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General Category => General Forum => Topic started by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 28, 2009, 02:26:16 pm

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 28, 2009, 02:26:16 pm

AARON LIM: New Zealand's role in Afghanistan

The Dominion Post | 1:45PM - Thursday, 02 July 2009


The Government's review of defence contributions to Afghanistan, due to be completed next month, comes at a critical juncture for the war.

Afghanistan was the first time Nato invoked Article 5 of the alliance, requiring collective defence of member states. In the aftermath of September 11, the Nato mission served as an important symbol of support for the United States.

But the fractured Nato effort, with countries narrowly defining the parameters of their participation, has led to a grim reality. Violence in Afghanistan today has reached its highest levels since the Taleban was driven from power.

The New Zealand Defence Force's recent gun-battle with insurgents in Bamyan province highlights the precarious situation on the ground ahead of the Afghan elections next month.

This is the first time a patrol from the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team has been engaged in an incident by gunfire.

The harsh reality of Afghanistan was reiterated this week after Kiwi forces narrowly escaped injury from an improvised explosive device.

New Zealand has committed approximately 140 personnel to Bamyan until 2010. It is an area usually regarded as quiet and well away from the worst of the insurgency.

Afghanistan today is characterised by an expanding cross-border insurgency, ineffective governance and a substantial narcotics industry. In response to the situation, the Obama Administration has announced a parallel surge in civilian experts and troops.

A co-ordinated approach to nation-building and war-fighting will be central in turning tactical success against insurgents into strategic victory.

Not only has the Taleban re-emerged to reclaim parts of Afghanistan, the militants have also made disturbing advances in Pakistan.

The rise of al Qaeda's Taleban allies in the Swat Valley northwest of Islamabad has raised fears for Pakistan's stability and its nuclear arsenal.

The Afghan- Pakistan border region is now a single theatre of conflict. Pakistan's engagement will be critical in combating spiralling anarchy across both countries.

New Zealand has been asked to increase its contribution to the war in an effort to fight the very real possibility of regional chaos. The global context must underpin any discussion on war.

Wars are not isolated events. They are shaped by contemporary affairs. The financial crisis will have a clear impact on international security and political decision making.

Economic turmoil lacks the existential threat of al Qaeda or rogue nuclear weapons. But financial catastrophe can accelerate instability in already weak regimes.

With voters devastated by an economic implosion, politicians will also find it increasingly difficult to justify costly military deployments outside their immediate geography.


The international community will be less forthcoming in committing more money or extra troops to the war this time around.

New Zealand's economic outlook is no better than the rest of the world's. Expanding our military contribution to Afghanistan in a significant manner would require considerable financial alchemy.

Measured against our military and economic assets, the current deployment represents a fair expenditure of blood and treasure.

The NZDF has, to its credit, been able to maintain a high operational tempo despite shortfalls in equipment, funding and personnel. There is, however, a limit on how far the No 8 wire spirit can augment scarce military resources.

For New Zealand, the need to contribute to global operations must be weighed against retaining a surplus capability for regional contingencies.

Defence capability is only one factor in the calculus of war. Public opinion is a decisive element in all conflicts.

While it is difficult to characterise Afghanistan as a popular war, it is not unpopular either.

It has not drawn the hysterical opposition that has become associated with Iraq. In New Zealand and other Western states, the media battle for public support has been reasonably successful.

The mission in Afghanistan is largely perceived by the public to be legitimate.

Corporal Willie Apiata and his Victoria Cross played a significant role in shaping an honorable, yet humble, narrative of New Zealand's involvement in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan itself is where the information war is being lost against Taleban propaganda.

Ultimately the decision on New Zealand's involvement, including deploying the SAS, is a political one. The use of force serves a political purpose.

Interest and necessity must benchmark New Zealand's role in Afghanistan. Will there be a generous dividend from the United States for an escalation in our involvement?

In the current economic climate, it would not be difficult to find justifications for a hasty exit. But the temptation to categorise this conflict solely as "Obama's War" must be resisted.

A worst-case scenario is that the Afghan-Pakistan region descends into the anarchy of Somalia, but with nuclear weapons. That's everyone's problem.

Aaron Lim is a Fairfax financial markets journalist. He has worked previously as a military analyst and in the financial markets.


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 30, 2009, 02:36:25 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 31, 2009, 11:16:26 pm


Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on August 01, 2009, 09:39:53 am

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 02, 2009, 08:50:33 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 05, 2009, 11:41:04 pm

A question of engagement for National's fresh troops

New Zealand should look long and hard at the justification for sending SAS troops to Afghanistan, writes Bob Rigg.

The Dominion Post | 8:39AM - Wednesday, 05 August 2009

OUR GOVERNMENT is in a bit of a  pickle over whether and how to  engage with Afghanistan.

After a decade on the back benches, today's National Party has to rely on an inexperienced foreign affairs minister of doubtful acumen and a prime minister who, although capable, is a Harry Potter in the colosseum of geopolitics.

Documents released under the Official Information Act conceal almost everything about the substance of diplomatic exchanges between New Zealand and the US on this question but do show how effectively the State Department swings into action when it is instructed to apply pressure on a wavering ally to provide token military support for a floundering US effort.

To foreign-policy neophytes who have languished on the back benches for a decade, such attention is mildly intoxicating. It is important for the National-led Government to see that other governments being lobbied even more intensively than New Zealand are sending the Americans away empty-handed, without endangering their friendships with the Obama Administration.

EU states of Nato, in whose name the Afghanistan war is ostensibly being fought, have consistently refused to provide strong military backing for a war unpopular with their electorates. Although Britain has until now been an exception, public opinion there is turning against the war as body bags proliferate. EU states have largely withdrawn from active military service in Iraq, and will begin to do the same in Afghanistan after the coming elections — if the present menacing Taleban offensive allows them to take place.

The US-led campaign has escalated the number of Nato body bags, culminating in last month's record total of at least 70. At the weekend six more Nato troops were killed.

Any chance of a Nato victory was blown by the failures of the Bush administration, whose short-sighted policies failed to recognise that, to win a war against insurgents, an occupying force must win the support of the local population.

A recent UN report has warned that the many civilian deaths caused by pro- government operations are leading to "a strong feeling of anger and disappointment among the Afghan general public," and are "undermining support for the continued presence of the international military forces, and the international community generally".

Robert Gates, the hard-nosed Republican US Secretary of Defence, has recently stated that, if US forces in Afghanistan fail to demonstrate real gains by the next American summer, public support for the war will dissipate.

Before our government takes upon itself the political risk associated with the probability that at least some SAS members could be killed in the rapidly worsening Afghan military environment, it needs to look long and hard at the political justification.

In this context the prime minister, foreign affairs minister and defence minister need to publicly declare whether or not they knew of US human rights abuses allegedly associated with SAS units in Afghanistan, and if so, what they knew, and when. If they knew of it, yet supported sending the SAS back into Afghanistan, interesting questions are raised about their judgment. If they did not know, equally interesting questions are raised about the quality of their advice.

By the same token, Helen Clark and Phil Goff need to put their hands on their hearts and to come clean on the same issue. An independent inquiry should be granted an opportunity to corroborate the MPs' stories.

Although the facts have not been established beyond reasonable doubt at this stage, it seems possible that, in playing covert operations together with US special forces, elite SAS troops may have stained New Zealand's relatively unblemished international human rights reputation. A wonderful German proverb may be relevant here: "If you are drinking soup with the devil, make sure you use a long spoon."

If the US was fighting a war with a widely accepted political justification, New Zealand's government could commit itself to a losing war like the present one, and could rely on a degree of continuing public support even if things turned to custard. But the whole world can see that the Bush administration's post-September 11 interventions have made the world less, and not more, secure.

IT WAS the US and Britain that provided hand-picked Islamic insurgents such as Osama Bin Laden with personal training in guerilla warfare, fanning the flames of Islamic militancy to bring down a Soviet-backed regime in Kabul. Failed US policies in Iraq and elsewhere have created instability from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and now China's strategically important Xinjian province.

If Islamic insurgency were to spread on a large scale to Indonesia — with the world's largest Islamic population — it could turn our region on its head.

In the meantime, opinion polls have already uncovered a polarised public response. If body bags start arriving at Wellington Airport and allegations of human rights abuse continue to surface, divided public attitudes will ensure that Afghanistan becomes an explosive domestic issue.

Especially under a National-led government, New Zealand will naturally fall back on established ties with traditional First-World allies. But the Asia Pacific region has changed beyond recognition in recent decades. If we overlook this simply to preserve loyalties dating back to World War II, this decision could return to haunt us. In considering military engagement in Afghanistan in support of the US, New Zealand should also ask whether this will serve its medium-term strategic and trading interests with China, India, Pakistan and other Asian partners, as well as in the Pacific, where failing and failed states are proliferating on our doorstep as we focus on Geneva Conventions and blood and guts in faraway Afghanistan.

If New Zealand opts for continuing commitment to its internationally recognised reconstruction work in Afghanistan, it would cost considerably more than the deployment of a small SAS corps, but would be politically almost risk-free. Further damage to New Zealand's international human rights record could be avoided. The New Zealand public would not be divided. The US would be irritated, but as its only faint hope of long-term success in Afghanistan lies in winning the hearts and minds of the general population, a continuation of New Zealand's peacekeeping commitment would be in line with current strategic US thinking on Afghanistan.

New Zealand would also be aligned with Nato's reluctant EU members, who have preferred civilian engagement throughout.

Bob Rigg is former senior editor of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and former chairman of the NZ National Consultative Committee on Disarmament.


Post by: DidiMau69 on August 06, 2009, 04:25:34 pm
You wonder why the Yanks have got Nukes and don't use them.

A general irradiation of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and a couple of tiddlers onto Somalia would solve a shit load of problems overnight.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 06, 2009, 10:14:43 pm

....and create a nuclear winter that would end up biting the Yanks (and the Israelis) as well as everyone else.

I guess even the Yanks aren't too thick in regard to comprehending that little senario.

Clearly some other people don't get it at all....DUH!!!

Post by: DidiMau69 on August 07, 2009, 08:50:38 am
Oops, I forgot to ask for a 1 kiloton Tactical warhead on Masterton. I've often thought that the centre of Hastings could do with one in the early hours of the morning also - we probably wouldn't notice it from Napier.

Able to be fired from a 203mm Gun, one of these chappies wipes out approximately a kilometre. The radiation half life means that you can enter ground zero with only minor protection after a week. A year later there would be as much radiation as given off by one those old fashioned luminous bed side clocks.

It takes more than a couple of strategically placed nukes to create a Nuclear Winter. People are walking around in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Somewhat of a tourist attraction I believe.

Post by: Magpie on August 07, 2009, 11:02:12 am
I assume Didi Mau thinks he is being funny. He has a peculiar sense of humour.

The movie "'Charlie Wilson's War" is doing the rounds of Sky at the moment. It's worth watching. It is Hollywood, but is historically accurate enough and demonstrates how the US gave millions of dollars worth of modern weaponry to Muslim fundamentalists to defeat the Soviets.

None of the Yanks seems to have given the slightest thought to what would happen once the Russians had gone.

The fundamentalists became the Taleban and took over the country, using American weapons they had been trained to use by Americans. The US then decided they had to go to war with the people they had armed and trained.

At least the Obama administration is being more realistic about Afghanistan. The aim now is not to establish a peaceful Western style democracy, but simply to achieve whatever stability is possible.

Afghanistan has always been largely ungoverned and ungovernable.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 07, 2009, 01:06:31 pm
I assume Didi Mau thinks he is being funny. He has a peculiar sense of humour.

He sure does....the Hawke's Bay Regional Hospital is in Hastings. After he detonated his 1 kilo-tonne nuke in Hastings, he'd then be scratching his head trying to remember where the local hospital is (He'd probably be still thinking it was up on Hospital Hill in Napier even though it hasn't existed there for decades). DUH!!!!


Post by: Magpie on August 08, 2009, 12:10:07 pm
KTJ, more likely Didi Mau wouldn't be able to find his head in order to scratch it.

Post by: DidiMau69 on August 08, 2009, 03:24:19 pm
Irony is wasted on children and socialists.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 09, 2009, 02:59:28 pm

Key to send SAS on new tour of duty

Amnesty International warns NZ over torture

By ANTHONY HUBBARD and JON STEPHENSON - Sunday Star Times | 5:00AM - Sunday, 09 August 2009

THE Cabinet is expected to decide tomorrow to send NZ's elite SAS troops to Afghanistan for a new tour of duty.

Sources said the issue was to go to the weekly Monday cabinet meeting and that the mood seemed to be hardening in favour of sending the troops.

Prime Minister John Key gave a broad hint last month that the troops would go when he told the television current affairs show Q & A: "I do think it's important that New Zealand plays its role, and plays its part in trying to get on top of what is a terrorist hotspot."

American pressure has been building for New Zealand and other countries to join the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the war in Afghanistan. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked personally for the SAS to return, following three rotations there under the Labour-led government of Helen Clark.

But Amnesty International is warning the government it could breach international law if SAS troops in Afghanistan hand over prisoners to the Afghan authorities. Amnesty International Aotearoa chief executive Patrick Holmes says it continues to receive reports of torture and ill-treatment of detainees handed to the Afghan government by the ISAF.

States that transfer people to places "where they are at grave risk of torture" may be breaching their international legal obligations, Holmes said.

He also warned an agreement with the Afghan government over the treatment of prisoners which Wellington has been trying to persuade Afghanistan to put in writing since 2006 would not absolve New Zealand from its obligation to protect detainees from torture.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said no such written agreement had been concluded with Afghanistan, although there had been a verbal agreement since 2006. The government was optimistic it could obtain a written agreement, he said.

Last week the Sunday Star-Times reported that international legal experts said New Zealand breached the Geneva Conventions by transferring prisoners to the Americans in 2002 despite evidence the Americans might not treat those prisoners humanely. Most prisoners in Afghanistan are now handed to the Afghan government, not the Americans.

"With regard to any redeployment of New Zealand SAS troops, Amnesty's concern is not whether forces are deployed or not, but that all forces in Afghanistan must adhere to international humanitarian law and human rights standards," Holmes said.

Meanwhile, the Star-Times has learnt that the US may be withholding information that could prove the American military mistreated prisoners transferred by the SAS to US custody in Kandahar.

There is no suggestion the SAS abused prisoners before handing them over. However, American international law expert Michael Ratner says that by handing prisoners to the American military without recording their names, New Zealand had created "ghost detainees" a serious breach of the conventions. Without prisoners' names, it is difficult to follow up to see if they have been mistreated or are still in custody.

When New Zealand asked the Americans in 2006 to check on prisoners the SAS handed over in 2002, Wellington was asked for more information about their identity "such as ideally their names" names the SAS did not take.

But SAS men have told the Star-Times American intelligence agents with them on missions had recorded identity information about prisoners the SAS captured, including fingerprints and DNA.

The Defence Force was unable to say if it would renew its request for all information the Americans held about the prisoners. A spokesman said: "The issues you've raised are complex, and the Defence Force is working on a response."

A Danish special forces soldier based at Kandahar at the same time said his unit operated in a similar way to the SAS, taking details of prisoners' height, eye colour and place and date of detention. They photographed prisoners and, when possible, took fingerprints but not their names. The soldier believed the "no names" procedure was an unwritten policy, not a simple oversight.

When it emerged that prisoners transferred by Danish soldiers to the Americans in 2002 had been tortured at Kandahar, journalists sought copies of the information recorded about the prisoners. However, the Danish military said the information had been destroyed as they saw no need to keep it.

The New Zealand Defence Force could not say whether it has destroyed information about the prisoners the SAS detained. A spokesman said checking this would "take some time".

Acting Prime Minister Bill English told parliament last week that Prime Minister John Key has been looking into the issues of prisoner mistreatment raised by the Star-Times. Key said the SAS had acted in good faith in 2002, and noted US President Barack Obama had emphasised the non-use of torture and humane treatment of detainees.

However, Green MP Keith Locke said there was still no guarantee prisoners transferred to the Americans or Afghanis would be treated humanely. "We oppose the return of the SAS to Afghanistan. But if the government ignores our advice and sends them, it must ensure any prisoners taken are not transferred to torture."


Drug culture of disgraced soldiers revealed

By TIM HUME - Sunday Star Times | 5:00AM - Sunday, 09 August 2009

A GROUP of soldiers sent home from Afghanistan in disgrace for smoking hashish used a codeword to summon members to regular drug sessions, held in an army workshop where two bongs were stashed.

Internal New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) reports, released last week under the Official Information Act, reveal the drug use among the six soldiers was "not an isolated incident or a `one-off' affair". Junior members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) took part in at least six drug sessions, held in an electrical workshop at Kiwi base in Bamiyan and at forward operating base Romero, seven hours' drive away, where one was suspected of being stoned when reporting late for sentry duty.

A soldier at Romero was also described by personnel as being "plastered". Afghanistan is a dry mission, with servicemen forbidden from drinking alcohol.

The reports, released to the Sunday Star-Times after eight months of stalling by NZDF, describe how the soldiers used a flat soldering iron to smoke "spots" of the class-B drug in the workshop, beginning within a month of starting the deployment. Cut-off plastic drink bottles, used to funnel the hashish smoke, were found "well-concealed" in the workshop.

The "Bamiyan Six" were sent home under military police guard in March last year, following an investigation triggered when one of the soldiers was overheard discussing his drug use.

Defence Force spokesman Commander Shaun Fogarty said that despite five of the six admitting to investigating officers they had smoked the drug, all charges against them were later dismissed because of procedural errors in the investigation.

"Our investigators didn't advise them of their rights and what have you; because that wasn't administered ... the evidence taken was inadmissible."

No disciplinary action was taken against the soldiers, all but one of whom is still in the military, other than censures on their employment records.

The reports suggested drug use could be a wider problem among soldiers in Afghanistan, one of the world's major drug-producing nations, awash with cheap and easily accessible opium and hashish. One of the accused said he had heard drugs had been consumed at the base for the previous three rotations, and one of the investigators reported a "nagging worry" that if an Afghan employee at the base had provided the drugs, as two of the accused suggested, "then it will continue to be a problem".

But Fogarty said there had been no repeat of the incident and he believed the Defence Force was on top of the issue. "To put it in perspective, we've had 1800 staff go through the PRT in six years, and we've had six bad eggs in this case."

At home, military police have arrested at least six NZDF personnel for drug offences since 2005, in Auckland, Linton and Burnham.

Fogarty said improvements had been made to the military justice system since the incident, with all officers trained in conducting investigations. The Defence Force was also now able to implement random drug tests in the field. The reports showed Bamiyan base had no pottles for urine analysis when investigators sought to drug-test the suspects at the time of the incident.

Fogarty said investigators had found no clear evidence the drugs had been brought on to the base by an Afghan employee, or that drugs had been consumed on base during previous deployments. "It's very difficult to investigate, anyway."


Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on August 10, 2009, 12:38:04 am
Here's some film of what our sas is up against


Post by: DidiMau69 on August 10, 2009, 07:56:48 am
"We oppose the return of the SAS to Afghanistan. But the government ignores our advice and sends them....."  Green MP Keith Locke.

When is this person going to realise that they, their opinions and the opinions of the lunatic fringe that they represent are of absolutely no consequence to the rest of the the world.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 10, 2009, 12:23:01 pm

Nobody has ever managed to conquer and subdue Afghanistan. And nobody ever will.

The Russians got their arses kicked.

The British got their arses kicked.

And every would-be conqueror before the British got their arses kicked.

It will be no different this time.

The European nations will eventually pull out due to public pressure. Sometime later, the Poms will pull out for the same reason (when the body-bag count becomes to unpalitable). The Aussies will stay on like the Yank's Uncle Tom they are, but even they will eventually realise they are flogging a dead horse and bugger off back home. Then the deepening quagmire will cause American public opinion to pull the rug out from beneath their military crusades in Afghanistan. The Taliban will simply bide their time while continuing to use guerilla war tactics against the invaders, just like the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong did. Eventually they will prevail. Just like Afghans have always eventually prevailed against invaders.

Read up on history to see what is going to eventually happen.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 10, 2009, 03:03:13 pm

Should Key deploy the SAS?


Stuff.co.nz (http://www.stuff.co.nz) | 12:11PM - Monday, 10 August 2009

Should the Government send the SAS back to Afghanistan?

It seems almost certain that today Prime Minister John Key is going to announce the fourth deployment of our best fighting force. He's dropped plenty of hints, and Cabinet is due to discuss the matter today.

A lot has changed since the SAS was first posted there in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre, of course. As Labour leader Phil Goff pointed out this morning, New Zealand troops have been in Afghanistan for longer than they fought in World War II.

But rather than things drawing to a close, the situation in Afghanistan seems to be getting worse, and more dangerous. Which, of course, is why the United States is so keen for New Zealand's highly regarded SAS to go back.

There are arguments on both sides. As Key has said, terrorism is the world's problem, not just America's, and that means New Zealand must do its share. There's no doubt that Afghanistan is a breeding ground for terrorism (much more than Iraq — at least, until Saddam Hussein was toppled) and that it was just the state of lawlessness and anarchy that allowed the Taliban to flourish in the first place.

It's possible that an injection of special tactics groups from countries like Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand might just be enough to break the current deadlock in fighting the shadowy insurgents who don't exactly play by Queensberry Rules.

But you could also argue that eight years of provincial reconstruction by regular troops and three tours of duty by the SAS is more than enough of a commitment from a country of four million people half a world away, and that we have other more pressing problems closer to home.

There's also the very real question of what happens afterwards, assuming the SAS does go back. It's to be hoped John Key has sought some assurances about exactly what processes the US have in mind to set up a proper government, army, and police force in Afghanistan. Iraq has hardly filled anyone with confidence on this score.

It's probable America has leaned quite hard on the Government to send the SAS, despite the protestations to the contrary from all sides. And let's face it, that is a consideration. While Key has said Cabinet will make its own decision, no ally (or very, very good friend, or whatever it is we are) of America's is going to turn down a direct request from Uncle Sam lightly.

And neither should they. Wellington's relationship with Washington has been rocky over the past couple of decades, but things have been getting better in recent years. And New Zealand has stood alongside America in most of the wars of the last century, aside from Iraq.

That's not to say that Where America Goes We Go. Just that there are valid reasons for considering its request.

I'd hate to be in Key's shoes on this one. Sending the SAS will be a tough call. If he does, he's going to be criticised by some groups for bending to the will of America and putting our troops in harm's way. Of course if any are injured or even killed, then that goes double.

If he refuses, he will stand accused of not assisting America end a bloody nightmare that is threatening the stability of the region.

Whatever the decision — and as I say, I reckon it will be a yes — Labour needs to fall into line on this. I've been surprised by Goff's failure to back the Government on whatever it decides.

I thought the Opposition was supposed to back whoever was the Government on matters of foreign policy — wasn't that the new deal both Labour and National signed up to a few years back? Particularly when it comes to sending troops into harm's way.

If the SAS are going back, they need to go with the blessing of all sides.


Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on August 10, 2009, 03:26:34 pm
50 ways to meet your maker


Afghanistan is a perfect place for an ambush They often sit on top of a hill
and just wait for their victims to drive past then its a turkey shoot
as the Russians figured out and left.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 10, 2009, 06:11:40 pm

“Crusades” forces casualties in Afghanistan to date....

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/News%20Story%20Pix/AfghanCoalitionCasualties_10Aug09.jpg) (http://icasualties.ort)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 11, 2009, 12:26:57 pm

SAS to be deployed in Afghanistan

NZPA | 6:26PM - Monday, 10 August 2009

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/News%20Story%20Pix/AfghanCoalitionCasualties_10Aug09.jpg) (http://icasualties.ort)


The Government has made the "difficult" decision to send Special Air Services (SAS) troops back to Afghanistan, Prime Minister John Key announced today.

The deployment will be the fourth of SAS troops, and a commitment has been made to maintain about 70 personnel for up to 18 months, in three rotations.

"It's a difficult decision. There's no getting away from the fact that Afghanistan is a dangerous place," Mr Key said.

He said the deployment would be in the "foreseeable future" but kept with convention in refusing to say when, or where, the elite troops would go.

Parallel to the SAS deployment would be the gradual withdrawal of the Defence Force's 140-strong provincial reconstruction team (PRT), which has been in Bamyan province since 2003.

The PRT would be withdrawn during the next three to five years and by the time it left, New Zealand would have had a presence in Afghanistan for 14 years.

Afghanistan remained an unstable place but Mr Key did not believe it was any more dangerous now than during previous SAS deployments.

"I don't think you can eliminate that there is a real risk to the people that we're deploying there, just as there actually is, I think, quite a significant risk to the 140 personnel that we have in Bamyan Province," he said.

"But I wouldn't call, on the advice that I have, the likelihood that this rotation could be more dangerous than previous rotations, not withstanding that Afghanistan is an increasingly dangerous place."

The United States had made repeated requests for the SAS to return to Afghanistan.

Mr Key met a senior US representative at last week's Pacific Islands Forum and "gave them an indication that it was likely this decision would be reached".

"I think that they are supportive, obviously, and grateful that New Zealand is playing its part."

The Green Party has raised concerns in Parliament about the controversial handing over in 2002 of Afghan prisoners by New Zealand troops to US forces who allegedly mistreated them.

Mr Key today said the SAS would be most likely to hand any detainees over to Afghan authorities.

"Like New Zealand, Afghanistan is a party to the Geneva Convention," he said.

"New Zealand has already received an assurance from the Afghan government that all transferred detainees will be treated humanely according to these conventions and international law."

Mr Key also announced today there would be greater New Zealand civilian involvement in Afghanistan, particularly in agriculture, health and education sectors.

An ambassador would be appointed to support that work, based in Kabul.

Labour leader Phil Goff said his party did not support the SAS deployment as it believed the way to win the conflict was by winning over the people "and we were doing that most competently and effectively through the PRT in Bamyan".

"The concerns that we have with the SAS don't relate to the competency of the SAS itself but rather what it requires to win this conflict at the present time," he said.

"We are not in the situation we were in earlier in the 21st century where this was a battle with al Qaeda. This has fast moved in the direction of being a civil war."

Green MP Kennedy Graham said the decision was an example of "strategic folly based on muddled thinking".

"The engagement of our SAS will compromise the legitimacy and the effectiveness of the work done by our (PRT)," Dr Graham said.

The way forward was through the PRT and increased civilian aid, not by sending "crack combat troops to engage in covert counter-terrorism activities there".


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 11, 2009, 12:28:12 pm

SAS head back to front line

By TRACY WATKINS - The Dominion Post | 5:00AM - Tuesday, 11 August 2009


New Zealand's war in Afghanistan looks likely to be one of its longest military deployments as Special Air Service troops prepare to rejoin the front line.

Prime Minister John Key said yesterday it would be three to five years before troops could quit the troubled country altogether as many as 14 years after Helen Clark first dispatched the SAS in the wake of the 2001 attack on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington DC.

New Zealand's involvement in the war has so far cost nearly $200 million. "I was hoping for an exit strategy a little faster than that but ... that is the timeframe that is realistic and will support all our efforts," Mr Key said.

Up to 70 SAS soldiers are poised to leave for Afghanistan after the Cabinet agreed yesterday to their return after a request from the United States. They will be deployed in Afghanistan for up to 18 months, in three rotations.

Mr Key would not say where the troops would be serving or how soon they would leave but has previously made it clear that they would be ready to move as soon as the Cabinet had made its decision.

Approval to send the SAS back to Afghanistan their fourth deployment since the war started followed a review of New Zealand's military involvement there.

Mr Key confirmed that he had briefed US officials last week on New Zealand's likely commitment of the SAS, which comes as he prepares for his first official visit to the US as prime minister next month.

Cabinet also agreed to begin winding down New Zealand's military involvement in Afghanistan's Bamiyan province, where up to 140 Kiwi soldiers have been based since 2003, helping with reconstruction efforts as part of a provincial reconstruction team.

But Mr Key said it would be several years before New Zealand quit the province altogether, adding that it would provide more civilian workers to help fill the gap, in education, agriculture and health.

The deployment comes as conditions in Afghanistan become increasingly dangerous, but Mr Key said he did not consider troops to be in greater danger than at any time previously.

But the decision to send the SAS faces opposition. Labour leader Phil Goff said the way to end the conflict was through winning "hearts and minds", not sending more combat troops.

"This has fast moved in the direction of being a civil war between the Taleban elements ... our belief is that the best way of winning in Afghanistan is by winning people over to the side of having a democratic regime and rejecting terrorism. We are not convinced that can be done by simply increasing the number of combat forces."

New Zealand's longest military deployment is in the Middle East with the United Nations' Truce Supervision Organisation, which the country has been part of since just after World War II.


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 11, 2009, 12:28:55 pm

Five more years in Afghanistan

By COLIN ESPINER - The Press | 5:00AM - Tuesday, 11 August 2009


Kiwi troops are likely to remain in Afghanistan for another five years, with the Government agreeing to United States pleas for more help from the Special Air Service.

Prime Minister John Key said yesterday that 70 SAS personnel would head to Afghanistan in three rotations, lasting 18 months.

They will join the 130 New Zealand troops serving in peacekeeping and provincial reconstruction in the war-torn country.

The Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) will be "re-aligned" to help build the capacity of the Afghan police and transfer the lead security role to Afghan forces.

Key also announced a beefed-up civilian effort in Bamiyan province, with a focus on agriculture, health and education.

While the SAS would be pulled out after 18 months, army personnel would remain in Afghanistan for up to five years, he said.

"I was hoping for an exit strategy a little faster than that, but the advice given to me by those that undertook the review is that that is the time frame that was realistic," Key said.

"We've had our people there since 2003. I'd hate to undermine all the good work they have done, so an orderly exit is the right way to go."

The deployment of the SAS marks the fourth time the elite squad has been dispatched to Afghanistan, although it is the first time this National Government has sent troops.

Key said he did not think the latest SAS mission was more dangerous than the previous three, despite the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.

"It is a difficult decision. There's no getting away from the fact that Afghanistan is a dangerous place, and we're deploying our elite military there to try to stabilise the position," he said.

"But I'm confident we have some of the best people in the world and we're now asking them to complete a very difficult task."

Key declined to comment on exactly what the SAS would do in Afghanistan, or when the troops would fly out.

He said they would work with other nations' elite troops, but under New Zealand command.

The Green Party has raised concerns in Parliament about the controversial handing over in 2002 of Afghan prisoners by New Zealand troops to US forces, which allegedly mistreated them.

Key said the Government had sought an assurance that anyone captured by the SAS and transferred to the Afghan Army would be treated humanely and in accordance with international conventions.

While the Cabinet officially made the decision to deploy the SAS yesterday, Key said he had told a senior official of the Obama Administration a week ago that the Government was likely to agree to it.

Labour leader Phil Goff said that despite Labour deploying the SAS three times while in government, he did not believe the fourth rotation was justified.

"We decided at the end of the third rotation our emphasis should be on the PRT," Goff said.

"Our preference is still in favour of the PRT and we're not in favour of sending the SAS back under current circumstances."

Key said he was disappointed by Goff's remarks.

"These are New Zealanders who are putting their lives on the line to make the world a safer place. It's never too late and I'd encourage Mr Goff and the Labour Party to support our actions."

Governor welcomes SAS troops

Sending New Zealand Special Air Service (SAS) troops back to Afghanistan has been welcomed by the governor of the province where regular Kiwi troops are stationed.

Bamiyan governor Habibi Serabi told The Press from Kabul that she valued the role New Zealand soldiers had played in her province and supported the redeployment of the elite SAS unit elsewhere.

"We have had a good experience with the PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team)," she said. "It is good if New Zealand sends special forces to problem areas."

At the Kiwi headquarters in Bamiyan, PRT chief of staff Nick Gillard rejected fears that New Zealand troops may become more of a target as a result of Prime Minister John Key's announcement of the 18-month SAS redeployment. "There has always been a security threat in Bamiyan, irrespective of the role New Zealand plays in the wider Afghanistan," he said.

Gillard described plans for a phased change to the PRT as "positive".

The mission was "an evolving beast". Initially, security was the focus, but as it improved, there should be a transition to development and governance, he said.

Soldiers will still handle security, but the civilian component will increase to help consolidate democratic government, adherence to the rule of law and reconstruction. A diplomat and an NZAID worker will be put permanently in the Kiwi compound.

Their addition coincides with a greater United States presence in Bamiyan. Almost 50 US military policemen have joined PRT ranks.

This follows a massive injection of reconstruction money from Washington.

This year, the PRT is managing US$40 million (NZ$59.3m) in funds.


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 12, 2009, 07:03:26 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 13, 2009, 02:42:01 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 16, 2009, 12:57:18 pm


Post by: Newtown-Fella on August 16, 2009, 04:10:35 pm

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 20, 2009, 10:18:26 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 20, 2009, 10:18:54 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 20, 2009, 10:19:18 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 25, 2009, 11:22:53 pm

Noble goals but are they enough?

By NAJIBULLAH LAFRAIE - The Dominion Post | 8:52AM - Tuesday, 25 August 2009


MEETING A NEED: Kiwi troops have made a difference in
Bamyan province, including helping with a roading project.
Kiwi Group Captain Greg Elliott is picture at the opening.
— NZ Defence Force.

Is New Zealand ready to fight in Afghanistan for 30 to 40 years?

That may sound an outlandish question, but the Government has opened the way for such a possibility by its decision to send the SAS troops to Afghanistan and withdraw the Kiwi PRT, or Provincial Reconstruction Team, from Bamyan.

Prime Minister John Key's refusal to rush in response to the United States' request for redeployment of SAS to Afghanistan was commendable.

He also wisely rejected the idea of Kiwi troops participating in "operational mentor and liaison teams", training the Afghan soldiers and joining them as mentors in their war against the Taleban.

It is difficult, however, to see any rationale for the decision other than the pressure from the US.

Mr Key has noted that this decision follows those by the previous Labour government to deploy the SAS to Afghanistan on three separate occasions.

Firstly, although those decisions were supported by the opposition National Party at the time, they were criticised by others, such as the Green Party. So the fact that Labour had decided to deploy the SAS to Afghanistan does not necessarily make it a right decision.

Secondly, the situation in Afghanistan has changed drastically since 2005, the last deployment under the previous government.

And thirdly, to Labour's credit, despite those deployments, their real commitment was to the Bamyan PRT, which has been doing a very good job and has been cited by some scholars as a model for other countries' PRTs to follow.

Mr Key also tries to justify the decision by referring to New Zealand's "direct and vital interest" in eradicating terrorism and promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

These are certainly noble goals and the Government's keenness to be part of the international efforts for achieving them is understandable and laudable.

However, the important questions are: Is the war in Afghanistan really helping to eradicate terrorism or is it further fanning its flames? and: Can New Zealand better promote peace and stability in Afghanistan by deploying the SAS or by strengthening its PRT?

As for the first question, there is no evidence that the Taleban were involved in al Qaeda's terrorist activities before September 11. After the removal of the Taleban from power, al Qaeda dispersed from Afghanistan, not only to the tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan but to other parts of Pakistan and far beyond.

Some foreign volunteers may be fighting in the Taleban's ranks today, but their number is very small, and the various groups labelled as Taleban seem to be operating independently of al Qaeda.

The fact that the US advocates talks with the Taleban is due to the advice they received from Afghanistan experts to distinguish between the Taleban and al Qaeda and not to consider them one and the same.

Afghanistan Taleban see their "terrorist" activities as a war of liberation against the occupying infidel armies and their domestic stooges.

Scholarly research, such as that by American political scientist Robert Pape, finds foreign occupation as a common denominator in all suicide terrorist attacks — be it religious or secular. It will not be difficult to argue that the SAS' involvement in the war against the Taleban will contribute to the deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan, rather than eradicating terrorism and al Qaeda.

It is noted by some knowledgeable observers that al Qaeda is now more an ideology than an organisation. Do we really think we can eradicate an ideology with guns and bombs?

As for promoting peace and stability, it is clear that there is no hope that the SAS will be able to achieve that. Even if there was a military solution to the Afghanistan problem, the number of troops needed to bring about peace and stability would be about 660,000, according to some experts on guerrilla warfare.

There is no doubt about the professionalism and high skills of our SAS troops, but they would be only a drop in a big and mostly empty bucket. They may eliminate some Taleban — and suffer some casualties themselves — but would that really contribute to peace and stability?

What is different about the Kiwi PRT, making it capable of promoting peace and stability, is that it is based in a specific locality. It may not make much difference to the overall picture, but it has made a difference to the Bamyan community.

When I met the governor of Bamyan province, Habiba Sorabi, in Auckland in February 2008, she was full of praise for the Kiwis in her province.

The decision by the Cabinet to increase the civilian aid to Bamyan is welcomed and will make a positive impact. Associating that with the withdrawal of the PRT is puzzling, however.

If this "exit strategy" is based on the hope that Afghanistan will not need foreign troops in five years, it is mere wishful thinking.

Apparently the Cabinet is not aware of the recent comments by Sir David Richards, the British general who has served as Nato commander in Afghanistan and has been appointed as chief of general staff of the British Army.

In an interview with The Times he predicted that bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan might take as long as 30 to 40 years.

This brings us to the question at the start of this piece. When New Zealand is unable to counter the pressure to send SAS troops to Afghanistan while 140 Kiwi soldiers are already there, would it be able to refuse such a request when there are no Kiwi troops?

If the answer is no, and certainly the Government's recent decision lends support to such an answer; then are we ready to fight in Afghanistan for another 30 to 40 years?

Najibullah Lafraie is a lecturer in politics at Otago University. He was minister of state for foreign affairs in Afghanistan after the downfall of the communist regime in 1992 and served in that position until the Taleban captured Kabul in September 1996.


Post by: Crusader on August 26, 2009, 04:59:32 pm
Dear President Obama.

Prehaps you should learn from history that conventional warfare is not a winning strategy in Afghanistan. May I offer a different soloution to ensure success.

One very conveniently placed tactical nuclear bomb would ensure a fast exit.


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 26, 2009, 08:39:56 pm
Dear President Obama.

Prehaps you should learn from history that conventional warfare is not a winning strategy in Afghanistan. May I offer a different soloution to ensure success.

One very conveniently placed tactical nuclear bomb would ensure a fast exit.


That would quite probably be followed by a total revolt in Pakistan with extremists overthrowing the government and taking charge of the country's nuclear arsenal, then distributing the warheads amongst various islamic despot groups who see the USA as the number one enemy. Wanna take the risk that situation wouldn't be the case? Would you be happy to see New York City or Los Angeles or Washington DC get turned into glass along with the terrible aftermath that would no doubt completely wreck our western way of life?

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 29, 2009, 10:52:38 pm

From the Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com)

War dead

Los Angeles Times - Afghanistan | Sunday, August 23, 2009


The Defense Department last week identified the following American military personnel who died in Iraq and Afghanistan or at a U.S. military hospital:

Adam F. Benjamin, 34, of Garfield Heights, Ohio; gunnery sergeant, Marine Corps. Benjamin died Tuesday while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 8th Engineer Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Maine; lance corporal, Marine Corps. Bernard died Aug. 14 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay.

Clayton P. Bowen, 29, of San Antonio; staff sergeant, Army. Bowen was one of two soldiers killed Tuesday in Paktika province, Afghanistan, when a roadside bomb detonated near their vehicle. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Ft. Richardson, Alaska.

Jose S.N. Crisostomo, 59, of Inarajan, Guam; first sergeant, Army. Crisostomo died Tuesday in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to International Security Assistance Force Kabul.

Leopold F. Damas, 26, of Floral Park, N.Y.; lance corporal, Marine Corps. Damas died Monday while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Paul E. Dumont Jr., 23, of Williamsburg, Va.; specialist, Army. Dumont died Wednesday at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from a non-combat-related incident. He was assigned to the 149th Transportation Company, 10th Transportation Battalion at Ft. Eustis, Va.

Matthew D. Hastings, 23, of Claremore, Okla.; specialist, Army. Hastings died Monday in Baghdad of injuries sustained from a non-combat-related incident. He was assigned to the 582nd Medical Logistics Company, 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command at Ft. Hood, Texas.

Justin R. Pellerin, 21, of Boscawen, N.H.; specialist, Army. Pellerin died Thursday in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) at Ft. Drum, N.Y.

Nicholas R. Roush, 22, of Middleville, Mich.; corporal, Army. Roush died Aug. 16 in Herat, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 1st Psychological Operations Battalion, 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) at Ft. Bragg, N.C.

William Z. VanOsdol, 23, of Pinson, Ala.; private first class, Army. Vanosdol died Wednesday at Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy rocket fire struck his quarters. He was assigned to the 172nd Support Battalion in Schweinfurt, Germany.

Morris L. Walker, 23, of Chapel Hill, N.C.; private first class, Army. Walker was one of two soldiers killed Tuesday in Paktika province, Afghanistan, when a roadside bomb detonated near their vehicle. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Ft. Richardson, Alaska.

Brian M. Wolverton, 21, of Oak Park; private first class, Army. Wolverton died Thursday in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with indirect fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) at Ft. Drum, N.Y.

William B. Woods Jr., 31, of Chesapeake, Va.; sergeant first class, Army. Woods died Aug. 16 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered Aug. 14 when he was shot while on patrol in Ghanzi, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Glen Arm, Md.

• Sources: Department of Defense and the Associated Press.


Post by: Sir Blodsnogger on August 30, 2009, 07:14:28 am
I agree with those who do not want a nuclear war.
Therefore the only solution is 'conventional warfare' led by the military of the US of A our protectors.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 31, 2009, 12:08:47 am

From the Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com)

U.S. fears clock ticking on Afghanistan

As public support wanes, the Obama administration feels it needs
to deliver speedy progress in Afghanistan so that it can gain time
and backing for its long-term military strategy.

By PAUL RICHTER (paul.richter@latimes.com) and JULIAN BARNES (julian.barnes@latimes.com) | Sunday, August 30, 2009


Lance Corporal Mark Chieffallo of Pittsburg arrives at an observation post on a peak above a village
in Helmand province with over Marines. — Julie Jacobson/Associated Press/August 22, 2009.

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Washington — The Obama administration is racing to demonstrate visible headway in the faltering war in Afghanistan, convinced it has only until next summer to slow a hemorrhage in U.S. support and win more time for the military and diplomatic strategy it hopes can rescue the 8-year-old effort.

But the challenge in Afghanistan is becoming more difficult in the face of gains by the Taliban, rising U.S. casualties, a weak Afghan government widely viewed as corrupt, and a sense among U.S. commanders that they must start the military effort largely from scratch nearly eight years after it began.

A turnaround is crucial because military strategists believe they will not be able to get the additional troops they feel they need in coming months if they fail to show that their new approach is working, U.S. officials and advisors say.

"Over the next 12 to 15 months, among the things you absolutely, positively have to do is persuade a skeptical American public that this can work, that you have a plan and a strategy that is feasible," said Stephen Biddle, a military expert who advises the U.S.-led command in Afghanistan.

A similarly urgent view was voiced by military and diplomatic officials who described the administration's goals and self-imposed deadline during recent interviews in Afghanistan and Washington. Most spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to comment publicly.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, in an interview last month, first pointed publicly to the need for progress by next year. Since then, the goal has spanned the administration's international diplomatic efforts, its aid program for the Afghan government and its combat strategy.

Unlike during the Bush administration years, when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld clashed with other Cabinet members, particularly in the State Department, Gates' assessment appears to be shared by every other major Obama administration player. At the White House, State Department and elsewhere, officials agreed on the need for rapid progress in key areas.

Besides reversing Taliban advances and strengthening the central government, U.S. officials will strive to hold the NATO alliance intact while reshuffling deployments to consolidate gains, especially in the eastern part of the country, near the Pakistani border.

Administration goals in Afghanistan also include stemming government corruption, improving security forces, especially the police, and reducing violence through efforts such as wooing insurgents.

In part, the administration thinking reflects the growing impatience of liberal Democrats with the war. Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin has called for a "flexible timetable" for troop withdrawals, while House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin has warned of funding cuts next spring unless there is significant progress.

A senior administration official said Obey's comment was "a very important signal" to the White House.

Among military commanders, there has been no effort to sugarcoat conditions in Afghanistan.

"We need a fundamental new approach," said one officer, a senior advisor to Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the newly appointed top commander in Afghanistan.

McChrystal's initial assessment of Afghanistan to Pentagon officials is due soon, in a report expected to be made public in early September.

That report will probably avoid a troop recommendation, but by outlining McChrystal's view of what has gone wrong and his vision for fixing it, officers hope he can make Washington more receptive to a later request for more troops.

"We have to demonstrate we have a clear way ahead, matched with appropriate resources, that is making an impact on the ground," said the officer.

The proportion of Americans who believe it was a mistake to send troops to Afghanistan rose from about 25% in 2007 to 42% this year, according to Gallup surveys. A slight majority of Americans no longer believe the war is worth fighting, according to a Washington Post-ABC survey this month.

August has been the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. A U.S. fighter was killed Friday when his vehicle hit an explosive device in eastern Afghanistan, bringing the number of U.S. military deaths to 45 and exceeding the previous record, set in July. At least 732 U.S. service members have been killed in the Afghanistan war, compared with more than 4,300 killed in the Iraq conflict.

The faltering public support highlights another concern: the U.S. midterm elections next year. Democratic lawmakers fear they may become targets of Republican political attacks over the administration's handling of the war.

More troops?

In the face of those doubts and time pressures, top Obama administration officials such as James Jones, the national security advisor, have expressed skepticism about the prospects of sending more troops to Afghanistan.

President Obama has committed 21,000 additional troops this year, bringing the U.S. force to 68,000 by the end of the year. But military analysts said that the new strategy being developed in Kabul, the Afghan capital, will require still more troops.

Officers in Afghanistan consider much of the effort of the last eight years wasted, with too few troops deployed, many in the wrong regions and given the wrong orders.

For instance, in Iraq, the military spent between three and nine months on programs to roust militants from cities. In Afghanistan such clearing operations have lasted as little as three weeks.

"Clearing operations aren't about kicking down doors, or even going house to house once," said Kimberly Kagan, a strategist who has advised the military in both Iraq and Afghanistan. "They are about establishing presence and then building a trust relationship with the local population so that over time they feel they can provide information."

Shoring up NATO

Diplomatically, U.S. officials have begun a push to persuade NATO countries to send more forces to Afghanistan. And they are also trying to stave off departures by key allies.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with its 38,000 troops, is considered important both to combat efforts and to the international credibility of the war.

But Canada, which now oversees the southern regional command, is scheduled to pull out its combat troops in 2011, and the Dutch are scheduled to leave next year. A German opposition party, the Free Democrats, this month called for the removal of Germany's 4,500 troops. And in Britain, public support for the war is flagging.

Any departures mean more work for U.S. forces, but are also likely to raise questions at home about why Americans are shouldering so much of the burden of the conflict.

"We cannot afford to re-Americanize the war," said a senior administration official.

Fighting corruption

As the military is overhauling its priorities, so too is the State Department. Richard C. Holbrooke, the U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has signaled a major push to reduce corruption in the government as soon as the presidential election results are known.

Senior officials are weighing a number of approaches, including, possibly, an international commission to probe corruption cases. The goal is not only to improve Afghans' low regard for their government, but also to reassure Americans that the $2.6 billion a month they are providing is well spent.

U.S. officials acknowledge that the task is not easy. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, expected to win the election, has built political support for his administration through alliances with a number of regional leaders and warlords who face allegations of corruption.

One is his running mate, former Defense Minister Mohammed "Marshal" Fahim, accused of involvement in drug trafficking. U.S. officials have already warned Karzai that they were not happy with the prospect of Fahim as vice president.

Improving the police

Key to both the diplomatic and military strategies is a rapid expansion of the Afghan security forces.

U.S. officials are particularly focused on stepping up police training programs, a key to long-term stability in the country.

Holbrooke describes police training as one of the toughest jobs the allies face, and predicts that success in Afghanistan will depend heavily on whether a skilled force can provide security. But NATO officials continue to report that Afghan police, woefully undertrained in many regions, can't be trusted with many of the most important assignments.

Choosing fights

Most military officers believe lasting progress will be years in the making. But they also realize that they only have a few months to add to the perception that they are making headway.

As a result, the military is likely to focus on select goals instead of trying to save the entire country at once. McChrystal has said he plans to focus efforts on securing population centers. That means, at least initially, Taliban outposts that do not threaten significant Afghan cities or villages will not be targeted.

"We have to do triage," Biddle said. "We do not have the resources to stabilize the whole country at once."


Post by: Yak on August 31, 2009, 01:02:29 pm
I wonder which part of "we're not making progress - we're going backwards" is the difficult bit to understand?

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on August 31, 2009, 01:25:18 pm
I agree with those who do not want a nuclear war.
Therefore the only solution is 'conventional warfare' led by the military of the US of A our protectors.

The only one's they are protecting are themselves!

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 02, 2009, 12:49:50 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 03, 2009, 01:20:59 pm

The elections in Afghanistan have turned out to be a total farce.

Election fraud and corruption on a grand scale by a government that is a puppet of the USA.

Just like the 1960s and early 1970s when the US government propped up a corrupt puppet regime in South Vietnam.

