Friday, April 04, 2008

Coalition of the unwilling

With the exception of the nations with their flags on the right, what a dreary NATO summit that was just held in Bucharest. The best stuff I can find is from Der Spiegel.

In summary; Greece is a petty little child, France is trying to help more, but Germany is still living in denial, Croatia and Albania are coming in from the cold - Continental Europe proved that it is again a slave to Russia - less her military but now her energy weapons.

And of course, NATO proved that she has trouble keeping classified reports out of the hands of reporters - and as a result backs up what I have been warning you for over a year now - get ready for the re-Americanization of the Afghanistan conflict if the Continentals can't stomach a fight.

There is something else in Der Spiegel that you should read, an interview with the American NATO Tactical Commander of in Afghanistan (COM ISAF) Gen. McNeill, USA. Some things to chew on.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: General McNeill, you will be leaving your post as head of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in June. What will your successor find upon arrival in Afghanistan?

General Dan McNeill: My successor will find an insurgency here in Afghanistan, ... He will find some progress in security, some good work in the army, but unfortunately not so much progress in the police force. Governance remains a big problem in Afghanistan. Here we have to see more work by the Afghans.
His relief with be Gen. McKernan, USA - read Fiasco to understand the background he will take, troop needing wise, to the job. More from Gen. McNeill about talking to the Taliban.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The Afghan government, most of all US-backed President Hamid Karzai, often talks about negotiating with the Taliban. How does an aggressive NATO-led war fit with the political will for a power sharing deal with the radicals?

McNeill: What amazes me is that the West is surprised that there are talks. There were negotiations as far back as 2002 when I was here for the first time. President Karzai has always said that there are elements of the insurgency which will never fit into any government. These are the extreme radicals with al-Qaida connections. But some of those in the resistance today might fit into the future. I told the President quite clearly that he has to make sure he knows who he is talking to.
On NATO, his spear is smooth and sharp,
SPIEGEL ONLINE: One of the biggest issues within NATO at the moment is troop levels in Afghanistan. What do you hope for from this week's summit in Bucharest?

McNeill: Bucharest is a political meeting. I am a NATO soldier trying to keep his focus on the military dimension. If you ask this soldier, he needs more than promises. He needs action to make the force in Afghanistan more resourceful than it is right now.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You have long said that NATO members should send more troops.

McNeill: We will see more soldiers. The US generously offered 3,200 troops for the south. The Poles, British, French and the Danes made some suggestions as well, so I am hopeful. I don’t have a number -- we simply need more of everything: more manoeuvring forces, more flying machines and more surveillance platforms.
On the proper use of terminology; (1) The Comprehensive Approach,
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Many countries have already promised to beef up their contingent, but all we hear from Berlin is that the so-called "comprehensive approach model" -- giving equal weight to military activity and to reconstruction -- should be discussed in Bucharest.

McNeill: Most people using the term 'comprehensive approach' don’t know what they are talking about. The comprehensive approach includes a strong military option -- first fight the insurgency and then help reconstruct the country. The US forces have shown what that looks like. They attack militants in a valley and then build a road. Those who talk about comprehensive approach should not forget the combat element.
See why I like they guy? Now, (2) "Exit Strategy."
SPIEGEL ONLINE: In the last couple of days, politicians in Berlin have even started a debate about an exit strategy, suggesting that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

McNeill: We don’t focus on exit strategies here. We don’t talk about an end of the mission. Our work is to improve the Afghan forces so that they can take over the job on the battlefield. This will still need a lot of time. In the case of the Afghan Air Force, I think it might take until 2011. The army also needs a lot of mentoring still. When we don’t have a job here anymore, when we are not needed here anymore, only then we should discuss leaving. Not before.
I wonder who this sounds with gritted teeth and a forced smile?
SPIEGEL ONLINE: ... what would you like to see more of from Germany?

McNeill: The Bundeswehr is a fine, professional force with capable leadership. I could use them in many places outside the northern part of Afghanistan.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: German army chiefs often say that transporting the force would be a problem.

McNeill: If German troops have the will to join us outside the north, all they have to do is pick up the phone and we, as good friends, will pick them up. That won't be the problem.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Germany is planning on sending one mobile force, a so-called Quick Reaction Force (QRF), in July.

McNeill: As I hear Germany is sending a strong combat unit to be ready for any emergency in the north. It would be good if the German government would allow the QRF to act outside the north. I would be more than happy to use them.
Free advice to Team McCain. One of the most underrated Generals is Gen. McNeill when it comes to what is going on in Afghanistan and working, or trying to work, with reluctant allies. McCain is well up to speed on Iraq - but he needs to get smart on Afghanistan. Gen. McNeill is retiring. I am very interested on what he plans to do. I hope it is constructive and positive, because I am sure there is a lot of frustration in his nogg'n. For team McCain, if McNeil is willing to help out his fellow Scot-Irish - his advice is worth its wait in gold.
BTW; McNeill, McKernan, McCain ---- what is it with all those fight'n Scots-Irish this year?

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