Afghans."
The study group said the United States should "decouple" Iraq and Afghanistan to establish a clear distinction between the funding and programs underway in the countries, which, it said, face different problems. It also called on Washington to appoint a special envoy for Afghanistan.The Canadians are so fed up - they are ready to take their ball and go home.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper escalated diplomatic pressure on Canada's NATO allies yesterday, warning Britain's Gordon Brown that Canada will end its combat mission in Afghanistan next year unless the military alliance supplies 1,000 more troops for southern Afghanistan.They aren't bluffing. They have been more than pulling their load, and we know it and thank them for it.
We are putting more and more pressure on NATO; but don't hold your breath.
The United States has written a strongly-worded letter to Germany and other NATO members urging them to send combat troops to dangerous areas in southern Afghanistan, the German defence ministry said on Thursday.That is Gates playing bad cop again, but even our good cop is a bit miffed.
A spokesman for the ministry confirmed a newspaper report which said U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates had last week written to his counterparts in NATO countries asking for 3,200 extra troops.
"We confirm that we received the letter," said a spokesman for the ministry, noting that he had written to other NATO partners as well as Germany.
The spokesman also said NATO defence ministers would discuss the alliance's activities in Afghanistan at a meeting in Vilnius in February.
The next three to five years will be crucial for the people of Afghanistan, for the NATO alliance and for the community of democracies. The Afghanistan mission is an investment in our collective security; it is also the catalyst for the 21st-century transformation of our democratic alliance. If we can get it right in the Hindu Kush, we will also be stronger the next time we are called to defend our security and values so far from home.Yep, we are thinking about the car keys.....