A few decades on and nothing has really changed as far as the Yanks propping up corrupt foreign puppet governments.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 03, 2009, 01:26:11 pm

From The Times Online (http://www.latimes.com)

Vote-rigging in Afghanistan leaves US scrambling to save election

US left to pick up poll pieces

By JAMES HIDER in Kabul and TIM REID in Washington D.C. | Tuesday, September 01, 2009


The sheer scale and brazen nature of vote rigging in Afghanistan’s elections has left the US Administration scrambling for a “least-worst” option, according to officials haunted by the spectre of a failed government in Kabul.

The widespread evidence of fraud followed a decision by Washington to remain completely neutral in the run-up to the election. It was a position that had been strongly argued by Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s “AfPak” envoy, who said any appearance of interference might backfire.

As President Karzai edges towards a first-round victory — preliminary results have him on 46 per cent, against 33 per cent for his nearest rival, Abdullah Abdullah — the White House faces the prospect of backing a man whose regime is seen widely as ineffective and corrupt and who may have stolen the election.

The Times understands that emergency discussions are taking place in Washington to come up with an alternative. One option is to try to engineer a second-round run-off in an attempt to give the election greater legitimacy.

However, when Mr Holbrooke suggested the idea to Mr Karzai over dinner in Kabul last week the Afghan leader reacted with fury. Some US officials think the account was deliberately leaked by the Karzai camp to make him look like the only man willing to stand up to Washington.

Western officials are trying to put a brave face on matters as the reports of vote rigging flood in. A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said: “Speculating on turnout figures or likely results would be premature. The important thing is that the outcome of the elections represents the will of the Afghan people.”

But it is precisely this that is worrying the US. While most parties appear to have indulged in some ballot-box stuffing, intimidation or bribery, Mr Karzai’s supporters have appeared most culpable. Much of the vote rigging appears to have happened in the violence-ridden southern provinces, where heavy British losses in recent weeks failed to stop Taleban intimidation of voters, causing a low turnout.

Only 150 Afghan voters went to the polls in the former Taleban stronghold of Babaji, north of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, when several thousand could have voted. Four of the ten troops who died in Operation Panther’s Claw, the offensive to clear out the Taleban before the election, were killed in or around Babaji.

One election observer told The Times yesterday that in Paktia province, about 100 miles south of Kabul, witnesses reported that groups of 40 to 50 men had been seen using the voting cards of women who had not dared venture out of their homes, and were casting hundreds of votes each. This was sometimes done in collusion with officials from the Independent Electoral Commission, he alleged.

The Election Complaints Committee is now considering almost 700 serious allegations and the number is rising daily. Last month The Times reported several instances, including one when more than 5,500 people had apparently cast their ballots in the first hour of the election on August 20.

Some fear that Afghanistan might revert to civil war if the election results are contested. Haroun Mir, a political analyst, said: “We can either move forward to democracy or back to the 1990s, where conflict is based on ethnicity.”

Dr Abdullah, a Tajik, has promised to protest against any fraudulent victory by his Pashtun rival. But Mr Mir said that if he did not concede defeat, “we move towards a crisis. Then what could prevent us from falling again into the same disaster that we witnessed in the 1990s?”

Bruce Reidel, chosen to head Mr Obama’s Afghanistan policy review, said: “If the Government of Afghanistan goes into free fall, all the troops in the world aren’t going to matter. If we don’t have a government that has some basis of legitimacy in the country, the best generals, the best strategy, isn’t going to help turn it around.

Phantom voters

  • More than 17 million Afghans registered to vote, although the number of eligible voters is estimated at 12 million to 15 million.

  • Abdul Hadee, the local election commission head in Helmand, told The Times on August 20 that fewer than 50,000 people had voted in the province; by August 23 he changed the figure to 110,000. In Garmsir his estimate rose from nought to 20,000.

  • The election commission is investigating claims that up to 70,000 illegal votes were cast in centres around the Haji Janat Gul polling centre east of Kabul.

  • Witness reports in Jawji Aryub district of Paktia province claim that some individual men voted with hundreds of women’s cards at female polling stations.

  • The Times arrived at Pul-e-Charki polling station an hour after it opened to find the station empty but 5,530 votes already cast.

  • Tribal leaders in Helmand told The Times in early August that Karzai supporters were buying voting cards from local residents.


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 04, 2009, 08:44:49 pm

From The Times Online (http://www.timesonline.co..uk)

‘Deviant guards’ go wild in Kabul

US Embassy staff's drunken, naked hijinks put security at risk

By GILES WHITTELL in Washington D.C. | Thursday, September 03, 2009


Pictures of the embassy workers show some drinking alcohol; others are portrayed in nude or obscene poses.

US inspection after pictures of private security contractors in Kabul.

The images tell a story that no apology or investigation is likely to lay to rest: naked men drinking vodka and eating crisps from each others’ buttocks at the US Embassy in Kabul.

Others show naked men cavorting round fires or posing for group pictures, their faces blacked out but their bottles of liquor held aloft, in defiance of Muslim custom.

Yesterday the US State Department announced that it was sending a team of more than a dozen inspectors to Kabul to investigate the activities of private security contractors at their barracks in the Afghan capital.

Officials admit that security is in jeopardy at the embassy because of the poor performance of its 450 private guards. The release of pictures of degrading and abusive behaviour — including photographs of Afghan personnel apparently being goaded into drinking alcohol — threatens to inflict further damage on the image of US forces in Afghanistan at a critical moment in the eight-year conflict with the Taleban.

An e-mail that was sent to support the allegations, written by an anonymous guard in Kabul, said: “The pictures will help. You will see that they have a group of sexual predators, deviants running rampant over there. We are not Boy Scouts but there should be some expectation of professionalism in one’s leadership.”

A State Department spokesman admitted that “there were things going on in Kabul which we were not aware of but, frankly, we should have been aware of”.

His remarks came after 36 hours of frantic — and largely fruitless — damage control. He promised that “prompt and effective action” would follow the multiple investigations under way into the contract with ArmorGroup North America, and said that the US Ambassador to Afghanistan would conduct a meeting with staff to reassure them that everything was being done to guarantee their safety. The embassy has come under repeated attack from the Taleban in recent weeks.

Such reassurances will not satisfy critics who say that the incident has already been mishandled at the highest level. Eight official complaints about the ArmorGroup contract have been made within the State Department in the past two years, it emerged yesterday.

Claims that two thirds of the guards cannot speak English and are sleep-deprived because of staff shortages and 14-hour shifts were forwarded by a Senate subcommittee to the State Department in June. The $186 million (£114 million) contract, however, was renewed this summer.

“This is not Abu Ghraib,” a spokeswoman for the Project on Government Oversight (http://www.pogo.org/) group, which published the material, admitted. It was not normal partying either, she noted.

Guards wrote to the group saying that the images reflected a culture of fear and coercion in which employees refusing to go along with so-called hazing rituals were liable to be fired.

The outsourcing of such work is supposed to save taxpayers’ money, yet expatriate employees of companies such as ArmorGroup can earn three to four times the daily wages of US military personnel. Congressional concerns over the glut of private contractors in Afghanistan may force the Pentagon to re-examine proposals to increase the number of US combat troops there.

According to one report 14,000 extra troops could be deployed without increasing the total number of US military personnel deployed in the country — but only by outsourcing more security and support work to contractors.


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 04, 2009, 08:47:56 pm

From The Times Online (http://www.timesonline.co..uk)

US Embassy in Kabul bans alcohol after allegations of drunkenness

By JAMES HIDER in Kabul | Friday, September 04, 2009


Employees of ArmorGroup at the US Embassy in Kabul.

The US Embassy in Kabul has banned alcohol from the camp where supervisors are alleged to have indulged in drunken hazings, nude drinking bouts and abuse of subordinates.

The move was a belated attempt at damage limitation after video footage and photographs emerged to back up allegations by security guards who said that the unruly and abusive behavior at Camp Sullivan was putting security at risk at the embassy, which has been attacked in the past by rockets and suicide bombers.

The footage and photographs have also tarnished the image of the US in Afghanistan, an Islamic republic that is observing Ramadan.

The decision to ban alcohol was made at a meeting yesterday by the US Ambassador, who is a former army general, and other senior embassy staff, after the State Department said that it was sending inspectors to Kabul to look into the allegations that the 450 guards, employed by ArmorGroup North America, had been behaving badly and performing poorly.

Video footage showed what looked more like a drunken stag night in Estonia than professional security guards who are responsible for hundreds of lives in one of the most hostile countries in the world. Other photographs show Afghan personnel being goaded into drinking alcohol, something that could put their security at risk in this Muslim country.

The e-mail described supervisors “peeing on people, eating potato chips [crisps] out of [buttock] cracks, broken doors after drunken brawls, threats and intimidation from those leaders participating in this activity”.

The conditions were alleged to have created a “climate of fear and coercion,” with anyone refusing to join in being mocked, humiliated or even fired.

Although the country is officially called the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Islamist Taleban are waging an insurgency in the south and east, alcohol is available in Kabul, a relatively calm city where expatriate parties are common and Western aid workers, diplomats and journalists wine and dine in garden restaurants, behind high walls and with security protection. Alcohol is shipped in by bonded container through Pakistan and is priced steeply.

The breach of discipline was exposed in an e-mail sent anonymously by a guard in Kabul, who described the situation as akin to the novel Lord of the Flies and called those in charge of the security outfit “a group of sexual predators”. The e-mail added that there were “deviants running rampant over there. We are not Boy Scouts but there should be some expectation of professionalism.”

The accusations have come at a damaging time in a country where many are suspicious of the Americans, whose planned troop surge to combat the Taleban is seen as an occupation.

The US and its international partners in Afghanistan are also struggling to come up with a solution to allegations of fraud in the election that secured a second term for President Karzai.


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 05, 2009, 04:57:56 pm


Post by: bennyboo on September 07, 2009, 12:40:50 pm
Thousands of civilians flee battles in NW Pakistan

By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer Riaz Khan, Associated Press Writer – 56 mins ago

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Thousands of civilians have fled Pakistan's northwest Khyber tribal region where the latest military offensive killed 33 more suspected militants Sunday.

Pakistan is under intense U.S. pressure to crack down on insurgents along its border with Afghanistan, especially the lawless tribal belt where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is suspected to be hiding. The U.S. believes militants use Pakistan's tribal areas as safe havens from which to plan attacks on Western troops across the frontier in Afghanistan.

Khyber is of particular concern because militants frequently attack trucks along the famed Khyber Pass, a main route for supplies destined for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The military destroyed two training centers and 15 militant homes on Sunday, killing 33 alleged insurgents, a statement from paramilitary forces operating in the area said. Nine more were taken into custody and two people kidnapped by militants were recovered.

The region is largely off-limits to journalists, making it difficult to verify the information independently.



Post by: Crusader on September 07, 2009, 01:35:20 pm


There is a flaw with the drawing. I am guessing the soldiers are holding M16's. We carry IW Steyr's. If the cartoonist wants to take the piss out of us then I would expect him to take note of the finer points.  ;)

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 07, 2009, 04:26:54 pm


There is a flaw with the drawing. I am guessing the soldiers are holding M16's. We carry IW Steyr's. If the cartoonist wants to take the piss out of us then I would expect him to take note of the finer points.  ;)

Picky picky ::)

Post by: Crusader on September 08, 2009, 08:08:40 am
Might well be. But all the drawing tells me is that they are American Soldiers wearing a NZ armband, therefore it doesn't make any sense.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 13, 2009, 10:37:22 pm

Little will be gained from this election

Afghanistan faces another five years of corruption, nepotism and weak government if Hamid Karzai is re-elected.

By NAJIBULLAH LAFRAIE - The Dominion Post | 8:17AM - Wednesday, 09 September 2009

Despite a low voter turnout and widespread violence, the  Afghanistan presidential election of August 20 was declared  "successful" by the UN special  representative for Afghanistan and various world leaders as well as President  Hamid Karzai and his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah.

Reports of massive fraud, however, soon led to a sombre mood. The Election Commission has already disqualified the results of several hundred polling stations, and more may follow. But even if there were no fraud, violence and intimidation, would the mere holding of an election be a success for the cause of peace, stability and democracy? The answer seems to be a resounding "no" for several reasons.

The election is not expected to lead to good governance. While the official declaration of the results will take several weeks, Mr Karzai is ahead of his rivals and will most probably be the winner.

His re-election will certainly mean another five years of corruption, nepotism and weak government. Even if Dr Abdullah were able to defeat Mr Karzai, however, there is not much hope he could do a better job.

He is part of the same elite that has dominated Afghan politics since the removal of the Taleban. Thus, the faces of the cabinet members and the "advisers" surrounding the president would change, but their attitudes and behaviours would mostly remain the same.

The election will not improve the government's legitimacy. Although in a society like Afghanistan legitimacy emanates from many other sources than an election, the first presidential election in October 2004 did bestow a measure of legitimacy to Mr Karzai.

More than 70 per cent of the registered voters went to the polling stations and about 55 per cent of them cast their votes for him. It was the first election in Afghanistan in several decades, and people were attracted not only by the novelty of the election but also because of their high hopes for the future.

Unfortunately, Mr Karzai soon squandered that goodwill by his incompetence and by acting in a way that made him appear an American stooge. That led to the erosion of his government's legitimacy, and it also brought the legitimacy of the whole voting process into question.

The percentage of the people participating in parliamentary elections only a year later dropped to 50 per cent. Thus, the low turnout in the recent election, at about 35 per cent, is as much due to the Taleban threat as to people's disillusionment with the political process.

The election is far from being an exercise in democracy, although it does provide Afghans with some experience in the democratic process.

Although there were some major differences in candidates' political platforms, policy positions do not seem to be a top priority for most of the voters.

Ethnicity and regionalism play a much more important role. That is why Mr Karzai has tried to co-opt prominent personalities (power brokers) from all major ethnic groups as well as from the north, the south, the east, the west and central Afghanistan.

The election is not expected to bring peace with the Taleban. On the contrary, it has increased the level of violence. The Taleban did not intensify their activities because they feared the election would legitimise the Karzai government — they knew very well that it would not. What they wanted to do was to challenge the US forces. As a Taleban commander told a Newsweek reporter: "We didn't take the election seriously until the Americans started arriving in larger numbers with more and better equipment than ever before." It seems that they have been successful in that challenge.

If the election contributes neither to peace nor to good governance, why waste over US$200 million holding it?

There seem to be two main reasons for that. The US and its allies need to show their public some "tangible achievement" to justify investing billions of dollars and hundreds of lives.

If there is no peace in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda and Taleban leaders are still at large, at least there is democracy. This is why there was so much insistence on the "success" of the election.

The other reason is that "election" is the logical consequence of the Bonn Agreement, on which the post-Taleban political setup is based.

The international community has committed itself to the flawed conference and flawed agreement of December 2001 in Bonn, Germany. Following the "Bonn process", there was no option but to hold the election. No-one seems to be contemplating any alternatives. Doing that, it is thought, would not only undermine the good work of the UN, but would also open a Pandora's box, further damaging the political stability and adding to the woes of the Western allies.

Only when the US, the United Nations, Nato and the European Union realise and admit their mistakes, and take actions to alter the course, could there be a chance for a real change in Afghanistan.

Najibullah Lafraie is a lecturer in politics at Otago University. He was minister of state for foreign affairs in Afghanistan after the fall of the communists in 1992, serving in that role until the Taleban captured Kabul in September 1996.


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 21, 2009, 04:10:15 pm

SAS in Afghanistan now — Key

By MARTIN KAY - The Dominion Post | 2:43PM - Monday, 21 September 2009

New Zealand SAS troops have arrived in Afghanistan, Prime Minister John Key has confirmed.

At a press conference this afternoon, Mr Key said the troops left for Afghanistan last Wednesday.

Seventy-one SAS troops will be based there, but a slightly larger number are there now to help set up operations.

It is the fourth SAS deployment to Afghanistan. Troops will be there for 18 months in three rotations.

The troops will be under the control of the Nato international security assistance force, but NZ Defence Force chief Lieutenant-General Jerry Mateparae retains full command of the task group through the SAS commander in the field.

Mr Key said the SAS would operate only in Afghanistan, and would not take part in any anti-terrorist actions in neighbouring Pakistan.

He would not confirm where in Afghanistan the troops were operating.

Labour previously criticised the Government for its decision to send the SAS back to Afghanistan.


Post by: Shef on September 21, 2009, 08:59:20 pm
Aren't UN missions performed by he NZDF especially the SAS meant to be at need to know level for the general public of NZ, so why then is the prime minister announcing on the news that we are sending our SAS Troops (with the number going) to Afghanistan. He may not say where they are going but it would be pretty obvious for them to watch the big Airforce plane to land and watch the area they land in from a distance. Is this not a first for the Prime Minister of NZ to ever make an anoucment like this, we only found out that the latest VC recipient was awarded his medal, that he had been on a mission.

Post by: Lovelee on September 21, 2009, 09:04:39 pm
I think its funny that Key thought no one knew they had gone there - him sucking up to Obama 'n all.

I doubt theres any information in the press release that is true anyway - its not like Key to let out where they REALLY are and jeopardise their lives  :o

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 21, 2009, 09:18:02 pm
Aren't UN missions performed by he NZDF especially the SAS meant to be at need to know level for the general public of NZ, so why then is the prime minister announcing on the news that we are sending our SAS Troops (with the number going) to Afghanistan. He may not say where they are going but it would be pretty obvious for them to watch the big Airforce plane to land and watch the area they land in from a distance. Is this not a first for the Prime Minister of NZ to ever make an anoucment like this, we only found out that the latest VC recipient was awarded his medal, that he had been on a mission.

Don't be too hard on Jonkey.

He has only been the prime minister for less than a year, so he is naive about such matters.

Besides, he is off to the UN, so he needs to blow-arse about something before he goes.

The Yanks would most likely only blow the whistle on what the SAS were up to anyway, just like they did last time the SAS were in Afghanistan. Great friends, the Yanks....they are also pretty good at blowing away their allies through being too trigger happy.

Post by: Sir Blodsnogger on September 22, 2009, 05:49:02 am
Without the protection of the US of A ktj by now the sharia law would have demanded your tongue be cut out for all the lies you tell.

Post by: Lovelee on September 22, 2009, 09:43:14 am
That cannot be proven blod - its like saying the Japs would be here if it wasnt for the USA - thats only supposition.

Truth is Afghanistan will go down as another disaster for the US - like Vietnam & Iraq.

Our men there are endangered without Key letting out where they are, this is not our fight, its not even the US's fight.  They are like a bully - they will leave Afghanistan like Vietnam and Iraq, nations with no infrastructure left, people who hate each other with no real knowledge why - and more and more people hating the US.  These countries had little to begin with and after intrusion from the US - they have even less.

IMO we have the US to thank for the situation the world is in - I reckon they deserve everything they get.

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 22, 2009, 09:59:46 am
Might well be. But all the drawing tells me is that they are American Soldiers wearing a NZ armband, therefore it doesn't make any sense.

Maybe not to you, but to the average joe citizen they don't worry about it!

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 22, 2009, 10:05:24 am
That cannot be proven blod - its like saying the Japs would be here if it wasnt for the USA - thats only supposition.

Not actually the best example to use as they were well on their way here and were moving/ attacking fast it was lucky that they drew a stalemate at the coral sea and their attack force was forced back, up until then they had out matched the allies, and Kokoda wasn't an easy victory for the Aussies. I also have Japanese money that was minted for NZ when they got here and have seen money that was minted for when they invaded Australia.

Post by: Lovelee on September 22, 2009, 10:28:42 am
Its as irrelevant as it is suggesting that sharia law would be here if it wasnt for the US.  There is no proof.

The situation is generally thought of as being a failed war, and as every day passes it fails more.  The bullshit will begin when one of our men come home in a body bag - and we will proudly say he died for a good reason.  BS the death will be as a result if US stepping into yet another bully situation that they cannot back down from.  Not a good reason at all for any lives.

Post by: Crusader on September 22, 2009, 10:49:54 am
Its as irrelevant as it is suggesting that sharia law would be here if it wasnt for the US.  There is no proof.

The situation is generally thought of as being a failed war, and as every day passes it fails more.  The bullshit will begin when one of our men come home in a body bag - and we will proudly say he died for a good reason.  BS the death will be as a result if US stepping into yet another bully situation that they cannot back down from.  Not a good reason at all for any lives.

The thing is Lovelee, it wouldn't surprise me that those that went over there from NZ would have been very keen and eager to go. You don't just go through a SAS selection course to just sit around in safe little NZ.

Post by: Lovelee on September 22, 2009, 11:00:17 am
Of course they were happy to go.

The going or not going of them isnt an issue with me, its the bloody yanks and their need to create mayhem, kill and maim innocents etc - and cry poor us when they get hit by those they wage war upon.

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 22, 2009, 11:10:08 am
Its as irrelevant as it is suggesting that sharia law would be here if it wasnt for the US.  There is no proof.

The situation is generally thought of as being a failed war, and as every day passes it fails more.  The bullshit will begin when one of our men come home in a body bag - and we will proudly say he died for a good reason.  BS the death will be as a result if US stepping into yet another bully situation that they cannot back down from.  Not a good reason at all for any lives.

The thing is Lovelee, it wouldn't surprise me that those that went over there from NZ would have been very keen and eager to go. You don't just go through a SAS selection course to just sit around in safe little NZ.

Yes that chap who won the VC didn't get it for playing tiddly winks now did he!

Its as irrelevant as it is suggesting that sharia law would be here if it wasnt for the US.  There is no proof.

There is more proof that the Japanese were on their way, including reccon planes over a couple of our cities than there is proof that sharia is on the way, as I said not historically the best simialy(sp) to use.

Post by: Lovelee on September 22, 2009, 11:19:35 am
 ;D  thats OK Anfaol.  Ive made myself clear, I have no time for the US and their warmongering, their lying, their cover-ups, their lack of acceptance that they do kill and maim innocents, that when they have committed everything they have, they then want to drag everyone else into their cat fight.  They will lie to their own people about anything and everything, they have brainwashed many of their own, and would love to be able to brainwash the rest of the world.  They are no longer a respected power, and they are rapidly loosing the ability to claim they have any power.

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 22, 2009, 11:43:14 am
;D  thats OK Anfaol.  Ive made myself clear, I have no time for the US and their warmongering, their lying, their cover-ups, their lack of acceptance that they do kill and maim innocents, that when they have committed everything they have, they then want to drag everyone else into their cat fight.  They will lie to their own people about anything and everything, they have brainwashed many of their own, and would love to be able to brainwash the rest of the world.  They are no longer a respected power, and they are rapidly loosing the ability to claim they have any power.

I understand that, but my point was that to say the Japanese weren't going to attack or were not heading towards NZ is a bit naieve, because they actually were, Aust and NZ were next on their list after PNG and there is proof, a closer example would have been that Ho Che Minh (sp) was on his way.

Post by: Lovelee on September 22, 2009, 12:02:34 pm
;D  thats OK Anfaol.  Ive made myself clear, I have no time for the US and their warmongering, their lying, their cover-ups, their lack of acceptance that they do kill and maim innocents, that when they have committed everything they have, they then want to drag everyone else into their cat fight.  They will lie to their own people about anything and everything, they have brainwashed many of their own, and would love to be able to brainwash the rest of the world.  They are no longer a respected power, and they are rapidly loosing the ability to claim they have any power.

I understand that, but my point was that to say the Japanese weren't going to attack or were not heading towards NZ is a bit naieve, because they actually were, Aust and NZ were next on their list after PNG and there is proof, a closer example would have been that Ho Che Minh (sp) was on his way.

I didnt say they werent going to attack.  Im saying that the Japs didnt conquer us, so to say we are lucky, cos the japs nearly had us, cannot be proven.  While they were close, creating concern etc - it didnt eventuate into anything.  And personally, I cannot sit back and thank the yanks for that, they lied to their own people remember, so they could take their warmongering ideals to the world, they lied to the world over Iraq, so they could wipe out an entire infrastructure, kill and maim, rape, murder etc etc.  I sure as hell dont believe anything they come out with in relation to their aggression with others.

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 22, 2009, 12:24:20 pm

I didnt say they werent going to attack.  Im saying that the Japs didnt conquer us, so to say we are lucky, cos the japs nearly had us, cannot be proven.  While they were close, creating concern etc - it didnt eventuate into anything. 

because as I mentioned they ran into the Yanks in the Coral sea, then lost a number of their carriers at Midway, we were lucky that Coral Sea was a stalemate and that they were over confident at Midway also thanks to US intelligence (those words don't often fit together)!

Post by: Yak on September 22, 2009, 12:32:22 pm
;D  thats OK Anfaol.  Ive made myself clear, I have no time for the US and their warmongering, their lying, their cover-ups, their lack of acceptance that they do kill and maim innocents, that when they have committed everything they have, they then want to drag everyone else into their cat fight.  They will lie to their own people about anything and everything, they have brainwashed many of their own, and would love to be able to brainwash the rest of the world.  They are no longer a respected power, and they are rapidly loosing the ability to claim they have any power.

I understand that, but my point was that to say the Japanese weren't going to attack or were not heading towards NZ is a bit naieve, because they actually were, Aust and NZ were next on their list after PNG and there is proof, a closer example would have been that Ho Che Minh (sp) was on his way.

I didnt say they werent going to attack.  Im saying that the Japs didnt conquer us, so to say we are lucky, cos the japs nearly had us, cannot be proven.  While they were close, creating concern etc - it didnt eventuate into anything.  And personally, I cannot sit back and thank the yanks for that, they lied to their own people remember, so they could take their warmongering ideals to the world, they lied to the world over Iraq, so they could wipe out an entire infrastructure, kill and maim, rape, murder etc etc.  I sure as hell dont believe anything they come out with in relation to their aggression with others.

I dont think there is the slightest doubt that the yanks prevented the japs from invading Australia, then New Zealand.
Whether they did so out of altruism is moot, however........
Doesnt matter.  They prevented it.

Post by: Lovelee on September 22, 2009, 01:41:46 pm
I suspect it was US intelligence that burbled to the world that they have proof Iraq had WMD  ;D

Post by: Sir Blodsnogger on September 22, 2009, 03:29:30 pm
The tr uth is that without the US of A you would be talking with an arab accent right now lovelee.
Thank God of America. They protected us from the crazy communists, the Nazis, Japs and now the money crazed Arabs under the terrorists' direction.
Only ktj and people of his ilk who are underground whiteants trying to discredit  the US of A in west would say otherwise. They are cowards willing to to live in the affluence of america but speak treasonous poison against them

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 22, 2009, 04:49:43 pm

Did they teach you that at sunday school when you were a kid, Gommie?

Or do you learn that stuff at your weekly brainwashing sessions every Sunday morning?

NZ isn't even on the radar screens of the religious nutters in Afghanistan.

And as for WWII....the Yanks were quite happy to isolate themselves from the world and sit back while Nazi Germany rampaged all over Europe, AND sent commerce raiders to the South Pacific to attack merchant shipping, including NZ ships.

If the Japs hadn't attacked Pearl Harbour, the Yanks would have simply sat back and watched WWII without getting involved. And if Goering hadn't made the stuff-up of stopping the attacks on RAF bases and instead switched the Luftwaffe's attention to London, there is a very high chance the Luftwaffe would have gained the upper hand over the RAF and with mastery of the air, an invasion of the British Isles by the German Army would most likely have been successful. The Germans would then have been able to turn their FULL attention to the Soviet Union and would most likely have been them too and gained control of their vast raw materials. And if it hadn't been for the Jap attack on Pearl Harbour, the Yanks would have still sat back and just watched while the German Navy attacked shipping to and from Australia and New Zealand and crippled both countries in the process.

The American defence of South Pacific countries was all in the vein of self-interest....nothing more!

Post by: Lovelee on September 22, 2009, 05:28:26 pm
The tr uth is that without the US of A you would be talking with an arab accent right now lovelee.
Thank God of America. They protected us from the crazy communists, the Nazis, Japs and now the money crazed Arabs under the terrorists' direction.
Only ktj and people of his ilk who are underground whiteants trying to discredit  the US of A in west would say otherwise. They are cowards willing to to live in the affluence of america but speak treasonous poison against them

Its a bleeding shame that South Africa didnt get blown apart by the yanks - now that would be a country worth cleaning up.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 22, 2009, 05:32:06 pm


Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 22, 2009, 05:46:57 pm
The tr uth is that without the US of A you would be talking with an arab accent right now lovelee.

Like hell we would, America is the reason for the terrorists behaving the way they are.

Thank God of America. They protected us from the crazy communists,

No they didn't they drew with one lot and there were many other nations there as it was an UN sanctioned war and they got their arses whooped in Viet nam which was not UN sanctioned.

the Nazis, Japs

Again they weren't the only ones and they were lucky that they had natural resources, industry, numbers of man power and that that main land USA and its industry were not bombed or invaded. Germany, at least had far more advanced weaponry than the USA, Even Britian often had better equipment as well as experience and/ or took American made stuff and made it better!

Only ktj and people of his ilk who are underground whiteants trying to discredit  the US of A in west would say otherwise. They are cowards willing to to live in the affluence of america but speak treasonous poison against them

Last time I looked NZ was part of the British commonwealth there fore Britian and NZ are not part of or owned by the USA nor run by the USA so KTJ etc are not actually being treasonous against the USA, unless they are US citizens.

Post by: Sir Blodsnogger on September 23, 2009, 04:46:11 am

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Quote from: Sir Blodsnogger on Yesterday at 15:29:30
The tr uth is that without the US of A you would be talking with an arab accent right now lovelee.
Thank God of America. They protected us from the crazy communists, the Nazis, Japs and now the money crazed Arabs under the terrorists' direction.
Only ktj and people of his ilk who are underground whiteants trying to discredit  the US of A in west would say otherwise. They are cowards willing to to live in the affluence of america but speak treasonous poison against them

Its a bleeding shame that South Africa didnt get blown apart by the yanks - now that would be a country worth cleaning up.

Lovelee you never struck me as having anything against the natives oif South Africa. Do you suffer from the grande Rugby Malady?'

Post by: Sir Blodsnogger on September 23, 2009, 04:47:33 am
oh bugger how did lovelees peronal stuff get into my last reply  ???

Post by: Sir Blodsnogger on September 23, 2009, 04:50:01 am
The trouble with wars is that wimmen have got too much top say about them.
In heaven it will be better.
Wimmen are not allowed to speak there -it will be much quieter.

Post by: Lovelee on September 23, 2009, 08:43:55 am
Blod - heaven doesnt exist - when you die - there will be darkness and nothing.  You wont hear your beloved mens voices either. You will just be bullshit dust, thats all. :)

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 23, 2009, 09:42:37 am
The trouble with wars is that wimmen have got too much top say about them.
In heaven it will be better.
Wimmen are not allowed to speak there -it will be much quieter.

You know gommie, before christianity came along, Celtic women use to train the young warriors how to fight and Celtic women also fought on the field of battle and tho the romans feared the Celtic men they were more scared of the Celtic women as they were just as war like, then came the Christian law of the Innocents  697 AD banning Women from fighting on the battlefield or from commanding warriors.

Women are now allowed to become soldiers and it seem things have gone full circle as we ie society throws off our constrictive christian beliefs!

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 23, 2009, 12:35:17 pm


Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 23, 2009, 12:47:36 pm


And Helen Clark lead Labour Govtments ;D

Post by: Sir Blodsnogger on September 23, 2009, 09:46:19 pm
Our secret weapom has to be that obnoxious little dork Paul on TV One breakfast show.
The islasmoes would give up in horrir ifhe smiled at them

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 24, 2009, 09:44:34 am
Our secret weapom has to be that obnoxious little dork Paul on TV One breakfast show.
The islasmoes would give up in horrir ifhe smiled at them

So why aren't you heading over to Afghanistan gommie?

Post by: Sir Blodsnogger on September 24, 2009, 11:09:02 am
They sent me back here on a one way ticket. ha

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 24, 2009, 01:37:57 pm


Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 24, 2009, 03:48:35 pm
They sent me back here on a one way ticket. ha

They didn't want you eh?!

Post by: Sir Blodsnogger on September 24, 2009, 05:39:15 pm
You are not so thick after all faola ;D

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 25, 2009, 12:23:44 am


Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 25, 2009, 09:18:54 am
You are not so thick after all faola ;D

Am brighter than you it would seem, and at least I know correct history of the Wars. :P

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 25, 2009, 09:29:31 am
You are not so thick after all faola ;D

And it would seem sutlity is lost on you gommie, there was more to my comment than what you read! :P ;D

They sent me back here on a one way ticket. ha

They didn't want you eh?!

Post by: Sir Blodsnogger on September 25, 2009, 10:32:47 am
If you believe that faol me'boyo you have to be either a super clever idiot or an idotic clever one.

I dont think that is so but what do you choose?

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 25, 2009, 12:29:02 pm
If you believe that faol me'boyo you have to be either a super clever idiot or an idotic clever one.

I dont think that is so but what do you choose?

Neither, As I'm not some religious brain washed moron who asks stupid questions that upset women! ;D

Post by: Sir Blodsnogger on September 25, 2009, 04:09:58 pm
How would you know you skirt wearing dirk wielding roonie?

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 25, 2009, 06:22:13 pm
How would you know you skirt wearing dirk wielding roonie?

Easy, I know I'm not a religious brain washed moron who asks stupid questions that upset women, cos it weren't me who asked why do women swear when giving birth! And a kilt (which is actually old english for pleat, is not a skirt, I would think many Scots who wear one would take your comment as racist gommie! In fact I know they would, it would seem you are just like you claim magpie is.

Oh and I wield a 33" bladed claidh mhor and .75 calibre firelock with 17" bayonet as well as a 17" bladed biodag and a 20" dia Targaid so shows how much you know gommie!

I'll leave it at that, I'm sure you'll come back looking for the last word and frothing at the mouth as per usual try to be a little less racists in your next comments to me goms, doubt you can!

Post by: DidiMau69 on September 25, 2009, 06:56:56 pm
Oh and I wield a 33" bladed claidh mhor and .75 calibre firelock with 17" bayonet as well as a 17" bladed biodag and a 20" dia Targaid so shows how much you know gommie!

.75 cal, bloody hell you must have cast iron shoulders.

I've fired a .50 cal Browning MG, leaning into it and gripping both handles, it still threw me all around the bunker. Mind you after a few months on C rations my weight was down to just over 10st.

I should subtly ask you which side you were on at Culloden. My family are a sept of Clan MacDonald.

You may also be interested to know that there is a family in Hastings with the unusual hyphenated surname Campbell-MacDonald. I don't know how they live with themselves!

Post by: Sir Blodsnogger on September 26, 2009, 06:39:59 am
C'mon faol you twit. Scots in skirts is as far from a racist jibe as saying frenchmen wear girls underwear. That is called a sexist jibe.
Go do handstands in your skirt for ten minutes on main street at twelve today to show them how daft you be.
Also your wee 33inch claide mhor would stand no chance against my sjambok you plastic englisham.     ;D

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 26, 2009, 07:25:17 pm
Oh and I wield a 33" bladed claidh mhor and .75 calibre firelock with 17" bayonet as well as a 17" bladed biodag and a 20" dia Targaid so shows how much you know gommie!

.75 cal, bloody hell you must have cast iron shoulders.

I've fired a .50 cal Browning MG, leaning into it and gripping both handles, it still threw me all around the bunker. Mind you after a few months on C rations my weight was down to just over 10st.

I should subtly ask you which side you were on at Culloden. My family are a sept of Clan MacDonald.

You may also be interested to know that there is a family in Hastings with the unusual hyphenated surname Campbell-MacDonald. I don't know how they live with themselves!

My fathers mother was a Wilkie so I'm  a member of Clan Donald (Mac Donald) NZ my wife has Campbell blood but just a smidge we tease her about it, and my mum who has Gordon ties, my wife also has Keith ties.

We were on Both the Chief of the Gordons was a Hanoverian supporter, but his Mother (who was English and a Proddy) and his brothers were on the Jacobite side!

Post by: Lovelee on September 26, 2009, 09:10:39 pm
Weve just had a friend here whose son has just gone to Afghanistan.  His second trip.  You can guess which lot hes over there with.
Listening to her, her retelling situations he was in last time, hearing of course her own fears for him.  He isnt allowed to contact his family at home but he does at an exorbitant ammount to ring her, always at 1.30pm here. Her brother, his uncle begged him not to go this time.  He is a long serving member of the NZ Army, she listened to him telling his nephew that it isnt the place for NZ to be, that the US are lost within Afghanistan, and those countries who go in as support for the US will be the ones who suffer this time.
Strengthened my resolve against our inclusion in this failure.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 26, 2009, 09:17:29 pm

War Is Peace

posted September 17, 2009 | TomDispatch.com (http://www.tomdispatch.com/)

Is America Hooked on War?

By Tom Engelhardt

"War is peace" was one of the memorable slogans on the facade of the Ministry of Truth, Minitrue in "Newspeak," the language invented by George Orwell in 1948 for his dystopian novel 1984. Some 60 years later, a quarter-century after Orwell's imagined future bit the dust, the phrase is, in a number of ways, eerily applicable to the United States.

Last week, for instance, a New York Times front-page story by Eric Schmitt and David Sanger was headlined (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/11/world/asia/11military.html) "Obama Is Facing Doubts in Party on Afghanistan, Troop Buildup at Issue." It offered a modern version of journalistic Newspeak.

"Doubts," of course, imply dissent, and in fact just the week before there had been a major break in Washington's ranks, though not among Democrats. The conservative columnist George Will wrote a piece offering blunt advice to the Obama administration, summed up in its headline (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/31/AR2009083102912.html?hpid=opinionsbox1): "Time to Get Out of Afghanistan." In our age of political and audience fragmentation and polarization, think of this as the Afghan version of Vietnam's Cronkite moment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Cronkite#Vietnam_War).

The Times report on those Democratic doubts, on the other hand, represented a more typical Washington moment. Ignored, for instance, was Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold's end-of-August call (http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/08/25-2) for the president to develop an Afghan withdrawal timetable. The focus of the piece was instead an upcoming speech by Michigan Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. He was, Schmitt and Sanger reported, planning to push back against well-placed leaks (in the Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/04/us/politics/04military.html), among other places) indicating that war commander General Stanley McChrystal was urging the president to commit 15,000 to 45,000 more American troops to the Afghan War.

Here, according to the two reporters, was the gist of Levin's message about what everyone agrees (http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSTRE57J5A120090823) is a "deteriorating" U.S. position: "[H]e was against sending more American combat troops to Afghanistan until the United States speeded up the training and equipping of more Afghan security forces."

Think of this as the line in the sand (http://news.antiwar.com/2009/09/14/battle-lines-shaping-up-in-congress-for-fight-over-afghan-policy/) within the Democratic Party, and be assured that the debates within the halls of power over McChrystal's troop requests and Levin's proposal are likely to be fierce this fall. Thought about for a moment, however, both positions can be summed up with the same word: More.

The essence of this "debate" comes down to: More of them versus more of us (and keep in mind that more of them — an expanded training program for the Afghan National Army — actually means more of "us" in the form of extra trainers (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/15/AR2009091501173.html?hpid=topnews) and advisors). In other words, however contentious the disputes in Washington, however dismally (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/09/01/cnn-poll-afghanistan-war-opposition-at-all-time-high/) the public now views the war, however much the president's war coalition might threaten to crack open, the only choices will be between more and more.

No alternatives are likely to get a real hearing. Few alternative policy proposals even exist because alternatives that don't fit with "more" have ceased to be part of Washington's war culture. No serious thought, effort, or investment goes into them. Clearly referring to Will's column, one of the unnamed "senior officials" who swarm through our major newspapers made the administration's position clear, saying sardonically, according to (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/07/AR2009090702403.html?hpid=topnews) the Washington Post, "I don't anticipate that the briefing books for the [administration] principals on these debates over the next weeks and months will be filled with submissions from opinion columnists... I do anticipate they will be filled with vigorous discussion... of how successful we've been to date."

State of War

Because the United States does not look like a militarized country, it's hard for Americans to grasp that Washington is a war capital, that the United States is a war state, that it garrisons (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2008/08/americas-unwelcome-advances) much of the planet, and that the norm for us is to be at war somewhere at any moment. Similarly, we've become used to the idea that, when various forms of force (or threats of force) don't work, our response, as in Afghanistan, is to recalibrate and apply some alternate version of the same under a new or rebranded name — the hot one now being "counterinsurgency" or COIN — in a marginally different manner. When it comes to war, as well as preparations for war, more is now generally the order of the day.

This wasn't always the case. The early Republic that the most hawkish conservatives love to cite was a land whose leaders looked with suspicion on the very idea of a standing army. They would have viewed our hundreds of global garrisons, our vast network of spies, agents, Special Forces teams, surveillance operatives, interrogators, rent-a-guns, and mercenary corporations, as well as our staggering Pentagon budget and the constant future-war gaming and planning that accompanies it, with genuine horror.

The question is: What kind of country do we actually live in when the so-called U.S. Intelligence Community (http://www.intelligence.gov/index.shtml) (IC) lists 16 intelligence services ranging from Air Force Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency to the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Security Agency? What could "intelligence" mean once spread over 16 sizeable, bureaucratic, often competing outfits with a cumulative 2009 budget (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/16/AR2008071601444.html) estimated at more than $55 billion (a startling percentage of which is controlled by the Pentagon)? What exactly is so intelligent about all that? And why does no one think it even mildly strange or in any way out of the ordinary?

What does it mean when the most military-obsessed administration in our history, which, year after year, submitted ever more bloated Pentagon budgets to Congress, is succeeded by one headed by a president who ran, at least partially, on an antiwar platform, and who has now submitted an even larger Pentagon budget (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175045)? What does this tell you about Washington and about the viability of non-militarized alternatives to the path George W. Bush took? What does it mean when the new administration, surveying nearly eight years and two wars' worth of disasters, decides to expand (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/21/world/21military.html) the U.S. Armed Forces rather than shrink the U.S. global mission?

What kind of a world do we inhabit when, with an official unemployment rate of 9.7% and an underemployment rate of 16.8%, the American taxpayer is financing the building of a three-story, exceedingly permanent-looking $17 million troop barracks (http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/08/06/barracks-and-burger-king-u-s-builds-a-supersized-base-in-afgh/) at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan? This, in turn, is part of a taxpayer-funded $220 million upgrade of the base that includes new "water treatment plants, headquarters buildings, fuel farms, and power generating plants." And what about the U.S. air base built at (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/world/middleeast/09bases.html) Balad, north of Baghdad, that now has 15 bus routes, two fire stations, two water treatment plants, two sewage treatment plants, two power plants, a water bottling plant, and the requisite set (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175036/pratap_chatterjee_inheriting_halliburton_s_army) of fast-food outlets, PXes, and so on, as well as air traffic levels sometimes compared to (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/03/AR2006020302994_pf.html) those at Chicago's O'Hare International?

What kind of American world are we living in when a plan to withdraw most U.S. troops from Iraq involves the removal of more than 1.5 million pieces (http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=8448762) of equipment? Or in which the possibility of withdrawal leads the Pentagon to issue (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/07/AR2009090702242.html) nearly billion-dollar contracts (new ones!) to increase the number of private security contractors in that country?

What do you make of a world in which the U.S. has robot assassins (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175056) in the skies over its war zones, 24/7, and the "pilots" who control them from thousands of miles away are ready on a moment's notice to launch missiles — "Hellfire" missiles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGM-114_Hellfire) at that — into Pashtun peasant villages in the wild, mountainous borderlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan? What does it mean when American pilots can be at war "in" Afghanistan, 9 to 5, by remote control, while their bodies remain at a base outside Las Vegas and then can head home (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/men/article5944961.ece) past a sign that warns them to drive carefully because this is "the most dangerous part of your day"?

What does it mean when, for our security and future safety, the Pentagon funds the wildest ideas imaginable for developing high-tech weapons systems, many of which sound as if they came straight out of the pages of sci-fi novels? Take, for example, Boeing's advanced coordinated system (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/12/business/12combat.html) of hand-held drones, robots, sensors, and other battlefield surveillance equipment slated for seven Army brigades within the next two years at a cost of $2 billion and for the full Army by 2025; or the Next Generation Bomber (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/03/dont-call-it-a/), an advanced "platform" slated for 2018; or a truly futuristic bomber (http://www.airforcetimes.com/community/opinion/airforce_backtalk_newbomber_080211/), "a suborbital semi-spacecraft able to move at hypersonic speed along the edge of the atmosphere," for 2035? What does it mean about our world when those people in our government peering deepest into a blue-skies future are planning ways to send armed "platforms" up into those skies and kill more than a quarter century from now?

And do you ever wonder about this: If such weaponry is being endlessly developed for our safety and security, and that of our children and grandchildren, why is it that one of our most successful businesses involves the sale of the same weaponry to other countries? Few Americans are comfortable thinking about this, which may explain why global-arms-trade pieces don't tend to make it onto the front pages of our newspapers. Recently, the Times Pentagon correspondent Thom Shanker, for instance, wrote (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/07/world/07weapons.html) a piece on the subject which appeared inside the paper on a quiet Labor Day. "Despite Slump, U.S. Role as Top Arms Supplier Grows" was the headline. Perhaps Shanker, too, felt uncomfortable with his subject, because he included the following generic description: "In the highly competitive global arms market, nations vie for both profit and political influence through weapons sales, in particular to developing nations..." The figures he cited from a new congressional study of that "highly competitive" market told a different story: The U.S., with $37.8 billion in arms sales (up $12.4 billion from 2007), controlled 68.4% of the global arms market in 2008. Highly competitively speaking, Italy came "a distant second" with $3.7 billion. In sales to "developing nations," the U.S. inked $29.6 billion in weapons agreements or 70.1% of the market. Russia was a vanishingly distant second at $3.3 billion or 7.8% of the market. In other words, with 70% of the market, the U.S. actually has what, in any other field, would qualify as a monopoly position — in this case, in things that go boom in the night. With the American car industry in a ditch, it seems that this (along with Hollywood films that go boom in the night) is what we now do best, as befits a war, if not warrior, state. Is that an American accomplishment you're comfortable with?

On the day I'm writing this piece, "Names of the Dead," a feature which appears almost daily in my hometown newspaper, records the death of an Army private from DeKalb, Illinois, in Afghanistan. Among the spare facts offered: he was 20 years old, which means he was probably born not long before the First Gulf War was launched in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. If you include that war, which never really ended — low-level U.S. military actions against Saddam Hussein's regime continued until the invasion of 2003 — as well as U.S. actions in the former Yugoslavia and Somalia, not to speak of the steady warfare underway since November 2001, in his short life, there was hardly a moment in which the U.S. wasn't engaged in military operations somewhere on the planet (invariably thousands of miles from home). If that private left a one-year-old baby behind in the States, and you believe the statements (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175111/measuring_success_in_afghanistan) of various military officials, that child could pass her tenth birthday before the war in which her father died comes to an end. Given the record of these last years, and the present military talk about being better prepared for "the next war," she could reach 2025, the age when she, too, might join the military without ever spending a warless day. Is that the future you had in mind?

Consider this: War is now the American way, even if peace is what most Americans experience while their proxies (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175034) fight in distant lands. Any serious alternative to war, which means our "security," is increasingly inconceivable. In Orwellian terms then, war is indeed peace in the United States and peace, war.

American Newspeak

Newspeak, as Orwell imagined it, was an ever more constricted form of English that would, sooner or later, make "all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended," he wrote in an appendix to his novel, "that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought... should be literally unthinkable."

When it comes to war (and peace), we live in a world of American Newspeak in which alternatives to a state of war are not only ever more unacceptable, but ever harder to imagine. If war is now our permanent situation, in good Orwellian fashion it has also been sundered from a set of words that once accompanied it.

It lacks, for instance, "victory." After all, when was the last time the U.S. actually won a war (unless you include our "victories" over small countries incapable of defending themselves like the tiny Caribbean Island of Grenada in 1983 or powerless Panama in 1989)? The smashing "victory" over Saddam Hussein in the First Gulf War only led to a stop-and-start conflict now almost two decades old that has proved a catastrophe. Keep heading backward through the Vietnam and Korean Wars and the last time the U.S. military was truly victorious was in 1945.

But achieving victory no longer seems to matter. War American-style is now conceptually unending, as are preparations for it. When George W. Bush proclaimed a Global War on Terror (aka World War IV (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/2251/which_war_is_this_anyway_)), conceived as a "generational struggle" like the Cold War, he caught a certain American reality. In a sense, the ongoing war system can't absorb victory. Any such endpoint might indeed prove to be a kind of defeat.

No longer has war anything to do with the taking of territory either, or even with direct conquest. War is increasingly a state of being, not a process with a beginning, an end, and an actual geography.

Similarly drained of its traditional meaning has been the word "security" — though it has moved from a state of being (secure) to an eternal, immensely profitable process (http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/2006-09-10-security-industry_x.htm) whose endpoint is unachievable. If we ever decided we were either secure enough, or more willing to live without the unreachable idea of total security, the American way of war and the national security state would lose much of their meaning. In other words, in our world, security is insecurity.

As for "peace," war's companion and theoretical opposite, though still used in official speeches, it, too, has been emptied of meaning and all but discredited. Appropriately enough, diplomacy, that part of government which classically would have been associated with peace, or at least with the pursuit of the goals of war by other means, has been dwarfed by, subordinated to, or even subsumed by the Pentagon. In recent years, the U.S. military with its vast funds has taken over, or encroached upon, a range of activities that once would have been left to an underfunded State Department, especially humanitarian aid operations, foreign aid, and what's now called nation-building. (On this subject, check out Stephen Glain's recent essay, "The American Leviathan" (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090928/glain) in the Nation magazine.)

Diplomacy itself has been militarized and, like our country, is now hidden behind massive fortifications (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174789/the_mother_ship_lands_in_iraq), and has been placed under Lord-of-the-Flies-style (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/02/state-department-probing_n_275755.html) guard. The State Department's embassies are now bunkers (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175091/chalmers_johnson_baseless_expenditures) and military-style headquarters for the prosecution of war policies; its officials, when enough of them can be found, are now sent out into the provinces in war zones to do "civilian" things.

And peace itself? Simply put, there's no money in it. Of the nearly trillion dollars the U.S. invests in war and war-related activities, nothing goes to peace. No money, no effort, no thought. The very idea that there might be peaceful alternatives to endless war is so discredited that it's left to utopians, bleeding hearts, and feathered doves (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175044). As in Orwell's Newspeak, while "peace" remains with us, it's largely been shorn of its possibilities. No longer the opposite of war, it's just a rhetorical flourish embedded, like one of our reporters, in Warspeak.

What a world might be like in which we began not just to withdraw our troops from one war to fight another, but to seriously scale down the American global mission, close those hundreds of bases — recently, there were almost 300 of them (http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=8448762), macro to micro, in Iraq alone — and bring our military home is beyond imagining. To discuss such obviously absurd possibilities makes you an apostate to America's true religion and addiction, which is force. However much it might seem that most of us are peaceably watching our TV sets or computer screens or iPhones, we Americans are also — always — marching as to war. We may not all bother to attend the church (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175110/william_astore_american_militarism_on_steroids) of our new religion, but we all tithe. We all partake. In this sense, we live peaceably in a state of war.

• Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project (http://www.americanempireproject.com/), runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture (http://www.amazon.com/dp/155849586X/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20), a history of the Cold War and beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1558495061/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20). He also edited The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1844672573/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20) (Verso, 2008), an alternative history of the mad Bush years.


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 26, 2009, 10:11:57 pm

Ann Jones — Us or Them in Afghanistan?

posted September 20, 2009 | TomDispatch.com (http://www.tomdispatch.com/)

In Washington, calls (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/11/world/asia/11military.html) are increasing, especially among anxious Democrats (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KI17Df01.html), for the president to commit to training ever more Afghan troops and police rather than sending (http://washingtonindependent.com/59123/afghanistan-troop-request-may-contain-political-fail-safe) in more American troops (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/16/world/asia/16mullen.html). Huge numbers for imagined future Afghan army and police forces are now bandied about in Congress and the media — though no one stops to wonder what Afghanistan, the fourth poorest (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175111/measuring_success_in_afghanistan) country on the planet, might actually be like with a combined security force of 400,000. Not a "democracy," you can put your top dollar on that. And with a gross national product of only $23 billion (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/31/AR2009083102912.html?hpid=opinionsbox1) (a striking percentage of which comes from the drug trade) and an annual government budget of only about $600 million (http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n13/print/stew01_.html), it's not one that could faintly maintain such a force either. Put bluntly, if U.S. officials were capable of building such a force, a version of Colin Powell's Pottery Barn rule (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pottery_Barn_rule) for Iraq would kick in and we, the American taxpayers, would own it for all eternity.

On the other hand, not to worry. As Ann Jones makes clear in her revelatory piece below, the odds on such an Afghan force ever being built must be passingly close to nil. Such a program is no more likely (http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/09/16/a_weapons_system_based_on_wishful_thinking/) to be successful than the massively expensive Afghan aid and reconstruction program has been. In fact, for all the talk about the subject here, it's remarkable how little we actually know about the staggering expensive American and NATO effort to train the Afghan army and police. Stop and think for a moment. When was the last time you read in any U.S. paper a striking account, or any account for that matter, in which a reporter actually bothered to observe the training process in action? Think how useful that might have been for the present debate in Washington.

Fortunately, TomDispatch is ready to remedy this. Site regular Jones, who first went to Afghanistan in 2002 and, in an elegant memoir, Kabul in Winter (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0312426593/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20), has vividly described her years working with Afghan women, spent time this July visiting U.S. training programs for both the Afghan army and police. She offers an eye-opening, on-the-spot look at certain realities which turn the "debate" in Washington inside out and upside down.

— Tom Engelhardt

Meet the Afghan Army

Is It a Figment of Washington's Imagination?

By Ann Jones

The big Afghanistan debate in Washington is not over whether more troops are needed, but just who they should be: Americans or Afghans — Us or Them. Having just spent time in Afghanistan seeing how things stand, I wouldn't bet on Them.

Frankly, I wouldn't bet on Us either. In eight years, American troops have worn out their welcome. Their very presence now incites opposition, but that's another story. It's Them — the Afghans — I want to talk about.

Afghans are Afghans. They have their own history, their own culture, their own habitual ways of thinking and behaving, all complicated by a modern experience of decades of war, displacement, abject poverty, and incessant meddling by foreign governments near and far — of which the United States has been the most powerful and persistent. Afghans do not think or act like Americans. Yet Americans in power refuse to grasp that inconvenient point.

In the heat of this summer, I went out to the training fields near Kabul where Afghan army recruits are put through their paces, and it was quickly evident just what's getting lost in translation. Our trainers, soldiers from the Illinois National Guard, were masterful. Professional and highly skilled, they were dedicated to carrying out their mission — and doing the job well. They were also big, strong, camouflaged, combat-booted, supersized American men, their bodies swollen by flak jackets and lashed with knives, handguns, and god only knows what else. Any American could be proud of their commitment to tough duty.

The Afghans were puny by comparison: Hundreds of little Davids to the overstuffed American Goliaths training them. Keep in mind: Afghan recruits come from a world of desperate poverty. They are almost uniformly malnourished and underweight. Many are no bigger than I am (5'4" and thin) — and some probably not much stronger. Like me, many sag under the weight of a standard-issue flack jacket.

Their American trainers spoke of "upper body strength deficiency" and prescribed pushups because their trainees buckle under the backpacks filled with 50 pounds of equipment and ammo they are expected to carry. All this material must seem absurd to men whose fathers and brothers, wearing only the old cotton shirts and baggy pants of everyday life and carrying battered Russian Kalashnikov rifles, defeated the Red Army two decades ago. American trainers marvel that, freed from heavy equipment and uniforms, Afghan soldiers can run through the mountains all day — as the Taliban guerrillas in fact do with great effect — but the U.S. military is determined to train them for another style of war.

Still, the new recruits turn out for training in the blistering heat in this stony desert landscape wearing, beneath their heavy uniforms, the smart red, green, and black warm-up outfits intended to encourage them to engage in off-duty exercise. American trainers recognize that recruits regularly wear all their gear at once for fear somebody will steal anything left behind in the barracks, but they take this overdressing as a sign of how much Afghans love the military. My own reading, based on my observations of Afghan life during the years I've spent in that country, is this: It's a sign of how little they trust one another, or the Americans who gave them the snazzy suits. I think it also indicates the obvious: that these impoverished men in a country without work have joined the Afghan National Army for what they can get out of it (and keep or sell) — and that doesn't include democracy or glory.

In the current policy debate about the Afghan War in Washington, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin wants the Afghans to defend their country. Senator John McCain, the top Republican on the committee, agrees but says they need even more help from even more Americans. The common ground — the sacred territory President Obama gropes for — is that, whatever else happens, the U.S. must speed up the training of "the Afghan security forces."

American military planners and policymakers already proceed as if, with sufficient training, Afghans can be transformed into scale-model, wind-up American Marines. That is not going to happen. Not now. Not ever. No matter how many of our leaders concur that it must happen — and ever faster.

"Basic Warrior Training"

So who are these security forces? They include the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP). International forces and private contractors have been training Afghan recruits for both of them since 2001. In fact, the determination of Western military planners to create a national army and police force has been so great that some seem to have suppressed for years the reports of Canadian soldiers who witnessed (http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/abuse+silence+exposed/2010032/story.html) members of the Afghan security forces engaging in a fairly common pastime, sodomizing young boys.

Current training and mentoring is provided by the U.S., Great Britain, France, Canada, Romania, Poland, Mongolia, New Zealand, and Australia, as well as by the private for-profit contractors MPRI (http://www.mpri.com/esite/index.php/content/about/mpri_international_group/), KBR (http://www.kbr.com/default.aspx) (formerly a division of Halliburton), Pulau (http://www.pulau.com/), Paravant, and RONCO (http://www.roncoconsulting.com/).

Almost eight years and counting since the "mentoring" process began, officers at the Kabul Military Training Center report (http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=dba_1188209682) that the army now numbers between 88,000 and 92,000 soldiers, depending on who you talk to; and the basic training course financed and led by Americans, called "Basic Warrior Training," is turning out 28,800 new soldiers every year, according to a Kabul Military Training Center "fact sheet." The current projected "end strength" for the ANA, to be reached in December 2011, is 134,000 men; but Afghan officers told me they're planning for a force of 200,000, while the Western press (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23113) often cites 240,000 as the final figure.

The number 400,000 (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aOsI6x5z.3b0) is often mentioned as the supposed end-strength quota for the combined security forces — an army of 240,000 soldiers (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/16/world/asia/16mullen.html) and a police force with 160,000 men. Yet Afghan National Police officials also speak of a far more inflated figure, 250,000, and they claim that 149,000 men (http://www.fpri.org/enotes/200906.legon.afghannationalpolice.html) have already been trained. Police training has always proven problematic, however, in part because, from the start, the European allies fundamentally disagreed with the Bush administration about what the role of the Afghan police should be. Germany initiated the training of what it saw as an unarmed force that would direct traffic, deter crime, and keep civic order for the benefit of the civilian population. The U.S. took over in 2003, handed the task off to a private for-profit military contractor, DynCorp (http://www.dyn-intl.com/search.aspx?search=Afghanistan&Search.x=0&Search.y=0), and proceeded to produce a heavily armed, undisciplined, and thoroughly venal paramilitary force despised by Kabulis and feared by Afghan civilians in the countryside.

Contradicting that widespread public view, an Afghan commanding officer of the ANP assured me that today the police are trained as police, not as a paramilitary auxiliary of the ANA. "But policing is different in Afghanistan," he said, because the police operate in active war zones.

Washington sends mixed messages on this subject. It farms out responsibility for the ANP to a private contractor that hires as mentors retired American law enforcement officers — a Kentucky state trooper, a Texas county lawman, a North Carolina cop, and so on. Yet Washington policymakers continue to couple the police with the army as "the Afghan security forces" — the most basic police rank is "soldier" — in a merger that must influence what DynCorp puts in its training syllabus. At the Afghan National Police training camp outside Kabul, I watched a squad of trainees learn (reluctantly) how to respond to a full-scale ambush. Though they were armed only with red rubber Kalashnikovs, the exercise looked to me much like the military maneuvers I'd witnessed at the army training camp.

Like army training, police training, too, was accelerated months ago to insure "security" during the run-up to the presidential election. With that goal in mind, DynCorp mentors shrunk the basic police training course from eight weeks to three, after which the police were dispatched to villages all across the country, including areas controlled by the Taliban. After the election, the surviving short-course police "soldiers" were to be brought back to Kabul for the rest of the basic training program. There's no word yet on how many returned.

You have to wonder about the wisdom of rushing out this half-baked product. How would you feel if the police in your community were turned loose, heavily armed, after three weeks of training? And how would you feel if you were given a three-week training course with a rubber gun and then dispatched, with a real one, to defend your country?

Training security forces is not cheap. So far, the estimated cost of training and mentoring the police since 2001 is at least $10 billion (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200909u/afghanistan-police). Any reliable figure on the cost of training and mentoring the Afghan army since 2001 is as invisible as the army itself. But the U.S. currently spends (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23113) some $4 billion a month on military operations in Afghanistan.

The Invisible Men

What is there to show for all this remarkably expensive training? Although in Washington they may talk about the 90,000 soldiers (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204731804574384981877588144.html?mod=googlenews_wsj) in the Afghan National Army, no one has reported actually seeing such an army anywhere in Afghanistan. When 4,000 U.S. Marines were sent into Helmand Province in July to take on the Taliban in what is considered one of its strongholds, accompanying them were only about 600 Afghan security forces, some of whom were police. Why, you might ask, didn't the ANA, 90,000 strong after eight years of training and mentoring, handle Helmand on its own? No explanation has been offered. American and NATO officers often complain that Afghan army units are simply not ready to "operate independently," but no one ever speaks to the simple question: Where are they?

My educated guess is that such an army simply does not exist. It may well be true that Afghan men have gone through some version of "Basic Warrior Training" 90,000 times or more. When I was teaching in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2006, I knew men who repeatedly went through ANA training to get the promised Kalashnikov and the pay. Then they went home for a while and often returned some weeks later to enlist again under a different name.

In a country where 40% of men are unemployed, joining the ANA for 10 weeks is the best game in town. It relieves the poverty of many families every time the man of the family goes back to basic training, but it's a needlessly complicated way to unintentionally deliver such minimal humanitarian aid. Some of these circulating soldiers are aging former mujahidin — the Islamist fundamentalists the U.S. once paid to fight the Soviets — and many are undoubtedly Taliban.

American trainers have taken careful note of the fact that, when ANA soldiers were given leave after basic training to return home with their pay, they generally didn't come back. To foil paycheck scams and decrease soaring rates of desertion, they recently devised a money-transfer system that allows the soldiers to send pay home without ever leaving their base. That sounds like a good idea, but like many expensive American solutions to Afghan problems, it misses the point. It's not just the money the soldier wants to transfer home, it's himself as well.

Earlier this year, the U.S. training program became slightly more compelling with the introduction of a U.S.-made weapon, the M-16 rifle, which was phased in over four months as a replacement for the venerable Kalashnikov. Even U.S. trainers admit that, in Afghanistan, the Kalashnikov is actually the superior weapon. Light and accurate, it requires no cleaning even in the dust of the high desert, and every man and boy already knows it well. The strange and sensitive M-16, on the other hand, may be more accurate at slightly greater distances, but only if a soldier can keep it clean, while managing to adjust and readjust its notoriously sensitive sights. The struggling soldiers of the ANA may not ace that test, but now that the U.S. military has generously passed on its old M-16s to Afghans, it can buy new ones at taxpayer expense, a prospect certain to gladden the heart of any arms manufacturer. (Incidentally, thanks must go to the Illinois National Guard for risking their lives to make possible such handsome corporate profits.)

As for the police, U.S.-funded training offers a similar revolving door. In Afghanistan, however, it is far more dangerous to be a policeman than a soldier. While soldiers on patrol can slip away, policemen stuck at their posts are killed almost every day. Assigned in small numbers to staff small-town police stations or highway checkpoints, they are sitting ducks for Taliban fighters. As representatives of the now thoroughly discredited government of President Hamid Karzai, the hapless police make handy symbolic targets. British commanders in Helmand province estimated (http://www.fpri.org/enotes/200906.legon.afghannationalpolice.html) that 60% of Afghan police are on drugs — and little wonder why.

In the Pashtun provinces of southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban is strong, recruiting men for the Afghan National Police is a "problem," as an ANP commander told me. Consequently, non-Pashtun police trainees of Hazara, Tajik, Uzbek, or other ethnic backgrounds are dispatched to maintain order in Pashtun territory. They might as well paint targets on their foreheads. The police who accompanied the U.S. Marines into Helmand Province reportedly refused to leave their heavily armed mentors to take up suicidal posts in provincial villages. Some police and army soldiers, when asked by reporters, claimed to be "visiting" Helmand province only for "vacation." (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/world/asia/23marines.html)

Training Day

In many districts, the police recently supplemented their low pay and demonstrated allegiance to local warlords by stuffing ballot boxes for President Karzai in the presidential election. Consider that but one more indication — like the defection of those great Islamist fundamentalist mujahidin allies the U.S. sponsored in the anti-Soviet jihad of the 1980s who are now fighting with the Taliban — that no amount of American training, mentoring, or cash will determine who or what Afghans will fight for, if indeed they fight at all.

Afghans are world famous fighters, in part because they have a knack for gravitating to the winning side, and they're ready to change sides with alacrity until they get it right. Recognizing that Afghans back a winner, U.S. military strategists are now banking on a counterinsurgency strategy that seeks to "clear, hold, and build" — that is, to stick around long enough to win the Afghans over. But it's way too late for that to work. These days, U.S. troops sticking around look ever more like a foreign occupying army and, to the Taliban, like targets.

Recently Karen DeYoung noted (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/01/AR2009090103908_pf.html) in the Washington Post that the Taliban now regularly use very sophisticated military techniques — "as if the insurgents had attended something akin to the U.S. Army's Ranger school, which teaches soldiers how to fight in small groups in austere environments." Of course, some of them have attended training sessions which teach them to fight in "austere environments," probably time and time again. If you were a Talib, wouldn't you scout the training being offered to Afghans on the other side? And wouldn't you do it more than once if you could get well paid every time?

Such training is bound to come in handy — as it may have for the Talib policeman who, just last week, bumped off (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/09/12/MNA219MAH3.DTL) eight other comrades at his police post in Kunduz Province in northern Afghanistan and turned it over to the Taliban. On the other hand, such training can be deadly to American trainers. Take the case of the American trainer who was shot and wounded (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/6183475/50-Taliban-killed-after-ambush-on-US-troops.html) that same week by one of his trainees. Reportedly, a dispute arose because the trainer was drinking water "in front of locals," while the trainees were fasting for the Muslim holy month of Ramazan.

There is, by the way, plenty of evidence that Taliban fighters get along just fine, fighting fiercely and well without the training lavished on the ANA and the ANP. Why is it that Afghan Taliban fighters seem so bold and effective, while the Afghan National Police are so dismally corrupt and the Afghan National Army a washout?

When I visited bases and training grounds in July, I heard some American trainers describe their Afghan trainees in the same racist terms once applied to African slaves in the U.S.: lazy, irresponsible, stupid, childish, and so on. That's how Afghan resistance, avoidance, and sabotage look to American eyes. The Taliban fight for something they believe — that their country should be freed from foreign occupation. "Our" Afghans try to get by.

Yet one amazing thing happens to ANA trainees who stick it out for the whole 10 weeks of basic training. Their slight bodies begin to fill out a little. They gain more energy and better spirits — all because for the first time in their lives they have enough nutritious food to eat.

Better nutrition notwithstanding — Senator Levin, Senator McCain — "our" Afghans are never going to fight for an American cause, with or without American troops, the way we imagine they should. They're never going to fight with the energy of the Taliban for a national government that we installed against Afghan wishes, then more recently set up to steal another election, and now seem about to ratify in office, despite incontrovertible evidence (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8236450.stm) of flagrant fraud. Why should they? Even if the U.S. could win their minds, their hearts are not in it.

One small warning: Don't take the insecurity of the Afghan security forces as an argument for sending yet more American troops to Afghanistan. Aggressive Americans (now numbering 68,000) are likely to be even less successful than reluctant Afghan forces. Afghans want peace, but the kharaji (foreign) troops (100,000, if you include U.S. allies in NATO) bring death and destruction wherever they go. Think instead about what you might have won — and could still win — had you spent all those military billions on food. Or maybe agriculture. Or health care. Or a civilian job corps. Is it too late for that now?

• Ann Jones is the author of Kabul in Winter (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0312426593/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20) (Metropolitan, 2006) and writes often about Afghanistan for TomDispatch and the Nation. War Is Not Over When It's Over, her new book about the impact of war on women, will be published next year.


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 27, 2009, 12:57:12 pm

I wonder what Gommie's response will be when American public opinion eventually forces the Yanks to withdraws from Afghanistan?

It's only a matter of time.....just like the former South Vietnamese government, the current Afghanistan government is a corrupt puppet of the USA and they wouldn't last five minutes without American soldiers dying on their behalf. Their corruption will undermine them eventually and the US public will reach the point where they will force their politicians to withdraw from Afghanistan.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 27, 2009, 12:58:46 pm

The British public are becoming more and more hostile to their troops remaining in Afghanistan.

Sooner or later, political reality will force the British government to listen to their people.

I wonder what Gommie will do (or post) then?

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 27, 2009, 12:59:12 pm

A Military That Wants Its Way

posted September 24, 2009 | TomDispatch.com (http://www.tomdispatch.com/)

How to Trap a President in a Losing War

Petraeus, McChrystal, and the Surgettes

By Tom Engelhardt

Front and center in the debate over the Afghan War these days are General Stanley "Stan" McChrystal, Afghan war commander, whose "classified, pre-decisional" (http://firedoglake.com/2009/09/21/mcchrystals-afghanistan-report-leaked-attempts-to-push-obama-to-escalate-war/) and devastating report — almost eight years and at least $220 billion (http://www.fpif.org/fpifzines/wb/6433) later, the war is a complete disaster — was conveniently, not to say suspiciously, leaked (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/20/AR2009092002920_pf.html) to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post by we-know-not-who (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/22/AR2009092203341.html) at a particularly embarrassing moment for Barack Obama; Admiral Michael "Mike" Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has been increasingly vocal (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/23/AR2009082300660.html) about a "deteriorating" war and the need for more American boots (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/15/AR2009091501173.html?hpid=moreheadlines) on the ground; and the president himself, who blitzed (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/20/AR2009092002240.html?sid=ST2009092001135) every TV show in sight last Sunday and Monday for his health reform program, but spent significant time expressing doubts (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghanistan22-2009sep22,0,908493.story) about sending more American troops to Afghanistan. ("I'm not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan... or sending a message that America is here for the duration.")

On the other hand, here's someone you haven't seen front and center for a while: General David Petraeus. He was, of course, George W. Bush's pick to lead the president's last-ditch effort in Iraq. He was the poster boy for Bush's military policies in his last two years. He was the highly praised architect and symbol of "the surge." He appeared (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/10/AR2007091002213.html?wpisrc=newsletter) repeatedly, his chest (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174845) a mass of medals and ribbons (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://photos.upi.com/slideshow/lbox/9f9e85b322b98f6ae6ffb1753e7182cf/GEN-PETRAEUS.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.upi.com/enl-win/9f9e85b322b98f6ae6ffb1753e7182cf/&usg=__7V3Lq0fBcvUnoCPIhgxwg94ZZSY=&h=552&w=800&sz=47&hl=en&start=78&tbnid=sNhHOP24I1koAM:&tbnh=99&tbnw=143&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dpetraeus,%2Bcongressional%2Btestimony%26gbv%3D2%26ndsp%3D20%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26start%3D60%26ie%3DUTF-8), for heavily publicized, widely televised congressional testimony, complete with charts and graphs, that was meant, at least in part, for the American public. He was the man who, to use an image (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174776/tick_tick_tick_in_washington_and_baghdad) from that period which has recently resurfaced (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112804888), managed to synchronize the American and Baghdad "clocks," pacifying for a time both the home and war fronts.

He never met a journalist, as far as we can tell, he didn't want to woo. (And he clearly won over the influential Tom Ricks, then of the Washington Post, who wrote The Gamble, a bestselling paean to him and his sub-commanders.) From the look of it, he's the most political general to come down the pike since, in 1951 in the midst of the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur said his goodbyes to Congress after being cashiered (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Macarthur#Dismissal) by President Truman for insubordination — for, in effect, wanting to run his own war and the foreign policy that went with it. It was Petraeus who brought Vietnam-era counterinsurgency doctrine (COIN) back from the crypt, overseeing (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/23/AR2007022301741.html) the writing of a new Army counterinsurgency manual that would make it central to both the ongoing wars and what are already being referred to as the "next" ones.

Before he left office, Bush advanced his favorite general to the head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the former president's Global War on Terror across the energy heartlands of the planet from Egypt to Pakistan. The command is, of course, especially focused on Bush's two full-scale wars: the Iraq War, now being pursued under Petraeus's former subordinate, General Ray Odierno, and the Afghan War, for which Petraeus seems to have personally handpicked (http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2009/05/petraeus_toughest_fight_yet.html) a new commanding general, Stan McChrystal. From the military's dark side (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175074) world of special ops and targeted assassinations, McChrystal had operated in Iraq and was also part (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/14/AR2008051403366.html) of an Army promotion board headed by Petraeus that advanced the careers of officers committed to counterinsurgency. To install McChrystal in May, Obama abruptly sacked the then-Afghan war commander, General David McKiernan, in what was then considered, with some exaggeration, a new MacArthur moment (http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/05/obamas-general-obamas-war.html).

On taking over, McChrystal, who had previously been a counterterrorism guy (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KE14Df01.html) (and isn't about (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghan-intel20-2009sep20,0,6061626,full.story) to give that up, either), swore fealty to counterinsurgency doctrine (that is, to Petraeus) by proclaiming that the American goal in Afghanistan must not be primarily to hunt down and kill Taliban insurgents, but to "protect the population." He also turned to a "team" (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175106) of civilian experts, largely gathered (http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/09/21/iran/print.html) from Washington think-tanks, a number of whom had been involved in planning out Petraeus's Iraq surge of 2007, to make an assessment of the state of the war and what needed to be done. Think of them as the Surgettes.

As in many official reassessments, the cast of characters essentially guaranteed the results before a single meeting was held. Based on past history and opinions, this team could only provide one Petraeus-approved answer to the war: more — more troops, up to 40,000-45,000 of them, and other resources for an American counterinsurgency operation without end.

Hence, even if McChrystal's name is on it, the report slipped to Bob Woodward which just sandbagged the president has a distinctly Petraeusian shape to it. In a piece linked to Woodward's bombshell in the Washington Post, Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Karen DeYoung wrote (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/20/AR2009092002878_pf.html) of unnamed officials in Washington who claimed "the military has been trying to push Obama into a corner." The language in the coverage elsewhere has been similar.

There is, wrote DeYoung a day later, now a "rupture" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/21/AR2009092103774_pf.html) between the military "pushing for an early decision to send more troops" and civilian policymakers "increasingly doubtful of an escalating nation-building effort." Nancy Youssef of McClatchy News wrote about how "mixed signals" from Washington were causing "increasing ire from U.S. commanders in Afghanistan"; a group of McClatchy reporters talked of (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/75803.html) military advocates of escalation feeling "frustration" over "White House dithering." David Sanger of the New York Times described (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/23/world/23sanger.html) "a split between an American military that says it needs more troops now and an American president clearly reluctant to leap into that abyss." "Impatient" is about the calmest word you'll see for the attitude of the military top command right now.

Buyer's Remorse, the Afghan War, and the President

In the midst of all this, between Admiral Mullen and General McChrystal is, it seems, a missing man. The most photogenic general in our recent history, the man who created the doctrine and oversees the war, the man who is now shaping the U.S. Army (and its future plans and career patterns), is somehow, at this crucial moment, out of the Washington spotlight. This last week General Petraeus was, in fact, in England, giving a speech (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/defence/6204195/Taliban-has-got-stronger-warns-General-Petraeus.html) and writing an article (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article6839220.ece) for the (London) Times laying out his basic "protect the population" version of counterinsurgency and praising our British allies by quoting one of their great imperial plunderers. ("If Cecil Rhodes was correct in his wonderful observation that 'being an Englishman is the greatest prize in the lottery of life,' and I'm inclined to think that he was, then the second greatest prize in the lottery of life must be to be a friend of an Englishman, and based on that, the more than 230,000 men and women in uniform who work with your country's finest day by day are very lucky indeed, as am I.")

Only at mid-week, with Washington aboil, did he arrive in the capital for a counterinsurgency conference (http://washingtonindependent.com/60636/petraeus-at-the-press-club) at the National Press Club and quietly "endorse" "General McChrystal's assessment." (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/23/AR2009092304500.html) Whatever the look of things, however, it's unlikely that Petraeus is actually on the sidelines at this moment of heightened tension. He is undoubtedly still The Man.

So much is, of course, happening just beyond the sightlines of those of us who are mere citizens of this country, which is why inference and guesswork are, unfortunately, the order of the day. Read any account in a major newspaper right now and it's guaranteed to be chock-a-block full of senior officials and top military officers who are never "authorized to speak," but nonetheless yak away from behind a scrim of anonymity. Petraeus may or may not be one of them, but the odds are reasonable that this is still a Petraeus Moment.

If so, Obama has only himself to blame. He took up Afghanistan ("the right war" (http://www.alternet.org/world/117816/hey_obama,_don%27t_let_afghanistan_be_your_quagmire/)) in the presidential campaign as proof that, despite wanting to end the war in Iraq, he was tough. (Why is it that a Democratic candidate needs a war or threat of war to trash-talk about in order to prove his "strength," when doing so is obviously a sign of weakness?)

Once in office, Obama compounded the damage by doubling down his bet on the war. In March, he introduced a "comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan" in his first significant public statement (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/27/us/politics/27obama-text.html) on the subject, which had expansion written all over it. He also agreed to send in 21,000 more troops (which, by the way, Petraeus reportedly (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/20/AR2009032002312.html) convinced him to do). In August, in another sign of weakness masquerading as strength, before an unenthusiastic audience at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, he unnecessarily declared (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-at-the-Veterans-of-Foreign-Wars-convention/): "This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity." All of this he will now pay for at the hands of Petraeus, or if not him, then a coterie of military men behind the latest push for a new kind of Afghan War.

As it happens, this was never Obama's "war of necessity." It was always Petraeus's. And the new report from McChrystal and the Surgettes is undoubtedly Petraeus's progeny as well. It seems, in fact, cleverly put together to catch a cautious president, who wasn't cautious enough about his war of choice, in a potentially devastating trap. The military insistence on quick action on a troop decision sets up a devastating choice for the president: "Failure to provide (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/20/AR2009092002920_pf.html) adequate resources also risks a longer conflict, greater casualties, higher overall costs, and ultimately, a critical loss of political support. Any of these risks, in turn, are likely to result in mission failure." Go against your chosen general and the failure that follows is yours alone. (Unnamed figures (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/v-print/story/75702.html) supposedly close to McChrystal are already launching test balloons, passed on (http://www.thenation.com/blogs/dreyfuss/475977/will_mcchrystal_quit) by others, suggesting that the general might resign in protest if the president doesn't deliver — a possibility he has denied (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/24/world/asia/24general.html) even considering.) On the other hand, offer him somewhere between 15,000 and 45,000 more American troops as well as other resources, and the failure that follows will still be yours.

It's a basic lose-lose proposition and, as journalist Eric Schmitt wrote (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/22/world/asia/22strategy.html) in a New York Times assessment of the situation, "it will be very hard to say no to General McChrystal." No wonder the president and some of his men are dragging their feet and looking elsewhere (http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/sns-ap-us-us-afghanistan,0,1920229.story). As one typically anonymous "defense analyst" quoted (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghanistan22-2009sep22,0,908493.story) in the Los Angeles Times said, the administration is suffering "buyer's remorse for this war... They never really thought about what was required, and now they have sticker shock."

Admittedly, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125365402637131937.html), 51% of Americans are against sending in more troops. (Who knows how they would react to a president who went on TV to announce that he had genuinely reconsidered?) Official Washington (http://wire.antiwar.com/2009/09/22/dem-to-white-house-keep-focus-on-afghanistan-2/) is another (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204488304574426812788385256.html) matter (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hTNqDDhm7XbSkOcnu3vBzFhJveJwD9AT0DRG1). For General Petraeus, who claims to have no political ambitions but is periodically mentioned as the Eisenhower of 2012, how potentially peachy to launch your campaign against the president who lost you the war.

A Petraeus Moment?

In the present context, the media language being used to describe this military-civilian conflict of wills — frustration, impatience, split, rupture, ire — may fall short of capturing the import of a moment which has been brewing, institutionally speaking, for a long time. There have been increasing numbers of generals' "revolts" (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/02/generals-seek-to-reverse_n_163070.html) of various sorts in our recent past. Of course, George W. Bush was insistent on turning planning over to his generals (though only when he liked them), something Barack Obama criticized him (http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hvV6a4VEMT4li8yStiIPb0f0f12Q) for during the election campaign. ("The job of the commander in chief is to listen to the best counsel available and to listen even to people you don't agree with and then ultimately you make the final decision and you take responsibility for those actions.")

Now, it looks as if we are about to have a civilian-military encounter of the first order in which Obama will indeed need to take responsibility for difficult actions (or the lack thereof). If a genuine clash heats up, expect more discussion of "MacArthur moments," but this will not be Truman versus MacArthur redux, and not just because Petraeus seems to be a subtler political player than MacArthur ever was.

Over the nearly six decades that separate us from Truman's great moment, the Pentagon has become a far more overwhelming institution. In Afghanistan, as in Washington, it has swallowed up much of what once was intelligence, as it is swallowing up much of what once was diplomacy (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090928/glain). It is linked to one of the two businesses, the Pentagon-subsidized weapons industry, which has proven (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/07/world/07weapons.html) an American success story even in the worst of economic times (the other remains Hollywood). It now holds a far different position in a society that seems to (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175115/war_is_peace) feed on war.

It's one thing for the leaders of a country to say that war should be left to the generals when suddenly embroiled in conflict, quite another when that country is eternally in a state of war. In such a case, if you turn crucial war decisions over to the military, you functionally turn foreign policy over to them as well. All of this is made more complicated, because the cast of "civilians" theoretically pitted against the military right now includes Karl W. Eikenberry, a retired lieutenant general who is the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Douglas Lute, a lieutenant general who is the president's special advisor on Afghanistan and Pakistan (dubbed the "war czar" when he held the same position in the Bush administration), and James Jones, a retired Marine Corps general, who is national security advisor, not to speak of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a former director (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174814/roger_morris_the_cia_and_the_gates_legacy) of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The question is: will an already heavily militarized foreign policy geared to endless global war be surrendered to the generals? Depending on what Obama does, the answer to that question may not be fully, or even largely, clarified this time around. He may quietly give way, or they may, or compromises may be reached behind the scenes. After all, careers and political futures are at stake.

But consider us warned. This is a question that is not likely to go away and that may determine what this country becomes.

We know what a MacArthur moment was; we may find out soon enough what a Petraeus moment is.

• Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project (http://www.americanempireproject.com/), runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture (http://www.amazon.com/dp/155849586X/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20), a history of the Cold War and beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1558495061/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20). He also edited The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1844672573/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20) (Verso, 2008), an alternative history of the mad Bush years.


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 27, 2009, 12:59:54 pm

SAS troops uneasy at high-risk mission

By JON STEPHENSON - Sunday Star Times | 5:00AM - Sunday, 27 September 2009

MEMBERS OF New Zealand's Special Air Service have expressed grave concerns about the dangers of the mission they have been given in their latest deployment to Afghanistan.

One commander said before departing 11 days ago that some of his men were extremely uneasy about the combination of an increasingly deadly insurgency and the high-risk missions.

The concerns have arisen despite the fact that morale in the SAS is generally high, and that troopers are eager to test their skills. The unit is also entering the battlefield with better pay and equipment.

The commanders' comments come at a time of record deaths for US forces and their allies in Afghanistan. In recent weeks American and Nato commanders have openly discussed the possibility the conflict may be lost. On Thursday, five US soldiers died in three incidents in Afghanistan; a total of 769 Americans have died in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan and Uzbekistan since the US invaded in 2001.

And six Italian soldiers were killed earlier this month when their convoy was hit by a car bomb in Kabul previously regarded as one of the country's few areas of relative safety.

The Sunday Star-Times has been given information about new SAS missions, but is withholding details that might compromise unit safety. The work will be far more dangerous than that carried out on deployments between 2001 and 2005.

The unit's latest mission, approved by Prime Minister John Key, will see SAS men in close-quarter battle in urban areas. Close-quarter battle is one of the most complex and hazardous areas of special operations, often leading to intense firefights at very short range. Soldiers from other special forces have been killed on such missions in Iraq and this month in Afghanistan.

Previous SAS deployments, by contrast, have focused on long-range patrols and rural reconnaissance. The SAS also took prisoners during "snatch and grab" operations, which led to controversy after revelations they were transferred to US custody at Kandahar, where torture was occurring. The Star-Times has learnt the government has signed a secret agreement with Afghanistan to protect the latest SAS contingent and other soldiers from legal implications of complicity in torture.

Afghanistan has undertaken that prisoners transferred by New Zealand forces will not be mistreated or tortured and will not face the death penalty but only signed the agreement on condition the existence of the agreement and its details were suppressed. It is a violation of international law to transfer prisoners to another country if it is likely they will be abused.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have documented cases of abuse and torture in Afghani prisons. Amnesty says non-torture agreements, which rely on trusting Afghanistan, are worthless and will not absolve New Zealand from its obligations.

Last month, the Star-Times revealed that, according to international legal experts, New Zealand broke the Geneva Convention and laws against torture when SAS troops transferred 50-70 prisoners to the Americans at Kandahar.

Labour leader Phil Goff told the Star-Times last week that Afghanistan's government was "working hand-in-hand with warlords [who have] an appalling record of human rights abuses".

Meanwhile, a report by General Stanley McChrystal, America's top commander in Afghanistan, which was leaked to the Washington Post, has concluded that failing to quash insurgents within a year "risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible".

Goff said: "I think that General McChrystal has made a realistic assessment of the situation" a clear indication Goff thinks the Afghanistan war may be lost.

Former New Zealand diplomat Terence O'Brien said there was no evidence special forces would make a difference. "There's no assessment of what they're doing. It's all covered up under the rubric of security."

O'Brien said Key wanted to curry favour with the US, but could have done so without sending the SAS to Afghanistan. Committing to the current deployment was like being stuck to a tar baby. "We're in an absolute bugger's muddle now," O'Brien said. "We're there, and the question is, how to get out."


Post by: Sir Blodsnogger on September 27, 2009, 02:10:42 pm
I 3wonder what ktj will say when the US of A tell him to piss off and protect himself.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 27, 2009, 02:12:29 pm

Did you learn to say piss-off at church this morning, Gommie?  ;D

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 27, 2009, 04:39:00 pm
.75 cal, bloody hell you must have cast iron shoulders.

It's a Beauty Didi, a repoduction (firable) by Davide Pedersoli. 2nd land pattern model, I got it because I'm recreating the uniform of the Grenadier company 100th highlanders 1794 and tho its a bit out of date also the 1815 uniform for the Grenadier company 92nd Highlanders basically Waterloo period, should really have the Indian land pattern for that, but such is life!

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 27, 2009, 05:15:39 pm
Weve just had a friend here whose son has just gone to Afghanistan.  His second trip.  You can guess which lot hes over there with.
Listening to her, her retelling situations he was in last time, hearing of course her own fears for him.  He isnt allowed to contact his family at home but he does at an exorbitant ammount to ring her, always at 1.30pm here. Her brother, his uncle begged him not to go this time.  He is a long serving member of the NZ Army, she listened to him telling his nephew that it isnt the place for NZ to be, that the US are lost within Afghanistan, and those countries who go in as support for the US will be the ones who suffer this time.
Strengthened my resolve against our inclusion in this failure.

A good many Armies that have ever been in Afghanistan have been lost so to speak, I fully agree that there is  at least a 80-90% chance that it will be another Viet nam for the Yanks unless the terrorist fight them in pitch battles their hit and run tactics will do more damage than many think especially to American moral (sp).

The likes of our SAS will do better as it is the type of combat they are trained for, but I still believe they are, in the long run wasting their time, too big an area really!

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 29, 2009, 12:46:44 am

From The Sydney Morning Herald (http://www.smh.com.au)

Let slip the dogs of war

Parallels with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan are prompting observers to question if the US is digging another foreign war grave for itself.

By PAUL McGEOUGH at Satukandav Pass | Saturday, September 26, 2009


At the K-G Road in the Paktia Province, Afghanistan.

Before four MRAP vehicles, each costing a million dollars, engage treacherous country beyond the Satukandav Pass, their American troops close in for a tense briefing inside the military base at Gardez.

"All gunners, binos out," orders Sergeant John Floyd. "Glass the ridges before we enter the pass." Floyd leaves nothing to chance — he actually reminds them this is Taliban country. "They're still on the route," he warns. "Look for pressure plates and tripwires [that likely will trigger roadside bombs]."

Floyd might also have warned them to watch for ghosts. Not just of the handful of their own colleagues who died in this conflict; not even of the hundreds who died in a legendry clash here between the Afghan mujahideen and Soviet forces during Moscow's ill-fated occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

No. Out here, where the spectral sense of history finds good hanging space in the mists that swirl through an awe-inspiring mountain pass, is as good a place as any to confront the ghosts of entire wars — the payback that comes with them and lessons unlearnt from them.

In the 1980s, as the US armed and funded the Afghan mujahideen to drain the very life-blood from the entire Soviet empire, there was grim chortling in Washington that Moscow had been afflicted with its own Vietnam. More recent guffaws come from the Kremlin. Some observers wonder if the US is again digging a Vietnam-like war grave for itself.

The cruel lesson from the alpine slopes of the Satukandav Pass is that winning a battle — even thinking you're winning — does not a war victory make.

In a week when the top US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, likened Washington's failing campaign here to an American bull weakened by each cut in its repeated charges at a matador-like insurgency, his region commander in Paktia province, Colonel Robert Campbell, took in the thin air at the top of the Satukandav Pass, declaring with satisfaction: "These Taliban thugs are failing miserably …. losing horribly."

No doubt the Russian general Boris Gromov thought similarly as he executed Operation Magistral, Moscow's desperate search for a fig-leaf of victory as its decade-long occupation of Afghanistan fell apart in the winter of 1987-88. Gromov's operation would be the last major ground offensive of the war — and his nemesis was none other than Jalaluddin Haqqani, then an American favourite among the mujahideen leadership. Today Haqqani is an outcast, because of his role as a key Taliban strategist confronting Campbell's men in the volatile eastern border region.

Year after year through the 1980s, the mujahideen repelled every Soviet attempt to wrest control of the K-G Road, a vital route between the provincial centre Gardez and far-flung Khost which, perched strategically on Afghanistan's border, was the funnel through which Pakistani middlemen passed much of Washington's aid to the mujahideen.

Sculpting myth from stubborn resistance, more than 10,000 tribal fighters had surrounded Khost, severing supply lines to more than 8000 troops, drawn from both the puppet regime in Kabul and the Soviet military, and a Khost civilian population of 40,000. "The road had become a thing of myth," one of the Afghan leaders wrote. It was "the mujahideen-held road that no power could open".

Gromov, head of Moscow's 40th Army, called on his own soldierly cunning, poring over the faded blueprints from Moscow's World War II campaigns against German forces in the Caucasus and Carpathians, before sending more than 16,000 Soviet troops and thousands more from the Kabul regime into this last battle with the Mujahideen.

With Haqqani in charge and Pacha Khan Zadran a lieutenant, the mujahideen dug in for their last stand at the Satukandav Pass, where near-sheer rock walls tower hundreds of metres above a bent and twisting track. Laying concentric minefields on all approaches, they camouflaged themselves expertly on the shoulders of the pass, about 20 kilometres east of Gardez.

As Gromov's huge ground forces attempted to advance from Gardez to Khost, snatching any high ground not held by tribal militias, the Russian general's air fleet — including 70 jet fighters and dozens of helicopter gunships — dumped a daily average of 400 tonnes of bombs on mujahideen positions.

At 3500 metres altitude when peaks were cloaked in snow and cloud, Gromov produced his masterstroke in the battle to retake the pass and clear the last bottleneck for supplies to Khost. Witnessing the dropping of waves of dummy paratroopers, the mujahideen opened fire, revealing their positions. A reconnaissance aircraft pinpointed their locations, allowing artillery strikes to clear the road.

In six weeks of fighting, more than 4000 Kabul and Soviet troops were killed, wounded or captured. Gromov lost more than 100 vehicles — half of them tanks — and seven aircraft. An estimated 450 mujahideen were killed or captured.

With the supply road open, Gromov dropped nearly 9000 troops north of Khost, hoping a pincer formation would trap the retreating mujahideen. Just as American successors failed to capture Osama bin Laden and many al-Qaeda and Taliban foot soldiers fleeing over the same border into Pakistan 14 years later, however, Gromov captured none of the mujahideen. Within two weeks, Haqqani forces had regained control of the road through Satukandav Pass.

By then, little of the road was left. The mujahideen had funded their campaign to defend it by digging up the asphalt and selling it across the border in Pakistan — thereby creating an Afghan version of the immortal cliche said to have been uttered by a US general in Vietnam: "We had to bomb the village to save it."

Washington now is embarking on the ninth year of its war in Afghanistan, seemingly following each phase of a blueprint that 1980s Soviet officials now admit was stillborn from the start.

Official rhetoric in the American capital seems to consign the US campaign to the same fate. The US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, says the US venture might well be doomed if not turned around in the coming year.

Zamir Kabulov, who was a 1980s spy but more recently served as Moscow's ambassador to Kabul, told The New York Times last year: "I know quite a lot about the past, but almost nothing about the future." The Soviets have admitted to past mistakes that are now familiar — the strength of resistance underestimated, bringing in extra troops but in insufficient numbers to make a difference, an inability to rein in tribal rivalries, radical Islam and greedy warlords, a failure to break the nexus between weak central government and corruption.

Washington says it understands all that and is focusing on protecting the population, not relentlessly pursuing the enemy.

Patrolling the K-G Road, Campbell explains to the Herald: "We have to do whatever it takes. If we ignore governance, infrastructure and development, and just fix on security, we'll leave Afghanistan just as the Soviets did."

But ominously for the US, Viktor Yermakov, another former Soviet general in Afghanistan, warns that by the time the Soviets made the same realisation, they were caught in a cycle of attack and counterattack. "We had to answer fire — when we were attacked, we attacked back with all of our might."

Gromov famously walked across a bridge on the Amu Darya River, Afghanistan's northern border, to be the last Russian soldier to leave. Early this year, he marked the 20th anniversary of the withdrawal with his observation of an invaluable lesson learned in Afghanistan: "It has been and always will be impossible to solve political problems using force."

Thomas Ruttig, an analyst with the Afghanistan Analysts' Network, says: "This time the other side is more dangerous. The mujahideen did not have today's IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and suicide-bombing was unknown."

For now, the US presses ahead, rebuilding the road Moscow could not capture.

Interviewed in a Kabul hospital, the Paktia warlord Pacha Khan thinks before concluding the two operations are very different. "The Soviets wanted to subordinate my country; the Americans just want to build a road."

http://www.smh.com.au/world/let-slip-the-dogs-of-war-20090925-g6bi.html (http://www.smh.com.au/world/let-slip-the-dogs-of-war-20090925-g6bi.html)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 29, 2009, 01:15:35 am

From The Sydney Morning Herald (http://www.smh.com.au)

The road to perdition

After eight difficult years, Afghanistan has gone off the rails. America's top general says he needs thousands more troops to avoid defeat, and Barack Obama has added "cut and run" to America's list of options.  The Herald's chief correspondent, Paul McGeough, and the SBS Dateline cameraman David Brill travelled to Afghanistan's south-east, where a Taliban warlord has declared war against a $US100 million road being built by the Americans.

This is the FIRST of three stories.

By PAUL McGEOUGH | Saturday, September 26, 2009


Armed patrol on the K-G Road in the Paktia Province, Afghanistan.

As ominous as the spot thunder storms electrifying the mountain air this time of year, Jalallulidin Haqqani's and Pacha Khan Zadran's shared history of victories and defeats rumbles menacingly across the craggy south-east. And just as theirs is no ordinary falling out, the $US100 million ($115 million) bid to link the remote, eastern border city of Khost to the hub-city of Gardez, south of Kabul, is no ordinary road project.

Standing between them, astride a ribbon of bitumen snaking its way towards one of Afghanistan's most treacherous mountain passes, is the unlikely figure of Robert Campbell — a lean, leathery US Army colonel who finds himself slipping between the sliding doors of time. On one side, ancient tribal enmity, big-man chest-thumping and insurgency diktats issued amid feuds, internecine ethnic loyalties and strange codes of honour and conduct; on the other side, a faltering, US-led bid to root democracy in the parched, rocky valleys of the Hindu Kush.

Inevitably, the tale of Haqqani and Pacha Khan entwines with that of a huge effort to build this new road, as a parable on the crisis gripping their homeland. Told in several parts, it is the story of Washington getting one up over Moscow. It's a tale of Afghan power-brokers milking the international donor community, hedging their bets while playing footsies with the Taliban and other insurgencies, because they're unconvinced Washington and its allies will not cut and run.

More than that, it reveals the dual dialogue that is a flaw in the glass of a chaotic effort to haul Afghanistan into the 21st century. Local leaders, from the President down, tell the world what it wants to hear, while tribal elders and local warlords kowtow to those above them in the power chain, as they carve up the country and its people on their own brutal, near-biblical terms.

Connecting Khost and Gardez, the K-G Road is part of a grand design to break five strategic centres from economic and social dependency on neighbouring Pakistan. By linking them together and to the national ring-road, they might be hooked back into Kabul's orbit.

In Paktia province, people worry about who will control the road. Will Jalallulidin Haqqani slap a tourniquet on it and hold the city of Khost to ransom — as he did so relentlessly in the past? Will Pacha Khan Zadran throw up checkpoints to extract tolls from all who pass — as he did so voraciously in the past?

For Americans stuck between them, the contest is as much about a showdown between two old tribal enemies as it is about the longevity and viability of the Kabul government.

Campbell, the American colonel, knows the stakes are high and that he dare not underestimate either opponent. "They have very different objectives," he tells the Herald while patrolling the K-G Road late last month. "Pacha Khan wants to control commerce on the road; Haqqani wants to control Khost."

Haqqani's whereabouts are a mystery. "The last I heard, he was in Pakistan — in Miram Shah," says a senior US officer, referring to a small town in the wilds of Waziristan, just over the border. When the Herald previously searched for Pacha Khan, the Pancho Villa lookalike was at home in the woodcutters' village of Wazi Zadran, lolling on a pile of floor cushions, his girt ample and the whiteness of his teeth visible below the black-dyed moustache. A belt of bullets stretched diagonally across his chest as he worked a great length of cotton into a classic Pashtun turban.

This time, he is in a private hospital in suburban Kabul. Lifting his hospital-greens, he reveals a flabby stomach and the bandaged wound of his hernia operation. Bare-headed, Pacha Khan is in an armchair. The warlord has not shaved in several days. A briefcase is on the floor and an AK-47 against the wall. Armed men guard the corridor and the street outside. Huddled in a corner beside a small primus stove and its bent teapot is an old woman. Almost cowering, she pulls a veil across her eyes because two male strangers have been ushered into the room.

Pacha Khan has a great sense of entitlement. "One-third of this country belongs to me," he says before revealing he views power more through the prism of past factional wars than the permanence of the nascent Afghan state. "I share equal rights with [President] Hamid Karzai and Abdul Haq [another former Mujahideen commander executed by the Taliban as he organised a 2001 uprising]. By rights, I should be Karzai's deputy or defence minister. He refuses me, but I could bring peace to this country in less than a year."

Pacha Khan has a problem, however. Within the local dynamic, Haqqani's bloody and brutal opposition to the Kabul government and its US-led backers, leaves him little room to manoeuvre on the anti-Kabul, anti-US side. Despite him being the first old-guard warlord to violently challenge the Karzai presidency, Pacha Khan is obliged, however reluctantly, to line up with Kabul and the Americans. Haqqani sucks all the oxygen of opposition.

"I don't oppose Karzai," Pacha Khan says. "The President is a good national figure. There is no alternative and I ordered my people to vote for him. We don't clash … I just demand my rights every now and again." He finished there, but might have added: "And Karzai ignores me."

He is at pains to deny that he and 59-year-old Haqqani were ever close. "I reject that we were friends," he insists. "He always had his own ideas - even in the time of Jihad [the 1990s]. Now he works for al-Qaeda and the [Pakistani intelligence service] ISI. He serves their agenda; I support the Afghan Government."

Pacha Khan and Haqqani come from opposing sub-tribes of the Zadran tribe, which sprawls across a dozen high-mountain districts in three eastern provinces. Pacha Khan is Supeer; Haqqani is Mizai. Haqqani has tried three times to kill Pacha Khan. That pales against US efforts to assassinate Haqqani - usually by dropping bombs on suspected hideouts on either side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Last year, Haqqani's bearded face emerged from a Taliban propaganda video to taunt the Americans: "Now as you see, I'm still alive."

In his Kabul hospital room, Pacha Khan's gold fillings flash the indignation. "Haqqani keeps launching these suicide-bomb attacks on me," he says. "Each time God saved me. Some of my men were injured in the attacks, but Haqqani will try again and again and again as long as I am alive. We are enemies."

Both men were Washington darlings when they fought side-by-side with huge supplies of American arms against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. Pacha Khan was paid American millions to have his militia join the failed chase for Osama bin Laden after the Taliban fell in 2001.

The Americans see Pacha Khan almost as a cartoonish representation of the Afghan warlord trying to assert authority in the face of a significant Haqqani challenge. "Cuddly evil," says one. Others opted for the descriptive scumbag. "To describe this guy as pragmatic is a massive understatement," said another of the warlord's wild record of switching sides and lashing out in fury when he does not get his way.

In the aftermath of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, Pacha Khan was made to cough up 42 truckloads of heavy arms. He refuses to disarm entirely and is presumed capable of fielding 2000 to 3000 soldiers.

After the fall of the Taliban, the warlord was so impressed with American firepower he arranged for it to be turned on his enemies. He lied to the Americans that a convoy of elders bound for Kabul to attend Karzai's 2002 inauguration were Talibs. The Americans bombed, killing more than 60. "He knows how to eliminate his political rivals by whatever means," says a US military analyst.

The CIA assessed PKZ — its name for Pacha Khan — as "brutish, mercurial and unstable". His eldest son was killed in an early 2003 clash with US forces. Last year, Haqqani's youngest son, Omar, died in a clash at the Satukandav Pass, the highest point on the K-G Road. Campbell, the American colonel, is clear about Haqqani: "His business is killing people and trying to delegitimise the Afghan Government."

For Afghans, the Haqqani myth is rooted in his fierce fighting against Soviet occupation forces in the 1980s — and his 1991 capture of Khost from the Moscow-backed Kabul government. He allegedly introduced suicide bombs to the Afghan war.

Haqqani was Paktia governor under the Taliban; Pacha Khan under Karzai.

When Pacha Khan was sacked from the post, his men took to the streets, guns blazing, as he tried to bomb his way back into office. Angry US Special Forces were caught in the crossfire, but their plans to arrest the warlord were stymied by a decision in Washington that Pacha Khan was untouchable. When Pacha Khan was arrested in Pakistan in 2002, his militia attacked Afghan Government installations in the south-east for two years. Both men see Khost as a prize worth fighting for. A year after the Taliban fell, Pacha Khan forces were driven out by rivals who exploited confusion generated by a rumour that Americans had arrested Pacha Khan. On another occasion, Pacha Khan laid siege to Khost because the Americans spurned him.

These days, Campbell reckons he has Pacha Khan's measure. "He has a shady past, but now he is on the side of the Government. He wants this road to happen." Why? Because violently extorting tolls from truck drivers is profitable. As much as the Americans distrusted Pacha Khan, they worried he would bolster the respectability of the Taliban and al-Qaeda if he defected to them with his mujahideen warlord credentials.

"Haqqani wants to dominate the road so that he can hold Khost to ransome," says Campbell. "He wants to own the road to stop traffic getting through by closing it when he likes — and his use of foreign fighters makes him a force to reckon with."

Of Pacha Khan, Campbell says locals "will think about trying to shut down the road if they don't get what they want [from Kabul]. They are not fools - they feel left out and they know what's going on. Pacha Khan is a powerful force. He lives in Kabul and comes back here like an evangelist, making speeches and riling up the people. Then he leaves and the elders have to deal with the aftermath."

An analyst on Campbell's staff says Haqqani opposition to the road is rooted in denying "people access to the outside world". "He wants to keep the people as they are — prisoners of their ignorance and religion. Haqqani figures that if he makes the road as costly as he can, we'll be forced to pull out."

Poverty is deep in the Zadran Arc. Villagers eke out existence, farming crevices or narrow ledges in the mountains. Illiteracy is high and some American officers worry that children's growth is stunted. The only non-farm employment is driving jingle-trucks with their decorative chains dangling from the bodywork. So the Zadran staunchly defend the K-G Road, right?

Well, no. In the mountains, something doesn't add up. Zadran are swathed in warrior heritage. Haqqani and Pacha Khan are legends because, as mujahideen commanders in the 1980s, they sensationally defied all but one short-lived Soviet effort to break the mujahideen grip on the K-G Road.

Today, some locals risk their lives by working on US bases and last year there were loud demands for funding and authority for them to stand an arbaki force — a local militia to defend the road. But they shun service in the new Afghan security forces and their warrior instincts don't kick in unless a bag of money is on the table. "At times we tell the elders that they are an embarrassment to themselves," says US Sergeant Brent Koegler. "They got the Soviets out of Afghanistan, but they can't fight 20 Talibs who threaten their village? They're supposed to be awesome fighters."

This indifference by locals is staggering in the face of excoriating speeches by Pacha Khan and other senior figures at a community meeting last year at Combat Out Post Wilderness, as work began on the road.

Warning people their fence-sitting embarrassed him, Pacha Khan demanded they take sides. "Don't shame yourself into being stuck in the middle, by not picking a side and not fighting," he hectored. "It is shameful to be whining to the Government one minute that you can't fight the Taliban; and at the next moment, telling the Taliban when they come to your door that you are on their side."

General Said Gul, chief of staff of the Afghan National Army, told the people: "We let you keep your weapons in the name of your Pashtun culture, [but] things have to change. If my enemy continues to shoot at me from your doorsteps, I'm not going to respect your elders or your tradition.

"I keep hearing that Paktia is the land of respect; the land of the brave, the land of the proud. What pride? What bravery? What respect? I don't see any of it. I was sent here to protect your sisters, your wives and your kids. And if you are the enemy, how am I going to fight you and protect them?"

At the Kabul hospital, Pacha Khan sets out his solution. It was wrong, he says, to let a major contract to an Indian firm. "I warned them to give the contract to the Turks, not the Indians. The road will not be finished unless the Turks get the construction contract and I get the security contract — the budget should be split between us." He insists he does not have a particular Turkish contractor in mind, with an eye to a big fat kickback.

Seemingly oblivious to the loathing prompted by his extortionate toll collections on the road just a few years ago, he goes on: "I would have to set up checkpoints and patrol the road."

But would Pacha Khan do a better job than the South African firm managing the security cocoon around the road work? He feigns ignorance. "South Africans? I've not seen them on the road. All I hear about is IEDs [improvised explosive devices], kidnappings and terrorists running around. There'd be none of that if it was a proper Afghan security operation.

"I have an army of 3000 fighters. I would defeat Haqqani — he is a thief who comes in the dark. You should ask the Americans why they can't beat him. They have more than 60,000 troops and forces from 40 other countries and they still can't deal with him? And if he operates from Pakistan, why are the Americans not putting more pressure on Islamabad to shut him down?"

Kabul will not allow Pacha Khan a look-in. It fears the Zadran's fierce independence and seeks to weaken and undermine the tribe, lest there be an uprising in a region traditionally left to manage its own affairs. The Zadran claim as their right the Ministry of Tribal and Border Affairs but have been denied this influential post for nearly 20 years. No Zadran has been made a foreign ambassador. Efforts last year by elders to iron out differences between Zadran sub-tribes ignited American speculation that the Zadran were bent on resisting Kabul.

Says Pacha Khan, with a wagging finger: "We should not be forgotten, but we don't get what we deserve in terms of schools, clinics and economic development; we don't get the jobs we need. It concerns me that Paktia is seen as the forgotten province."

The Haqqani Network is the only significant element of the insurgency not based inside Afghanistan. His local support and training bases are supplemented by lethal long-range hit-and-run missions by mostly foreign fighters based in Pakistan. Influential as he is in Paktia, however, Haqqani must work with the reality that tribes do sit on the fence, play his game but also play America's. "They want to keep in touch with the Americans and Kabul," says Thomas Ruttig, a 25-year veteran of the region and a member of the Afghanistan Analysts' Network. "The Zadran are split, but the tribes are strong."

The Haqqani Network is judged by analysts to be the most unreconcilable of the Afghan insurgency units. Haqqani is believed by the US to be the Taliban figure most closely linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda, to be in receipt of Arab funds and to get help of sympathetic elements of the Pakistani military and intelligence services in cross-border movement and in hiding his operatives in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan.

American eavesdropping last year reportedly heard the Pakistani military chief of staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, describe Haqqani as "a strategic asset". Colleagues of the general were overheard warning Haqqani of attacks against his forces. In the 1980s war against the Soviets, Haqqani was one of Washington's strategic assets, receiving significant funds and huge arms shipments.

"Today, Haqqani seems to enjoy a ‘most-favoured’ status among some Pakistani and Saudi authorities who repeatedly have suggested including him as a ‘moderate’ in attempts to start negotiations with insurgents," Ruttig writes in a paper published in July.

After the 1990s civil war, Haqqani threw in his lot with the Taliban and their Saudi Arabian guest — bin Laden. He went from being Washington's well-funded mujahideen darling to sworn enemy.

Haqqani, one of the most powerful American-backed mujahideen warlords against the Soviets, was undefeated in the subsequent mujahideen civil war. With the mid-1990s emergence of the Taliban, he signed up with the fundamentalists, reportedly making available his plentiful stocks of US-supplied Stinger missiles. His reward was to be the first non-Talib in the Kabul ministry and later commander of Taliban forces and governor of Paktia. There, he formed a personal and organisational bond with bin Laden, who had his al-Qaeda training camps near Khost.

Shortly after the Taliban fell, Haqqani was courted by the US and Kabul. He was reportedly offered the post of Karzai's prime minister. Later his brother Ibrahim and son Ishaq were arrested and used unsuccessfully as bargaining chips to turn Haqqani. Haqqani told reporters in Islamabad late in 2001: "We will retreat to the mountains and begin a long guerrilla war to reclaim our pure land from infidels and free our country like we did against the Soviets … We'll deal with [the Americans] in our own way."

Haqqani is believed to be a member of the Taliban leadership council and to have embraced the fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar as his spiritual leader. But Haqqani operates his own command, a semi-independent warlord with autonomy from the Taliban.

"Haqqani's strength is intimidation," says the analyst Ruttig. "He is ruthless, so he intimidates people."

Haqqani has extended his operations into the provinces of Wardak and Logar, on Kabul's doorstep. He's been blamed for last year's assassination attempt on Karzai; last year's bombing of the Serena, Kabul's only five-star hotel; last year's suicide attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul; and a car-bomb attack on NATO military headquarters in Kabul in the lead up to the August 20 presidential election.

He refused to agree to Mullah Omar's 2006 order to cease attacks on ordinary Afghans. "Haqqani would be responsible for two-thirds of all the strife there [in the Zadran Arc]," ventured an American analyst. "Some of the communities are very Taliban, and much of the rest is neutral. No one in the whole area is pro the Kabul government or the NATO forces."

Haqqani, who has an Arab wife and funding from Dubai and other Arab regions, was excluded from the Bonn process, where the international blueprint for Afghanistan was stamped. His nemesis Pacha Khan was at the top table for festivities, hob-nobbing with diplomats. "His fury at being left out is the reason for his resistance," says US Captain Gary McDonald at COP Dyesai in the depths of the mountain pass. "How much of that is in play? The son has to continue the father's war because the father was so disrespected."

In the way of the tribes, Pacha Khan's son has been installed as the sub-governor of Wazi Zadran, the seat of Pacha Khan power. When the Taliban fell, the son was a twentysomething car dealer in Dubai. "None of the father's presence," says a senior American officer. "He watched out for the family interests, but he is not very dynamic." This arrangement leaves much of the running in Paktia to Haqqani.

The fathers may be handing power to the sons and, in Paktia, the Americans are banking on leadership shortcomings in the younger generation.

But already the Americans rank Haqqani's son Serajuddin, 35, as an influential insurgency leader in the east. He is understood to have taken over day-to-day running of the terrorist network. "The Haqqanis have had a successful succession," says a US analyst. "But I can't say the same for Pacha Khan and his boy."

Pacha Khan bridles at the suggestion his warlord days are over. As the Herald's question is translated, his entire brow quivers. Stabbing a finger in the air, he says: "I have not delegated my power or authority to anyone — my son is just the district chief to help secure the area. I'm 58 — and still a strong man."

Colonel Campbell is disarmingly frank about his circumstances. With 19 years of conventional military service behind him, he is also a model spokesman for Washington as American forces in Afghanistan attempt to switch to the counterinsurgency objective of protecting people and growing communities, instead of relentlessly pursuing the enemy in the gaps between communities. "What I have changed in the lives of the people will be the indicator of my success," says Campbell. "Beating my chest on rounds fired and enemy kills is one thing … I can kill 150 fighters, but next year another 150 will come over the mountains. What I have to do is create an environment in which they can't come back."

While remaining "on the offensive" and looking for the enemy, "we look for sources of discontent that can be exploited by the Taliban and we try to fix them. We have to be the anchor that pulls the people towards the Kabul government. If they are afraid, we have to separate them physically and psychologically. The people are the centre of gravity."

As the Afghanistan crisis enters its ninth year, there is a growing sense that the number of Americans in central Asia is insufficient, and that the "more" that Barack Obama might provide won't be sufficient enough to make a real difference.

"The first eight years have been wasted," says Thomas Ruttig. "And it is very difficult to answer what do we do now. We've been talking up a rosy picture for the last five years — and now we have awakened to a nightmare."

Insurgency leaders are wont to claim time is on their side; that the Americans will be ground down and will leave. But at COP Dyesai, Sergeant Brent Koegler has seized the sentiment as his own. "We can wait out the Taliban … we just have to keep doing what we are doing."

Koegler seems to embrace the local inshallah principle of deferring to a higher authority — God willing, things will happen. His boss, Neal Erickson, doesn't buy it. "I hope it's not inshallah," he says. "Inshallah is nice — but it doesn't get shit done."

• TOMORROW in The Sun-Herald, Paul McGeough explains how the Taliban get their share of Washington's road money through a protection racket.

http://www.smh.com.au/world/the-road-to-perdition-20090925-g6bh.html (http://www.smh.com.au/world/the-road-to-perdition-20090925-g6bh.html)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 29, 2009, 01:50:09 am

From The Sydney Morning Herald (http://www.smh.com.au)

Deals with a devil to pave a road to hell

After eight difficult years, Afghanistan has gone off the rails. America's top general says he needs thousands more troops to avoid defeat, and Barack Obama has added "cut and run" to America's list of options.  The Herald's chief correspondent, Paul McGeough, and the SBS Dateline cameraman David Brill travelled to Afghanistan's south-east, where a Taliban warlord has declared war against a $US100 million road being built by the Americans.

This is the SECOND of three stories.

By PAUL McGEOUGH in Afghanistan | Sunday, September 27, 2009


Dangerous work... a Romanian security contractor stands guard at a section of the road from Khost to Gardez.

The Taliban have declared war against a $US100 million road being built by the Americans in Afghanistan's south-east. And yet the road builders have little choice but to play by the insurgents' rules; and even make sure they get a cut of the money through a protection racket.

Everyone — even the Taliban — gets a slice of the action when it comes to building roads in Afghanistan.

High in the Hindu Kush, where bursts of lavender enliven a fading alpine carpet of summer's green bumfluff, winks, nods and timely backhanders make the insurgents a key, albeit unofficial, party when big money is divided.

It is effectively the Taliban that decide which local contractors will work on a project — either by setting a level of protection money that the contractor can afford to pay, or by scrubbing their participation with bullets and bombs. The Taliban also keep an eye on locals who get work on the project — especially the all-important security jobs.

A key construction project in the volatile south-eastern border region is the Washington-funded K-G Road — a $US100 million ($115million), 100-kilometre blacktop through Taliban country between Khost, on the Pakistan border, and the hub city of Gardez, south of Kabul.

Overseeing the road is a bluff American engineer, Steve Yahn, a 53-year-old Massachusetts father who has been building roads in Afghanistan since 2002.

He is acutely aware of the challenge. "On the earlier projects, including the Kabul-Kandahar Road, we had 136 workers killed and 158 wounded,” he says. “But that was on open, flat land in the south. This one is much harder in terms of security and engineering.”

Since groundwork began on the K-G Road in May last year, Yahn has lost 16 workers — 13 dead and three missing — and 19 have been wounded.

Deals in which the Taliban top up their coffers by demanding as much as 30 per cent of the value of a contract as protection money are rife across the country.

As project manager for the US contractor Louis Berger Group, Yahn knows of the Taliban pressure on his local contractors — staff get kidnapped, vehicles burnt, they are harassed and threatened, and many of their employees walk in fear for their lives.

A foreign security observer who has made a study of the project, but who cannot be identified in this report, explains the grim reality of relationships in the mountains.

“There are lots of local workers — some are Taliban and some of the subcontractors are Taliban associates,” he says. “The project has its eyes and ears on the ground, telling it when not to go on the road. These ‘eyes and ears’ communicate with the Taliban and they work for the Taliban.”

The project tries to make itself as small a target as possible — “playing by the Taliban's rules”, the observer notes. All road gangs are cleared off the carriageway to avoid them becoming killed as military or heavily armed private convoys, which are prime Taliban targets, move through.

The Taliban rules insist on maximum local employment and, among other things, that all road-construction vehicles fly the white flag of the Taliban.

It is easy to be shocked by all this. But Yahn says he has seen it all before — in another time, another place.

“You do construction work in New York City and you'll find the same thing, just different labels — there, the factions are politicians, the Mafia and labour unions. In New York, Boston, on the Baltimore docks, there's a lot of this stuff at work.”

“They're not all bad,” Yahn says of the Taliban, drawing a parallel with the conservatism of some American Mormons. “They have their beliefs and maybe they don't want to send their children to school, but if they're not disrupting my project, they are moderate Talibs.”

All up there are about 1000 workers on the project — two security men for each construction worker. Most are Afghans employed by local sub-contractors. But the South African-run security operation includes Romanians and Gurkhas.

Before work starts each day, the construction corridor is swept for roadside bombs that may have been planted in the night. Arriving on the job, Yahn is not allowed to alight until a security cordon is thrown around his armoured vehicle — and one of the guards decides it is safe to open the door for him.

Depending on the terrain, the South Africans' objective is to create a security bubble in which construction can proceed — anywhere between 500 metres and two kilometres either side of the road.

Traffic is mostly convoys of colourful trucks, crawling at snail's pace over bone-jarring rock and earth that bears little resemblance to a road.

Most trucks lumbering down from the mountains are laden with firewood, cut by high-country axemen. The wood is invariably piled with near surgical precision — often causing the American forces to wonder about what might be buried under it.

US Army Colonel Robert Campbell explains: “Infiltration from Pakistan is a Mafia-like operation — apart from fighters coming over, smugglers bring in weapons and cash that finds its way to Kabul and elsewhere.”

The business structure on the K-G project is of a kind replicated across Afghanistan, much to the fury of some aid organisations. Louis Berger Group is the principal contractor but it has subcontracted an Indian firm to actually build the road.

A US government official, who requested that he not be named, says that despite being a controversial choice, the Indian firm was selected because it was one of only two companies prepared to do the job.

Asked about the wisdom of the choice, given virulent anti-Indian sentiment among the local, pro-Pakistan Pashtu population, he says: “The locals have some reservations about the Indians — but the company is doing its best to employ locals and to mitigate animosity.” But at the same time, he explains that the road is already over budget, mainly because of security. “Insecurity has increased exponentially since the inception of the project.”

This road is vital. Khost sits just kilometres from the border with Pakistan. But because the track that links it to the rest of Afghanistan is so appalling, the city, its farmers and traders have effectively been a part of the Pakistani economy. Their currency is the Pakistani rupee and much of their summer produce is trucked to Pakistan for cold storage and then hauled back for sale at twice the price in winter — because Khost does not have adequate storage facilities.

Originally, the road design called for metal guard rails but once the Taliban discovered they could fix explosives to the metal to target passing convoys, the rails were scrapped in favour of stone walls with a reinforced slab-concrete core.

In winter, work at the higher altitudes grinds to a halt as freezing temperatures make road-building impossible and, with the summer pasture fading already, the Kuchi are on the move.

The Central Asian equivalent to the Bedouin of the Middle East, thousands of these nomads, with their herds and camels burdened with the tents that are their homes, are heading back to lower country near Khost. They know they must stick to the narrow corridor in which Yahn is trying to build a highway because white-painted rocks that speckle the shoulders of the road mark the extent to which Soviet and mujahideen minefields have been cleared.

Already work is behind schedule. The road was to be completed before the coming winter, but the work gangs will be lucky to crest the Satukandav Pass before the winter shutdown. The new completion date is some time next northern summer.

Yahn talks about the 23-kilometre mark, just short of the Satukandav Pass, as an "imaginary barrier". “Heading out from Gardez, it's relatively safe up to that point, but from 23 to 70 we've had lots of hits — that's where the provincial governor was nearly killed.”

The military convoy on which we travelled returns to base without mishap. But, less than 24 hours later, there is a mighty explosion just up the road from where we had been — an improvised bomb makes shrapnel of a lumbering truck and kills its driver, who happened to be in the wrong place as insurgents targeted a passing US convoy.

There had been a string of attacks in Khost and Gardez, in a bid to disrupt voting in the August 20 presidential election. But the bomb that destroys the truck heralds a new burst of insurgency activity along the road — in the space of a couple of days, an Afghan National Police station at the 16-kilometre mark is attacked; massed Taliban fighters are reported on the move near Khost; and around Gerda Serai, a bazaar we visited, pro-Taliban commanders are issuing dire threats to any locals who co-operate with the Americans or the Afghan Government.

Days later, the Afghan counterterrorism chief was gunned down in Khost and five Afghan soldiers died in an improvised bomb strike at Barmali in neighbouring Paktia province.

The Taliban might be slowing progress on the K-G Road but they have not forced the project to a halt. Standing on flat ground outside Gardez, Yahn gazes up to the heights of the Satukandav Pass. “We're marching up the hill,” he says with determination.

• TOMORROW in The Sydney Morning Herald, the final report in this three-part series by Paul McGeough.

http://www.smh.com.au/world/deals-with-a-devil-to-pave-a-road-to-hell-20090926-g75s.html (http://www.smh.com.au/world/deals-with-a-devil-to-pave-a-road-to-hell-20090926-g75s.html)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 29, 2009, 01:51:07 am

CHUCKLE....so the Americans have put up the money to build this road as part of their war against the Teliban.

However, the local Teliban cream off up to 30% of the money provided by the Americans as part of a protection racket, as well as dictating that the contractors building the road fly the Teliban flag on their vehicles, plus the Teliban also get to dictate who actually works on the contract.

Then, the contractors clear themselves off the road whenever an American military convoy passes through, so the Teliban can attack the convoy, no doubt paying for the attacks with the money they cream off the Americans in the first place.

Faaaaark....no wonder the dumbarse Americans are losing the war in Afghanistan!  :o  ::)  ;D

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 29, 2009, 02:14:11 am

From The Sydney Morning Herald (http://www.smh.com.au)

New road paved with promises and projects

The US hopes a highway from Khost, on the border with Pakistan, to the hub city of Gardez will help tame Afghanistan's wild south-east. But in this final report in a three-part series, the Herald's Chief Correspondent finds distrust and unease in the village of Gerda Serai.

By PAUL McGEOUGH | Monday, September 28, 2009


Rocky progress...an Afghan with a rocket-propelled grenade
launcher watches traffic on the Khost-Gardez road.

All who travel the K-G Road come to Gerda Serai, a hovel in the hills that depends for its existence on the heaving through-traffic. Its spartan, dust-coated bazaar is a hotch-potch of basic travellers' needs — mechanical services, a ramshackle hotel, "take-your-life-in-your-hands" food stalls. Dogs run in the pot-holed, flooded street, but something is happening here that the Americans must manage expertly — their lives depend on it.

Gerda Serai sits on a turn in a valley which is too narrow for the $US100 million ($115 million) road, the bazaar and a river that runs wild when the mountain snows melt in the spring. So, to make room for the new blacktop when it comes through next summer, the bazaar must be moved.

As US Colonel Robert Campbell's convoy eases to a halt at the entrance to the bazaar, he sets out the challenge. "They'll be given new shops. It'll be an enemy victory if we bulldoze this place without providing new ones," he says, as his nervy troops throw a cordon around the convoy.

Campbell mooches through the bazaar, becoming an actor in a game of bluff — his own terrier-like watchfulness is sheathed in hail-fellow, well-met repartee with locals who, for the most part, respond in kind — but it has to be assumed that some of them are Talibs or friends or relatives of the insurgents who are playing the same game. "The enemy's not far away," he says. "They're watching us now, working out what we are doing so they can intimidate the people."

Deeper into the bazaar, men who have built a high retaining wall to stop the new road from falling into the river grouse because they have not been paid for their hard work. "The road won't come this year," Campbell tells them, before invoking a Muslim term that absolves him of all responsibility, by deferring to a higher authority. "But next year, inshallah [God willing]." Campbell is looking for information: had the insurgents bothered them as they built the wall?

"No," says Ezat Khan, one of the stonemasons.

Campbell: "But you know the enemy's in the area? You will report any suspicious activity?" Khan: "Yes, we will tell the police."

Campbell crosses the road to engage a thick-set, heavily bearded man who stands chest forward, hands on his hips — this is one of the local strongmen, Haji Keyle. The American sticks to his scripted patter about the road — but as he wraps up, there's a new edge to his voice. "You stay out of trouble, you hear?"

And that, we might have thought, was the last we would hear of Haji Keyle.

The Americans here are spirited, even upbeat. But the more they talk, the more difficult it becomes to understand their confidence. In these parts, in these times, nothing can be taken at face value. The Americans fully understand the push-me, pull-me power of the local warlords: Jalaluddin Haqqani, who, with his son, is the bridge between the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda; and Pacha Khan Zadran, who is erratic and brutal, but seemingly is acceptable to the Americans because, for the time being at least, he says he supports President Hamid Karzai — a position that could change with any coming phase of the moon.

The challenge is in reading which of the locals run with the Taliban, and why - be it out of a loyalty as old as memories of fighting the Soviets together, or from intimidation as fresh as yesterday's threat to behead village elders, which might have been posted on the mosque wall.

Perplexing the Americans is Haji Sangeen, an elder pivotal in their relationship with the people of Gerda Serai, but who they suspect has ties to Haqqani and his terrorism network.

"Haji Sangeen works with us and with Kabul," says Neal Erickson, a young US Army captain, as he elaborates on the complexities of the local equation and on how the elders try to stay alive. "Some of the other elders don't know yet if they want to side with us or with the Taliban. Haqqani still has his old mujahideen links. Everyone here fought the Soviets and those who fought with Haqqani remember him as a good guy who helps some of them with medical costs."

"Elders who sided with Haqqani in the past will do what is best for their own; they will go with the development projects. But I'd put money on it that they still have connections to Haqqani; they provide intelligence and shelter, but maybe not as actively as in the past."

And for one of the young captain's military colleagues, that uncertainty extends to Haji Sangeen. "He sits on the fence — we don't know which way he'll fall," he says.

As they enter year nine of this conflict, it is remarkable that the Americans still grope to understand the people they are attempting to pacify.

An offshoot of the Mogul tribes, the Zadran broke away after a rift eons ago. "The original tribe lived to the north and what became the Zadran came to this harsh area," says an American analyst before invoking the film Deliverance in an unsettling description of the people and their culture. "This is the West Virginia of Afghanistan — they moved to the mountains and they did not evolve. They are very clannish, xenophobic."

When the winter snow closes in, the entire area becomes isolated for up to six months, during which the locals nurse grievances and massage their anger at the world, prompting this observation from an American: "That's their biggest problem. They feel disconnected and, boy, are they pissed off by what they say are a lot of broken promises."

Grappling to explain the Zadran people, another US analyst at Gardez turns on a computer and calls up a recently commissioned anthropological study. "It says they are savages," he says, incredulous. The analyst refuses to endorse the report's terminology, yet he is taken by some of the sentiment: "A savage is someone who has no self-restraint and no moral obligations in terms of himself and his own desires. As an assessment of these people, that's possibly unfair, but there is an element of ‘it's all about me, and screw everyone else because I want my share of the pie — and I'm going to get it’."

The American reads the critical paragraphs from the computer: "The Zadran have been written up as a small tribe, but they are the biggest in the south-east. Their manners resemble the Waziris [who straddle the nearby border with Pakistan] and the Kharotis [also concentrated in the east], from which we may infer that they are utter savages. They live in small villages … they are great robbers and their country was a refuge for bad characters."

Thomas Ruttig, a member of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, is shocked by the anthropologists' assessment of the locals as savages. "I take exception to that," he says. "I have been working in Afghanistan for 25 years. They might look like savages, but they have a sophisticated political understanding."

Explaining how he had been able to inoculate German-funded development projects from insurgency attacks, by getting the locals to remind the Taliban that the work was a one-off chance that would benefit their communities, Ruttig says: "One of these 'savages' said to me, ‘We know who the Germans, the Swedes and the Americans are’."

The "savage's" point, and Ruttig's, is that America's military tactics have created so much local hostility that it has become difficult, if not impossible, for the locals to accept the US presence and Washington's aid. Ruttig says that local people he knows in Khost, at the far end of the K-G Road, who had long supported the presence of foreign troops, turned against the US earlier this year after a controversial civilian casualty. "They told me they had no option but to join a tribal uprising."

"There is great hostility to the Americans, but it is not because the people are savages."


Power talks...tribal elder Haji Sangeen and US colonel Rob Campbell.

There are moments in Afghanistan when the locals flick a light switch for a foreign observer, revealing in the simplest exchange all the complexities that make the US-led campaign to rebuild Afghanistan so daunting. Early one morning at COP (Combat Outpost) Wilderness, amid the strewn carpets of the shura hut in which the Americans meet and greet local leaders and officials, Colonel Campbell sits on the floor next to the richly bearded and steely, blue-eyed Haji Sangeen, the strongman from Gerda Serai.

Campbell, cross-legged in his stockinged feet, shoots the breeze on a range of local issues: progress on the road, moving the bazaar, and income for locals when the road is finished.

Haji Sangeen is an imposing figure; his anthracite beard is burnished with henna, his blue eyes — rare among Afghans — are riveting.

Campbell is a Pentagon poster pin-up boy, seeming to relish a challenge to his 19 years of military service which he admits, beyond Haji Sangeen's hearing, is confounding. "I came into the army to kill people, for a sense of adventure — not to sit in meetings like this or to foster development. I want an army formation to manoeuvre on top of — but this is not that kind of war."

Asked about Haqqani's power and influence in the district, Haji Sangeen plays a straight bat as he speaks through an interpreter. "The people are tired of him," he offers. "Our people do not support Haqqani. They will not follow his orders and those who followed him have fled to Pakistan."

Likewise, he dispatches Pacha Khan. "He is from a different sub-tribe and he has alienated our people … always siding with his own people." He reconsiders: "But Pacha Khan is still important and relations are improving."

Campbell then makes a plea that can be described only as heartfelt: "I know you can't physically stop the enemy coming back. But I want to create a place where he is not welcome, where there's no support when he returns in the spring. I ask for your help in finding the enemy and in talking to the people to make sure they don't support them when they come down from the mountains for supplies. Every year we have to make this place stronger, give the people something to be proud of, something that belongs to them that they will want to protect."

But this wily tribal elder ignores Campbell's plea, instead upping the ante with a demand for more projects. "This is a remote, backward area," he parries. "We have rivers that can give us electricity …"

Campbell counters: "I want to be smart about projects. If we try to do too many, we'll not be able to control them to ensure they are properly built and operated."

Haji Sangeen does not miss a beat. He presses what he believes is his advantage. "Our main issues are clinics and electricity. In my village we have a problem with snow blocking the roads — in winter we have to transport the sick by wheelbarrow, because we can't use cars and trucks."

Campbell calls a truce: "Inshallah, this will be the last year that you don't have a good road." Haji Sangeen seems to agree: "The US has delivered on all its promises. Our people see the Americans every day and trust them increasingly. This is very good."

Later, one of Campbell's senior colleagues explains that Haji Sangeen is playing for time, gouging what he can from the Americans and in the full knowledge that the constant rotation of US military officers and aid officials will deliver to his door an American who will think that local hydro-electricity is a great idea. "Haji Sangeen will get his power plant," the officer says. "You watch."

Watching in intense silence as Haji Sangeen speaks is the rest of his village delegation. Ordinarily someone of his standing would meet the likes of Campbell and the Herald alone — but it is safe to assume there will be local reports back on this encounter and a need for reassurance that Haji Sangeen has not deviated from the local script.

"A couple of years ago, Haji Sangeen would have said ‘yes’ to the American colonel, but now he is afraid — he knows the Taliban will come later," Ruttig, an expert on the political dynamic in the south-east, says later. "My guess is that he would have told the Taliban he was going to see the colonel. To do otherwise would be to risk his life."

It was only after Colonel Campbell's encounter at the Gerda Serai bazaar with Haji Keyle, the man he warned to stay out of trouble, that the depth of the Americans' suspicion about key local players emerged. Campbell explains Haji Keyle's role in the community. "That one's influential — a lot of the young people listen to him," he says. "He has a questionable past … he's been dealing with the enemy. We're watching him," by which Campbell means every time Haji Keyle uses his mobile phone, an American intelligence officer is listening to every word.

Absent from the bazaar during Campbell's street-walk was another powerbroker under the same microscope. Maiki Khan is a towering figure, but what particularly interests the Americans is his family ties — he reputedly is married to Haqqani's sister. The suspicion is that Maiki Khan is part of what sometimes is described as Haqqani's "shadow government". A US military analyst explains: "They are still loyal to Haqqani and they have people in the Kabul Government who still play both sides. They grew up with Haqqani. They are not very effective, but this is a network of people tied to other people who seek to influence the locals."

One of Campbell's analysts reckons there is an even chance Maiki Khan will be locked up by the Americans.

Campbell says that removing such prominent figures is not an easy decision. "I have to be careful — people look up to these guys, so if you push them out of the community you have a problem on your hands. But we did lift a member of the Gerda Serai shura — he was bad." Campbell stops short of a final call on the allegiances of Haji Sangeen, who is a man on whom the Americans have to rely in Gerda Serai.

As though in conversation with himself, the colonel says: "Haji Sangeen? We don't think he's doing anything crooked … ‘we don't think’, yeah."

http://www.smh.com.au/world/new-road-paved-with-promises-and-projects-20090927-g7r5.html (http://www.smh.com.au/world/new-road-paved-with-promises-and-projects-20090927-g7r5.html)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 01, 2009, 11:27:15 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 12, 2009, 04:49:02 pm

William Astore — Apocalypse Then, Afghanistan Now

posted October 11, 2009 | TomDispatch.com (http://www.tomdispatch.com/)

Here's the thing: This may be our next "Vietnam moment," but Afghanistan is no Vietnam: there are no major enemy powers like the Soviet Union and China lurking in the background; no organized enemy state with a powerful army like North Vietnam supporting the insurgents; no well organized, unified national liberation movement like the Vietcong, and that's just a beginning. Almost everywhere, in fact, the Vietnam analogy breaks down — almost everywhere, that is, except when it comes to us. Because we never managed to leave Vietnam behind, even when we were proclaiming that we had kicked (http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/47440/george-c-herring/america-and-vietnam-the-unending-war) that "syndrome," it turns out that we're still there. Our military leaders, for instance, only recently dusted off the old Vietnam-era counterinsurgency doctrine that once ended in catastrophe, shined it up, and are now presenting it as an ingenious new solution to war-fighting. Let's face it: everything about American thinking still stinks of the Vietnamese debacle, including the inability of our leaders to listen to a genuinely wide range of options.

Now, according to Peter Baker of the Wall Street Journal, a "battle" (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125487333320069331.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories) of two Vietnam histories is underway at the White House and the Pentagon. Think of them as dueling books. The president and a number of his advisors have just finished reading Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0805090878/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20) about a White House "being marched into an escalating war by a military viewing the conflict too narrowly to see the perils ahead" and backed by a hawkish national security adviser. The other, a Pentagon favorite, A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0156013096/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20), focuses on a military that by the early 1970s was supposedly winning its counterinsurgency struggle only to be "rejected by political leaders who bow[ed] to popular opinion and end[ed] the fight."

If it's a battle of Vietnam histories that Washington wants, should the contest really be limited to these two books? After all, one is about a White House advisor who, like so many of "the best and the brightest," was decades behind the curve in discovering that he had made a mistake pushing for war; the other, a smiley-faced look at the years 1968-1973 in Vietnam that champions an eerily familiar "stab in the back" (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174859) thesis in which pusillanimous civilian leaders lead a proud military to defeat.

If it's a Vietnam syllabus you're looking for, President Obama, why not start with The Best and the Brightest (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0449908704/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20), David Halberstam's brilliant dissection of the Vietnam disaster? Having covered Vietnam as a New York Times reporter, he knew a bankrupt war when he saw one. Or why not consider what an American "counterinsurgency" war really meant on the ground? Nothing will give you a more visceral sense of the destruction visited on Vietnam and the Vietnamese in those grim years than Jonathan Schell's double-barreled classic The Real War (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0306809265/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20). (Why doesn't anyone in your administration ask Schell, who saw the worst of that war close up, for advice on our new "Vietnam moment"?)

Or you might check out William Gibson's devastating, sardonically entitled post-war book, The Perfect War: Technowar in Vietnam (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0871137992/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20). It's a history of what the war managers did and, believe me, it gives the World War II acronym snafu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SNAFU) new punch. Or you could pick up Patriots (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0142004499/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20), Christian Appy's unique oral history of the war as seen from all sides. It provides a perfect way to explore why, faced with overwhelming American firepower, the other side so often refuses to quit.

Not long ago, your special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, picked up a phone in Kabul and called (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/world/ap/52603317.html) Stanley Karnow, who got a Pulitzer Prize for his 1983 middle-of-the-road, one-volume history (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0140265473/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20) of the war. We don't know how that consultation — in the presence of Afghan war commander General Stanley McChrystal — went, but Karnow did offer this comment to an AP reporter later: "What did we learn from Vietnam? We learned that we shouldn't have been there in the first place. Obama and everybody else seem to want to be in Afghanistan, but not I."

My own suggestion to you and your staff for a single-volume history is Marilyn Young's cautionary tale, The Vietnam Wars: 1945-1990 (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0060921072/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20). And then give her a buzz, too, and see what she thinks about the present moment. (Notice, by the way, that "s" on "wars" in her title, since she includes the U.S.-backed French war. When a good history of the conflict in Afghanistan is written, its title, too, will undoubtedly have the plural "wars" in it. After all, we've been fighting there on and off for three decades now.)

Finally, there's a classic from 1967 that should be front and center when discussing the future of the Afghan War. Its title still says it all, even if the topic has yet to make it into your White House (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/07/world/asia/07prexy.html) when it comes to Afghanistan. I'm talking about Howard Zinn's Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal (http://www.amazon.com/dp/089608681X/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20) — which leads me to retired Lieutenant Colonel William Astore's latest TomDispatch post, focusing on why, then and now, administrations find themselves trapped within such a narrow ambit of opinion.

— Tom Engelhardt

Obama at the Precipice

Tough Guys Don't Need to Dance in Afghanistan

By William J. Astore

It's early in 1965, and President Lyndon B. Johnson faces a critical decision. Should he escalate in Vietnam? Should he say "yes" to the request from U.S. commanders for more troops? Or should he change strategy, downsize the American commitment, even withdraw completely, a decision that would help him focus on his top domestic priority, "The Great Society" he hopes to build?

We all know what happened. LBJ listened to the generals and foreign policy experts and escalated, with tragic consequences for the United States and calamitous results for the Vietnamese people on the receiving end of American firepower. Drawn deeper and deeper into Vietnam, LBJ would soon lose his way and eventually his will, refusing to run for reelection in 1968.

President Obama now stands at the edge of a similar precipice. Should he acquiesce to General Stanley A. McChrystal's call for 40,000 to 60,000 (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/10/world/asia/10prexy.html) or more U.S. troops for Afghanistan? Or should he pursue a new strategy, downsizing our commitment, even withdrawing completely, a decision that would help him focus on national health care, among his other top domestic priorities?

The die, I fear, is cast. In his "war of necessity," (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125054391631638123.html) Obama has evidently already ruled out even considering a "reduction" option (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/07/world/asia/07prexy.html), no less a withdrawal one, and will likely settle on an "escalate lite" program involving more troops (though not as many as McChrystal has urged), more American trainers for the Afghan army, and even a further escalation of the drone war over the Pakistani borderlands and new special operations actions.

By failing his first big test as commander-in-chief this way, Obama will likely ensure himself a one-term presidency, and someday be seen as a man like LBJ whose biggest dreams broke upon the shoals of an unwinnable war.

The Conventional Wisdom: Military Escalation

To whom, we may ask, is Obama listening as he makes his decision on Afghanistan strategy and troop levels? Not the skeptics, it's safe to assume. Not the free-thinkers, not today's equivalents of Mary McCarthy (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175060) or Norman Mailer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Mailer). Instead, he's doubtless listening to the generals and admirals, or the former generals and admirals who now occupy prominent "civilian" positions at the White House and inside the beltway.

By his actions, Obama has embraced the seemingly sober, conventional wisdom that senior military officers, whether on active duty or retired, have, as they say in the corridors of the Pentagon, "subject matter expertise" when it comes to strategy, war, even foreign policy.

Don't we know better than this? Don't we know, as Glenn Greenwald recently reminded us (http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/09/21/iran/index.html), that General McChrystal's strategic review was penned by a "war-loving foreign policy community," in which the usual suspects — "the Kagans, a Brookings representative, Anthony Cordesman, someone from Rand" — were rounded up to argue for more troops and more war?

Don't we know, as Tom Engelhardt recently reminded us (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175118/a_military_that_wants_its_way), that Obama's "civilian" advisors include "Karl W. Eikenberry, a retired lieutenant general who is the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Douglas Lute, a lieutenant general who is the president's special advisor on Afghanistan and Pakistan (dubbed the "war czar" when he held the same position in the Bush administration), and James Jones, a retired Marine Corps general, who is national security advisor, not to speak of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency"? Are we surprised, then, that when we "turn crucial war decisions over to the military, [we] functionally turn foreign policy over to them as well"? And that they, in turn, always opt for more troops, more money, and more war?

One person unsurprised by this state of affairs would have been Norman Mailer, who died in 2007. War veteran, famed author of the war novel The Naked and the Dead (1948) as well as the Pulitzer Prize-winning report on Vietnam-era protests, The Armies of the Night (1968), self-styled tough guy who didn't dance (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0345323211/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20), Mailer witnessed (and dissected) the Vietnam analog to today's Afghan events. Back in 1965, Mailer bluntly stated that the best U.S. option was "to get out of Asia." Period.

The Unconventional Wisdom: Military Extrication

Can Obama find the courage and wisdom to extricate our troops from Afghanistan? Courtesy of Norman Mailer, here are three unconventional pointers that should be driving him in this direction:

1. Don't fight a war, and clearly don't escalate a war, in a place which means so little to Americans. In words that apply quite readily to Afghanistan today, Mailer wrote in 1965: "Vietnam [to Americans] is faceless. How many Americans have ever visited that country? Who can say which language is spoken there, or what industries might exist, or even what the country looks like? We do not care. We are not interested in the Vietnamese. If we were to fight a war with the inhabitants of the planet of Mars there would be more emotional participation by the people of America."

2. Beware of cascading dominoes and misleading metaphors, whether in Southeast Asia or anywhere else. The domino theory held that if Vietnam, then split into north and south, was united under communism, other Asian countries, including Thailand, the Philippines, perhaps even India, would inevitably fall to communism as well, just like so many dominoes toppling. Instead, it was communism that fell or, alternately, morphed into a version that we could do business with (to paraphrase former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher).

We may no longer speak metaphorically of falling dominoes in today's Af-Pak theater of operations (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175074/the_pressure_of_an_expanding_war). Nevertheless, our fears are drawn from a similarly misleading (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KJ09Df01.html) image: If Afghanistan falls to the Taliban, Pakistan will surely follow, opening a nuclear Pandora's Box to anti-American terrorists in which, in our fevered imaginations, smoking guns will once again become mushroom clouds.

Despite the fevered talk of falling dominoes in his era, Mailer was unmoved. Such rhetoric suggests, he wrote in 1965, "that we are not protecting a position of connected bastions so much as we are trying to conceal the fact that the bastions are about gone — they are not dominoes, but sand castles, and a tide of nationalism is on the way in. It is curious foreign policy to use metaphors in defense of a war; when the metaphors are imprecise, it is a swindle."

To this I'd add that, in viewing countries and peoples as so many dominoes, which by the actions — or the inaction — of the United States are either set up or knocked down, we vastly exaggerate our own agency and emphasize our sense of self-importance. And before we even start in on the inevitable argument about "Who lost Afghanistan?" or "Who lost Pakistan?" is it too obvious to say that never for a moment did we own these countries and peoples?

3. Carrots and sticks may work together to move a stubborn horse, but not a proud people determined to find their own path. As Mailer put it, with a different twist: "Bombing a country at the same time you are offering it aid is as morally repulsive as beating up a kid in an alley and stopping to ask for a kiss."

As our Predator and Reaper drones (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175056/filling_the_skies_with_assassins) scan the Afghan terrain below, launching missiles to decapitate terrorists while unintentionally taking innocents with them, we console ourselves by offering aid to the Afghans to help them improve or rebuild their country. As it happens, though, when the enemy hydra loses a head, another simply grows in its place, while collateral damage only leads (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175063/questions_to_ask_in_the_dead_of_night) to a new generation of vengeance-seekers. Meanwhile, promised aid gets funneled to multi-national corporations or siphoned off by corrupt government officials, leaving little for Afghan peasants, certainly not enough to win their allegiance, let alone their "hearts and minds."

If we continue to speak with bombs while greasing palms with dollars, we'll get nothing more than a few bangs for our $228 billion (http://www.nationalpriorities.org/cost_of_war_afghanistan) (and counting).

What if LBJ Had Listened to Mailer in '65?

Not long before LBJ crossed his Rubicon and backed escalation in Vietnam, he could have decided to pull out.

Said Mailer: "The image had been prepared for our departure — we heard of nothing but the corruption of the South Vietnam government and the professional cowardice of the South Vietnamese generals. We read how a Viet Cong army of 40,000 soldiers was whipping a government army of 400,000. We were told in our own newspapers how the Viet Cong armed themselves with American weapons brought to them by deserters or captured in battle with government troops; we knew it was an empty war for our side."

Substitute "the Hamid Karzai government" for "the South Vietnam government" and "Taliban" for "Viet Cong" and the same passage could almost have been written yesterday about Afghanistan. We know the Karzai government is corrupt, that it stole the vote (http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/blog/2009/09/afghanistan_the_3.html) in the last election, that the Afghan army is largely a figment of Washington's imagination (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175116/ann_jones_us_or_them_in_afghanistan_), that its troops sell their American-made weapons to the enemy. But why do our leaders once again fail to see, as Mailer saw with Vietnam, that this, too, is a recognizably "empty war for our side"?

Mailer experienced the relentless self-regard and strategic obtuseness of Washington as a mystery, but that didn't stop him from condemning President Johnson's decision to escalate in Vietnam. For Mailer, LBJ was revealed as "a man driven by need, a gambler who fears that once he stops, once he pulls out of the game, his heart will rupture from tension." Johnson, like nearly all Americans, Mailer concluded, was a member of a minority group, defined not in racial or ethnic terms but in terms of "alienat[ion] from the self by a double sense of identity and so at the mercy of a self which demands action and more action to define the most rudimentary borders of identity."

This American drive for self-definition through constant action, through headlong acceleration, even through military escalation, the novelist described, in something of a mixed metaphor, as "the swamps of a plague" in which Americans had been caught and continued to sink. He saw relief of the desperate condition coming only via "the massacre of strange people."

To be honest, I'm not sure what to make of Mailer's analysis here, more emotionally Heart-of-Darkness (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_of_Darkness) than coolly rational. But that's precisely why I want someone Mailer-esque — pugnacious, free-swinging, and prophetical, provocative and profane — advising our president. Right now.

As Obama's military experts wield their battlefield metrics and call for more force (to be used, of course, with ever greater precision and dexterity), I think Mailer might have replied: We think the only thing they understand is force. What if the only thing we understand is force?

Mailer, I have no doubt, would have had the courage to be seen as "weak" on defense, because he would have known that Americans had no dog in this particular fight. I think he would intuitively have recognized the wisdom of the great Chinese strategist Sun Tzu, who wrote more than 2,000 years ago in The Art of War that "to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill." Our generals, by way of contrast, seem to want to fight those 100 battles with little hope of actually subduing the enemy.

What Obama needs, in other words, is fewer generals and ex-generals and more Norman Mailers — more outspoken free-thinkers who have no interest in staying inside the pentagonal box that holds Washington's thinking tight. What Obama needs is to silence the endless cries for more troops and more war emanating from the military and foreign policy "experts" around him, so he can hear the voices of today's Mailers, of today's tough-minded dissenters. Were he to do so, he might yet avoid repeating LBJ's biggest blunder — and so avoid suffering his political fate as well.

[Note on sources: Most of the Mailer quotations in this piece are drawn from a speech he wrote for "Vietnam Day," May 25, 1965, in Berkeley, California, as reprinted in Cannibals and Christians (New York, 1966), a fascinating collection of cutting prose and dreadful poetry.]

• William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF), is a TomDispatch regular. He has taught at the Air Force Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School, and now teaches History at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175125/william_astore_apocalypse_then_afghanistan_now (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175125/william_astore_apocalypse_then_afghanistan_now)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 25, 2009, 03:01:06 pm

Afghan battle fatigue

Eight years after the US-led invasion, Afghanistan is no closer to peace, there are record US and Allied casualty figures, and New Zealand now has its fourth wave of SAS troops on the ground. Foreign affairs reporter Jon Stephenson explains why the West's strategy has failed.

By JON STEPHENSON - Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 25 October 2009


Commandos from Afghanistan's Crisis Response
Unit, Task Force 24, are put through their paces
at a training ground near Kabul. New Zealand SAS
troopers are training and mentoring the Afghans,
replacing the Norwegian special forces who built
up the unit. — Photo: Jon Stephenson.

AN AMERICAN special forces commander told a New Zealand SAS team hunting insurgents in Afghanistan: "We're going to put our boot in the middle of the puddle and see which way the water squirts."

The commander was "a hell of a nice bloke", one SAS man recalls. Another begs to differ, describing the American as "a bit of a loose cannon" who "talked shit". The US military, he adds, "don't know how to do hearts and minds".

Stomping in puddles — raiding homes, detaining the wrong people, and killing civilians in wayward air strikes — has cost America dearly in Afghanistan. General Stanley McChrystal, the top US commander there, knows winning hearts and minds — and quickly — is the only way to avoid defeat.

Eight years after the US-led invasion, success seems further away than ever. The Taliban — the conservative Islamic movement that ruled the country from 1996 until it was toppled in 2001 — is leading an increasingly virulent and effective insurgency.

Casualty figures for US and allied forces are at record levels, while Afghans are disillusioned and demoralised. McChrystal has asked for more troops, warning that failure to turn the Taliban tide in a year "risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible".

The West now faces some difficult questions — and so does New Zealand. What has gone wrong? Can the situation be turned around and, if so, how? What precisely is our strategy? Few in the West seem to know, or agree on, what "success" in Afghanistan might look like. In the aftermath of 9/11, America's goal was to rid the country of terrorists and prevent it being used again as a safe haven for al Qaeda. That soon morphed into promises to rebuild a society shattered by decades of conflict and chaos: to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

In Afghanistan, however, western intentions have a nasty habit of running aground on the reefs of reality. Diplomats such as US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, interviewed recently in New Zealand, now couch their hopes for Afghanistan's future in phrases like "some form of stability".

How even that objective can be reached by America and its allies is unclear to many, including the assistant secretary. "All I can tell you," Campbell told Television New Zealand's Guyon Espiner, "is that there is a deep and profound recognition that we need a better strategy..."

Campbell's boss, US President Barack Obama, is struggling for answers. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is mulling over McChrystal's grim Afghanistan assessment and working with Washington's defence chiefs on a way to win his "war of necessity".

BUT BACK in Wellington, Prime Minister John Key has not waited to learn what tack Obama will take. In August, he announced the drawdown of New Zealand's provincial reconstruction team in Bamiyan province and ordered 70 Special Air Service commandos back to the fray.

The SAS troopers are highly regarded for their skills and versatility, and were sent on their fourth Afghanistan deployment at the specific request of the Obama administration. Among other tasks, they will be training and mentoring Afghan commandos from the Crisis Response Unit, or Task Force 24.

Labour leader Phil Goff, who criticised the return of the SAS, has suggested the Afghanistan conflict may be hopeless. In a recent interview with the Sunday Star-Times he said the call for more combat troops to go there reminded him of the latter days of the Vietnam War.

"I think the critical question is: you cannot win in Afghanistan unless you have an effective partner in the local administration and a reliable partner. And I don't believe that [America and its allies] have an effective and reliable partner."

The former defence minister is not alone in this. After meeting United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York last week, Goff quoted the UN chief as saying Afghanistan was in "political crisis" after evidence of widespread voter fraud by supporters of President Hamid Karzai.

"We have a litany of failures," says a high-level official in the Afghanistan government, speaking to the Star-Times on condition of anonymity. But he says the international community and Karzai share the blame.

"To make Karzai the public face of failure is downright criminal," the official says. "They're undermining their partner, and then they wonder why he can't deliver."

He says America and the international community must start working with and empowering Afghans. Of the billions in aid money that has been poured into Afghanistan, roughly three-quarters had been disbursed by the UN, NGOs and foreign governments.

There is plenty of corruption and inefficiency on the part of foreigners, he claims. "They've done no better than the Afghan government. We have had no results to show for it."

Goff, however, appears to view the dodgy election as a watershed event. "This outcome aggravates the situation where the Afghanistan government has been shown to be endemically corrupt, its national police incompetent and deeply unpopular, and the Afghanistan government ineffective in failing to deliver to the Afghan people," he says.

"This is the context in which President Obama is making a decision as to whether to commit further US troops to that country."

EVERY CHOICE Obama makes will be a bad choice, says Arturo Munoz, a senior political scientist at the Washington DC-based Rand Corporation, a global policy think-tank. "If he stays, it's bad; if he leaves, it's bad. If he sends more troops, it's bad; if he doesn't send troops, it's bad. The least-bad option is what he needs to choose."

Munoz spent three decades in the CIA and was in one of the first CIA teams that entered Afghanistan in early 2002. He says Goff is right about one thing: foreign forces can't win in Afghanistan. The Afghans will have to defeat the Taliban — and that, he argues, is still possible.

"The only reason why the Taliban is doing so well is because of the mistakes we have made."

The good news is that, despite America's mistakes, polls consistently show most Afghans do not want the Taliban back. That goes for the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazara as well as the Pashtun — Afghanistan's largest and most powerful ethnic group, from which the Taliban are predominantly drawn.

"If you had massive widespread popular support for the Taliban, even just in the Pashtun areas, then I would say it's hopeless," says Munoz. "But I think the Taliban are seen by many as a backward set of people that are going to impose a retrograde regimen."

The bad news is that distaste for the Taliban does not equate to support for American forces. Nor does any dislike of Mullah Omar and his men mean support for the corrupt and ineffectual Karzai administration.

He says what the average Afghan wants is an end to the petty corruption that makes their daily life a misery: an end to the bureaucrats, policemen and judges who demand bribes at every turn. "That the elections were free and fair? I think that's a lesser concern."


An anti-Taliban fighter in battle during the 2001 US-led
invasion of Afghanistan. Former CIA officer Arturo Munoz
says Afghans welcomed the Americans eight years ago,
but are “profoundly disillusioned” by their failure to rebuild
the country. — Photo: Jon Stephenson.

EVEN WITH good equipment, first-rate intelligence and a disciplined, well-led army, counter-insurgency is notoriously hard to get right. T.E. Lawrence, better-known as "Lawrence of Arabia", famously described it as "messy and slow, like learning to eat soup with a knife".

Afghanistan, with its patchwork of ethnic and tribal groups, is no exception. For foreign forces, telling friend from foe can be next to impossible. As one New Zealand SAS trooper says: "Anyone could be a farmer by day and Taliban by night." The only way to know, soldiers say, is when the bullets start flying.

But attributing all resistance to "the Taliban" is a mistake, says Seth Jones, another Rand scholar and author of In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan. This is not a Taliban insurgency, he argues, but a very localised and complex one with more than a dozen groups operating in the country.

He says the Taliban might be the largest group, but clans and tribes are key players too. Then there are criminals and militias, as well as intelligence agents from Pakistan who are supporting or collaborating with Afghan insurgent groups.

Munoz agrees. "It's very much tribal-based: they come together against a common enemy, as they did with the Soviets. What unifies all these people is us."

Building that unity is made easier for the Taliban when US forces or those of its allies are heavy handed in their operations. The air strikes that kill innocent civilians are a classic example.

"We have been saying for years: ‘This is collateral damage and it's unavoidable’. But the Afghans don't feel that way," says Munoz. "They say, ‘Well, it is avoidable. You don't have to call in an air strike. The Taliban don't have any airplanes, and they fight all the time’."

Getting this aspect of counter-insurgency right is not rocket science, he says. A simple cost/benefit analysis tells you that there is little point in killing one insurgent if you kill 10 civilians in the process and thereby create 100 new enemies.

Up against the high-tech US military juggernaut, the Taliban have become adept at publicising their enemy's mistakes, knowing civilian deaths sit badly in the western world as well as with Afghans. Like McChrystal, they know this war will not be decided on the battlefield.

As with other insurgents groups throughout history, they also understand that they do not have to win; they just have to avoid losing. Time is on their side, and they know it. "The Taliban," says Munoz, "are extremely confident that we will tire."

SO, IS the situation hopeless? Not at all, says the high-level official. "It's absolutely salvageable." He adds, however, that Obama as well as McChrystal must work hard and work fast to win hearts and minds in Afghanistan.

"I think right now we're on a knife-edge," he says. "I think a majority of Afghans want the Americans there, but it's a thin majority. It isn't that the Afghans don't welcome the foreign troops; they just want their lives to improve as a result."

He says the average Afghan believes America and its allies are simply looking for an exit strategy. They worry that they will be left to face the Taliban alone and ask: "Why should I put myself on the line?" "They are fence-sitters," the official says.

So, one of Obama's first tasks must be to convince Afghans that America is there for the long haul — committed to staying until its goals have been met. And those goals, says the official, must be realistic.

The West must abandon any notion that Afghanistan can be transformed into a Jeffersonian democracy. The goal should be a moderate Islamic country, at peace with itself and with its neighbours; a minimal state, strong enough to deliver basic security and services to its people.

The official's preference is for the "clear, hold, and build" strategy that is already being applied in troubled provinces like Helmand, and getting Afghanistan's security forces to a level that allows some US and Nato troops to be pulled out. That, he estimates, will take three to five years.

But all of this effort will be wasted, he says, if America does not go after Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan or force the Pakistanis to do so properly.

"The Pakistanis know exactly where they are."

"At some point in time we will have to bite the bullet and say: ‘If you don't go after these guys, we will’."

Upping the ante with Pakistan is a high-stakes strategy — and three to five years is a long time in politics, especially US politics. America's allies would love to get out, and experts agree that, when Nato countries abandon the cause, the US will be politically and militarily incapable of continuing on its own. Commentators say McChrystal will get two years at most to turn things around, whether or not he gets extra troops.

The end may come even sooner if US casualties mount, public support in the States for the war slumps further, or American politicians pull the plug. Democratic congressional leader Nancy Pelosi is among those uneasy about the war — a worrying sign, for those who know their history. The Vietnam War did not end because of a US military defeat but when the congress cut off funding.

Meanwhile, McChrystal has issued a virtual ban on air strikes in civilian areas. He wants the additional troops he has asked for to help deliver security to Afghans, but he wants those troops to tread carefully.

Will the extra troops McChrystal is after help or hinder the cause? "I think it's the behaviour of those forces," says Munoz. "The complaints that have been made by the Pashtun for years don't have to do with the number of troops, but how they're used."

WHAT WOULD failure look like? What would happen if the West left Afghanistan? Many commentators claim it would descend again into conflict and chaos, and very likely into civil war. Some predict the Taliban would carve out a "Pashtunistan", anchored in a large southern chunk of the country.

But would this present a danger to America and its Nato allies, let alone New Zealand? Key apparently thinks it would, stating that the decision to send the SAS back to Afghanistan is linked to the need to stop it becoming "an even bigger hotbed for global terrorism".

Terence O'Brien, former New Zealand diplomat and now senior fellow at the Wellington-based Centre for Strategic Studies, has little truck with this view. Al Qaeda has been dispersed, he says, and the Taliban were never interested in international jihad. "Their interests stopped at the border of Afghanistan."

Others say some Taliban factions have been radicalised by the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan, adopting al Qaeda's ideology as well as its trademark tactics like suicide bombings. But they say the longer the West remains in Afghanistan, the more radical the Taliban are likely to become.

Either way, it is not difficult to get the impression that Key's decision to dispatch the SAS is less about a commitment to the "Afghanistanians" than a desire to "curry favour with the Americans", as O'Brien claimed recently.

But it can be no coincidence that Key has put an 18-month cap on New Zealand's military commitment. With his currency trader's eye for risk, he will know the odds in Afghanistan are stacked against the West.

So, if Munoz were a betting man, would he put money on the US-led forces or the Taliban winning the day? Who does he think will be ahead in 18 months? "I think the Taliban are ahead," he says. "I think the Taliban will be ahead."

The history of America's involvement in Afghanistan these past eight years is, says Munoz, a history of lost opportunities. "We were welcome there. I experienced it myself. The Afghans, contrary to all the stuff you read about xenophobia, wanted help. Afghans had been tired of civil war; they were tired of the Taliban. They saw the Americans as people who could make their lives better. And as a quid pro quo for not resisting the invasion, they gave us a chance."

"We have not brought progress to Afghanistan. Things are not better; in many respects, things are worse. You haven't had the job creation, the economic infrastructure, to really transform society."

"Now the Taliban are saying: ‘What did you get out of the American occupation? Corruption, air strikes, humiliation, and joblessness’."

British foreign correspondent and long-time Afghanistan observer Christina Lamb argued recently that foreign forces have essentially lost the trust and consent of the Afghans. She doubts they will be able to regain it.

Munoz is not quite as pessimistic, but accepts that the prospects for US success in Afghanistan look bleak. "We have made too many mistakes. We have lost too much time."

Jon Stephenson has spent much of the past eight years reporting issues and events associated with the so-called "war on terror". He was the only New Zealand journalist to report from the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and has also covered conflict in Lebanon and Gaza.


New Zealand's role in Afghanistan

One thing Afghans care about greatly – more than corrupt officials or their government's failure to deliver jobs and services – is the way they are treated by foreign forces.

Here America's record is not distinguished, and this, says political scientist and former CIA officer Arturo Munoz, goes to the heart of his country's failure in Afghanistan.

The searching of villages, the frisking of women, the arbitrary arrests of Pashtun men, the disarming of those who see a gun as their birthright – all these actions have caused deep offence and have served as a recruiting aid for the Taliban.

"Coalition" nations such as Denmark and New Zealand were also caught up, following the US-led invasion, in a policy that focused on counter-terrorism at the expense of counter-insurgency: on capturing or killing "high-value targets" rather than winning hearts and minds. New Zealand SAS troopers and their Danish counterparts have well-earned reputations for professionalism and decency. But in Afghanistan, both countries' special forces have been small players in a big game.

Senior SAS sources say their orders came down from the Americans. "They decided our missions," one told the Star-Times, and the Danes and New Zealanders were sent on occasion to snatch Afghan suspects, some of whom were mistreated in US custody. Standards on raids were strictly observed by the SAS, the New Zealand commandos insist.

Their rules of engagement, issued by defence chiefs in Wellington, stated no one could shoot unless their life or a colleague's was in imminent danger. But having the wall of your compound blown open in the middle of the night and heavily armed men invading your home cannot be pleasant, regardless of whether the invaders are disciplined or happen to come from New Zealand or Denmark.

"Firm but fair" is how an SAS commander termed the treatment of suspects detained by his men, none of whom struck him as an insurgent. "I know we looked after them," another SAS man told the Star-Times.

US soldiers at Kandahar Detention Center took a more "robust" approach to detainees the New Zealanders handed over, and the issue was raised by the SAS. The mistreated prisoners, who turned out to be innocent, were returned to their villages with sacks of rice as compensation. Rice notwithstanding, the experience cannot have gone down well – and in the Pashtun culture, where honour is paramount, an affront to dignity is not easily forgiven.

One Afghan man, arrested by Danish commandos due to faulty intelligence and abused at Kandahar by US soldiers, later told the Associated Press: "If they gave us all of Afghanistan now, it wouldn't make up for this insult."

Provincial reconstruction teams, such as the New Zealand one at Bamiyan, are much more focused on the counter-insurgency philosophy of winning hearts and minds, and a high-level Afghan official says he cannot understand John Key's decision to wind it down and re-deploy the SAS.

"I think that's a huge mistake," the official says. "It sends the wrong signal. Those [SAS] troops will be doing whatever the Americans are doing, and that is hunt-and-kill missions." He says some counter-terrorist operations that are mounted by commandos are a necessary evil, but "special forces do not have a good reputation with the Afghan people".

http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/features/2995955/Afghan-battle-fatigue (http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/features/2995955/Afghan-battle-fatigue)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 02, 2009, 09:01:46 pm

Afghanistan as a Bailout State

posted November 01, 2009 | TomDispatch.com (http://www.tomdispatch.com/)

Too Big to Fail?

Why All the President's Afghan Options Are Bad Ones

By Tom Engelhardt

In the worst of times, my father always used to say, "A good gambler cuts his losses." It's a formulation imprinted on my brain forever. That no-nonsense piece of advice still seems reasonable to me, but it doesn't apply to American war policy. Our leaders evidently never saw a war to which the word "more" didn't apply. Hence the Afghan War, where impending disaster is just an invitation to fuel the flames of an already roaring fire.

Here's a partial rundown of news from that devolving conflict: In the last week, Nuristan, a province on the Pakistani border, essentially fell (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KJ29Df04.html) to the Taliban after the U.S. withdrew its forces from four key bases. Similarly in Khost, another eastern province bordering Pakistan where U.S. forces once registered much-publicized gains (and which Richard Holbrooke, now President Obama's special envoy to the region, termed "an American success story"), the Taliban is largely in control. It is, according to (http://anandgopal.com/in-one-province-taliban-revive/) Yochi Dreazen and Anand Gopal of the Wall Street Journal, now "one of the most dangerous provinces" in the country. Similarly, the Taliban insurgency, once largely restricted to the Pashtun south, has recently spread fiercely (http://anandgopal.com/in-one-province-taliban-revive/) to the west and north. At the same time, neighboring Pakistan is an increasingly destabilized (http://news.antiwar.com/2009/10/27/civilian-displacements-top-200000-as-waziristan-offensive-continues/) country amid war in its tribal borderlands, a terror (http://wire.antiwar.com/2009/10/28/car-bomb-kills-91-in-pakistani-city-of-peshawar/) campaign spreading (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/28/AR2009102800754.html?hpid=sec-world) throughout the country, escalating American drone attacks, and increasingly testy (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/world/asia/27pstan.html) relations between (http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20091027_arrogant_us_misses_the_message_from_pakistans_people/) American officials and the Pakistani government and military.

Meanwhile, the U.S. command in Afghanistan is considering a strategy that involves pulling back from the countryside and focusing on protecting (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/world/asia/28policy.html) more heavily populated areas (which might be called, with the first U.S. Afghan War (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/opinion/29sebestyen.html) of the 1980s in mind, the Soviet strategy (http://www.juancole.com/2009/10/un-guest-house-attacked-in-kabul-8-more.html)). The underpopulated parts of the countryside would then undoubtedly be left to Hellfire missile-armed American drone aircraft. In the last week, three U.S. helicopters — the only practical way (http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1932386,00.html?iid=tsmodule) to get around a mountainous country with a crude, heavily mined system of roads — went down under questionable circumstances (another potential sign of an impending Soviet-style (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/10/helicopters-achilles-heel-of-the-afghanistan-war/) disaster). Across the country, Taliban attacks are up; deadly roadside bombs or IEDs are fast on the rise (http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/10/27/ied.threat/) (a 350% jump since 2007); U.S. deaths are at a record high (http://news.antiwar.com/2009/10/27/worst-month-ever-for-us-in-afghanistan-8-more-killed/) and the numbers of wounded are rising rapidly (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/30/AR2009103003759_pf.html); European allies are ever less willing to send more troops; and Taliban raids in the capital (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33501858/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/), Kabul, are on the increase. All this despite a theoretical 12-1 edge (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jWM24PqWpJg-935bFXbYANhGJ_lQD9BJLDVO0) U.S., NATO, and Afghan troops have over the Taliban insurgents and their allies.

In addition, our nation-building "partner," the hopeless Afghan President Hamid Karzai — known in better times as "the mayor of Kabul" for his government's lack of reach — was the "winner" in an election in which, it seemed, more ballot boxes were stuffed than voters arrived at the polls. In its wake, and in the name of having an effective "democratic" partner in Afghanistan, the foreigners stepped in: Senator John Kerry, Richard Holbrooke, and other envoys appeared in Kabul or made telephone calls to whisper (http://images.derstandard.at/t/12/2009/10/21/1254381070177.jpg) sweet somethings in ears and twist arms (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125608399697997801.html?mod=rss_Today%27s_Most_Popular). The result was a second round (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/6447684/Hamid-Karzai-already-fixing-second-election.html) of voting slated for November 7th and likely only to compound (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/10/afghanistans-election-runoff-disaster-in-the-making/#more-18773) the initial injury. No matter the result (http://news.antiwar.com/2009/10/30/abdullah-poised-to-announce-runoff-election-boycott/) — and Abdullah Abdullah, Karzai's opponent, has already withdrawn in protest (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/02/world/asia/02afghan.html) from the runoff — the winner will, once again, be the Taliban. (And let's not forget the recent New York Times revelation (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/world/asia/28intel.html) that the President's alleged drug-kingpin brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, whom American officials regularly and piously denounce, is, in fact, a long-term paid agent of the CIA and its literal landlord in the southern city of Kandahar. If you were a Taliban propagandist, you couldn't (http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawama/2009/10/most-important-article-afghanistan-youll-read-week.html) make this stuff up.)

With the second round of elections already a preemptive disaster, and foreigners visibly involved in the process, all of this is a Taliban bonanza. The words "occupation," "puppet government," and the like undoubtedly ring ever truer in Afghan ears. You don't have to be a propaganda genius to exploit this sort of thing.

In such a situation, even good imperial gamblers would normally cut their losses. Unfortunately, in Washington terms, what's happened in Afghanistan is not the definition of failure. In the economic lingo of the moment, the war now falls into the category of "too big to fail," which means upping the ante or doubling down the bet. Think of the Afghan War, in other words, as the AIG of American foreign policy.

Playing with Dominos, Then and Now

Have you noticed, by the way, that the worse Afghanistan gets, the more the pundits find themselves stumbling (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/26/AR2009102602642.html?nav=rss_opinion/columns) helplessly into Vietnam? Analogies to that old counterinsurgency catastrophe are now a dime a dozen. And no wonder. Even if it's obvious that Vietnam and Afghanistan, as places and historical situations, have little in common, what they do have is Washington. Our leaders, that is, seem repetitiously intent on creating analogies between the two wars.

What is it about Washington and such wars? How is it that American wars conducted in places most Americans once couldn't have located on a map, and gone disastrously wrong, somehow become too big to fail? Why is it that, facing such wars — whether the president is a Democrat or a Republican — Washington's response is the bailout?

As things go from bad to worse and the odds grow grimmer, our leaders, like the worst of gamblers, wager ever more. Why is it that, in obscure lands under obscure circumstances, American administrations somehow become convinced that everything — the fate of our country, if not the planet itself — is at stake? In Vietnam, this was expressed in the absurd "domino theory": if Vietnam fell, Thailand, Burma, India, and finally California would follow like so many toppling dominos.

Now, Afghanistan has become the First Domino of our era, and the rest of the falling dominos in the twenty-first century are, of course, the terrorist attacks to come, once an emboldened al-Qaeda has its "safe haven" (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20091109/mueller) and its triumph in the backlands of that country. In other words, first Afghanistan, then Pakistan, then a mushroom cloud over an American city. In both the Vietnam era and today, Washington has also been mesmerized by that supposedly key currency of international stature, "credibility." To employ a strategy of "less," to begin to cut our losses and pull out of Afghanistan would — they know with a certainty that passeth belief — simply embolden the terrorist (in the Vietnam era, communist) enemy. It would be a victory for al-Qaeda's future Islamic caliphate (as it once would have been for communist global domination).

By now, the urge to bail out Afghanistan, instead of bailing out of the place, has visibly become a compulsion, even for a foreign policy team that should know better, a team that is actually reading (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125487333320069331.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories) a book about how the Vietnam disaster happened. Unfortunately, the citizenry can't take the obvious first step and check that team, with all its attendant generals and plenipotentiaries, into some LBJ or George W. Bush Rehabilitation Center; nor is there a 12-step detox program to recommend to Washington's war addicts. And the "just say no" approach, not exactly a career enhancer, has been used so far by but a single, upright foreign service officer, Matthew P. Hoh, who sent a resignation (http://warincontext.org/2009/10/27/a-letter-from-afghanistan-that-every-american-must-read/) letter as senior civilian representative in Zabul Province to the State Department in September. ("To put [it] simply: I fail to see the value or the worth in continued U.S. casualties or expenditures or resources in support of the Afghan government in what is, truly, a 35-year old civil war... The United States military presence in Afghanistan greatly contributes to the legitimacy and strategic message of the Pashtun insurgency. In a like manner our backing of the Afghan government in its current form continues to distance the government from the people.")

More or Less More?

In this context, despite all the media drama — Is Obama "dithering" (http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/64315-white-house-fires-back-at-cheney-over-dithering-remarks) or not? Will he or won't he follow the advice of his generals? — we already know one thing about the president's upcoming Afghan War decision with a painful degree of certainty: it will involve more, not less. It will up the ante, not cut our losses. As the New York Times put it (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/world/asia/28policy.html) recently, "[T]he debate [within the administration] is no longer over whether to send more troops, but how many more will be needed." In other words, we know that, in response to a war everyone on all sides of the Afghan debate in the U.S. now agrees is little short of disastrous, he will, in some fashion, feed the flames.

Admittedly, President Obama himself has offered few indications of what exactly he plans to do (if he even knows). It's now being said, however, that, at the end of a highly publicized set of brainstorming sessions with his vice president, top advisors, generals, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Congressional representatives, and cabinet officers, he may (http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/10/president-obama-likely-to-announce-afghan-decision-between-nov-7-and-11-will-likely-seek-more-troops-but-not-40000.html) (or may not (http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN31451492)) announce a decision before he sets out for Tokyo on November 11th.

Nonetheless, thanks to an endless series of high-level Washington leaks and whispers, beginning more than a month ago with the leaking (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/20/AR2009092002920.html) to the Washington Post's Bob Woodward of Afghan War commander Stanley McChrystal's report to the president, we do know this: Every option Obama is considering has the word "more" (as in the Vietnam-era term "escalation") attached to it. There isn't a "less" (a de-escalation) option in sight. Withdrawal of any sort has, so press reports tell us, been officially taken off the table.

The most publicity has gone, of course, to the "counterinsurgency" or COIN option put forward by General McChrystal and clearly backed by George W. Bush's favorite Iraqi "surge" general and present Centcom commander, David Petraeus (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175118). According to this option, the president would significantly increase the number of American boots on the ground to "protect" the Afghan people. The actual numbers of extra troops urged on Obama have undergone a strange process of growth-by-leak over the last weeks. Initially, as the New York Times reported (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/04/us/politics/04military.html), the general was supposedly recommending three possibilities: a low figure of 10,000-15,000 ("a high-risk option"), an in-between figure of 25,000 ("a medium-risk option"), and a top figure of 45,000 ("a low-risk option"). More recently, it's been suggested (http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2009/10/80000-is-the-high-number-of-troops-recommended-in-mcchrystals-request.html) that McChrystal's three choices are: 10,000, 40,000, and 80,000 (or even possibly 44,000 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/28/AR2009102804490.html) and 85,000 (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33450998/)) — his preference, for now, reportedly being 40,000. These new American troops would, of course, be over and above the approximately 70,000 already slated to be in-country by the end of 2009, more than (http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/17/obama.troops/index.html) a doubling of the force in place when the Obama administration came into office. The striking increase to almost 70,000 has, so far, led to a more intense but less successful war effort.

In a recent grimly comic episode, a meeting of NATO defense ministers put its stamp of approval (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghanistan-nato24-2009oct24,0,3409109.story) on General McChrystal's robust COIN option — despite the fact that their governments seem unwilling to offer any extra soldiers in support of such an American surge. (The only exception so far has been British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who agreed to send a paltry (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/15/world/europe/15britain.html) 500 more troops — with hedges and escape clauses at that.)

Beyond General McChrystal's ultimate "more" option, at least three other options are reportedly being considered, all representing "less"; think of these as "less more" options. They include:

• An option to significantly bulk up the training of the Afghan army and police force, so that we might hand our war off to them ASAP. This is, in reality, another "more" option, since thousands of new U.S. trainers and advisors would be needed. It has reportedly been favored (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/11/world/asia/11military.html) by Senator Carl Levin and other Democrats in Congress fearful of major Vietnam-style troop escalations and the ensuing fallout at home.

• An option to leave troops numbers in Afghanistan roughly at their present level and focus not on counterinsurgency, but on what's being called "counterterrorism-plus." (http://www.newsweek.com/id/217090) This, in practical terms, means upping the use of U.S. drone aircraft and Special Forces teams, while focusing less on the Taliban in the Afghan countryside and more on taking out al-Qaeda and possibly Taliban operatives in the Pakistani tribal border regions. This option is said to be favored by Vice President Joe Biden, who also reportedly fears (perfectly reasonably) that a larger American "footprint" in Afghanistan might only turn Afghans even more strongly against a foreign occupation. This option is, in turn, often discussed by the U.S. media as if it were a de-escalatory approach and the next thing to an antiwar position. It, too, however, represents more.

• An option recently put forward by John Kerry, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, for what Jim Lobe of Interpress Service has termed "counterinsurgency lite." (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KJ28Df02.html) This would, according to the senator, involve more training of Afghan troops and the commitment of perhaps 10,000-15,000 additional American troops immediately. (In his typical way, however, Kerry managed to stop short of mentioning actual numbers.) Meanwhile, we would wait for other factors considered crucial for a successful counterinsurgency campaign to kick in: "enough reliable Afghan forces to partner with American troops," "local leaders we can partner with," and "the civilian side ready to follow swiftly with development aid that brings tangible benefits to the local population." Wielding a classic image of imperial control, the senator claims to want to put an "Afghan face" (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/july-dec09/kerry_10-26.html) on the Afghan War — that is, though no one ever says this, an Afghan mask over the American war. (Since the crucial factors he lays out for a successful counterinsurgency campaign are never likely to come into being, his, too, is a "less more"-style option.)

Quagmires, Then and Now

It's quite possible, of course, that the president will choose a "hybrid strategy" (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125632862358004497.html), mixing and matching from this list. He might, for instance, up drone attacks in Pakistan, raise troop levels "modestly" à la Kerry (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/30/AR2009103004081.html), and send in more U.S. trainers and advisors — a package that would surely be presented as part of a plan to pave the way for our future departure. All we do know, based on the last year, is that "more" in whatever form is likely to prove a nightmare, and yet anything less than escalation of some sort is not in the cards. No one in Washington is truly going to cut U.S. losses anytime soon.

In the Vietnam era, there was a shorthand word for this: "quagmire." We were, as the anti-war song (http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/snd/waistdeep.html) then went, "waist deep in the Big Muddy" and still wading in. If Vietnam was, in fact, a quagmire, however, it was so only because we made it so. Similarly, in changed circumstances, Afghanistan today has become the AIG (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175052) of American foreign policy and Obama's team so many foreign policy equivalents of Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. And as with the economy, so with the expanding Af/Pak war: at the end of the day, it's the American taxpayer who will be left holding the bag.

Let's think about what this means for a moment: According to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, the cost of keeping (http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/10/25-2) a single American soldier in Afghanistan is $1.3 million per year. According to (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/25/AR2009102502633_pf.html) Greg Jaffe and Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post, it costs the Pentagon about $1 billion per year to station 1,000 U.S. troops in that country. It's fair to assume that this estimate doesn't include, among other things, long-term care for wounded soldiers or the cost of replacing destroyed or overused equipment. Nor do these figures include any civilian funds being spent on the war effort via the State Department, nor undoubtedly the funds being spent by the Pentagon to upgrade (http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/08/06/barracks-and-burger-king-u-s-builds-a-supersized-base-in-afgh/) bases and facilities throughout the country. In other words, just about any decision by the president, including one simply focused on training Afghan soldiers and police, will involve an outlay of further multi-billions of dollars. Whatever choice the president makes, the U.S. will bleed money.

Let's say that he makes the Kerry choice — "just" perhaps 15,000 troops. That means at least $15 billion for starters. And there's no reason to believe that we're only talking a year here. The counterinsurgency types are talking 5-10 years to "turn the tide" of the insurgency. Those who are actually training (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175116) the Afghan military and police, when quoted, don't believe they will be capable of taking what's called "responsibility" in a major way for years to come, if ever.

Throw in domestic politics where a Democratic president invariably feels safer kicking the can down the road via escalation than being called "weak" — though Obama is already being blasted by the right for "dithering" — and you have about as toxic a brew as can be imagined.

If the Afghan War is already too big to fail, what in the world will it be after the escalations to come? As with Vietnam, so now with Afghanistan, the thick layers of mythology and fervent prediction and projection that pass for realism in Washington make clear thinking on the war impossible. They prevent the serious consideration of any options labeled "less" or "none." They inflate projections of disaster based on withdrawal, even though similar lurid predictions during the Vietnam era proved hopelessly off-base.

The United States lived through all the phases of escalation, withdrawal, and defeat in Vietnam without suffering great post-war losses of any sort. This time we may not be so lucky. The United States is itself no longer too big to fail — and if we should do so, remind me: Who exactly will bail us out?

• Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project (http://www.americanempireproject.com/), runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture (http://www.amazon.com/dp/155849586X/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20), a history of the Cold War and beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1558495061/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20). He also edited The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1844672573/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20) (Verso, 2008), an alternative history of the mad Bush years.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175133/afghanistan_as_a_bailout_state (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175133/afghanistan_as_a_bailout_state)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 07, 2009, 08:16:29 pm

Nick Turse — In Afghanistan, the Pentagon Digs in

posted November 05, 2009 | TomDispatch.com (http://www.tomdispatch.com/)

In our day, the American way of war, especially against lightly armed guerrillas, insurgents, and terrorists, has proved remarkably heavy. Elephantine might be the appropriate word. The Pentagon likes to talk about its "footprint" on the geopolitical landscape. In terms of the infrastructure it's built in Iraq and Afghanistan, perhaps "crater" would be a more reasonable image.

American wars are now gargantuan undertakings. The prospective withdrawal of significant numbers/most/all American forces from Iraq, for instance, will — in terms of time and effort — make the 2003 invasion look like the vaunted "cakewalk" it was supposed to be. According to Pentagon estimates, more than 1.5 million (http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=8448762) (yes, that is "million") pieces of U.S. equipment need to be removed from the country. Just stop and take that in for a second.

Of course, it's a less surprising figure when you realize that the Pentagon managed to build, furnish, and supply almost 300 bases, macro to micro, in Iraq alone in the war years. And some of those bases were — and still are — the size of small American towns with tens of thousands of troops, private contractors, and others, as well as massive perimeters, multiple bus routes, full-scale PX's, fast-food outlets, movie theaters, and the like.

In many ways, Iraq-style war has now become the gargantuan template for the Afghan War build-up that Nick Turse describes below. (His is the sort of summary picture of a less-than-adequately-covered situation that TomDispatch specializes in, based in part on investigative Internet reporting and the mining of Pentagon contracts, government and corporate websites, and military publications.) In fact, some percentage of those 1.5 million pieces of equipment will undoubtedly simply be sent Afghanistan-wards. As the Bush administration built the world's largest — and shoddiest (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2009-10-23-embassy_N.htm) — embassy in Baghdad, our own mother ship (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174789/the_mother_ship_lands_in_iraq), mission control center for the region, and modern ziggurat (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174944), so now, the Obama administration is about to do the same (at approximately the same startling cost (http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0528/p90s01-wosc.html)) in Islamabad, Pakistan, as a monstrous mission control center for the Af/Pak theater of operations.

In Iraq, structures like Balad Air Base (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/03/AR2006020302994_pf.html) or the ill-named Camp Victory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_Victory) just on the edge of Baghdad are so massive, so permanent-looking (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174807/) — so clearly built for long-term occupation — that it's still hard to imagine how the Pentagon will abandon them to the Iraqis.

Now, as Turse reports, the U.S. military seems intent on beefing up another network of bases for another surging war, involving another heavy presence in another distant land — and these bases, too, the Pentagon will undoubtedly be loath to turn over or evacuate. Every army carries a version of its society on its back into battle. We emphasize poundage. Like our culture, our wars are spendthrift and consumption-oriented. If continued, they will someday bust us.

— Tom Engelhardt

2014 or Bust

The Pentagon's Building Boom in Afghanistan Indicates a Long War Ahead

By Nick Turse

In recent weeks, President Obama has been contemplating the future of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. He has also been touting the effects (http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/ci_13628903) of his policies at home, reporting that this year's Recovery Act not only saved jobs, but also was "the largest investment in infrastructure since [President Dwight] Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s." At the same time, another much less publicized U.S.-taxpayer-funded infrastructure boom has been underway. This one in Afghanistan.

While Washington has put modest funding into civilian projects in Afghanistan this year — ranging from small-scale power plants (http://afghanistan.usaid.gov/en/Article.853.aspx) to "public latrines" to a meat market (http://afghanistan.usaid.gov//en/Article.734.aspx) — the real construction boom is military in nature. The Pentagon has been funneling stimulus-sized sums of money to defense contractors to markedly boost its military infrastructure in that country.

In fiscal year 2009, for example, the civilian U.S. Agency for International Development awarded $20 million in contracts for work in Afghanistan, while the U.S. Army alone awarded $2.2 billion — $834 million of it for construction projects. In fact, according to Walter Pincus (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/17/AR2009101701695.html) of the Washington Post, the Pentagon has spent "roughly $2.7 billion on construction over the past three fiscal years" in that country and, "if its request is approved as part of the fiscal 2010 defense appropriations bill, it would spend another $1.3 billion on more than 100 projects at 40 sites across the country, according to a Senate report on the legislation."

Bogged Down at Bagram

Nowhere has the building boom been more apparent than Bagram Air Base, a key military site used by the Soviet Union during its occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. In its American incarnation, the base has significantly expanded from its old Soviet days and, in just the last two years, the population of the more than 5,000 acre compound has doubled to 20,000 troops, in addition to thousands of coalition forces and civilian contractors. To keep up with its exponential growth rate, more than $200 million in construction projects are planned or in-progress at this moment on just the Air Force section of the base. "Seven days a week, concrete trucks rumble along the dusty perimeter road of this air base as bulldozers and backhoes reshape the rocky earth," Chuck Crumbo of The State reported recently (http://www.thestate.com/local/story/989515.html). "Hundreds of laborers slap mortar onto bricks as they build barracks and offices. Four concrete plants on the base have operated around the clock for 18 months to keep up with the construction needs."

The base already boasts (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/08/danger-room-in-afghanistan-have-it-your-way-at-bagram/) fast food favorites Burger King, a combination Pizza Hut/Bojangles, and Popeyes as well as a day spa and shops selling jewelry, cell phones and, of course, Afghan rugs. In the near future, notes Pincus, "the military is planning to build a $30 million passenger terminal and adjacent cargo facility to handle the flow of troops, many of whom arrive at the base north of Kabul before moving on to other sites." In addition, according to the Associated Press (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091101/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan_growing_bagram), the base command is "acquiring more land next year on the east side to expand" even further.

To handle the influx of troops already being dispatched by the Obama administration (with more expected once the president decides on his long-term war plans) "new dormitories" are going up at Bagram, according to (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/oct/15/challenges-dog-afghan-war//print/) David Axe of the Washington Times. The base's population will also increase in the near future, thanks to a project-in-progress recently profiled in The Freedom Builder, an Army Corps of Engineers publication: the MILCON Bagram Theatre Internment Facility (TIF) currently being built at a cost of $60 million by a team of more than 1,000 Filipinos, Indians, Sri Lankans, and Afghans. When completed, it will consist of 19 buildings and 16 guard towers designed to hold more than 1,000 detainees on the sprawling base which has long been notorious (http://tomdispatch.com/post/175042/karen_greenberg_the_missing_prison) for the torture and even murder of prisoners within its confines.

While the United States officially insists that it is not setting up permanent bases in Afghanistan, the scale and permanency of the construction underway at Bagram seems to suggest, at the least, a very long stay. According to published reports, in fact, the new terminal facilities for the complex aren't even slated to be operational until 2011.

One of the private companies involved in hardening and building up Bagram's facilities is Contrack International (http://www.contrack.com/), an international engineering and construction firm which, according to U.S. government records, received more than $120 million in contracts in 2009 for work in Afghanistan. According to Contrack's website, it is, among other things, currently designing and constructing a new "entry control point" — a fortified entrance — as well as a new "ammunition supply point" facility at the base. It is also responsible for "the design and construction of taxiways and aprons; airfield lighting and navigation aid improvements; and new apron construction" for the base's massive and expanding air operations infrastructure. The building boom at Bagram (which has received at least a modest amount of attention in the American mainstream press) is, however, just a fraction of the story of the way the U.S. military — and Contrack International — are digging in throughout Afghanistan.

Rave Reviews for Kandahar

In March, according to Pentagon documents, Contrack was awarded a $23 million contract for "the design and construction of [an] Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance ramp, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan." Last year, in the Washington Post, Pincus reported that a planned expansion at the airfield, also once used by the Soviets and now a major U.S. and NATO base, was to accommodate aircraft working for a Task Force ODIN — an Afghanistan-based version of the Army unit which used drones and helicopters to target insurgents (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2008/01/drone-copter-te/) planting IEDs in Iraq. Today, Task Force ODIN-Afghanistan — the acronym stands for "observe, detect, identify and neutralize," with a nod to the chief Norse god — is up and running, and still reportedly piloted (http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/ODIN101209.xml&headline=U.S.%20Army%20Enlisted%20Personnel%20Run%20Task%20Force%20ODIN&channel=awst) out of "Bagram in one of two small, nondescript ground control stations." Whether ODIN aircraft are also operating out of Kandahar Airfield is — like so much information about the U.S. military in Afghanistan — unclear. Certainly, though, many more NATO and U.S. aircraft will be flying out of the base once Contrack, as it notes on its website, completes its "[d]esign and construction of replacement runways with asphalt and touch down areas with concrete pavement" and "rehabilitation of 6 existing taxiways," among other projects.

Contrack's Kandahar contract is set to be fulfilled by late December, but like Bagram, the base already gives every appearance of permanence. "It's one of the busiest single runways in the world," Captain Max Hanlin from the 2nd U.S. Army Division's 5th Stryker Brigade told (http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i3tIXP9zQa372Lgd9OGQhrgVsCqw) Agence France-Presse recently. Originally built to house 12,000 troops, Kandahar Air Base now supports 30,000 or more NATO and U.S. personnel. Some do battle in the inhospitable terrain of the surrounding region, while others have never been outside the wire and wile away their time in the base's cafes and small shops (where troops reportedly can buy, among other items, belly dancer costumes), party in the "Dutch corner," play roller hockey in the base's central square, or dance the night away at a Saturday rave. "They are shaking glowsticks as if they have no concept of the mines and the war outside," said one U.S. officer, watching troops on the dance floor.

In recent days, U.S. forces announced (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/29/AR2009102900540_pf.html) a decrease in recreational perks and an imposition of more austere circumstances — salsa and karaoke nights have already been cut at Kandahar — prompting worries by NATO allies that their recreational facilities will be overrun by entertainment-starved U.S. troops.

A Mob of FOBs

It seems that no one outside the Pentagon knows just exactly how many U.S. camps, forward operating bases, combat outposts, patrol bases and other fortified sites the U.S. military is currently using or constructing in Afghanistan. And while the Americans have recently abandoned a few of their installations (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KJ29Df04.html), effectively ceding the northeastern province of Nuristan to Taliban forces, elsewhere a base-building boom has been underway.

In April, Contrack was awarded another $28 million contract for work on airfields — to be performed at unspecified sites in Afghanistan. In June, Florida-based IAP Worldwide Services was awarded a $21 million contract to enhance electrical power distribution at the U.S. Marines' still-growing Forward Operating Base (FOB) Leatherneck in Helmand Province, a Taliban stronghold. Scheduled for completion in June 2010, that project is only part of IAP's work, which has involved "almost two dozen power plants at U.S. Army bases in Afghanistan and Iraq" that, according to the company's promotional literature, its teams have "delivered, installed, operated and maintained."

FOB Dwyer, also in Helmand Province, is fast becoming a "hub" for air support in southern Afghanistan, according to Captain Vincent Rea (http://www.centaf.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123168015) of the Air Force's 809th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron. To that end, Marine Corps and Air Force personnel are building runways and helipads to accommodate ever more fixed-wing and rotary aircraft on the base. The two services collaborated on the construction of a 4,300-foot airstrip capable of accommodating giant C-130 Hercules transport aircraft that increase the U.S. capability to support more troops on more bases in more remote areas.

"With the C-130s coming in more frequently, more Marines can travel at a given time and will definitely help Camp Dwyer and other FOBs and COPs (Combat Outposts) to build up," says (http://www.iimefpublic.usmc.mil/__852571150047CCBC.nsf/rssNews/A3FB2D209A18E8B68525763C003FBFB4?OpenDocument) Capt. Alexander Lugo-Velazquez of Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron 169. In September, the Air Force reported the completion of the first phase of a six-phase construction project at FOB Dwyer which will eventually include additional fuel pits and taxiways, increased tarmac space, and the lengthening of the runway to 6,000 feet. In October, according to government documents, the Army also began soliciting bids — in the $10-$25 million range — for construction of fuel storage and distribution facilities at FOB Dwyer. These, like the infrastructure upgrades at Bagram, are not scheduled to be completed until sometime in 2011.

In Helmand, as well as Farah, Kandahar, and Nimruz provinces, between June and September the Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan alone established (http://www.mnfwest.usmc.mil/public/InfolineMarines.nsf/ArticlesListingReadCurrent/B8B62C4E9F73ED118525762B0060FA3C?OpenDocument) four new forward operating bases, "10 combat outposts, six patrol bases, and four ancillary operating positions, helicopter landing zones and an expeditionary airfield." In October, defense contractor AECOM Technology signed a $78 million (http://pr.aecom.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=211994&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1343808&highlight=), 6-month extension contract with the Army to "provide general-support maintenance as well as the operation of maintenance facilities, living quarters and offices at two U.S. military bases as well as forward operating bases and satellite locations" in Afghanistan.

Defense contracting giant Fluor (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/21843/the_reconstruction_of_new_oraq) has also been hard at work landing lucrative deals in Afghanistan. In March, the Army reported (http://www.army.mil/-news/2009/03/27/18864-army-segues-from-logcap-iii-to-iv/index.html) that, in accordance with President Obama's spring surge of troops, Regional Command East in Afghanistan had tasked Fluor to expand four existing forward operating bases and, if need be, build another eight new ones.

In Regional Command South, it was reported that "[e]mergency work to expand eight FOBs [wa]s underway after being competitively awarded to Fluor under LOGCAP IV." This is the current version of a military program first instituted by the Pentagon in 1985. It has been the key means by which military logistics and supply functions have been turned over to private contractors. (The previous version of the program, LOGCAP III, was awarded solely to Kellogg, Brown and Root Services or KBR, then a division of the oil services giant Halliburton (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175036/pratap_chatterjee_inheriting_halliburton_s_army), primarily in support of U.S. operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait and was plagued by scandals (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-kbr-war-profiteers-feb21,0,3494273.story).)

In Afghanistan, companies like Fluor are clearly digging in. Fluor, in fact, describes (http://www.fluor.com/projects/Pages/ProjectInfoPage.aspx?PrjID=16&updateMeta=0) itself as "co-located with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, where the team coordinates, provides oversight, and implements Fluor's execution plan to provide the necessary resources and labor to accomplish this mission" of "providing multi-functional base life support and combat services support (CSS) to the U.S. and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan."

The company is "simultaneously constructing and managing the expansion of eight Forward Operating Bases[...] in Southern Afghanistan. This includes the construction of an FOB to accommodate 17,000 to 20,000 U.S. Military personnel." Fluor, no doubt, expects to be "co-located with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan" for a long time. In July 2009, the defense giant was awarded a $1.5 billion contract for LOGCAP IV services in Afghanistan; in October, the Army reported (http://www.army.mil/-news/2009/10/02/28263-logcap-highlights-support-in-southwest-asia/) that the LOGCAP program was responsible for erecting 6,020 units of containerized housing known as relocatable buildings or RLBs in Regional Command South.

In July, under an existing LOGCAP IV contract, scandal-tainted defense contractor (http://dir.salon.com/news/feature/2002/06/26/bosnia/index.html) DynCorp International, along with partners CH2M Hill (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/21843/the_reconstruction_of_new_oraq) and Taos Industries, received (http://www.dyn-intl.com/news2009/news070809.aspx) a one year $643.5 million order to "provide existing bases within the Afghanistan South AOR [area of responsibility] with operations and maintenance support, including but not limited to: facilities management, electrical power, water, sewage and waste management, laundry operations, food services and transportation motor pool operations," as well as "construction services for additional sites." With an eye to the future, the Pentagon has included four one-year options in the contract which, if taken up, would be worth an estimated $5.8 billion.

Just recently, the Australian military indicated it was also digging in for a long stay, announcing (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,26245305-31477,00.html) a $37 million upgrade of its main base near Tarin Kowt in Oruzgan province, to be completed by mid-2011. As at other NATO facilities, increasing numbers of U.S. troops have been operating out of Tarin Kowt recently and, in late September, the U.S.-based company Kandahar Constructors signed a $25 million deal with the Pentagon for runway upgrades there, also to be completed in 2011.

Speaking the Language of Occupation

In 2009 alone, after many billions of dollars had already gone into the construction, expansion, and maintenance of U.S. bases in Afghanistan, American taxpayers were called upon to pay for more than $1 billion in construction contracts — and based on the evidence at hand, including those future options, this may prove just a drop in the proverbial bucket.

All of this has been happening without a clear plan laid out in Washington for the future of U.S. military operations in that country, without a legitimate national government in Kabul, and of course with no shortage of infrastructural repairs (http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/) needed at home. Americans curious to know much of anything about the Pentagon's Afghan building boom beyond Bagram would have found little on the nightly news or in major newspapers. It has essentially been carried out in the dark, far away, and with only the most modest reportorial interest.

Forget for a moment the "debates" in Washington over Afghan War policy and, if you just focus on the construction activity and the flow of money into Afghanistan, what you see is a war that, from the point of view of the Pentagon, isn't going to end any time soon. In fact, the U.S. military's building boom in that country suggests that, in the ninth year of the Afghan War, the Pentagon has plans for a far longer-term, if not near-permanent, garrisoning of the country, no matter what course Washington may decide upon. Alternatively, it suggests that the Pentagon is willing to waste taxpayer money (which might have shored up sagging infrastructure in the U.S. and created a plethora of jobs) on what will sooner or later be abandoned runways, landing zones and forward operating bases.

The building and fortifying of bases in Afghanistan isn't the only sign that the U.S. military is digging in for an even longer haul. Another key indicator can be found in a Pentagon contract awarded in late September to SOS International, Ltd. (http://www.sosiltd.com/default.htm), a privately owned "operations support company" that provides everything from "cultural advisory services" to "intelligence and counterintelligence analysis and training" to numerous federal agencies. That contract, primarily for linguistic services in support of military operations in Afghanistan, has an estimated completion date of September 2014.

• Nick Turse is the associate editor of TomDispatch.com and the winner of a 2009 Ridenhour Prize for Reportorial Distinction as well as a James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20081201/turse/single), In These Times, and regularly at TomDispatch. Turse is currently a fellow at New York University's Center for the United States and the Cold War. A paperback edition of his book The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0805089195/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20) (Metropolitan Books) was published earlier this year. His website is NickTurse.com (http://www.nickturse.com/).

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175135/nick_turse_in_afghanistan_the_pentagon_digs_in (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175135/nick_turse_in_afghanistan_the_pentagon_digs_in)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 10, 2009, 09:26:42 am


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 10, 2009, 10:35:22 am

Dahr Jamail and Sarah Lazare — Who Will Be Sent to Afghanistan?

posted November 08, 2009 | TomDispatch.com (http://www.tomdispatch.com/)

In a grim November 3rd Wall Street Journal piece (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125720469173424023.html) (buried inside the paper), Yochi Dreazen reported record suicide rates for a stressed-out U.S. Army. Sixteen soldiers killed themselves in October alone, 134 so far this year, essentially ensuring that last year's "record" of 140 suicides will be broken. This represents a startling 37% jump in suicides since 2006 and, for the first time, puts the suicide rate in the Army above that of the general U.S. population.

After eight years of two major counterinsurgency wars (and various minor encounters in what used to be called the Global War on Terror), with many soldiers experiencing multiple tours of duty, with approximately 120,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq and almost 70,000 in Afghanistan, with the Afghan War clearly in an escalatory phase (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175133/afghanistan_as_a_bailout_state), commanders in the field calling for 40,000-80,000 (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/v-print/story/78516.html) more American troops, and base construction on the rise (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175135/nick_turse_in_afghanistan_the_pentagon_digs_in), the military's internal problems are clearly escalating as well.

As Dahr Jamail, author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1931859884/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20), and Sarah Lazare report, under these circumstances, the Army is digging deep for deployable troops; in fact, it's dipping into a pool of soldiers who have already been damaged or even broken by their experiences in our war zones — and that's just to meet present deployment needs. Perhaps it's not surprising then that Dreazen included this striking passage in his report: "At a White House meeting Friday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff urged President Barack Obama to send fresh troops to Afghanistan only if they have spent at least a year in the U.S. since their last overseas tour, according to people familiar with the matter. If Mr. Obama agreed to that condition, many potential Afghanistan reinforcements wouldn't be available until next summer at the earliest."

In translation (if Dreazen is correct), that means, in a private brainstorming session with the president, the Joint Chiefs have evidently put the brakes on implementing the full-scale plan of Centcom Commander David Petraeus and Afghan War commander Stanley McChrystal to send a massive infusion of new troops to Afghanistan any time soon.

It's worth asking — though no one, as far as I can tell, yet has — whether this may be a modest Afghan equivalent of the "Shinseki moment" before the invasion of Iraq. (Then, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki warned (http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/167/35435.html) in Congressional testimony that, if we invaded, we would need "several hundred thousand" troops — numbers not available — for the occupation to follow. He was laughed into retirement (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/28817/nick_turse_casualties_of_the_bush_administration) by the Bush-appointed civilian leadership of the Pentagon.)

At the same time, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, has just made it clear (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/05/world/05military.html) that the Pentagon will once again request supplemental war-fighting funds sometime next year, over and above the $130 billion Congress appropriated only a month ago in the Defense Department budget. These will be based, in part, on a calculation that each 1,000 new troops sent to Afghanistan must be supported by an extra billion dollars in funds. (You can do the math yourself on those 40,000 troops (http://thehill.com/homenews/house/65553-murtha-is-open-to-raising-taxes-for-afghanistan-war) and then wonder just where all that money is going to come from.)

We are, in fact, facing an ongoing disaster not just for the U.S., but for the U.S. military. Read the following piece and ask yourself: What state would a military have to be in to consider sending such men back into a war zone? A desperate military is, of course, the answer — a military rubbed raw and, as the shocking mass murder spree (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/06/AR2009110600897_pf.html) at already stressed-out Fort Hood (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/05/AR2009110505396_pf.html) may indicate, on edge in a way that perhaps no one has quite grasped.

— Tom Engelhardt

Where Will They Get the Troops?

Preparing Undeployables for the Afghan Front

By Dahr Jamail and Sarah Lazare

As the Obama administration debates whether to send tens of thousands of extra troops to Afghanistan, an already overstretched military is increasingly struggling to meet its deployment numbers. Surprisingly, one place it seems to be targeting is military personnel who go absent without leave (AWOL) and then are caught or turn themselves in.

Hidden behind the gates of military bases across the U.S., troops facing AWOL and desertion charges regularly find themselves in the hands of a military that metes out informal, open-ended punishments by forcing them to wait months — sometimes more than a year — to face military justice. In the meantime, some of these soldiers are offered a free pass out of this legal limbo as long as they agree to deploy to Afghanistan or Iraq — even if they have been diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In August 2008 at TomDispatch.com, we reported on the deplorable conditions (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175104) at the 82nd Replacement Barracks at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. There, more than 50 members of Echo Platoon of the 82nd Airborne Division's 82nd Replacement Detachment were being held while awaiting AWOL and desertion charges. Investigations launched since then — in part in response to our article — have revealed that the plight of members of Echo Platoon is not an isolated one. It is, in fact, disturbingly commonplace on other bases throughout the United States. And it is from these "holdover units," filled with disgruntled soldiers who have gone AWOL, many of whom are struggling with PTSD from previous deployments in war zones, that the military is hoping to help meet its manpower needs for Afghanistan.

Nightmare in Echo Platoon

On August 16th, determined to put an end to unbearable mental and psychological pain, Private Timothy Rich, while on 24-hour suicide watch, attempted to jump to his death from the roof of Echo Platoon's barracks (where he had been held since being arrested for going AWOL). Prior to his suicide attempt, Rich had been offered amnesty by the military in exchange for agreeing to deploy to Afghanistan or Iraq.

He had already been through a hellish year awaiting a discharge and treatment for mental health problems. "I want to leave here very bad," he explained. "For four months they have been telling me that I'll get out next week. I didn't see an end to it, so I figured I'd try and end it myself."

He fell three stories, bouncing off a tree, before hitting the ground and cracking his spine. The military gave him a back brace, psychotropic drugs, and put him on a renewed, 24-hour suicide watch.

While he has recently been discharged from the military, Rich was not atypical of the soldiers of Echo Platoon, some forced to wait a year or more in legal limbo — in dilapidated buildings under the authority of abusive commanders — for legal proceedings to begin, and many struggling with mental illness or PTSD from previous deployments. As Specialist Dustin Stevens told us last August: "[It's] horrible here. We are treated like animals. Some of us are going crazy, some are sick. There are people here who should be in mental hospitals. And the way I see it, I did nothing wrong."

Shortly after our story was published, Stevens told us that at least half a dozen soldiers in the platoon, including him, were suddenly given trial dates. Although he was likely to be found guilty and face punishment, Stevens claimed to be "relieved" to have an end in sight. Soon after, according to Echo Platoon informants, their barracks were condemned as a result of a military investigation of the site and, on October 19th, the platoon itself was disbanded.

Recently, due possibly to the attention his story drew to the mistreatment and indefinite detention soldiers were facing in Echo Platoon, Stevens was informed by the military he would be "chaptered out" — in other words, given an administrative discharge from the Army — and will not be forced to serve formal prison time.

James Branum, Stevens' civilian lawyer, as well as the legal adviser to the G.I. Rights Hotline of Oklahoma and co-chair of the Military Law Task Force (MLTF), summed developments up this way: "After repeated complaints and congressional inquiry, Echo Platoon was shut down. The whole place was shut down. Everyone was scattered to other units. If your old unit still exists, they are sending you to your old unit. We know that at least one of the NCOs [non-commissioned officers] in charge of Echo Platoon was fired. I think this is a positive thing."

Echoes of Echo

The troubling state of affairs in Echo Platoon may only have been the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Army holdover units. Evidence suggests that soldiers being held on other bases in the United States for AWOL and desertion face similar apathy or intentional neglect — and that they, too, are often left with the choice between living in legal limbo or agreeing to be sent to a war zone.

Scott Wildman, a former Army Specialist, went AWOL in 2007 when he was unable to receive adequate help for severe PTSD sustained after a 15-month deployment to Iraq. In February 2009, he finally turned himself in at Fort Lewis in Washington State, only to find himself lost in a labyrinthine bureaucracy. For the first four months, he was not allowed to leave a confined area and was forbidden even to walk around by himself.

Here's how he describes his experience: "I was flipping out. My wife had left me while I was over there. I hadn't seen my kids in a couple years. I came home and tried to get help. At Fort Lewis, they do not care about you. I had been diagnosed by civilian and military doctors with severe depression, PTSD, and severe anxiety. When you are at the unit, they make fun of you. They crack PTSD jokes. They all have it too, but they're too cool."

During the eight months he has been held at Fort Lewis, Wildman claims he has suffered verbal abuse and substandard mental healthcare. "The command treated me like dirt. My commander ignored me for the first couple months until my roommate jumped me. They'll make sure you're in the room and call you a ‘bunch of PTSD pussies’."

Four weeks ago, Wildman was informed that he would be court-martialed, but was not given a trial date. Feeling he had no other choice, he went AWOL again and remains so today.

"I'd been going to see some military counselors, but we weren't making progress on the real problem…. They give us classes on calm and peacefulness, but they are right near the shooting ranges. There's gunfire and explosions all around, people being screamed at all the time because it's infantry. It's not a good place for someone with [mental health] issues."

At one point, despite a confidentiality protocol that should have prevented it, Wildman's commanders went through his medical evaluations and found out that he had been involved in the accidental killing of two little girls in Iraq. They proceeded to needle him by threatening to write him up for war crimes.

Explaining why he once again went AWOL, Wildman says, "I didn't know what was going to happen next. I had to remove myself from that situation."

"Examples of how the military is treating soldiers, like the case of Wildman, are common," comments Kathleen Gilberd, co-chair of the MLTF. She also points out that the Army, stretched thin by years of multiple deployments to two war zones, has taken to downplaying potentially severe medical conditions to keep soldiers eligible for service overseas. It is commonplace, she reports, for formerly AWOL soldiers to be "bribed" with offers of having all charges, or potential charges, dropped, as long as they accept deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.

"A lot of folks who are under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed are being deployed second and third times," she adds. "Barrier mechanisms that should prevent this from happening are being routinely ignored... If someone is on psychotropic medication or is diagnosed with a fresh psychiatric condition, there should be a 90-day observation period and delay, under DOD [Department of Defense] policy."

Remarkably, that sometimes-ignored 90-day hold period for military personnel on psychotropic medications does not always apply to soldiers who are diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI) of a sort commonly caused by roadside bombs. According to an Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center analysis, reported in the Denver Post (http://www.denverpost.com/previous2/home/ci_10293242) in August 2008, more than "43,000 service members — two-thirds of them in the Army or Army Reserve — were classified as nondeployable for medical reasons three months before they deployed" to Iraq. The process, if anything, only seems to be accelerating when it comes to Afghanistan.

Deploying the Undeployables

Not all soldiers go AWOL in order to save their minds and bodies. Some are trying to save their families. One soldier held in Bravo Platoon, a holdover unit of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs (who did not want his name made public) disclosed that, having returned from service in Iraq, he was told he would soon be redeployed there. Because his mother was ill, he refused and was threatened with a court martial.

"When I turned myself in, I submitted a binder with letters from my mom's doctors and state officials that made clear that I needed to be home to take care of my mother. At that time, they had me on restriction and lockdown 24/7 to keep me from leaving again. Later they punished me. I was assigned extra duty and received a rank reduction from E3 to a private. I was treated like crap."

He and the other soldiers in his holdover platoon were subjected to verbal abuse and made to do menial jobs. He claimed that he was threatened daily with being sent to the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the military's maximum security correctional facility — and then was urged to agree to go back to Iraq instead. It made no difference that he had "no-go" orders from doctors at Fort Carson exempting him from overseas deployment.

His commander promised him a clean slate if he would redeploy to Iraq, insisting that the only alternative was a court-martial. Despite a regimen of humiliation, he stood his ground and was finally discharged for family hardship in September 2008. There were at least 11 other soldiers then in Bravo Platoon. Like their counterparts in Echo, most were told that their records would be wiped clean once they agreed to redeploy. The alternative was a non-judicial punishment, followed by a court-martial some months down the line.

As he tells it, Sergeant Heath Carter, originally based at Fort Polk, Louisiana, found himself torn between pressing family needs and an indifferent military command. On returning from the invasion of Iraq, he discovered his daughter living in what he believed to be an unsafe environment. Heath and his new wife started consulting attorneys in order to secure custody of the child. Precisely during this time, the military began changing Carter's duty station. He was moved from Fort Polk to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, then on to Fort Stewart, Georgia, reducing his chances of gaining custody.

Convinced that this was a crucial matter for his daughter, he requested compassionate reassignment to Fort Leavenworth, Missouri, about two hours away from her. His appeals to the military command, to his chaplain, even to his congressman failed. In May 2007, having run out of options, he went AWOL from Fort Stewart, heading home to fight for custody, which he won.

This January 25th, however, he was arrested at his home by Military Police, who flew him back to Fort Stewart where he has been awaiting charges for the past eight months. Being a sergeant, he is in a regular unit, not a holdover one. Initially, his commander assured him he would be sent home within a month and a half. Several months later, the same commander decided to court-martial him.

Carter feels frustrated. "If they had done that in the beginning, I would have been home by now. It's taken this long for them to decide. Now I have to wait for the court-martial. If we had known it would take this long, my family could have moved down here. Every time I ask when I'll have a trial, they say it's only going to be another two weeks. I get the feeling they're lying. They've messed with my pay. They're trying to push me to do something wrong."

His ordeal has forced Carter to reflect on America's wars. Once, he admits, he was proud of his mission in Iraq. Now, he sees things differently. "I don't think there is any reason for us to be there except for oil."

His wife, who witnessed her husband's callous treatment, says, "He's been there [Iraq], done that, and seen horrible, terrible things, so of course he doesn't want to go back."

While the Obama administration decides how many thousands of troops to send to Afghanistan, service men and women are already facing repeated deployments, oftentimes while having already been diagnosed with medical conditions that should render them unfit for deployment.

Nothing has changed for these beleaguered troops, except the venue of their maltreatment and the desperation with which the military is now struggling to make the necessary deployment numbers as it continues to fight two endless wars.

• Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1931859884/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20) (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1931859612/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20) (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from occupied Iraq for nine months, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey over the last five years.

• Sarah Lazare is the project coordinator for Courage to Resist, an organization that supports troops who refuse to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is also a freelance writer.

• Bhaswati Sengupta contributed to this report.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175136/jamail_and_lazare_who_will_be_sent_to_afghanistan (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175136/jamail_and_lazare_who_will_be_sent_to_afghanistan)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 21, 2009, 05:04:20 pm

Pratap Chatterjee — Afghanistan as a Patronage Machine

posted November 17, 2009 | TomDispatch.com (http://www.tomdispatch.com/)

It's now a commonplace of the Afghan War. Western leaders in London (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/07/world/europe/07britain.html), Berlin, Amsterdam (http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2009/11/netherlands_threatens_to_pull.php), and Washington (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6901770.ece), as well as on flying visits to Kabul or even Kandahar (http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Canada+pressured+Afghan+leader+curtail+corruption/2218950/story.html), excoriate Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the "corruption" of his government. In return for their ongoing support, they repeatedly demand that he take significant action to "step up (http://www.reuters.com/article/asiaCrisis/idUSLC566683) efforts to root out crime and corruption," that he, in fact, "arrest (http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-11-04-voa53.cfm) and prosecute corrupt officials."

Can there be any question that there is a plethora of corrupt officials to arrest? The president's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/04/world/asia/04iht-05afghan.16689186.html), reportedly on the CIA payroll (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/world/asia/28intel.html), is also, as it's politely put in the press, a "suspected player in the country's booming illegal opium trade." Ahmad Rateb Popal, the president's cousin and another figure long linked to the drug trade, runs a local security company protecting American supply convoys that, according to (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20091130/roston) Aram Roston of the Nation magazine, is involved in an industry-wide protection scam, using American Army money to pay off the Taliban not to attack. In addition, American arms and ammunition are clearly ending up (http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/11/10-4) in Taliban hands (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/20/world/asia/20ammo.html). The recent presidential election was a spectacle of fraud; the Afghan Army, despite years of training, may hardly exist (as Ann Jones reported (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175116) for this site in September); the ill-paid, ill-trained Afghan police are known to operate on the principle (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/06/afghan-police-mired-in-controversy) of corruption; and a surprisingly small (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175019) percentage of foreign reconstruction funds actually makes it (http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/naiman141109.html) out of the pockets of big private contractors and western specialists, as well as security firms, and into Afghan hands.

And then, of course, there's Kabul's "Obama market." (In the period when the Soviets ruled Kabul, it was the "Brezhnev market" in honor of the Russian leader, and decades later the "Bush market.") This "notorious bazaar" is "full of chow and supplies bought or stolen from the vast U.S. military bases," according to (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/226/story/78728.html) Jay Price of the McClatchy newspapers, who calls the name "a modest counterweight to [Obama's] Nobel Peace Prize." His description includes the following: "One shop offered an expensive military-issue sleeping bag, tactical goggles like those used by U.S. troops and a stack of plastic footlockers, including one stenciled ‘Campbell G Co. 10th Mtn Div’. Another had a sophisticated 'red-dot' optical rifle sight of a kind often used by soldiers and contractors."

In other words, from the American, European, and Japanese reconstruction boondoggle to the presidential palace, from the U.S. and Afghan military to street-level, the country is a klepto-state. As number 179, it misses (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hAAsNutX0cPGINh3e1CVvz5TWtEwD9C18V980) by only one place taking the rock-bottom spot in Transparency International's latest global corruption index. Of course, what else could be expected in a situation in which the nation's main source of funds is either narcotics — the country now accounts for a staggering 92% (http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/6553) of global opium production — or foreign aid? To demand that President Karzai takes "steps" to "root out crime and corruption" is, under the circumstances, an absurdity, no matter how many special task forces to investigate graft he forms (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125840169051750975.html) under Western pressure. It's like asking him — to mix metaphors — either to put a gun to his head or drink the sea. Consider it a measure of Afghan realities today that you can hardly read a piece about the country in the Western press without the word "corruption" lurking somewhere in it, and yet the reporting on how that system of corruption actually works has generally been thin indeed.

Fortunately, TomDispatch regular Pratap Chatterjee, just back from Kabul and author of Halliburton's Army: How A Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1568583923/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20), offers a rare, eye-opening inside look at how the system of nepotism and corruption — involving the country's old "warlords" from the days of the post-Soviet civil war and its new corporate "reconstruction" raiders — actually works. Make no mistake, this is not a system amenable to "reform."

— Tom Engelhardt

Paying Off the Warlords

Anatomy of an Afghan Culture of Corruption

By Pratap Chatterjee

Kabul, Afghanistan — Every morning, dozens of trucks laden with diesel from Turkmenistan lumber out of the northern Afghan border town of Hairaton on a two-day trek across the Hindu Kush down to Afghanistan's capital, Kabul. Among the dozens of businesses dispatching these trucks are two extremely well connected companies — Ghazanfar and Zahid Walid — that helped to swell the election coffers of President Hamid Karzai as well as the family business of his running mate, the country's new vice president, warlord (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/27/world/asia/27kabul.html) Mohammed Qasim Fahim.

Some of the trucks are on their way to two power stations in the northern part of the capital: a recently refurbished, if inefficient, plant that has served Kabul for a little more than a quarter of a century, and a brand new facility scheduled for completion next year and built with money from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Afghan political analysts observe that Ghazanfar and Zahid Walid are striking examples of the multimillion-dollar business conglomerates, financed by American as well as Afghan tax dollars and connected to powerful political figures, that have, since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, emerged as part of a pervasive culture of corruption here. Nasrullah Stanikzai, a professor of law and political science at Kabul University, says of the companies in the pocket of the vice-president: "Everybody knows who is Ghazanfar. Everybody knows who is Zahid Walid. The [government elite] directly or indirectly have companies, licenses, and sign contracts. But corruption is not confined just to the Afghans. The international community bears a share of this blame."

Indeed, the tale of the "reconstruction" of Kabul's electricity supply is a classic story of how foreign aid has often served to line the pockets of both international contractors from the donor countries and the local political elite. Unfortunately, these aid-financed projects also generally fail — as the Kabul diesel plants appear destined to — because of a lack of planning and the hard cash to keep them operating.

The Rise of a Power Broker

Abdul Hasin and his brother, the vice-president, offer a perfect exemplar of the new business elite. The two men are half-brothers, born to the two wives of a well-respected religious cleric from the village of Marz in the Panjshir valley north of Kabul.

In the early 1980s, Fahim, the older brother, joined the mujahedeen forces of Ahmed Shah Massoud in the struggle against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. In 1992, three years after the Soviet army withdrew in defeat, Fahim was appointed head of intelligence in Afghanistan by the new president Burhanuddin Rabbani in the midst of a fierce and destructive civil war among the victors. When the Taliban took control of the country a few years later, Fahim became the intelligence chief for the Northern Alliance, also led by Massoud, which controlled less than a third of the country. On September 09, 2001, two days before the World Trade Center was attacked, Massoud was assassinated by al-Qaeda operatives and Fahim took control of the Northern Alliance, which the U.S. would soon finance and support in its "invasion" of Afghanistan.

A number of popular accounts of that invasion, such as Bob Woodward's book Bush at War, suggest that the Central Intelligence Agency directly gave Northern Alliance warlords like Fahim millions of dollars in cold, hard cash to help fight the Taliban in the run-up to the U.S. invasion. "I can take Kabul, I can take Kunduz if you break the [Taliban front] line for me. My guys are ready," Woodward quotes (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A3105-2002Nov17) Fahim telling a CIA agent named Gary after pocketing a million dollars in $100 bills.

Once the Taliban was defeated, Fahim was invited to become vice president in the transitional government led by Hamid Karzai, a position he held for two years. It was at this juncture that Fahim's brothers, notably Abdul Hasin, started to build a business empire — and not long after, good fortune began to rain down on the family in the form of lucrative "reconstruction" contracts.

In January 2002, while Fahim took whirlwind tours of Washington and London, meeting (http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780060731588/American_Soldier/index.aspx) General Tommy Franks, who had commanded U.S. forces during the invasion, and taking the salute (http://www.operations.mod.uk/afghanistan/newsItem_id=1395.htm) from the Coldstream Guards, his younger brother was putting together a business plan. Soon thereafter, Zahid Walid, a company named after Abdul Hasin's older sons, not so surprisingly won a series of lucrative contracts to pour concrete for a NATO base as well as portions of the U.S. embassy being rebuilt in Kabul and that city's airport, which was in a state of disrepair.

On a plot of land in downtown Kabul reportedly "seized" for a song by Fahim, Abdul Hasin also financed the construction of a high-rise building dubbed "Goldpoint," which now houses dozens of jewelry shops. Soon, the company was importing Russian gas, and not long after that, Abdul Hasin set up the Gas Group, a company which ran a plant in the industrial suburb of Tarakhil that marketed bottled gas to households and small businesses.

In the winter of 2006, Zahid Walid won a $12 million dollar contract from the Afghan ministry of energy and water to supply fuel to the old diesel plant in northwest Kabul, according to data published on the website (http://www.ards.org.af/Awarded_All.asp) of the government's central procurement agency, Afghanistan Reconstruction and Development Services. In the summer of 2007, the company won another $40 million diesel-supply contract, and last winter it took on a third contract worth $22 million.

On October 19th, I visited Zahid Walid's heavily guarded headquarters in the wealthy Kabul neighborhood of Wazir Akbar Khan, not far from the even more heavily fortified U.S. embassy. There, Ramin Seddiqui, the managing director of the company's diesel-import business, filled me in on another exclusive contract the company had secured from the Afghan government only days before for an additional $17 million. Zahid Walid is now to supply diesel fuel to the new 100 megawatt diesel power plant being built by Black & Veatch, a Kansas construction company, with money from USAID.

Most senior Afghan government officials and political figures are loath to discuss how Zahid Walid has won all these contracts — at least publicly. On a recent visit to the Ministry of Commerce, I asked Noor Mohammed Wafa, the general director of oil products and liquid gas, about them. He promptly claimed that he had never even heard of the company. He then shot a glance at my Afghan assistant and said in Dari: "That's Marshal Fahim's company, isn't it?" When I asked whether the rules were different for powerful political figures — as everyone in Kabul knows is the case — Wafa politely denied any suggestion of favoritism in the awarding of import licenses.

In fact, dozens of people assured me in private on my most recent visit to Kabul that favoritism and corruption are the essence of the Karzai government the U.S. has helped "reconstruct" over the last eight years.

A White Elephant Power Plant in Kabul

While Zahid Walid has won close to $100 million in diesel contracts from the Afghan government in these years, there is hard evidence that the money for this once-needed fuel is now essentially being squandered. Earlier this year, KEC, an Indian company, completed the first of two high voltage power lines from neighboring Central Asian countries that will bring cheap and reliable electricity into the capital.

The initial 220 kilovolt power line from Uzbekistan — a $35 million project — follows the same path as Zahid Walid's diesel trucks over the Hindu Kush. The comparison, however, ends there. True, the Indian engineers who constructed it had to survive the brutal snows in the Salang pass, but they are now done. On the other hand, the truckers continue to take the treacherous daily drive through the tunnel that connects northern Afghanistan to the south, bringing Turkmen diesel to Kabul at 22 cents a kilowatt hour. Meanwhile, the Uzbek electricity, traveling effortlessly through KEC's transmission lines, costs the Afghan taxpayer a mere six cents a kilowatt hour.

To add insult to injury, much of the diesel is meant for the USAID power plant (http://afghanistan.usaid.gov/en/Article.788.aspx) at Tarakhil that has become a symbol of the sort of massive and widespread (http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=13518) reconstruction waste and abuse that has gone on in this country for years. The plant, built by Black & Veatch, is now projected to cost $300 million, three times the price of similar plants in neighboring Pakistan. In addition, it will only be capable of supplying one-third of the power the Uzbek power line can deliver far less expensively. Nor will the Uzbek line be the only source of cheap electricity. KEC's engineers have broken ground on a second power line — this one from Tajikistan — that will supply 300 megawatts of electricity to Kabul, three times what the Tarakhil plant will produce at a bargain basement construction cost of $28 million.

"At full capacity, we burn 600,000 liters a day," Jack Currie, the Scottish manager of the Tarakhil plant told me as I toured it in late October. "And just how much will that cost the Afghan taxpayer?" I asked. "Well," replied Currie, "you can assume a dollar a liter of diesel." I quickly calculated and arrived at an annual total of $219 million per year, not including the plant's maintenance costs (estimated at another $60 million a year). Currie looked astonished when I mentioned the figure.

I took these numbers to Mohammed Khan, a member of the Afghan parliament and chair of its energy committee. "Will you approve the funds for this diesel power plant?" I asked. The soft-spoken Khan, a trained electrical engineer who worked for many years in the Kabul Electricity Department, answered simply: "No. Not unless we have an emergency."

So why build a power plant that, in terms of kilowatt hours made available, costs 26 times as much as the Indian-built power line? Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi, Afghan's former finance minister, recalls the process. The idea, he says, originally came from then-U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald Neumann, who dreamed it up in April 2007 shortly before he left the country. He apparently envisioned it as a strategic alternative to the Uzbek power line. After all, at that time the repressive Uzbek regime had denied Washington the use of what was seen as a key military base in Central Asia, Karshi-Khanabad, and so functionally kicked U.S. troops out of the country. Naturally, then, it was also seen as an unreliable political partner for the U.S.-backed regime of Hamid Karzai.

Following up, USAID officials told the Karzai government that they could build a diesel plant in Kabul in just over two years for $120 million. It would, the ambassador indicated, be functional just in time for the 2009 elections, allowing Karzai to claim that he had provided power to the electricity-starved capital. The Afghan president readily agreed to the plan, instructing anxious officials at the ministry of finance to approve the scheme in early 2007. He even agreed to put $20 million of Afghan funds into the project — after being assured that the U.S. would pay for the rest.

Over the next two years, while Indian engineers raced the Americans to provide power to Kabul (ultimately winning handily (http://www.sarkaritel.com/news_and_features/january2009/22pg_transmission_line.htm)), the ministry of energy and water was having a hard time keeping the lights on during Kabul's harsh winters. And while the city waited for these promised sources of power to come on line, the new political-business elite, with its specially set up companies like Zahid Walid, was winning government-issued contracts to supply diesel to the old Kabul power plant — and making money hand over fist.

Zahid Walid was hardly the only politically well-connected business to clean up: Ghazanfar, a company from Mazar-i-Sharif, also won $17 million in diesel-supply contracts in the winter of 2006-2007, and then an astonishing $78 million in new contracts for 2008-early 2009. Not surprisingly, Ghazanfar turns out to be run by a family that is very close to President Karzai. (One sister, Hosn Banu Ghazanfar, is the women's minister and a brother is a member of parliament.)

In March 2009, the Ghazanfars opened a new bank (http://www.ghazanfarbank.com/about.html) in the capital, plastering the city with giant billboard advertisements featuring a cascade of gold coins. Less than six months later, the bank wrote out a two million dollar interest-free loan to Karzai for his election campaign, paying back the favors his government had done for them over the previous three years.

Afghanistan as a Patronage Machine

This week, Mohammed Qasim Fahim will be sworn in as the next vice-president of the new government of Afghanistan. Under an agreement with USAID, this new government is required to spend Afghan money to buy yet more diesel for the Tarakhil power plant, which in turn will put money exclusively and directly into the vice president's brother's pocket.

Hamid Jalil, the aid coordinator for the Ministry of Finance, points out that wasting money on unnecessary projects like Tarakhil has helped to hobble Afghanistan's progress in the last eight years. "The donor projects undermine the legitimacy of the government and do not allow us to build capacity," he says, adding in the weary tone you often hear in Kabul today, "corruption is everywhere in post-conflict countries like ours."

Former Afghan finance minister Ashraf Ghani summed up the whole profitably corrupt system that has run Afghanistan into a cul-de-sac this way. "It's not crazy, it's absurd," he says. "Crazy is when you don't know what you're doing. Absurd is when you don't provide a sense of ownership and a sense of sustainability."

• Pratap Chatterjee is an investigative journalist and senior editor at CorpWatch. He is the author of Halliburton's Army: How A Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1568583923/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20) (Nation Books, 2009) and Iraq, Inc. (Seven Stories Press, 2004).

Dr Ali Safi contributed research and reporting for this article. A video story by Chatterjee related to this one can be seen at Britain's Channel 4 News (http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1184614595?bctid=50020712001).

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175152/tomgram%3A_pratap_chatterjee%2C_afghanistan_as_a_patronage_machine (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175152/tomgram%3A_pratap_chatterjee%2C_afghanistan_as_a_patronage_machine)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 24, 2009, 01:56:23 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 24, 2009, 01:56:45 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on November 24, 2009, 01:57:14 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 12, 2009, 09:40:23 am

Meet the Commanded-in-Chief

posted December 03, 2009 | TomDispatch.com (http://www.tomdispatch.com/)

Victory at Last!

Monty Python in Afghanistan

By Tom Engelhardt

Let others deal with the details of President Obama’s Afghan speech, with the on-ramps and off-ramps, those 30,000 U.S. troops going in and just where they will be deployed, the benchmarks for what’s called “good governance” in Afghanistan, the corruption of the Karzai regime, the viability of counterinsurgency warfare, the reliability of NATO allies, and so on. Let’s just skip to the most essential point which, in a nutshell, is this: Victory at Last!

It’s been a long time coming, but finally American war commanders have effectively marshaled their forces, netcentrically outmaneuvering and outflanking the enemy. They have shocked-and-awed their opponents, won the necessary hearts-and-minds, and so, for the first time in at least two decades, stand at the heights of success, triumphant at last.

And no, I’m not talking about post-surge Iraq and certainly not about devolving Afghanistan. I’m talking about what’s happening in Washington.

A Symbolic Surrender of Civilian Authority

You may not think so, but on Tuesday night from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, in his first prime-time presidential address (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-address-nation-way-forward-afghanistan-and-pakistan) to the nation, Barack Obama surrendered. It may not have looked like that: there were no surrender documents; he wasn’t on the deck of the USS Missouri (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Missouri_%28BB-63%29); he never bowed his head. Still, from today on, think of him not as the commander-in-chief, but as the commanded-in-chief.

And give credit to the victors. Their campaign was nothing short of brilliant. Like the policy brigands they were, they ambushed the president, held him up with their threats, brought to bear key media players and Republican honchos, and in the end made off with the loot. The campaign began in late September with a strategic leak (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/20/AR2009092002920.html) of Afghan War commander General Stanley McChrystal’s grim review of the situation in that country, including demands for sizeable troop escalations and a commitment to a counterinsurgency war. It came to include rumors (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/24/world/asia/24general.html) of potential retirements in protest if the president didn’t deliver, as well as clearly insubordinate policy remarks (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/30493567/the_generals_revolt) by General McChrystal, not to speak of an impressive citizen-mobilization of inside-the-Beltway former neocon or fighting liberal think-tank experts, and a helping hand from an admiring media. In the process, the U.S. military succeeded in boxing in a president who had already locked himself into a conflict he had termed both “the right war” and a “necessary” one. After more than two months of painfully over-reported deliberations, President Obama has now ended up essentially where General McChrystal began.

Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine was dusted off from the moldy Vietnam archives and made spanking new by General David Petraeus in 2006, applied in Iraq (and Washington) in 2007, and put forward for Afghanistan in late 2008. It has now been largely endorsed, and a major escalation of the war — a new kind of military-led nation building (or, as they like to say, “good governance”) is to be cranked up and set in motion. COIN is being billed as a “population-centric,” not “enemy-centric” approach in which U.S. troops are distinctly to be "nation-builders as well as warriors."

And as for those 30,000 troops, most expected to arrive in the Afghan combat zone within the next six months (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/02/world/asia/02policy.html), the numbers are even more impressive when you realize that, as late as the summer of 2008, the U.S. only had about 28,000 troops (http://news.antiwar.com/2009/11/25/white-house-eyes-afghan-exit-by-2017/) in Afghanistan. In other words, in less than two years, U.S. troop strength in that country will have more than tripled to approximately 100,000 troops. So we’re talking near-Vietnam-level escalation rates. If you include the 38,000 NATO forces also there (and a possible (http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-Afghanistan-Pakistan/idUSTRE5AT5H120091130) 5,000 more to come), total allied troop strength will be significantly above what the Soviets deployed during their devastating Afghan War of the 1980s in which they fought some of the same insurgents (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175010) now arrayed against us.

Think of this as Barack Obama’s anti-MacArthur moment. In April 1951, in the midst of the Korean War, President Harry Truman relieved Douglas MacArthur of command of American forces.  He did so because the general, a far grander public figure than either McChrystal or Centcom commander Petraeus (and with dreams of his own about a possible presidential run), had publicly disagreed with, and interfered with, Truman’s plans to “limit” the war after the Chinese intervened.

Obama, too, has faced what Robert Dreyfuss in Rolling Stone calls (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/30493567/the_generals_revolt) a “generals’ revolt” — amid fears that his Republican opposition would line up behind the insubordinate field commanders and make hay in the 2010 and 2012 election campaigns.  Obama, too, has faced a general, Petraeus, who might well have presidential ambitions, and who has played a far subtler (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175126/) game than MacArthur ever did. After more than two months of what right-wing critics termed “dithering” and supporters called “thorough deliberations,” Obama dealt with the problem quite differently. He essentially agreed to subordinate himself to the publicly stated wishes of his field commanders. (Not that his Republican critics will give him much credit for doing so, of course.) This is called (http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2009/11/28/how_obama_really_feels_about_afghanistan_97397.html) “politics” in our country and, for a Democratic president in our era, Tuesday night’s end result was remarkably predictable.

When Obama bowed (http://tjic.com/archive/obama_bow_japan.jpg) to the Japanese emperor on his recent Asian tour, there was a media uproar in this country.  Even though the speech Tuesday night should be thought of as bowing to the American military, there is likely to be little complaint on that score. Similarly, despite the significance of symbolism in Washington, there has been surprisingly little discussion about the president’s decision to address the American people not from the Oval Office, but from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

It was there that, in 2002, George W. Bush gave a speech (http://ics.leeds.ac.uk/papers/vp01.cfm?outfit=pmt&folder=339&paper=380) before the assembled cadets in which he laid out his aggressive strategy of preventive war, which would become the cornerstone of “the Bush Doctrine” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush_Doctrine). (“If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long — Our security will require transforming the military you will lead — a military that must be ready to strike at a moment's notice in any dark corner of the world. And our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives.”) But keep in mind that this was still a graduation speech and presidents have traditionally addressed one of the military academies at graduation time.

Obama is not a man who appears in prop military jackets with “commander-in-chief” hand-stitched across his heart before hoo-aahing crowds of soldiers, as our last president loved to do, and yet in his first months in office he has increasingly appeared at military events and associated himself with things military. This speech represents another step in that direction. Has a president ever, in fact, given a non-graduation speech at West Point, no less a major address to the American people? Certainly, the choice (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-astore/obama-why-west-point_b_374023.html) of venue, and so the decision to address a military audience first and other Americans second, not only emphasized the escalatory military path chosen in Afghanistan, but represented a kind of symbolic surrender of civilian authority.

For his American audience, and undoubtedly his skittish NATO allies as well, the president did put a significant emphasis on an exit strategy from the war. That off-ramp strategy was, however, placed in the context of the training of the woeful Afghan security forces to take control of the struggle themselves and the woeful government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to turn over a new nation-building leaf. Like the choice of West Point, this, too, seemed to resonate with eerie echoes of the years in which George W. Bush regularly intoned the mantra: “As Iraqis stand-up, we will stand down.”

In his address, Obama offered July 2011 as the date to begin a withdrawing the first U.S. troops from Afghanistan.  (“After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.”) However, according to the Washington-insider Nelson Report, a White House “on background” press briefing Tuesday afternoon made it far clearer that the president was talking about a “conditions based withdrawal.” It would, in other words, depend “on objective conditions on the ground,” on whether the Afghans had met the necessary “benchmarks.” When asked about the “scaling back” of the American war effort, General McChrystal recently suggested (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20091128/pl_nm/us_afghanistan_usa) a more conservative timeline — “sometime before 2013” — seconded hazily by Said Jawad, the Afghan ambassador to Washington. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates refers to this as a "thinning out" (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2009/12/live-senate-armed-services-hea.html?hpid=topnews) of U.S. forces.

In fact, there’s no reason to put faith in any of these hazy deadlines. After all, this is the administration that came into office announcing a firm one-year closing date for the U.S. prison in Guantanamo (now officially missed (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/11/18/politics/main5696017.shtml)), a firm sunshine policy for an end-of-2009 release of millions of pages of historical documents from the archives of the CIA and other intelligence and military services (now officially delayed (http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2009/11/29/declassification_of_secret_documents_to_be_delayed/?page=full), possibly for years), and of course a firm date for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops, followed by all U.S. forces from Iraq (now possibly slipping (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120968941)).

Finish the job (http://politics.theatlantic.com/2009/11/obama_finish_the_job.php) in Afghanistan? Based on the plans of the field commanders to whom the president has bowed, on the administration’s record of escalation in the war so far, and on the quiet reassurances to the Pakistanis that we aren’t leaving Afghanistan in any imaginable future, this war looks to be all job and no finish. Whatever the flourishes, that was the essence of Tuesday night’s surrender speech.

Monty Python in Afghanistan

Honestly, if it weren’t so grim, despite all the upbeat benchmarks and encouraging words in the president’s speech, this would certainly qualify as Monty Python in Afghanistan. After all, three cabinet ministers and 12 former ministers are under investigation (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gFmdLgbLs0v3_30t1eAo8cOttbpQD9C61O0G0) in Afghanistan itself on corruption charges. And that barely scratches the surface of the problems in a country that one Russian expert recently referred to (http://www.juancole.com/2009/11/obama-vows-to-finish-job-heroin-trade.html) as an “international drug firm,” where at least one-third of the gross national product comes from the drug trade. In addition, as Juan Cole wrote (http://www.juancole.com/2009/12/obama-partnering-with-afghan-govt-but.html) at his Informed Comment blog:

“Months after the controversial presidential election that many Afghans consider stolen, there is no cabinet, and parliament is threatening to go on recess before confirming a new one because the president is unconstitutionally late in presenting the names. There are grave suspicions that some past and present cabinet members have engaged in the embezzlement of substantial sums of money. There is little parliamentary oversight. Almost no one bothers to attend the parliamentary sessions. The cabinet ministries are unable to spend the money allocated to them on things like education and rural development, and actually spent less in absolute terms last year than they did in the previous two years.”

In addition, the Taliban now reportedly take a cut (http://www.mercedsunstar.com/359/v-print/story/1192056.html) of the billions of dollars in U.S. development aid flowing into the country, much of which is otherwise squandered, and of the American money that goes into “protecting” (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20091130/roston) the convoys that bring supplies to U.S. troops throughout the country. One out of every four Afghan soldiers has quit or deserted (http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=49397) the Afghan National Army in the last year, while the ill-paid, largely illiterate, hapless Afghan police with their “well-deserved reputation (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/226/story/79642.html) for stealing and extorting bribes,” not to speak of a drug abuse rate estimated at 15%, are, as its politely put, “years away from functioning independently”; and the insurgency is spreading (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/27/world/asia/27kunduz.html) to new areas of the country and reviving (http://anandgopal.com/in-one-province-taliban-revive/) in others.

Good governance? Good grief!

Not that Washington, which obviously feels that it has much to impart to the Afghan people about good governance and how to deal with corruption, has particularly firm ground to stand on. After all, the United States has just completed its first billion-dollar presidential election in a $5 billion (http://change-congress.org/2009/02/can-a-5-billion-dollar-election-be-a-good-sign/) election season, and two administrations just propped up some of the worst financial scofflaws in the history of the world and got nothing back in return.

Meanwhile, the money flowing into (http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2008/10/us-election-will-cost-53-billi.html) Washington political coffers from Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, the pharmaceutical and health care industries, real estate, legal firms, and the like might be thought of as a kind of drug in itself. At the same time, according to (http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2009-11-17-military-mentors_N.htm) USA Today, at least 158 retired generals and admirals, many already pulling in military pensions in the range of $100,000-$200,000, have been hired as “senior mentors” by the Pentagon “to offer advice under an unusual arrangement”: they also work for companies seeking Defense Department contracts.

In Congress, a Senate maneuver which only a few years ago was so rare that the response to it was nicknamed “the nuclear option” (http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2005/05/12/nuclear_option_primer/) — needing a 60-vote majority to pass anything of significance — has, almost without comment, become a commonplace for the passage of just about anything. This means Congress is eternally in a state of gridlock. And that’s just for starters when it comes to ways in which the U.S. government, so ready to surge its military and its civilian employees into Afghanistan in the name of good governance, is in need of repair, if not nation-building itself.

Airless in Washington

It’s nonetheless the wisdom of this Washington and of this military that Obama has not found wanting, at least when it comes to Afghanistan.

So here’s a question: Why did he listen to them? And under such circumstances, why should we take the results seriously?

Stop for a moment and consider the cast of characters who offered the president the full range of advice available in Washington — all of which, as far as we can tell, from Joe Biden’s “counterterrorism-plus” strategy to McChrystal’s COIN and beyond, was escalatory in nature. These are, of course, the wise men (and woman) of our era. But just a cursory glance at their collective record should at least make you wonder:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now said to be the official with the best ties to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and so the one in charge of “coaxing” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8370176.stm) him into a round of reasonable nation-building, of making “a new compact" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/18/AR2009111801918.html?hpid=topnews) with the Afghan people by “improving governance and cracking down on corruption”; and yet, in the early 1990s, in her single significant nation-building experience at home, she botched (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1840383) the possibility of getting a universal health-care bill through Congress. She also had the “wisdom” to vote in 2003 to authorize the invasion of Iraq.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, reputedly deeply trusted by the president and in charge of planning out our military future in Afghanistan, was in the 1980s a supposed expert on the Soviet Union as well as deputy CIA director and later deputy to National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. Yet, in those years, he couldn’t bring himself to believe that the Soviets were done for even as that empire was disappearing from the face of the Earth. In the words (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174814/roger_morris_the_cia_and_the_gates_legacy) of former National Security Council official Roger Morris, Gates “waged a final battle against the Soviets, denying at every turn that the old enemy was actually dying.” As former CIA official Melvin Goodman has put the matter (http://www.truthout.org/1110097): “Gates was wrong about every key intelligence question of the 1980s... A Kremlinologist by training, Gates was one of the last American hardliners to comprehend the changes taking place in the Soviet Union. He was wrong about Mikhail Gorbachev, wrong about the importance of reform, wrong about Moscow's pursuit of arms control and détente with the United States. He was wrong about the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan...”

Vice-President Joe Biden, recently described (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/29/magazine/29Biden-t.html) as potentially “the second-most-powerful vice president in history” as well as “the president’s all-purpose adviser and sage” on foreign policy, was during the Bush years a believer in nation-building in Afghanistan, voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq, and later promoted (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/26/AR2007092601506.html) the idea — like Caesar re: Gaul — of dividing that country into three parts (without, of course, bothering to ask the Iraqis), while leaving 25,000-30,000 American troops based (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6166796) there in perpetuity, while “these regions build up their state police forces.”

General Stanley McChrystal, our war commander in Afghanistan and now the poster boy for counterinsurgency warfare, had his skills honed purely in the field of counterterrorism (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KE14Df01.html). He was a Special Ops guy.  The man who is now to “protect” the Afghan people previously won his spurs (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175074) as the head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in Iraq and Afghanistan. He ran the “manhunters” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/12/AR2009051203679_pf.html) — essentially, that is, he was the leader of a team of assassins and evidently part of what reporter Seymour Hersh has termed (http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1897542,00.html) an "executive assassination wing" of that command, possibly taking orders directly from (http://harpers.org/archive/2009/11/hbc-90006143) Vice President Dick Cheney. His skills involved guns to the head, not protective boots on the ground.

General David Petraeus, the general leading everything, who has been practically deified (http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/man-by-digby-he-looks-like-wiry-weather.html) in the U.S. media, is perhaps the savviest and most accomplished of this crew. He surged into Iraq in 2007 and, with the help of fortuitous indigenous developments, staunched the worst of the bleeding, leaving behind a big question mark. His greatest skill, however, has been in fostering (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175126) the career of David Petraeus. He is undoubtedly an advisor with an agenda and in his wake come a whole crew (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175106) of military and think-tank experts, with almost unblemished records of being wrong in the Bush years, whom the surge in Iraq recredentialized.

Karl Eikenberry, our ambassador to Kabul, in his previous career in the U.S. military served (http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/11/12/eikenberry.profile/index.html) two tours of duty in Afghanistan, and as the commander (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=2709) of Combined Forces Command Afghanistan was the general responsible for building up the Afghan army and “reforming” that country’s police force.  On both counts, we know how effective that attempt proved.

And when it comes to key figures with well-padded Washington CVs like Admiral Mike Mullen (http://www.jcs.mil/biography.aspx?ID=9), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or James Jones (http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/nsc/nsa/), present national security advisor and former commandant of the Marine Corps, as well as the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, a close friend of Senator John McCain, and a former revolving-door board member of Chevron and Boeing, remind me just what sticks in your mind about their accomplishments?

So, when you think about Barack Obama’s Afghan decisions, imagine first that the man considered the smartest, most thoughtful president of our era chose to surround himself with these people. He chose, that is, not fresh air, or fresh thought in the field of foreign and war policy, but the airless precincts where the combined wisdom of Washington and the Pentagon now exists, and the remarkable lack of accomplishment that goes with it. In short, these are people whose credentials largely consist of not having been right about much over the years.

Admittedly, this administration has called in practically every Afghan expert in sight. Everyone involved could now undoubtedly expound on relatively abstruse questions of Afghan tribal politics, locate Paktia Province on a map in a flash, and tell you just which of Hamid Karzai’s ministers are under investigation for corruption.

Unfortunately, the most essential problem isn’t in Afghanistan; it’s here in the United States, in Washington, where knowledge is slim, egos large, and national security wisdom is deeply imprinted on a system bleeding money and breaking down. The president campaigned on the slogan (http://susty.com/image/obama-speaking-campaigning-presidential-election-2008-crows-change-we-can-believe-in-sign-finger-point-placard-photo.jpg), “Change we can believe in.” He then chose as advisors — in the economic sphere as well, where a similar record of gross error (http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/11/29/harvard_ignored_warnings_about_investments/), narrow and unimaginative thinking, and over-identification with the powerful could easily be compiled — a crew who had never seen a significant change, or an out-of-the-ordinary thought it could live with — and still can’t.

As a result, the Iraq War has yet to begin to go away, the Afghan War is being escalated in a major way, the Middle East is in some turmoil, Guantanamo remains open, black sites (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/27/AR2009112703438.html) are still operating in Afghanistan, the Pentagon’s budget has grown yet larger, and supplemental demands on Congress for yet more money to pay for George W. Bush’s wars will, despite promises otherwise, soon enough be made (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125963112860870629.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsTop).

A stale crew breathing stale air has ensured that Afghanistan, the first of Bush’s disastrous wars, is now truly Obama’s War; and the news came directly from West Point where the president surrendered to his militarized fate.

[Note on Further Reading:  In preparing posts like this one, I rely on various newspapers, magazines, and websites (not all of which I see eye-to-eye with) for help, analysis, and information.  I wanted to mention just three here without which most of my dispatches would be far harder to write.  I’ve mentioned them many times before, but credit, when due, is worth repeating endlessly:  I find Juan Cole’s Informed Comment (http://www.juancole.com/) blog always lucid, intelligent, and deeply informed.  It’s simply a daily must-stop for those keeping up on events in “the greater Middle East”; so is Antiwar.com (http://www.antiwar.com/), which collects more war-related information of value than any site I know, and Paul Woodward’s The War in Context (http://warincontext.org/), which has an eye for the telling piece and the sharp comment.]

• Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project (http://www.americanempireproject.com/), runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture (http://www.amazon.com/dp/155849586X/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20), a history of the Cold War and beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1558495061/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20). He also edited The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1844672573/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20) (Verso, 2008), an alternative history of the mad Bush years.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175172/tomgram%3A__meet_the_commanded-in-chief (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175172/tomgram%3A__meet_the_commanded-in-chief)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 12, 2009, 09:58:19 am

State of Surge, Afghanistan

posted December 10, 2009 | TomDispatch.com (http://www.tomdispatch.com/)

The Nine Surges of Obama’s War

How to Escalate in Afghanistan

By Tom Engelhardt

In his Afghan “surge” speech (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-address-nation-way-forward-afghanistan-and-pakistan) at West Point last week, President Obama offered Americans some specifics to back up his new “way forward in Afghanistan.” He spoke of the “additional 30,000 U.S. troops” he was sending into that country over the next six months. He brought up the “roughly $30 billion” it would cost us to get them there and support them for a year.  And finally, he spoke of beginning to bring them home by July 2011. Those were striking enough numbers, even if larger and, in terms of time, longer than many in the Democratic Party would have cared for. Nonetheless, they don’t faintly cover just how fully the president has committed us to an expanding war and just how wide it is likely to become.

Despite the seeming specificity of the speech, it gave little sense of just how big and how expensive this surge will be.  In fact, what is being portrayed in the media as the surge of November 2009 is but a modest part of an ongoing expansion of the U.S. war effort in many areas. Looked at another way, the media's focus on the president’s speech as the crucial moment of decision, and on those 30,000 new troops as the crucial piece of information, has distorted what’s actually underway.

In reality, the U.S. military, along with its civilian and intelligence counterparts, has been in an almost constant state of surge since the last days of the Bush administration. Unfortunately, while information on this is available, and often well reported, it’s scattered in innumerable news stories on specific aspects of the war. You have to be a media jockey to catch it all, no less put it together.

What follows, then, is my own attempt to make sense of the nine fronts on which the U.S. has been surging, and continues to do so, as 2009 ends. Think of this as an effort to widen our view of Obama’s widening war.

Obama’s Nine Surges

1.The Troop Surge: Let’s start with those “30,000” new troops the president announced. First of all, they represent Obama’s surge, phase 2.  As the president pointed out in his speech, there were “just over 32,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan” when he took office in January 2009. In March, Obama announced (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-on-a-New-Strategy-for-Afghanistan-and-Pakistan/) that he was ordering in 21,000 additional troops.  Last week, when he spoke, there were already approximately 68,000 to 70,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. If you add the 32,000 already there in January and the 21,700 actually dispatched after the March announcement, however, you only get 53,700, leaving another 15,000 or so to be accounted for. According to (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/02/AR2009120204279.html) Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post, 11,000 of those were “authorized in the waning days of the Bush administration and deployed this year,” bringing the figure to between 64,000 and 65,000. In other words, the earliest stage of the present Afghan “surge” was already underway when Obama arrived.

It also looks like at least a few thousand more troops managed to slip through the door in recent months without notice or comment. Similarly, with the 30,000 figure announced a week ago, DeYoung reports that the president quietly granted Secretary of Defense Robert Gates the right to “increase the number by 10 percent, or 3,000 troops, without additional White House approval or announcement.” That already potentially brings the most recent surge numbers to 33,000, and an unnamed “senior military official” told De Young “that the final number could go as high as 35,000 to allow for additional support personnel such as engineers, medevac units and route-clearance teams, which comb roads for bombs.”

Now, add in the 7,500 troops and trainers that administration officials reportedly strong-armed various European countries into offering. More than 1,500 (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6948269.ece) of these are already in Afghanistan and simply not being withdrawn as previously announced. The cost of sending some of the others, like the 900-plus troops (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/12/07/world/AP-EU-Georgia-US-Afghanistan.html) Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has promised, will undoubtedly be absorbed by Washington. Nonetheless, add most of them in and, miraculously, you’ve surged up to, or beyond, Afghan War commander General Stanley McChrystal’s basic request for at least 40,000 troops to pursue a counterinsurgency war in that country.

2. The Contractor Surge: Given our heavily corporatized and privatized (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175036/pratap_chatterjee_inheriting_halliburton_s_army) military, it makes no sense simply to talk about troop numbers in Afghanistan as if they were increasing in a void. You also need to know about the private contractors who have taken over so many former military duties, from KP and driving supply convoys to providing security on large bases. There’s no way of even knowing who is responsible for the surge of (largely Pentagon-funded) private contractors in Afghanistan. Did their numbers play any part in the president’s three months of deliberations? Does he have any control over how many contractors are put on the U.S. government payroll there? We don’t know.

Private contractors certainly went unmentioned in his speech and, amid the flurry of headlines about troops going to Afghanistan, they remain almost unmentioned in the mainstream media. In major pieces on the president’s tortuous “deliberations” with his key military and civilian advisors at the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/world/asia/06reconstruct.html), the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/05/AR2009120501376_pf.html), and the Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fg-obama-afghan4-2009dec04,0,3681720,print.story), all produced from copious officially inspired (http://www.politico.com/email-alerts/playbook/playbook_12062009.html) leaks, there wasn't a single mention of private contractors, and yet their numbers have been surging for months.

A modest-sized article (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125971465513072063.html) by August Cole in the Wall Street Journal the day after the president’s speech gave us the basics, but you had to be looking. Headlined “U.S. Adding Contractors at Fast Pace,” the piece barely peeked above the fold on page 7 of the paper. According to Cole: “The Defense Department's latest census shows that the number of contractors increased about 40% between the end of June and the end of September, for a total of 104,101. That compares with 113,731 in Iraq, down 5% in the same period... Most of the contractors in Afghanistan are locals, accounting for 78,430 of the total...” In other words, there are already more private contractors on the payroll in Afghanistan than there will be U.S. troops when the latest surge is complete.

Though many of these contractors are local Afghans hired by outfits like DynCorp International and Fluor Corp., TPM Muckracker managed to get (http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/so_how_many_private_contractors_are_there_in_afgha.php) a further breakdown of these figures from the Pentagon and found that there were 16,400 “third country nationals” among the contractors, and 9,300 Americans. This is a formidable crew, and its numbers are evidently still surging, as are the Pentagon contracts doled out to private outfits that go with them. Cole, for instance, writes of the contract that Dyncorp and Fluor share to support U.S. forces in Afghanistan “which could be worth as much as $7.5 billion to each company in the coming years.”

3. The Militia Surge: U.S. Special Forces are now carrying out pilot programs (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/11/us-to-afghan-militias-dont-throw-away-your-guns/) for a mini-surge in support of local Afghan militias that are, at least theoretically, anti-Taliban. The idea is evidently to create a movement along the lines of Iraq's Sunni Awakening Movement that, many believe, ensured the "success" of George W. Bush's 2007 surge in that country. For now, as far as we know (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/world/asia/22militias.html), U.S. support takes the form of offers of ammunition, food, and possibly some Kalashnikov rifles, but in the future we'll be ponying up more arms and, undoubtedly, significant amounts of money.

This is, after all, to be a national program, the Community Defense initiative, which, according to (http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=tallahassee&sParam=36780586.story) Jim Michaels of USA Today, will “funnel millions of dollars in foreign aid to villages that organize ‘neighborhood watch’-like programs to help with security.” Think of this as a “bribe” surge. Such programs are bound to turn out to be essentially money-based and designed to buy “friendship.”

4. The Civilian Surge: Yes, Virginia, there is a “civilian surge” underway (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/20/AR2009112004043.html) in Afghanistan, involving increases in the number of “diplomats and experts in agriculture, education, health and rule of law sent to Kabul and to provincial reconstruction teams across the country.” The State Department now claims to be “on track” to triple the U.S. civilian component in Afghanistan from 320 (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/21a30154-d63e-11de-b80f-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1) officials in January 2009 to 974 by “the early weeks (http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jVub2zDUsnw0Ti581r90kyKbMI2w) of next year.” (Of course, that, in turn, means another mini-surge in private contractors: more security guards to protect civilian employees of the U.S. government.) A similar civilian surge is evidently underway in neighboring Pakistan, just the thing to go with a surge of civilian aid (http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/10/06/us_aid_to_pakistan_a_shell_game/) and a plan for a humongous new, nearly billion-dollar (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175091/chalmers_johnson_baseless_expenditures) embassy compound to be built in Islamabad.

5. The CIA and Special Forces Surge: And speaking of Pakistan, Noah Shachtman of Wired’s Danger Room blog had it right (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/12/us-spec-ops-adviser-widen-the-drone-war-in-pakistan/) recently when, considering the CIA’s “covert” (but openly discussed) drone war in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, he wrote: “The most important escalation of the war might be the one the President didn’t mention at West Point.” In fact, the CIA’s drone attacks there have been escalating in numbers since the Obama administration came into office. Now, it seems, paralleling the civilian surge in the Af/Pak theater of operations, there is to be a CIA one as well. While little information on this is available, David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt of the New York Times report (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/02/world/asia/02strategy.html) that in recent months the CIA has delivered a plan to the White House “for widening the campaign of strikes against militants by drone aircraft in Pakistan, sending additional spies there and securing a White House commitment to bulk up the C.I.A.’s budget for operations inside the country.”

In addition, Scott Shane of the Times reports (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/04/world/asia/04drones.html):

“The White House has authorized an expansion of the C.I.A.’s drone program in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, officials said..., to parallel the president’s decision… to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. American officials are talking with Pakistan about the possibility of striking in Baluchistan for the first time — a controversial move since it is outside the tribal areas — because that is where Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to hide.”

The Pakistani southern border province of Baluchistan is a hornet’s nest (http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews%5btt_news%5d=35800&tx_ttnews%5bbackPid%5d=26&cHash=1a2d01ef7a) with its own sets of separatists and religious extremists, as well as a (possibly U.S.-funded (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/07/080707fa_fact_hersh)) rebel movement aimed at the Baluchi minority areas of Iran. The Pakistani government is powerfully opposed to drone strikes in the area of the heavily populated provincial capital of Quetta where, Washington insists, the Afghan Taliban leadership largely resides. If such strikes do begin, they could prove the most destabilizing aspect of the widening of the war that the present surge represents.

In addition, thanks to (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20091207/scahill) The Nation magazine’s Jeremy Scahill, we now know that, from a secret base in Karachi, Pakistan, the U.S. Army’s Joint Special Operations Command, in conjunction with the private security contractor Xe (formerly Blackwater), operates “a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, ‘snatch and grabs’ of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan.” Since so many U.S. activities in Pakistan involve secretive, undoubtedly black-budget operations, we may only have the faintest outlines of what the “surge” there means.

6. The Base-Building Surge: Like the surge in contractors and in drone attacks, the surge in base-building in Afghanistan significantly preceded Obama's latest troop-surge announcement.  A recent NBC Nightly News report (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/34289318#34289318) on the ever-expanding U.S. base at Kandahar Airfield, which it aptly termed a “boom town,” shows just how ongoing this part of the overall surge is, and at what a staggering level. As in Iraq from 2003 on (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/59774/a_permanent_basis_for_withdrawal_), billions of dollars are being sunk into bases, the largest of which — especially the old Soviet site, Bagram Air Base, with more than $200 million in construction projects and upgrades underway at the moment — are beginning to look like ever more permanent fixtures on the landscape.

In addition, as Nick Turse of TomDispatch.com has reported (http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175157/tomgram:_nick_turse,_in_afghanistan,_the_pentagon_digs_in), forward observation bases and smaller combat outposts have been sprouting all over southern Afghanistan. “Forget for a moment the ‘debates’ in Washington over Afghan War policy,” he wrote in early November, “and, if you just focus on the construction activity and the flow of money into Afghanistan, what you see is a war that, from the point of view of the Pentagon, isn't going to end any time soon. In fact, the U.S. military's building boom in that country suggests that, in the ninth year of the Afghan War, the Pentagon has plans for a far longer-term, if not near-permanent, garrisoning of the country, no matter what course Washington may decide upon.”

7. The Training Surge: In some ways, the greatest prospective surge may prove to be in the training of the Afghan national army and police.  Despite years of American and NATO “mentoring,” both are in notoriously poor shape (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175128/will_today_s_u_s_armed_ally_be_tomorrow_s_enemy_). The Afghan army is riddled with desertions — 25% of those trained (http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=49397) in the last year are now gone — and the Afghan police are reportedly a hapless, ill-paid, corrupt, drug-addicted lot. Nonetheless, Washington (with the help of NATO reinforcements) is planning to bring an army whose numbers officially stand at approximately 94,000 (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1945869,00.html?iid=tsmodule#ixzz0Z2TdUHK4) (but may actually be as low as 40-odd thousand (http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/patrick-cockburn-us-surge-will-only-prolong-afghan-war-1835054.html)) to 134,000 reasonably well-trained troops by next fall and 240,000 a year later. Similarly, the Obama administration hopes to take the police numbers (http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fg-afghan-police5-2009dec05,0,3583981,full.story) from an official 93,000 to 160,000.

8. The Cost Surge: This is a difficult subject to pin down in part because the Pentagon is, in cost-accounting terms, one of the least transparent organizations around. What can be said for certain is that Obama’s $30 billion figure won’t faintly hold when it comes to the real surge. There is no way that figure will cover anything like all the troops, bases, contractors, and the rest. Just take the plan to train an Afghan security force of approximately 400,000 in the coming years. We’ve already spent more than $15 billion (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/05/opinion/05sat1.html) on the training of the Afghan Army and more than $10 billion (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200909u/afghanistan-police) has gone into police training — staggering figures for a far smaller combined force with poor results. Imagine, then, what a massive bulking up of the country's security forces will actually cost. In congressional testimony, Centcom commander General David Petraeus suggested (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/10/world/asia/10policy.html) a possible price tag of $10 billion a year. And if such a program works (which seems unlikely), try to imagine how one of the poorest countries on the planet will support a 400,000-man force. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has just suggested (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091208/ap_on_re_as/as_gates_afghanistan) that it will take at least 15-20 years before the country can actually pay for such a force itself. In translation, what we have here is undoubtedly a version of Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn rule (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pottery_Barn_rule) (“You break it, you own it”); in this case, you build it, you own it. If we create such security forces, they will be, financially speaking, ours into the foreseeable future. (And this is even without adding in those local militias we’re planning to invest “millions” in.)

9.The Anti-Withdrawal Surge: Think of this as a surge in time. By all accounts, the president tried to put some kind of limit on his most recent Afghan surge, not wanting (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/world/asia/06reconstruct.htm) “an open-ended commitment.” With that in mind, he evidently insisted on a plan, emphasized in his speech, in which some of the surge troops would start to come home in July 2011, about 18 months from now. This was presented in the media as a case of giving something to everyone (the Republican opposition, his field commanders, and his own antiwar Democratic Party base). In fact, he gave his commanders and the Republican opposition a very real surge in numbers. In this regard, a Washington Post headline says it all (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/06/AR2009120602377.html?hpid=topnewsheadline): “McChrystal’s Afghanistan Plan Stays Mainly Intact.” On the other hand, what he gave his base was only the vaguest of promises (“…and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011”). Moreover, within hours of the speech, even that commitment was being watered down by the first top officials to speak on the subject. Soon enough, as the right-wing began to blaze away on the mistake of announcing a withdrawal date “to the enemy,” there was little short of a stampede of high officials eager to make that promise ever less meaningful.

In what Mark Mazzetti of the Times called (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/07/world/asia/07afghan.html) a “flurry of coordinated television interviews,” the top civilian and military officials of the administration marched onto the Sunday morning talk shows “in lockstep” to reassure the right (and they were reassured (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/017/307lxxjy.asp)) by playing “down the significance of the July 2011 target date.” The United States was, Secretary of Defense Gates and others indicated, going to be in the region in strength for years to come (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091206/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_us_afghanistan). (“...July 2011 was just the beginning, not the end, of a lengthy process. That date, [National Security Advisor] General [James] Jones said, is a ‘ramp’ rather than a ‘cliff’.”)

How Wide the Widening War?

When it came to the spreading Taliban insurgency (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/07/AR2009120704127_pf.html) in Afghanistan, the president in his speech spoke of his surge goal this way:  “We must reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government.” This seems a modest enough target, even if the means of reaching it are proving immodest indeed. After all, we’re talking about a minority Pashtun insurgency — Pashtuns make up only about 42% of Afghanistan’s population — and the insurgents are a relatively lightly armed, rag-tag force. Against them and a miniscule number (http://www.abcnews.go.com/Blotter/president-obamas-secret-100-al-qaeda-now-afghanistan/story?id=9227861) of al-Qaeda operatives, the Pentagon has launched a remarkable, unbelievably costly build-up of forces over vast distances, along fragile, extended supply lines, and in a country poorer than almost any other on the planet. The State Department has, to the best of its abilities, followed suit, as has the CIA across the border in Pakistan.

All of this has been underway for close to a year, with at least another six months to go. This is the reality that the president and his top officials didn’t bother to explain to the American people in that speech last week, or on those Sunday talk shows, or in congressional testimony, and yet it’s a reality we should grasp as we consider our future and the Afghan War we, after all, are paying for.

And yet, confoundingly, as the U.S. has bulked up in Afghanistan, the war has only grown fiercer both within the country and in parts of Pakistan. Sometimes bulking-up can mean not reversing but increasing the other side’s momentum. We face what looks to be a widening war in the region. Already, the Obama administration has been issuing ever stronger warnings (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/world/asia/08policy.html) to the Pakistani government and military to shape up in the fight against the Taliban, otherwise threatening not only drone strikes in Baluchistan, but cross-border raids by Special Operations types, and even possibly “hot pursuit” by U.S. forces into Pakistan.  This is a dangerous game indeed.

As Andrew Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0805090169/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20), wrote recently (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-bacevich3-2009dec03,0,3209129.story), “Sending U.S. troops to fight interminable wars in distant countries does more to inflame than to extinguish the resentments giving rise to violent anti-Western jihadism.”  Whatever the Obama administration does in Afghanistan and Pakistan, however, the American ability to mount a sustained operation of this size in one of the most difficult places on the planet, when it can’t even mount a reasonable jobs program at home, remains a strange wonder of the world.

• Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project (http://www.americanempireproject.com/), runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture (http://www.amazon.com/dp/155849586X/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20), a history of the Cold War and beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1558495061/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20). He also edited The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1844672573/ref=nosim/?tag=nationbooks08-20) (Verso, 2008), an alternative history of the mad Bush years.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175176/tomgram%3A__state_of_surge%2C_afghanistan (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175176/tomgram%3A__state_of_surge%2C_afghanistan)

Post by: Yak on December 12, 2009, 10:13:08 am
I'm sorry, but my eyes started to glaze after about the tenth paragraph.
What a dreadful style of writing!

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 27, 2009, 10:01:18 pm

Are you one of those people with a short attention span who can only handle short sound-bites?  ;D

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 27, 2009, 10:01:38 pm

Jo Comerford — Afghan War Costs 101

posted December 17, 2009 | TomDispatch.com (http://www.tomdispatch.com/)

Ashton Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, put the matter this way recently: “[N]ext to Antarctica, Afghanistan is probably the most incommodious place, from a logistics point of view, to be trying to fight a war... It's landlocked and rugged, and the road network is much, much thinner than in Iraq. Fewer airports, different geography.” In other words, we might as well be fighting on the moon. In translation, this means at least one thing: don’t believe any of the figures coming out of the White House or the Pentagon about what this war is going to cost.

As Jo Comerford, executive director of the National Priorities Project (http://www.nationalpriorities.org/) points out below, the president’s $30 billion figure (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-address-nation-way-forward-afghanistan-and-pakistan) for getting those 30,000-plus (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175176/tomgram%3A__state_of_surge%2C_afghanistan/#more) new surge troops into Afghanistan is going to prove a “through-the-basement estimate.” As for the dates for getting them in and beginning to get them out? Well, it’s grain-of-salt time there, too. According to (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/14/AR2009121403123_pf.html) Steven Mufson and Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, some of the fuel storage facilities being built to support the surge troops won’t even be completed by the time the first of them are scheduled to leave the country, 18 months from now.

And keep in mind the endless, and endlessly vulnerable, supply lines on which so much of that fuel — and almost everything else the U.S. military has to have to survive — travels. Along those mountainous roads, trucks are “lost,” or Taliban-commandeered, or bribes are paid for passage, or some are simply destroyed (http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/provinces/04-nato-tankers-quetta-qs-01) in what can only be thought of as an underreported supply-line war. All of this adds immeasurably to the staggering expense of the project. According to (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126075201256889955.html) August Cole of the Wall Street Journal, in fuel terms alone, to support a single soldier in Afghanistan costs between $200,000 and $350,000 a year.

And while we’re at it: don’t expect all those surging troops to make it into Afghanistan any time soon. In the heroic tales (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/world/asia/06reconstruct.html) of presidential surge deliberations (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/05/AR2009120501376_pf.html) (based on copious White House leaks) that appeared soon after the president’s West Point speech, much was made of how Obama himself had insisted on speeding up the plan to get the extra troops in place. All would arrive, the White House said, within six months. That was quickly changed to approximately eight months. Now, Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, deputy commander of American and NATO forces there, has just announced (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/world/asia/15mullen.html) that it will take nine to eleven months (or maybe even “up to a year” (http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/12/14/world/worldwatch/entry5978846.shtml)), and that’s if none of the factors that could go wrong do — something not worth putting your money on when it comes to the Afghan War.

If all this leaves you with lingering worries about the success of both the surge and the war, you can put them to rest, however. NBC’s Richard Engel found (http://worldblog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/12/02/2140281.aspx) a “military schematic,” a single chart from the office of the Joint Chiefs, that offers a visual representation of the military’s full surge/counterinsurgency strategy. It has to be seen to be believed. (Just click here (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2009/12/the_militarys_plan_for_the_afghan_war_surge_in_one.php?ref=fpblg).) It lays out as a flow chart (or perhaps overflow chart would be the more accurate description) just how our war will achieve success. What could possibly go wrong with such a plan? It’s hard to imagine. In the meantime, let Comerford give you a little lesson in the economics of the Afghan War, and what we could have done with that low-ball figure of $30 billion, had we chosen not to fight a war on the moon.

— Tom Engelhardt


Surging by the Minute

By Jo Comerford

$57,077.60. That’s what we’re paying per minute. Keep that in mind — just for a minute or so.

After all, the surge is already on. By the end of December, the first 1,500 U.S. troops will have landed (http://www.defense.gov/Releases/Release.aspx?ReleaseID=13167) in Afghanistan, a nation roughly the size of Texas, ranked (http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/country_fact_sheets/cty_fs_AFG.html) by the United Nations as second worst in the world in terms of human development.

Women and men from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will be among the first to head out. It takes an estimated $1 million (http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/63121-crs-calculates-cost-of-us-troop-presence-in-afghanistan) to send each of them surging into Afghanistan for one year. So a 30,000-person surge will be at least $30 billion, which brings us to that $57,077.60. That’s how much it will cost you, the taxpayer, for one minute of that surge.

By the way, add up the yearly salary (http://www.dod.state.ga.us/woweb/Docs/2009-Proposed-Military-Pay,00.htm) of a Marine from Camp Lejeune with four years of service, throw in (http://www.military.com/benefits/military-pay/2010-military-pay-charts) his or her housing allowance, additional pay for dependents, and bonus pay for hazardous duty, imminent danger, and family separation, and you’ll still be many thousands of dollars short of that single minute’s sum.

But perhaps this isn’t a time to quibble. After all, a job is a job, especially in the United States, which has lost (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/empsit_12042009.htm) seven million jobs since December 2007, while reporting record-high numbers of people seeking assistance to feed themselves and/or their families. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 36 million Americans, including one out of every four children, are currently on food stamps.

On the other hand, given the woeful inadequacy of that “safety net,” we might have chosen to direct the $30 billion in surge expenditures toward raising the average individual monthly Food Stamp allotment by $70 for the next year; that's roughly an additional trip to the grocery store, every month, for 36 million people. Alternatively, we could have dedicated that $30 billion to job creation. According to a recent report (http://www.nationalpriorities.org/publications/2009/09/24/Security-Spending-Primer) issued by the Political Economy Research Institute, that sum could generate a whopping 537,810 construction jobs, 541,080 positions in healthcare, fund 742,740 teachers or employ 831,390 mass transit workers.

For purposes of comparison, $30 billion — remember, just the Pentagon-estimated cost of a 30,000-person troop surge — is equal to (http://www.nationalpriorities.org/Presidents_Budget_FY2010) 80% of the total U.S. 2010 budget for international affairs, which includes monies for development and humanitarian assistance. On the domestic front, $30 billion could double the funding (at 2010 levels (http://www.nationalpriorities.org/Presidents_Budget_FY2010)) for the Children's Health Insurance Program and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Or think of the surge this way: if the United States decided to send just 29,900 extra soldiers to Afghanistan, 100 short of the present official total, it could double the amount of money — $100 million — it has allocated (http://www.state.gov/g/prm/) to assist refugees and returnees from Afghanistan through the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

Leaving aside the fact that the United States already accounts for 45% of total global military spending, the $30 billion surge cost alone would place us (http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex) in the top-ten for global military spending, sandwiched between Italy and Saudi Arabia. Spent instead on “soft security” measures within Afghanistan, $30 billion could easily build, furnish and equip (http://www.nationalpriorities.org/cost_of_war_afghanistan) enough schools for the entire nation.

Continuing this nod to the absurd for just one more moment, if you received a silver dollar every second, it would take you 960 years to haul in that $30 billion. Not that anyone could hold so much money. Together, the coins would weigh nearly 120,000 tons, or more than the poundage of 21,000 Asian elephants, an aircraft carrier, or the Washington Monument. Converted to dollar bills and laid end-to-end, $30 billion would reach 2.9 million miles or 120 times around the Earth.

One more thing, that $30 billion isn’t even the real cost of Obama’s surge. It’s just a minimum, through-the-basement estimate. If you were to throw in (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175176/tomgram%3A__state_of_surge%2C_afghanistan/#more) all the bases being built, private contractors hired, extra civilians sent in, and the staggering costs of training a larger Afghan army and police force (a key goal of the surge), the figure would surely be startlingly higher. In fact, total Afghanistan War spending for 2010 is now expected to exceed $102.9 billion, doubling last year's Afghan spending. Thought of another way, it breaks down to $12 million per hour in taxpayer dollars for one year. That’s equal to total annual U.S. spending on all veteran's benefits, from hospital stays to education.

In Afghan terms, our upcoming single year of war costs represents nearly five times that country’s gross domestic product or $3,623.70 for every Afghan woman, man, and child. Given that the average annual salary for an Afghan soldier is $2,880 and many Afghans seek employment in the military purely out of economic desperation, this might be a wise investment — especially since the Taliban is able to pay considerably more for its new recruits. In fact, recent increases in much-needed Afghan recruits appear to correlate (http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_US_AFGHANISTAN_TRAINING?SITE=TXKER&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT) with the promise of a pay raise.

All of this is, of course, so much fantasy, since we know just where that $30-plus billion will be going. In 2010, total Afghanistan War spending since November 2001 will exceed $325 billion, which equals (http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex) the combined annual military spending of Great Britain, China, France, Japan, Germany, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. If we had never launched an invasion of Afghanistan or stayed on fighting all these years, those war costs, evenly distributed in this country, would have meant a $2,298.80 dividend per U.S. taxpayer.

Even as we calculate the annual cost of war, the tens of thousands of Asian elephants in the room are all pointing to $1 trillion in total war costs for Iraq and Afghanistan. The current escalation in Afghanistan coincides with that rapidly-approaching milestone. In fact, thanks to Peter Baker’s recent New York Times report (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/world/asia/06reconstruct.html) on the presidential deliberations that led to the surge announcement, we know that the trillion-dollar number for both wars may be a gross underestimate. The Office of Management and Budget sent President Obama a memo, Baker tells us, suggesting that adding General McChrystal’s surge to ongoing war costs, over the next 10 years, could mean — forget Iraq — a trillion dollar Afghan War.

At just under one-third of the 2010 U.S. federal budget, $1 trillion essentially defies per-hour-per-soldier calculations. It dwarfs all other nations' military spending, let alone their spending on war. It makes a mockery of food stamps and schools. To make sense of this cost, we need to leave civilian life behind entirely and turn to another war. We have to reach back to the Vietnam War, which in today's dollars cost $709.9 billion — or $300 billion less than the total cost of the two wars we're still fighting, with no end in sight, or even $300 billion less than the long war we may yet fight in Afghanistan.

[Note:  Jo would like to acknowledge the analysis and numbers crunching of Chris Hellman and Mary Orisich, members of the National Priorities Project's research team, without whom this piece would not have been possible.]

• Jo Comerford is the executive director of the National Priorities Project. Previously, she served as director of programs at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and directed the American Friends Service Committee's justice and peace-related community organizing efforts in western Massachusetts.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175179/tomgram%3A_jo_comerford%2C_afghan_war_costs_101 (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175179/tomgram%3A_jo_comerford%2C_afghan_war_costs_101)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 07, 2010, 05:54:33 pm

Some links to Afghanistan-related threads posted to the General Forum (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/board,1.0.html) messageboard @ XNC2....

The message the Muslim world was waiting for (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,154.0.html)

Why are the US bombing Pakistan? (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,570.0.html)

Secrecy and denial as Pakistan lets CIA use airbase to strike militants (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,634.0.html)

Anfaol's looking at joining the Territorial's now known as the Army Resevres! (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,643.0.html)

NZ plugged into secret internet (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,1017.0.html)

Pakistan police put down demonstrators (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,1174.0.html)

Pope tells Muslims ............. (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,1287.0.html)

President Obama makes a direct appeal to Iran's leaders. (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,1300.0.html)

The US's shift to common sense (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,1423.0.html)

Thousands flee bomb attacks by US drones (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,1523.0.html)

John Key gets inappropriate with Afghanistan (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,1546.0.html)

11 Year Old Suicide Bomber (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,1597.0.html)

Man's marriage to eight-year-old girl ruled legal (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,1703.0.html)

Obama phones Jonkey for a chat (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,2209.0.html)

Travel Advisories (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,2302.0.html)

Meanwhile, in Jesusland.... (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,2366.0.html)

Kiwis top of the sops in Global Peace Index (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,2479.0.html)

Bin Laden scorns Obama charm offensive (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,2493.0.html)

Barack Obama - Keynote Egypt Speech (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,2503.0.html)

US admits to air strikes that killed dozens of civilians (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,2519.0.html)

Mapp to weigh Nato need for SAS troops (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,2669.0.html)

NZ troops fired on in Afghanistan (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,2842.0.html)

When Saddam opened up to the FBI (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3018.0.html)

US spy chief's NZ secret blown (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3098.0.html)

Mark Morford — Notes & Errata (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3110.0.html)

AFGHANISTAN (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3377.0.html)

UK public: War is unwinnable (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3384.0.html)

SAS going back to war a line-ball call - PM (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3385.0.html)

British Army involed in a new battle (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3455.0.html)

British Army deserter charged (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3456.0.html)

Terror suspects arrested in Melbourne after bomb plot uncovered. (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3459.0.html)

Afghanistan Baitullah Mehsud Telly tubby Commander Dead (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3511.0.html)

SAS will face stronger Taleban (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3589.0.html)

Millions may be denied vote in poll lacking women's touch (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3632.0.html)

How many moslem male terrorists wear Moslem womens clothing? (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3809.0.html)

Key To Appear On Letterman (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3816.0.html)

Recon Marine In Afghanistan - From the Sand Pit a letter (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3921.0.html)

Soldiers' emailed photo drops a bomb (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,3941.0.html)

SAS—Deployment in Afghanistan (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4006.0.html)

Warning for America in new bin Laden tape (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4143.0.html)

American Haters Time To Apologise (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4390.0.html)

Propaganda can be dangerous (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4430.0.html)

What has America done to democracy? (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4449.0.html)

Has American warmongering “all-but” destroyed NATO? (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4450.0.html)

War of the Worlds — London, 1898; Kabul, 2009 (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4581.0.html)

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4618.0.html)

America builds MOP ~ Massive Ordnance Penetrator (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4696.0.html)

US presidential power grows — will you love every future president? (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4787.0.html)

Lessons from America's “Long War” (and the probable blowbacks) (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4819.0.html)

Cashing in the US War Dividend — The Joys of Perpetual War (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4852.0.html)

Aussies using live ammunition in training exercises ` commando shot dead (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4853.0.html)

Obama's Choice — Failed War President or the Prince of Peace? (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4883.0.html)

UK Comedian upsets war amputees ~ say goodbye to comedy? (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4926.0.html)

Welcome to 2025 — American Preeminence Is Disappearing Fifteen Years Early (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4932.0.html)

Obama Biggest Drop In Popularity Of Any US President Ever (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4956.0.html)

Is Obama brainwashed by the phantom fear of the Taliban? (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,5077.0.html)

Is this whats called 'friendly fire'? (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,5107.0.html)

Shooting 12 dead at Fort Hood USA (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,5139.0.html)

Obama Appeases Muslim Terrorist (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,5237.0.html)

Aussie dog recovered in Afghanistan (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,5273.0.html)

911 Suspects to be tried in New York (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,5310.0.html)

The Afghanistan speech Obama should give (but won't) (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,5425.0.html)

Blackwater's in Pakistan (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,5565.0.html)

Obama Morphs Into Bush (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,5691.0.html)

World Laughs As Obama Picks Up Peace PPrize (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,5800.0.html)

A report on the First Decade of the Twenty-First Century in ENZED (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,5829.0.html)

“Wasted Troops” — grinding down the US Army (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,5881.0.html)

Russia to be Involved in Afghan War -again? (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,5904.0.html)

Why Warmongering Will Take No Holiday in 2010 (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6006.0.html)

The Second Decade — The World in 2020 (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6089.0.html)

Taliban make 'undetectable' bombs out of wood (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6138.0.html)

Invasion of Iraq, UK inquiry: (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6184.0.html)

More US soldiers commit suicide than killed in action (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6256.0.html)

US rifle sights inscribed with John 8:12 (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6269.0.html)

Biblical citation deemed inappropriate (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6282.0.html)

NZ SAS Exposed in Afganistan (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6285.0.html)

The future of America? (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6301.0.html)

Spy base protesters 'Real Heroes' (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6316.0.html)

The BOGEYMAN says BOO!!! .... and 'merica messes its pants (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6353.0.html)

NZ wont pay into fund for Taleban weapons (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6411.0.html)

Trouble after capture of Taliban leader? (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6663.0.html)

NZ Death Clocks (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6715.0.html)

The future: “Earth's Last Stand!” (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6788.0.html)

Spy Base protestors in court (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,6909.0.html)

Report on Iraq/Afghanistan (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,7083.0.html)

Americans killing the wrong people wonder how many deaths like these ones ? (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,7182.0.html)

How things have changed (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,7204.0.html)

“Smile & Wave” goes on a secret junket to Afghanistan (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,7353.0.html)

John Key Goes to Afghanistan and Meets Worlds Biggest Smack Dealers Brother (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,7354.0.html)

US troops are executing prisoners in Afghanistan, journalist says (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,7426.0.html)

The Afghanistan War (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,7756.0.html)

Dog The Bin Laden hunter ?? (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,7770.0.html)

Wikileaks Opens Big Can Of Worms 1000's of New Secret Documents (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,7866.0.html)

BREAKING NEWS New Zealand soldier killed in Afghanistan (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,7921.0.html)

Afghanistan is an unwinnable war (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,7940.0.html)

There are possibly other threads posted to this group that have messages pertaining to Afghanistan. It is also possible that some of the threads that have links posted to this list shouldn't be here. However this list can be amended if required.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on February 16, 2011, 05:51:11 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 02, 2011, 01:30:05 am

Afghanistan torture haunts next governor-general

By ANTHONY HUBBARD - Sunday Star-Times | 5:00AM - Sunday, 01 May, 2011

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/News%20Story%20Pix%202011/4947041sr-01May11.jpg) (http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/News%20Story%20Pix%202011/4947042sr-01May11.jpg)
LEFT: Kiwi troops have been tarnished by the behaviour of Afghanistan's security agency.
RIGHT: Jerry Mateparae — Contradictory statements, and now saying nothing.

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/News%20Story%20Pix%202011/4947043sr-01May11.jpg) (http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/News%20Story%20Pix%202011/4947045sr-01May11.jpg)
LEFT: Wayne Mapp — “We've not heard any complaints from the Red Cross.”
RIGHT: Willy Apiata — Was photographed at the scene of a firefight in Kabul where
SAS did “assist” the Afghan Crisis Response Unit to detain suspected insurgents.

JOHN KEY's government is in serious trouble over torture in Afghanistan. So is its choice as the next governor-general, former defence chief Jerry Mateparae.

The evidence suggests prisoners that New Zealand troops have helped catch have been tortured by the Afghans and Americans. Under international law, all torture is forbidden. So is handing over prisoners to someone else who then tortures them.

The government is in a dilemma. It is fighting alongside the Karzai government in Afghanistan. The Karzai government contains elements who are thugs and who routinely torture. But New Zealand accepts its duty under international law not to hand over prisoners to torturers. So the government has had to fudge.

The result is a filthy fog of official evasions, self-contradictions, dodges, delays, obfuscations, personal attacks, spurious appeals to authority and outright refusals to admit troublesome facts.

The facts have been set out by journalist Jon Stephenson in a long piece in the latest edition of Metro and in a series of articles before that in the Sunday Star-Times. Put the facts together with the fog and hard questions arise.

The government's main story is that the SAS don't take prisoners at all. Instead, it is the Afghan soldiers who operate with them, the Crisis Response Unit, who do that. Last year Mateparae, then chief of defence force, said the SAS "have been in the vicinity when members of the Afghan National Security Forces have arrested or detained Afghans". But the SAS "have not assisted in detaining persons or making those arrests".

But this contradicts what Mateparae had said a couple of months before, when Willie Apiata VC had been photographed at the scene of a firefight in Kabul. Mateparae said at that time the SAS did "assist" the Afghan Crisis Response Unit to detain suspected insurgents.

Mateparae's version was also contradicted by Colonel M, the CRU commander in Kabul. He told Stephenson that the SAS was "very, very involved" in detaining people. Speaking about another recent SAS-CRU mission that captured five would-be suicide bombers, he said: "I wouldn't say we do this by ourselves. It was a collaborative effort."

Mateparae's version does not sit easily with two other episodes reported by Stephenson. He has reported that in a raid in Wardak province the SAS captured a fleeing Taliban fighter and handed him to the CRU, who then gave him to an Afghan National Army commander. It is alleged he ordered the prisoner to be dragged along the gravel road back to base, more than 100km away: a horrible lingering death. The SAS intervened and insisted the CRU take him instead. Back in Kabul, the CRU then handed him over to the Afghan National Directorate of Security. The NDS has such a bad reputation for torture that the High Court in London banned British forces from transferring prisoners to it in Kabul.

And there was another fight, on Christmas Eve last year, where the SAS clearly took prisoners. Troopers raided the Kabul offices of Tiger International, shot two guards dead and detained others in an upstairs room. They eventually handed them to NDS officers.

The point is that, as John Key once said, the SAS "aren't in Afghanistan to eat their lunch". They are involved in a vicious and brutal war. It is difficult to believe that they don't take prisoners but sort of stand aside while the bullets are flying and defer to the Afghans. They are often involved in firefights. Last year the defence force said the SAS had been "in the vicinity" on 22 occasions when suspects had been detained. In every case, Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said, the Afghan CRU was the "detaining authority". This sounds like weasel words, an official phrase that has nothing to do with the bloody mess of real war. "Whoever grabs the bad guys," you can hear the grunts saying, "remember it's the Afghans who are the ‘detaining authority’." Yeah, right.

And speaking of weasel words, consider Mapp's other statements. Stephenson asked him in August last year whether he knew that SAS-CRU detainees were handed over to the horrible NDS in Kabul. Mapp said he was "not specifically" aware of this, but called back soon after. "It's likely some are [handed to the NDS]," he said. So they were tortured then? "You can't rule that out," Mapp told Radio New Zealand the next day. Mapp also seems to be saying that New Zealand has a deal with the Red Cross to ensure prisoners aren't mistreated. He told a select committee last year that although the SAS were not the "detaining authority", it took the names of prisoners and these were handed on to the International Security Assistance Force, the American-led coalition in Afghanistan. ISAF then handed them to the Red Cross.

Mapp's words to the committee were carefully chosen. "We've not heard any complaints from the Red Cross." How would you know if they hadn't followed up, asked Green MP Keith Locke. "Because the Red Cross would have told us," said Mapp.

But the Red Cross told Stephenson it had no agreement with New Zealand over prisoners. In any case, it never gives information to any government except the one that detains them. And its written statement to Stephenson is the clincher. Where there is risk of mistreatment before the prisoners are handed over, it said, "the transfer must not take place. This is true whether the [Red Cross] subsequently visits the detainees". In other words, the government can't dodge its legal responsibilities over torture of detainees by appealing to non-existent "deals" with the Red Cross.


WHAT IS the upshot of all this? It's important to remember that the hard-hat argument is not available to the government. It can't say: "War is hell, our Afghan allies may be bad bastards but they're better than the Taliban, and torture in the war against terrorism is a price that democracies must pay." The New Zealand government, Labour-led as well as National-led, has said it opposes torture and recognises that under law it cannot hand prisoners over to people likely to torture them.

But the Afghan government tortures and will go on torturing. It is laughable to appeal, as Mapp does, to a supposed "agreement" with Afghanistan — an agreement he has refused to release. Afghanistan is also a signatory to the international conventions outlawing torture. That doesn't stop them doing it.

The New Zealand government knows this, and seems to be trying not to look too closely at the reality. It has also kept important information secret. Mateparae has refused to say how many insurgents have been arrested on joint SAS-Afghan operations, whether they were still held, and where. Providing these answers, he says, could endanger New Zealand's security, defence or international relations. How very convenient.

Mapp promised to release a defence report on what happened to the prisoners handed over to the NDS in Kabul. Nine months later, he hasn't done so.

Mateparae sits in the middle of the fog. Asked about the contradiction between the official story told by Mateparae and the evidence of many others, both Mapp and Key say they "believe Jerry Mateparae". Mateparae, however, now head of the Government Communications Security Bureau, the electronic spy agency, is saying nothing.

So our new governor-general will take up his post with a cloud hanging over him.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/news/4947005/Afghanistan-torture-haunts-next-governor-general (http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/news/4947005/Afghanistan-torture-haunts-next-governor-general)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 03, 2011, 04:00:13 pm

PM attacks journalist over SAS torture claims

By DEREK CHENG (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/derek-cheng/news/headlines.cfm?a_id=207) - The New Zealand Herald (http://www.nzherald.co.nz) | 5:30AM - Tuesday, May 03, 2011


PRIME MINISTER John Key has attacked the credibility of the journalist who has raised questions about New Zealand's elite soldiers in Afghanistan and whether they were complicit in torture.

And the Defence Force has released unprecedented details about SAS operations in a bid to discredit an article in this month's Metro, written by journalist Jon Stephenson.

The article outlined two instances last year where SAS forces allegedly captured suspects and handed them to Afghanistan authorities, including the Afghan secret police, the National Directorate of Security, which has a reputation for torturing prisoners.

New Zealand has signed several international conventions outlawing the inhumane detention of prisoners, including torture.

Stephenson last night countered by challenging the Defence Force to face an independent inquiry. "I'm happy to put my information before an inquiry. Any fair or impartial inquiry will show that they are the ones misleading the public. Not me."

Mr Key said the assertions outlined in Metro did not stack up under the NZDF microscope.

"I've got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I've found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible," Mr Key said.

"Jon Stephenson's a guy that texted me one night impersonating [TV3 political editor] Duncan Garner ... I hung up on him, because when people impersonate somebody else, I don't take them seriously."

Stephenson said he sent the text two years ago believing the recipient to be Garner. He was surprised when Mr Key called him, but he identified himself immediately and the two had a brief, friendly conversation.

Earlier, Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones said incidents outlined in Metro were either inaccurate or did not happen.

The SAS did not detain anyone in an operation last Christmas Eve, and had never intervened when Afghan authorities were about to tie a prisoner to a vehicle and drag him.

General Jones also said a commander at the Crisis Response Unit, quoted in Metro, told the NZDF that he had never spoken to Stephenson.

He said the SAS had a reputation in Afghanistan for their "assiduous attention" to human rights, and followed processes that were legally and morally sound.

Stephenson said General Jones was playing "legal gymnastics".

There were no detainees in the incident last Christmas Eve in the sense that no suspects were taken to prison, he said, but he reported that the SAS had detained people by holding them at gunpoint and forcing them to their knees as they searched the building.

Stephenson also said the source of his story about the SAS intervention was credible. His translator could confirm the interview took place, he said.

"I go to great lengths to ensure that my reporting is accurate, fair, and I regard [this] as an unjustifiable attack on my credibility."

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10723016 (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10723016)

Post by: reality on May 03, 2011, 04:03:18 pm
yeahhhhhh.....and....what :o

Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on May 03, 2011, 04:55:46 pm

Post by: reality on May 03, 2011, 05:02:30 pm
Bush-Era Interrogations Provided Key Details on Bin Laden's Location
By Catherine Herridge

Published May 02, 2011
| FoxNews.com
  Print   Email   Share   Comments (3206)    Text Size  Years of intelligence gathering, including details gleaned from controversial interrogations of Al Qaeda members during the Bush administration, ultimately led the Navy SEALs who killed Usama bin Laden to his compound in Pakistan.

The initial threads of intelligence began surfacing in 2003 and came in the form of information about a trusted bin Laden courier, a senior U.S. official told Fox News on condition of anonymity. Bin Laden had cut off all traditional lines of communication with his network by this time because the Al Qaeda leader knew the U.S. intelligence community was monitoring him. It was said that he also didn’t even trust his most loyal men to know his whereabouts and instead communicated only through couriers.

But it was four years later, in 2007, that terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay military prison started giving up information about the key courier.

Around this time, the use of enhanced interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning, were being denounced as torture by critics of the Bush administration. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney came under intense pressure for supporting rough treatment of prisoners. Critics claimed that any information given under duress simply couldn’t be trusted.

It is an argument that Bush and Cheney strongly rejected then, and now.

“I would assume that the enhanced interrogation program that we put in place produced some of the results that led to bin Laden's ultimate capture,” Cheney told Fox News on Monday, a hint of vindication in his voice.

Information was given up by prisoners, including 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. U.S. officials described the courier as a talented protege and trusted associate of both Mohammed and Al Qaeda’s No. 3 leader at the time, Abu Faraj al Libi. Both men were held at Guantanamo Bay.

U.S. officials were told the courier’s name was known only to bin Laden’s innermost circle.

By 2009, the U.S. intelligence community had a rough idea of where the courier operated: a region north of Islamabad, Pakistan. It was another year before this compound was identified in August 2010 as a likely home for a senior Al Qaeda member.

The compound was eight times the size of other homes in the affluent neighborhood, and the impressive 18-foot-high walls with barbed wire drew scrutiny from intelligence analysts.

By early this year, information from multiple intelligence sources, including the now-shuttered harsh interrogation program, as well as CIA operatives and Special Operations Forces on the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan, were building a clearer case that the compound might house bin Laden. Officials found out that there were three families living there. In addition, a significantly older man, who was shown deference by the group, was not required to work on the compound.

Critics of the Bush-era interrogation programs have suggested that the harsh interrogations were not essential to tracking bin Laden and that the information could have been obtained by more humane means. But for Cheney and other Bush administration alumni, Sunday’s raid stands as proof their system worked.

....Thanks George Bush and Guantanamo Bay ;D...the torture worked ;)

Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on May 05, 2011, 02:22:20 am
Some Americans got jailed for following the orders of the Bush-Era Interrogation administration while George Bush laughs about it and makes book deals, He gets to walk away scot-free,If you try and drown someone twenty times a day for months on end and keep them awake with no sleep for days they will tell you anything that they think you might like to hear,false information, you can even reprogram them and then put them to work for you,its called brainwashing and they have people who are trained experts at it. 

Post by: Yak on May 05, 2011, 07:00:59 am
Some Americans got jailed for following the orders of the Bush-Era Interrogation administration while George Bush laughs about it and makes book deals, He gets to walk away scot-free,If you try and drown someone twenty times a day for months on end and keep them awake with no sleep for days they will tell you anything that they think you might like to hear,false information, you can even reprogram them and then put them to work for you,its called brainwashing and they have people who are trained experts at it. 

You got to remember the golden rule - 'He who has the gold, makes the rules'

Post by: reality on May 05, 2011, 05:14:31 pm

"If you try and drown someone twenty times a day for months on end and keep them awake with no sleep for days they will tell you anything that they think you might like to hear,false information, you can even reprogram them and then put them to work for you,its called brainwashing and they have people who are trained experts at it.  "

.....in this case it sounds like the information gathered from the "clients" at Guantanimo may have helped nail Osama...so it made all those character building water games and all night parties were very worthwhile...nah i think george bush did really well , he has scored a few points here...wonder if he might run for president again ;)...him and putin could remake history together ::)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on June 07, 2011, 09:26:26 am

Our troops have no place in this immoral war

By MATT McCARTEN (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/matt-mccarten/news/headlines.cfm?a_id=284) - HERALD on SUNDAY (http://www.nzherald.co.nz) | 5:30AM - Sunday, June 05, 2011

National and Labour insist our troops stay in Afghanistan. — Photo: NZ Herald.

SINCE the death of Osama Bin Laden, most Americans want out of Afghanistan. Their politicians are still lagging behind public opinion. However, late this week the US Congress managed an extraordinary vote in the lower house.

A resolution requiring their President to provide an end-date to transfer military operations to the Afghans; negotiations to reach a political settlement with all the players (including the Taleban); and assess if al-Qaeda was now even a threat in Afghanistan failed by just 11 votes — 204-215.

A similar resolution in the last term had just 138 votes in support. This time 26 Republicans voted for it. It's just a matter of time before the Afghan misadventure falls apart.

So why are National and Labour insisting our soldiers stay part of this failed war machine? This war is over. Everyone knows it. Many Afghans see themselves as part of a nationalistic movement fighting to rid their country of foreign occupiers — and they are winning.

Any pretence that we are involved in a moral war against terrorism fell apart after Jon Stevenson's explosive article in Metro magazine.

He did enough to convince me of our political and military leaders' complicity in handing over prisoners to shadowy Afghan units with a history of torture.

In a New Zealand-led raid on a village, our troops apparently killed innocent civilians then handed over the men and boys to US and Afghan soldiers who humiliated and terrorised them.

To their credit, our soldiers kicked up a stink and the villagers were released, although several detainees had mysteriously disappeared. Subsequent investigations showed the village had no link with either al-Qaeda or the Taleban. I bet they do now though.

The most chilling accusation was over our SAS troops attacking this village in the early hours of the morning — a 6-year-old girl panicked and ran. She fell into a well and broke her back. She died a lonely, long and painful death while her distraught parents were detained by our soldiers.

Ten years ago in my capacity as Alliance Party president, I was asked by our leader Jim Anderton why I was making my opposition to New Zealand's participation in the Afghanistan war a bottom line in our relationship.

I never bought into the propaganda that invading Afghanistan was necessary to capture Bin Laden and stop international terrorism. Funnily enough, the al-Qaeda leader was happily ensconced in Pakistan.

I remember US President George Bush announced within a year of the invasion that the hunt for Bin Laden wasn't his priority any more but he insisted we had to stay to keep the world safe from terrorism.

We conveniently forget that neither the Taleban nor any other Afghan has ever committed any terrorist or military action outside their own country's borders.

But even if we accept the West's rationale for us needing to be there, what's our new line now that Bin Laden is dead? Even the most optimistic reports are that there are only a few dozen members of al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan.

Of course the oppression of the Afghan people by fundamentalists is abhorrent. But so is our soldiers protecting a corrupt drug regime that we pretend has legitimacy to govern. The growth of the Taleban came about because the West armed them against the Soviet Union.

Everyone knows there is no end in sight and we will never conquer the country. The solution is that the Afghan people have to take responsibility for their destiny.

For those who still think we have some divine right to stay uninvited; for those with a sanitised view on reality - just imagine if it was your daughter who at 6 years old lay dying at the bottom of a well in the dark.

Moral war? Our Government has never apologised or offered compensation. We have the blood of a young girl dripping from our hands. The smell of her blood can't compete with the stench of hypocrisy from our politicians. Enough. Leave.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10730270 (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10730270)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on June 07, 2011, 09:30:51 am

In other words....

Afghanistan is basically a big wank-fest which benefits the arms industry and men suffering from tiny-penis syndrome who feel the need to play war so they can feel like big men. Most of us grew out of war games as we matured unlike some childish idiots.

Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on June 07, 2011, 05:17:02 pm

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on June 07, 2011, 08:34:29 pm

nah i think george bush did really well , he has scored a few points here... wonder if he might run for president again ;)...him and putin could remake history together ::)

As far I know he can't legally.

Post by: reality on June 07, 2011, 08:39:42 pm
the key words by that old communist/socialist/green/anti-everything Matt Mc Carten are

..."Ten years ago in my capacity as Alliance Party president, I was asked by our leader ..."

ok.. the best  he could do in NZ politics was get to..."Alliance Party president"...hmmm...yes I can see why he feels so sad ;D

Post by: reality on June 07, 2011, 08:45:18 pm
AL...yes ..i know..i was having a dig about Putin doing his 2 terms ..(at which time they must stop,same as US) ..and then while he has been priminister ever since ;).. he has changed the rules that now allow him to be president in Russia again...yes ..thats how fuckin stupid the Ruskies are ...but not as stupid as kiwis allowing to be ripped off by their politicians with MMP :o

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 11, 2011, 11:41:22 pm

NZ crew tows US helicopter to safety

The Dominion Post | 5:38PM - Monday, 11 July 2011

NUMBER 8 WIRE INGENUITY: A New Zealand Army LAV is used to tow a disabled US Army Apache
helicopter inside the wire of Kiwi Base. — Photo: NZDF.

NEW ZEALAND SOLDIERS in Afghanistan have been praised for their quick thinking and ingenuity after towing a disabled US helicopter to safety with a light armoured vehicle.

The US army Apache helicopter had to land in an exposed position in Bamyan last month after its engines were damaged by debris.

The NZ Provincial Reconstruction Team manufactured a tow bar and towed the helicopter into the safety of the Kiwi base.

US maintenance crew chief sergeant Judy Beltowski, from the army's 10th Mountain Division, praised the Kiwis' efforts, saying she had never seen that level of craftsmanship from a maintenance team before.

"Whatever we needed the NZPRT provided, and if they didn't have it, they made it," she said.

Sergeant George Alexander from the NZPRT guided the vehicle as it slowly pulled the eight tonne helicopter around a corner, across the ditch and up the hill into the New Zealand base.

The New Zealand crew led a team comprising of US Army air and maintenance crews, NZPRT and US personnel.

It took two days to fully repair the helicopter before it could return to its home base.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/world/5268312/NZ-crew-tows-US-helicopter-to-safety (http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/world/5268312/NZ-crew-tows-US-helicopter-to-safety)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 07, 2011, 10:47:19 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

SEAL Team 6 members among 38 killed in Afghanistan

The Navy SEALs were among 30 Americans, seven Afghans and
an interpreter killed in the deadliest incident for U.S. forces in
the Afghanistan war when their helicopter is shot down.

By Laura King, Ken Dilanian and David S. Cloud - Los Angeles Times | 6:57PM PDT - Saturday, August 06, 2011

A helicopter similar to this one pictured in Afghanistan in 2004 was shot down Saturday morning, killing
30 Americans, including 22 Navy SEALs, along with seven Afghan soldiers and an interpreter.
 — S. Sabawoon/European Pressphoto Agency.

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Washington — Their name conjures up the most celebrated moment of America's post-Sept. 11 military campaigns. Now the Navy SEALs belong to a grimmer chapter in history: the most deadly incident for U.S. forces in the 10-year Afghanistan war.

Three months after they killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan and cemented their place in military legend, the SEALs suffered a devastating loss when nearly two dozen of the elite troops were among 30 Americans who died when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan early Saturday.

It was the largest number of American troops killed in a single day in the war. U.S. officials said the helicopter appeared to have been felled by enemy fire, and the Taliban quickly claimed responsibility. Seven Afghan commandos and a civilian interpreter also were killed, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said.

No member of the Bin Laden raid team was among the dead, said a Pentagon official briefed on the casualties who was not authorized to speak publicly while families still were being notified. But he said 22 of the 30 were Navy SEALs, and a significant number were members of SEAL Team 6, the unit that conducted the Bin Laden raid and is made up of just a few hundred of some of the best-trained fighters in the U.S. military.

The loss of so many represents a significant blow to a tightknit group that is involved in some of the most sensitive U.S. counter-terrorism operations around the world.

There was no indication that insurgents knew that many aboard the doomed Chinook were Team 6 members. But the Taliban and its allies are likely to reap an enormous propaganda boost from the deaths. The Taliban often seeks to appeal to the country's folkloric sensibilities by depicting battlefield exploits in florid fashion; videos and songs trumpet various successes against foreign "invaders," and any victory against NATO forces is held up as proof of divine inspiration and guidance.


The downing of the U.S. helicopter in mountainous Wardak province comes at a crucial juncture of the war, as the U.S. begins a drawdown in troops in a prelude to a full-fledged withdrawal.

The episode could embolden the insurgency at a time when Western and Afghan officials have been hoping a weakened Taliban movement can be lured to the bargaining table. Like the assassination last month of Karzai's powerful half brother, it will be viewed by many as a sign of the insurgents' reach and power.

A statement from Karzai's office offered condolences to President Obama and the families of the Afghan troops who died.

In the early hours Saturday, the SEALs joined other U.S. Special Operations forces on a raid in Wardak province, west of Kabul, the capital. Such is the clockwork regularity of these night-time raids that they have become almost routine.

But this one went horribly awry.

A Western military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the twin-rotor CH-47 helicopter had apparently been brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade moments after takeoff from the raid, when it was most vulnerable to attack.

White House national security advisor Tom Donilon notified Obama of the incident shortly after 8 p.m. Friday, said a White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly.

"Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families," Obama said in a statement Saturday. "We will draw inspiration from their lives, and continue the work of securing our country and standing up for the values that they embodied."

Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, said: "We grieve for our lost comrades and especially for their families, yet we also remember that the lads were doing what they wanted to be doing and they knew what they were about. This loss will only make the rest of us more determined, something that may be difficult for those who aren't in the military to understand."

The SEALs and their special operations counterparts "conduct these missions night after night knowing that every mission could be their last," said a Special Operations officer who asked not to be identified. "And despite this tragic loss for the units and our nation, tonight their brothers will board helicopters and go out and do the work our country has asked of them. And they will continue to do so without hesitation or mental reservation as they go after the enemies that would do us harm."

Team 6, known officially as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, is overseen by the Joint Special Operations Command, which also supervises the Army's Delta Force and other elite units.

Those commandos, working closely with the CIA and other intelligence agencies, have embarked on a significant increase in nighttime raids over the last year in Afghanistan, targeting Taliban leaders, bomb-makers and other key adversaries. It is one of the little-known stories of the Afghan war, because the raids are secret and the results are rarely announced.

Those strikes have been the single most successful tactic employed by the Western military over the last two years, U.S. officials say, significantly damaging the field-command structure of the Taliban and affiliated insurgent groups.

SEAL Team 6 is divided into numerous detachments that rotate into Afghanistan. The SEALs who killed Bin Laden were handpicked and considered the top members of the unit.

They rehearsed the Bin Laden raid for weeks, but many military officials said that operation was not much different from the lesser-known raids that happen every day.

In Saturday's attack, the helicopter went down shortly after midnight in the Sayedabad district, according to Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesman for the provincial governor. He and other provincial officials said the crash followed a firefight that had left eight insurgents dead.

Large and slow-moving, the Chinook is vulnerable as it flies through mountains and valleys that allow insurgents clear lines of fire. Even so, helicopter shoot-downs have been rare in the Afghan conflict.

But they have been deadly for U.S. troops. Before Saturday, the highest single-day loss for the U.S. military in Afghanistan came on June 28, 2005, when a Chinook carrying 16 Navy SEALs and Army special operations troops was shot down in Kunar province as it tried to rescue four SEALs in a firefight. All 16 were killed in the crash, and three SEALs died on the ground.

In a statement Saturday, the Taliban claimed its fighters had ambushed Western troops after being tipped off to an imminent night raid in the district. If true, that would amount to a devastating breach of U.S. operational security.

The Taliban statement, from spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, was unusually specific in some of its details, including the number of troops killed — even before Afghan officials released the number. The statement also confirmed the "martyrdom" of eight of its members in what was described as fierce combat before the helicopter was shot down.

The crash site is in Wardak's Tangi Valley, where the insurgents are active.

The Wardak police chief, Gen. Abdul Qayuum Baqizoi, said the American strike was aimed at a clandestine meeting of insurgent figures in the village Jaw-e-Mekh Zareen, which is considered a perilous locale. "This area isn't even safe for security forces to travel in," he said.

King reported from Kabul and Dilanian and Cloud from Washington. Times staff writer Tony Perry in Redding and special correspondents Aimal Yaqubi and Hashmat Baktash in Kabul contributed to this report.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghanistan-chopper-20110807,0,5841993,full.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghanistan-chopper-20110807,0,5841993,full.story)

Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on August 08, 2011, 01:07:23 pm
Sealed Lies, Sealed Lips: SEAL Team 6 Dies, But Their Legend Survives

Saman Mohammadi
Aug 7, 2011

As the bonfires of knowledge grow brighter, the more the darkness is revealed to our startled eyes.” – Terence McKenna
“History is past politics, and politics present history.” – John Robert Seeley
“Whose game was empires and whose stakes were thrones,
Whose table earth, whose dice were human bones.” – Lord Byron, Age of Bronze, Stanza 3
“History knows that it can wait for more evidence and review its older verdicts; it offers an endless series of courts of appeal, and is ever ready to reopen closed cases.” – William Stubbs
“Man is an historical animal, with a deep sense of his own past; and if he cannot integrate the past by a history explicit and true, he will integrate it by a history implicit and false.” – Geoffrey Barraclough
“We’re in an American theatre of the absurd.” – Dr. Steve Pieczenik

The fraudulent War on Terror is one long, mad nightmare that never ends. The monstrous traitors who have seized Washington from the American people create one big lie after another to try to cover up the big truth that the entire war on terrorism is a grand, historical hoax.
Psychological warfare makes up ninety nine percent of the war on terror. Most of the propaganda and psy-op operations by the CIA, Mossad, MI6 and the Pentagon are directed against the American people and people of other countries who mindlessly believe everything they’re told.
The Bin Laden myth was created to provide an ideological function in the war on terror, and to get people to believe in a big boogeyman.
Bin Laden did not do 9/11. And he was not assassinated by SEAL Team 6 (although, they are more than capable of killing any real enemy to America’s existence anywhere on earth).
Bin Laden died early in the war on terror. Dr. Steve Pieczenik, who served as a top counter-terrorist officer in the American government,told the Alex Jones show in May that Bin Laden died in late 2001/early 2002. Other government experts from around the world have confirmed this claim. It is not a conspiracy theory. It is the truth.
But Bin Laden’s real death couldn’t be publicly announced to the world by the traitors who control the U.S. government because the war on terror would lose popular legitimacy if that fact was common knowledge. So, the U.S. empire kept alive this mythic enemy in the collective global consciousness for a decade – a myth that the Bush administration/Israel/Neocons created out of whole cloth to satisfy the need for an enemy.
But, as new fronts in the war on terror began to open up (Syria, Libya, Iran) the CIA and Pentagon figured they could politically boost Obama’s abysmal poll numbers by saying he “ordered” a special NAVY seals team to kill Bin Laden and bring home the ultimate war trophy to the American people.
The staged announcement of Bin Laden’s fake death served two goals. 1) Turn Obama into a competent commander in chief to hide the fact that he is really a spineless slave and a traitor, and 2) Flip the script in the war on terror, where it is no longer about getting Al Qaeda but getting “state-sponsors” of terror like Syria, Iran, and Pakistan.
II. Closure of The Bin Laden Legend: When a Storybook Ending is Just Another Episode in The Ongoing Horror Show That is The War on Terror
I don’t know what to make of the news that members of SEAL Team 6 were killed in an attack on their helicopter in Afghanistan. It is either a totally fake story, or these soldiers were murdered by the shadow U.S. government because they knew too much like Pat Tillman (RIP).
I have read a lot of point of views on various comment sections on different sites, and one point that keeps coming up is that it is impossible for 20 highly-trained elite NAVY seals to be in the same helicopter at once. One NAVY Seals is like 10 regular soldiers, so it makes sense that they travel in smaller units.
We cannot take anything at face value because everything that the shadow government in Washington sells to the American people and the world is a lie. This whole war on terror is a war on reality and real history. The last ten years has been full of military legends and psy-op hoaxes.
There is the 9/11 legend, the Bin Laden legend, the Jessica Lynch legend, the Pat Tillman legend, the SEAL Team 6 legend, and on and on. The next thing they’ll say is Bin Laden rose from the grave like Jesus of Nazareth to attack America in a nuclear showdown.
This whole world is so crazy. All we know for certain is that: A) Bin Laden was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks, B) He died long before May 2011, and C) The war on terror was never about getting Al Qaeda, which is a non-existent terrorist organization.

III. The American Soldier: A Conned Pawn, A Loyal Patriot, A Noble Warrior

Paul Craig Roberts has written a very informative article on August 6 about Bin Laden’s fake assassination called, “Pakistan TV Report Contradicts US Claim of Bin Laden’s Death”:
In my recent article, “Creating Evidence Where There Is None,” about the alleged killing of Osama bin Laden by a commando team of US Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan, I provided a link to a Pakistani National TV interview with Muhammad Bashir, who lives next door to the alleged “compound” of Osama bin Laden. I described the story that Bashir gave of the “attack” and its enormous difference from the one told by the US government.
In Bashair’s account, every member of the landing party and anyone brought from the house died when the helicopter exploded on lift-off.
Gordon Duff, senior editor of Veterans Today, also says that members of a US Seals team were killed in the covert operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Duff writes in his article, “Breaking News: “Bin Laden” Heroes Probably Murderered to Keep Them Quiet”:
What we can easily surmise is that some of the dead have been dead since their bodies were taken away from the helicopter crash site in Abbotabad.
Duff also writes:
Al Qaeda has never existed, there are no magic worldwide terror conspiracies other than those run by governments.
Aaron Dykes & Alex Jones write in their article, “Deaths of SEAL Team 6 Exposed”:
Whatever the true story, one thing is clear: dead men tell no tales. The inconvenient truth is that governments throughout history have disposed of heroes, covert troops and special forces to keep the real story from coming out. Helicopter and plane crashes have been one of the favorite methods for tying up these loose ends.
The so-called death of SEAL Team 6 reminds me of the film ‘Clear and Present Danger,’ with Harrison Ford playing CIA analyst Jack Ryan, a character who is based on a real American hero, Dr. Steve Pieczenik. In the film, a secret American military unit is sent to Colombia to fight drug cartels, but is then set up and left behind to die by the double-crossing White House.
The film is more true to life than anything that is put on mainstream television news. The fact that American soldiers are treated like dirt by the evil traitors who run the White House, CIA, Pentagon and the Council of Foreign Relations is a crime and a tragedy.
The political scum that has risen in Washington are abusing and exploiting the sacred spirit of the warrior. The victims of their false and evil wars are the sacrificial pawns in the American military and NATO, as well as the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, America, and other countries that are under attack.
Dr. Pieczenik addressed American soldiers and America’s military leaders on the Alex Jones in May, telling them that they should re-examine the orders that they get from Washington and reflect on what’s good for America, not what’s good for presidents and politicians. Pieczenik said:
“I have the greatest respect for our military men, and I’m saying this to you: the Generals, the Colonels, the Majors, and the Captains. I’ve been lecturing at the War College every year. Be careful of the orders you receive from civilian presidents.
I say it again, and listen to me. Beware of the orders that you receive from civilian presidents like Bush, Clinton, and Obama. Particularly, presidents who have never served in a war and do not know what the consequences of a war are, and the number of men and women who die bravely for our country and our cause because some civilian has to manipulate his political career at the expense of the American public and at the expense of the bodies, and the blood and guts of our warriors who are so important to us.”
IV. Rewind and Remind: How We Will Win The Battle For The Mind of The 21st Century
It is so important that we always go back to Ground Zero, the 9/11 site, and begin the truth-telling from there. We have to remind people again and again that the official story about 9/11 is a giant lie and that the real attackers struck America from inside the Mossad, CIA, Bush administration, and the U.S. shadow government.
The enemies of the truth, freedom and peace know the technique of repetition very well. They repeat lies until they sink in the public consciousness. They have no pity, no mercy, no remorse, no conscience. Barack Obama, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Bill Clinton, and George H. W. Bush represent the audacity of psychopaths. They are born liars.
But they are not good at lying. Guilty is written on their face. Evil drips down their necks.
And because of their evil and treason, American soldiers are being unjustly demonized for doing what they’re supposed to: kill the enemies of America (as they know them to be).
What American soldiers are not told in military boot camp, and what the American people are not told, is that the enemies of America today are the traitors and state terrorists in Washington and Israel, not the make-believe terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq.
An informed, aware and outspoken American soldier is the greatest enemy of the corrupt new world order, the fraudulent war on terror, and the traitors in Washington like Obama, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.
Those on the inside who know what is going on and step up to do something about it are targeted for assassination. As journalist Wayne Madsen writes on the Wayne Madsen Report:
Navy SEAL Team 6 members and others killed in Afghanistan chopper crash. “U.S. officials say they believe that none of those who died in the crash participated in the bin Laden raid but were from the same unit that carried out the bin Laden mission.” Either way, the SEALS would have known about the hoax Bin Laden assassination — another Hollywood drama brought to the world by Obama’s spinners of fiction. The SEALS were safer in Abbotabad on their staged mission than they are in fending off the CIA hit teams that will eliminate all of them until there are no more witnesses left.
The highest duty that we infosoldiers can perform is to destroy the false legends, bury the big lies, and raise the truths from obscurity and oblivion.
This is our duty. This is our mission.
Always remember this fact: innocent men, women and children are dying in this false and evil war on terror.
The American soldiers are victims. The NATO soldiers are victims. The people of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan are victims. The American people are victims. The truth is a victim. Freedom is being crushed to dust. Humanity is being destroyed. And all because of the 9/11 attacks.
We are experiencing spiritual madness and undergoing mass cultural and political brainwashing. And it must be stopped.


SEAL Unit Supposedly Responsible for Osama Hit Killed in Copter Crash

Kurt Nimmo
August 7, 2011

Soon after it was announced – without evidence – that Navy SEALs had killed Osama bin Laden, the corporate media derisively coined a new term for skeptics – “deathers,” a word with about as much originality as “birthers” and “truthers.”


CNN said the “deathers” have replaced the “birthers” as the new conspiracy lunatics. It specifically singled out Alex Jones, who said the Osama assassination was a hoax. “My friends, this is a complete and total hoax,” Alex said, and then asked: “Where is the body?”
The corporate media said his body was deep-sixed at sea. Few if any corporate media “journalists” (script-readers) pointed out that this explanation was a totally absurd cover story. Few dared examine why the story changed several times.
Cindy Sheehan had a sharp retort to those who believe whatever the government – caught lying countless times – and its corporate media propaganda wing tell them.
“I am sorry, but if you believe the newest death of OBL, you’re stupid,” she said. “Just think to yourself — they paraded Saddam’s dead sons around to prove they were dead — why do you suppose they hastily buried this version of OBL at sea? This lying, murderous Empire can only exist with your brainwashed consent — just put your flags away and THINK!”
Many liberals along with dim-witted neocon lickspittles bought into the story without blinking an eye. Democrat warmongers working for the globalist George Soros at Think Progress – a propaganda spigot for pro-war establishment Democrats at the Center for American Progress – immediately seized upon skepticism of the fairy tale as evidence that “conservatives” who have questioned the official account are crazed conspiracy theorists (in much the same way political dissidents were considered insane by the Soviet state).
Soros’ minions singled out Andrew Breitbart and Emily Miller, a senior editor at the Washington Times, who made the unpardonable error of asking for evidence instead of accepting the fanciful story on blind faith (as both establishment Democrats and Republicans invariably do when the government offers some cockamamie “official” version of history).
Soros’ TP bloggeristas speculate that deatherism will soon replace birtherism because, after all, the birth certificate issue was settled with the latest forged document.
Recent developments will now likely make it more difficult to prove the Osama assassination is a fictional account in a long line of fictional accounts issued in the forever war against manufactured terror.
“Insurgents shot down a U.S. military helicopter during fighting in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 30 Americans, most of them belonging to the same elite unit as the Navy SEALs who killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden,” the Associated Press reports today.

It is said none of the personnel killed in the crash were part of the team that supposedly killed Osama, who actually died in late 2001. Is it possible this is because the SEALs involved in the raid died in a crash near the house in Abboottabad’s Bilal Town where residents insist Osama did not live?
The AP reports that the Taliban took down the helicopter in Afghanistan that killed 22 SEALs. It is said to be the largest loss of life in the history of SEAL Team Six, officially called the Navy Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU.
Since we know virtually nothing about what happens in Afghanistan – independent journalists were targeted long ago in Iraq by the Pentagon (most notably at the Sheraton and Palestine hotels in Baghdad in 2005) and their survival rate is abysmally low in all “theaters” of U.S. military operation – we cannot be certain who took out the helicopter in Afghanistan. Our information arrives straight from the Ministry of Truth in the Pentagon.
Is it possible the Pentagon took out the helicopter to send a message to the SEALs, just in case some of them decide (like Pat Tillman did) to tell the truth?
This theory is as plausible as the current story, especially considering the lies and deception we were fed about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and Vietnam and Korea before that).
Minus un-”embedded” journalists (professional corporate media script readers) we will probably never know for sure.
We do know, however, that the Taliban were created by the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI with seed money from the Saudis.
We also know that you and I – taxpayers – continue to fund the Taliban so the globalists can continue their phony war, establish bases, and run their narco business.


Deaths of SEAL Team 6 Exposed

Aaron Dykes & Alex Jones
August 7, 2011


Associated Press sources are reporting a statistically impossible tragedy for U.S. forces in Afghanistan– that of the 38 NATO forces killed in a helicopter crash Friday night, “more than 20″ were members of SEAL Team 6, the covert unit that took credit for killing Osama bin Laden in May.
Mainstream sources are seizing upon claims that the Taliban took credit for downing the helicopter, but that means nothing. Media instantly ran reports that al Qaeda was responsiblefor the bombing & shootings in Norway; moreover, anyone on a message board can make such claims.
Instead, Alex Jones predicted shortly after the raid on bin Laden’s compound that SEALs would soon be reported dead in a helicopter crash or staged incident following multiple reports from military sources who’ve proved accurate in the past, including on-air callers, that SEALs did indeed die during the raid. Official stories admitted after-the-fact that a helicopter went down during the mission, but claimed there were no deaths of U.S. forces.
Below is Alex’s report on the breaking news of SEAL Team 6′s official demise:

Infowars is on the record reporting that members of Seal Team 6 died in the so called OBL raid. The government admits that a super secret helicopter did crash during the OBL raid but says no one died, our intel is different. We predicted that the spin doctors would stage a crash or when a real crash took place that they would say the SEALs died then. This is a old trick that governments all over the world have been caught pulling in the past. Some speculate that Obama had the team killed to cover up what really happened; however our intel does not point that way. The Pentagon may have blown the helicopter up on the ground on the night of the raid and we cover that in the above video. Lastly the globalist MSM is reporting that terrorist have taken credit but that is notoriously filled with disinfo, like in the Norway attack when a fake terrorist group took credit and the media ran with it.

According to the sources, military personnel internally admit to the SEAL deaths, however it was not clear whether it had been the result of an accidental crash, from a firefight with Pakistani military forces stationed only a short distance from the compound, or whether, as Pakistani eyewitnesses indicated (below), the helicopter exploded after covert forces entered.
Whatever the true story, one thing is clear: dead men tell no tales. The inconvenient truth is that governments throughout history have disposed of heroes, covert troops and special forces to keep the real story from coming out. Helicopter and plane crashes have been one of the favorite methods for tying up these loose ends.
Abbottabad residents told CCTV reporters they don’t believe Osama bin Laden was ever at this compund and that the operation was a ‘hoax’. Pakistan’s anti-terrorist squad also could not confirm the killing, according to reports.


Uploaded by Mrhumtydumty on May 9, 2011
Mr Bashir, his home is in front of Osma's house and whe watched whole operation from the roof of his house and he said that out 3 only one helicopter landed and after 10-20 minutes when tried to lift up it crashed and two other helicopters run away and he rushed to house and he saw dead bodies of 10 or more people and within 20 mins Pak army came. he said that i am 100% sure that they did not take osama if he was there coz the crash of helicopter.......what you think?????




Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on August 08, 2011, 10:17:41 pm
NATO, Afghan forces fight insurgents near crash

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghan and American forces battled insurgents Sunday in the region where the Taliban shot down a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter a day earlier, killing 30 U.S. troops and eight Afghans.
The fighting was taking place as NATO began an operation to recover the remains of the large transport helicopter that was shot down by insurgents early Saturday in the Tangi Joy Zarin area of Wardak province's Sayd Abad district, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) southwest of Kabul. The clashes Sunday did not appear to involve the troops around the crash site.
"There have been a small number of limited engagements in the same district as yesterday's helicopter crash, however those clashes have not been in the direct vicinity of the crash site," NATO said in a statement. "As of now, we have no reporting to indicate any coalition casualties resulting from these engagements."
Wardak provincial spokesman Shahidullah Shahid confirmed the helicopter recovery mission was under way and said there were reports of Taliban casualties overnight.
"There is a joint operation going on by Afghan and NATO forces. A clearing operation is ongoing in the district and there are reports of casualties among insurgents," Shahid said. "The area is still surrounded by American forces."
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, NATO said insurgents killed four alliance service members in two separate attacks in the east and the south. It did not provide their nationalities or any other details.
The deaths bring to 369 the number of coalition troops killed this year in Afghanistan and 46 this month.
In an increasingly bloody conflict, the downing of the Chinook helicopter early Saturday marked the deadliest single loss for American forces in the decade-old war in Afghanistan.
Thirty American service members, an Afghan civilian interpreter and seven Afghan commandos were killed, the U.S.-led coalition said. A current U.S. official and a former U.S. official said the Americans included 22 Navy SEALs, three Air Force combat controllers and a dog handler, his dog and four crew members. The two spoke on condition of anonymity because military officials were still notifying the families of the dead.
Most of the SEALs belonged to the same elite unit that killed Osama bin Laden, although they were not the same people who participated in the May raid into Pakistan that killed the al-Qaida leader.
The downing was a stinging blow to the lauded, tight-knit SEAL Team 6, months after its crowning achievement. It was also a heavy setback for the U.S.-led coalition as it begins to draw down thousands of combat troops fighting what has become an increasingly costly and unpopular war.
Although there are thousands of special operations forces in Afghanistan, often taking part in dozens of night raids a month, their deployment in the raid in which the helicopter crashed would suggest that the target was a high-ranking insurgent figure. However, there has been no official word on the target of the raid.


Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on August 08, 2011, 11:57:30 pm
Sources: Seal Team 6 Was Murdered

The Alex Jones Channel
August 8, 2011

The SEALs team has reportedly been extremely angry about the fabricated OBL raid and ready to talk. Alex Jones to bring sources on air tomorrow LIVE at 11 AM CST


Post by: reality on August 13, 2011, 04:32:23 pm
hahahaha...some people believe in  god, some father christmas ....and others..shit like that ::)

...eh sexy ...how long will it be before the team that killed "seal team 6"...will need to be killed to shut them up....and then the team that kills them will ..of course need to be killed...and on it goes  ad infinitum...can you see where I'm going with this 8)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 20, 2011, 01:22:47 am

New Zealand SAS soldier killed in Kabul

The Dominion Post and Reuters | 1:04AM - Saturday, 20 August 2011

GUN BATTLE IN KABUL: A British soldier walks in front of the site of attack on offices belonging to
the British Council in Kabul. — Photo: Reuters.

A NEW ZEALAND special forces soldier has been killed in a Taleban attack on British Council diplomatic offices in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

A Defence Force source confirmed late last night that a New Zealand SAS soldier was among at least nine people killed in the assault, which marked the 92nd anniversary of Afghanistan's independence from Britain.

The soldier's name would not be released until next of kin had been notified.

The source confirmed that SAS troops were engaged in last night's incident in a background support role.

The Afghan Crisis Response Unit, mentored by the SAS, was involved in repelling a five-hour firefight Taleban attack on the British diplomatic offices. "The SAS was there in a support role," the Defence source said.

The Guardian website reported (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/19/british-council-attack-taliban-gunman) that journalists were ordered to stop taking photos when what appeared to be a seriously hurt New Zealander was taken by stretcher from the building and loaded on to a medevac helicopter. Scores of Afghan and Nato troops surrounded a compound strewn with wooden and metal debris while two helicopters hovered above.

A Ministry of Interior spokesman said at least 12 people were wounded during the assault.

"Eight members of the Afghan national police and one foreign soldier were killed," Mohammad Zahir, head of criminal investigations for the Kabul police, told Reuters.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he spoke with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and thanked him for the troops' role in ending the raid, in which 10 people were thought to have been killed.

"It's obviously a tragic but cowardly act that has been undertaken but it won't succeed and it won't deflect us from the vital work we are doing in Afghanistan," Cameron said.

Key said the Government was saddened by the death of the soldier.

"I have limited details about the soldier’s death, but I am advised that he died during fighting that followed an attack by insurgents in Kabul in the last few hours."

"On behalf of the Government, I want to offer my condolences to the family of the soldier."

"His death is a reminder of the dangers our Defence Force personnel face while serving in Afghanistan," Key said.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp also acknowledged the news, and offered his condolences to the family of the soldier. He said he mourned the loss.

A Reuters photograph taken at the scene showed what appeared to be a white male being lifted on to a stretcher with blood across his back and a wound to the back of his head.

Earlier, police believed there were foreign people trapped inside the building, and as many as three assailants were believed holed up there.

By afternoon, there was one left.

"There is one suicide bomber left alive in the bulletproof basement of the British Council," a ministry official said later.

Afghan and Nato troops were trying to kill him.


A Reuters witness heard a large explosion shortly after 1pm local time, the seventh of the day, in what the Ministry of Interior source said could have been an attempt to kill the last attacker or him detonating an explosive.

The Taleban said they were sending two messages: One to the Afghan government and one to the British," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

"We are now reminding them that we will become independent again from all foreigners, especially from the British," Mujahid said, referring to Afghanistan's independence from British rule 92 years ago, which the country was marking on Friday.

The Nato-led force in Afghanistan also confirmed there had been two explosions near the British Council, which is a state-funded agency running mainly cultural programs. It is not part of the main British embassy in the diplomatic area of Kabul.

Security was beefed up across the capital ahead of the date.

After the United States, Britain has the second-largest force in the Nato-led war against the Taleban, with around 9,500 troops.

Mujahid declined to say how many bombers the Islamist group used for the attacks, which come a month after Nato handed over security responsibilities to the Afghans in several areas across the country, as part of a gradual transition process to be completed by the end of 2014.

Afghan forces have been given responsibility for the city of Kabul since 2008, when Nato handed over security control, but in reality Nato forces still police the area heavily.

There is growing unease in the United States and Europe about the costly and increasingly violent war that has dragged on for 10 years, causing US lawmakers to question whether bringing home all combat troops by 2014 is fast enough.

Nato and the United States earlier this year reluctantly backed Kabul's peace plan, which involves reconciliation with some members of the Taleban. The Taleban have repeatedly said they will not negotiate with the Afghan government until all foreign forces have stopped fighting in their country.


Two other New Zealanders were killed in Afghanistan last year.

They were Lieutenant Timothy O'Donnell, 28, from Feilding who died in August 2010 when his three-vehicle patrol was attacked with explosives, rocket propelled grenades and gunfire in north-east Bamiyan Province; and Private Jack Howard, 23, of Wellington who was killed in December 2010 while serving as a member of the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, with the British Army in Afghanistan. He was killed by "friendly fire" on patrol in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/5478019/New-Zealand-SAS-soldier-killed-in-Kabul (http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/5478019/New-Zealand-SAS-soldier-killed-in-Kabul)

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on August 20, 2011, 09:48:44 am
AL...yes ..i know..i was having a dig about Putin doing his 2 terms ..(at which time they must stop,same as US) ..and then while he has been priminister ever since ;).. he has changed the rules that now allow him to be president in Russia again...yes ..thats how fuckin stupid the Ruskies are ...but not as stupid as kiwis allowing to be ripped off by their politicians with MMP :o

Well thats a supprise... I didn't realise you actually knew anything! After all you jumped ship and ran away to aussie!

Post by: reality on August 20, 2011, 12:02:19 pm
mmmmmmmm..   not sure  I know how to take that AL...do you  mean it as a joke ...or have I fallen into the trap of over-estimating your intelligence...and really you subsribe to the... "brucies school of thought about all things"... and joined his new political party "The Negative Fuckwit Party"

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 20, 2011, 12:27:22 pm

New Zealand SAS soldier killed in Kabul

The Dominion Post and Reuters | 1:04AM - Saturday, 20 August 2011

GUN BATTLE IN KABUL: A British soldier walks in front of the site of attack on offices belonging to
the British Council in Kabul. — Photo: Reuters.

A NEW ZEALAND special forces soldier has been killed in a Taleban attack on British Council diplomatic offices in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

A Defence Force source confirmed late last night that a New Zealand SAS soldier was among at least nine people killed in the assault, which marked the 92nd anniversary of Afghanistan's independence from Britain.

The soldier's name would not be released until next of kin had been notified.

The source confirmed that SAS troops were engaged in last night's incident in a background support role.

The Afghan Crisis Response Unit, mentored by the SAS, was involved in repelling a five-hour firefight Taleban attack on the British diplomatic offices. "The SAS was there in a support role," the Defence source said.

The Guardian website reported (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/19/british-council-attack-taliban-gunman) that journalists were ordered to stop taking photos when what appeared to be a seriously hurt New Zealander was taken by stretcher from the building and loaded on to a medevac helicopter. Scores of Afghan and Nato troops surrounded a compound strewn with wooden and metal debris while two helicopters hovered above.

A Ministry of Interior spokesman said at least 12 people were wounded during the assault.

"Eight members of the Afghan national police and one foreign soldier were killed," Mohammad Zahir, head of criminal investigations for the Kabul police, told Reuters.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he spoke with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and thanked him for the troops' role in ending the raid, in which 10 people were thought to have been killed.

"It's obviously a tragic but cowardly act that has been undertaken but it won't succeed and it won't deflect us from the vital work we are doing in Afghanistan," Cameron said.

Key said the Government was saddened by the death of the soldier.

"I have limited details about the soldier’s death, but I am advised that he died during fighting that followed an attack by insurgents in Kabul in the last few hours."

"On behalf of the Government, I want to offer my condolences to the family of the soldier."

"His death is a reminder of the dangers our Defence Force personnel face while serving in Afghanistan," Key said.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp also acknowledged the news, and offered his condolences to the family of the soldier. He said he mourned the loss.

A Reuters photograph taken at the scene showed what appeared to be a white male being lifted on to a stretcher with blood across his back and a wound to the back of his head.

Earlier, police believed there were foreign people trapped inside the building, and as many as three assailants were believed holed up there.

By afternoon, there was one left.

"There is one suicide bomber left alive in the bulletproof basement of the British Council," a ministry official said later.

Afghan and Nato troops were trying to kill him.


A Reuters witness heard a large explosion shortly after 1pm local time, the seventh of the day, in what the Ministry of Interior source said could have been an attempt to kill the last attacker or him detonating an explosive.

The Taleban said they were sending two messages: One to the Afghan government and one to the British," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

"We are now reminding them that we will become independent again from all foreigners, especially from the British," Mujahid said, referring to Afghanistan's independence from British rule 92 years ago, which the country was marking on Friday.

The Nato-led force in Afghanistan also confirmed there had been two explosions near the British Council, which is a state-funded agency running mainly cultural programs. It is not part of the main British embassy in the diplomatic area of Kabul.

Security was beefed up across the capital ahead of the date.

After the United States, Britain has the second-largest force in the Nato-led war against the Taleban, with around 9,500 troops.

Mujahid declined to say how many bombers the Islamist group used for the attacks, which come a month after Nato handed over security responsibilities to the Afghans in several areas across the country, as part of a gradual transition process to be completed by the end of 2014.

Afghan forces have been given responsibility for the city of Kabul since 2008, when Nato handed over security control, but in reality Nato forces still police the area heavily.

There is growing unease in the United States and Europe about the costly and increasingly violent war that has dragged on for 10 years, causing US lawmakers to question whether bringing home all combat troops by 2014 is fast enough.

Nato and the United States earlier this year reluctantly backed Kabul's peace plan, which involves reconciliation with some members of the Taleban. The Taleban have repeatedly said they will not negotiate with the Afghan government until all foreign forces have stopped fighting in their country.


Two other New Zealanders were killed in Afghanistan last year.

They were Lieutenant Timothy O'Donnell, 28, from Feilding who died in August 2010 when his three-vehicle patrol was attacked with explosives, rocket propelled grenades and gunfire in north-east Bamiyan Province; and Private Jack Howard, 23, of Wellington who was killed in December 2010 while serving as a member of the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, with the British Army in Afghanistan. He was killed by "friendly fire" on patrol in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/5478019/New-Zealand-SAS-soldier-killed-in-Kabul (http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/5478019/New-Zealand-SAS-soldier-killed-in-Kabul)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 20, 2011, 12:29:41 pm

Just putting the news story back on the top page.

Seeing as it got buried in the previous page.

Jonkey will be happy....he WANTED glory when he sucked-up to Obama and went warmongering with him.

It's just a pity that someone else had to pay the ultimate price of Jonkey's glory, eh?  (http://www.smfboards.com/Smileys//smf/coolsmiley.gif)

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on August 20, 2011, 12:41:14 pm
mmmmmmmm..   not sure  I know how to take that AL...do you  mean it as a joke ...or have I fallen into the trap of over-estimating your intelligence...and really you subsribe to the... "brucies school of thought about all things"... and joined his new political party "The Negative Fuckwit Party"

No! I stand on my own two feet. I don't subscribe to KTJ's school of anything or any political party he may have started. I call a spade a spade and a shovel a shovel and someone who jumps ship to aussie, a ship jumper!

And as for having fallen into the trap of over-estimating my intelligence. if that were the case I'd have taken a leaf out of your own book as we all know you fell into the trap of over-estimating your intelligence along time ago!

Post by: reality on August 20, 2011, 12:46:39 pm

"Just putting the news story back on the top page.

Seeing as it got buried in the previous page"

....thanks very much .....dont know what i'd do without ya ::)

Buc..."Jonkey will be happy....he WANTED glory when he sucked-up to Obama and went warmongering with him."

...really ..I missed that...where did they start a war...I  know about the wars already in progress ..please about the new one ::)

Buc.."It's just a pity that someone else had to pay the ultimate price of Jonkey's glory, eh? ."

.... it  is will always be very sad to hear of the people fighting for our freedom getting killed or injured....but they are part of a military force....and they are all smart enough and brave enough to take on that risk as part of their job....you can play your part by respecting NZ's military people..laying their lives on the line for your freedom.... most military people and veterans...would be disgusted by your comments :o

Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on August 20, 2011, 12:51:00 pm
Bloody Games Of Empire

Our soldiers sent away to die by chicken hawks
who couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag
but are really brave when it comes to sending away other
peoples sons to fight and die invading strange far off lands ...

Post by: reality on August 20, 2011, 12:56:38 pm
Al .."someone who jumps ship to aussie, a ship jumper!"

...i am intrigued by your obvious powers of reason and logic....could you please elaborate on this term you use for me ..."ship jumper"

i would like to know what that means for you...i think you stole it from your rail worker bum chum :P

...btw...I probably are contributing more to the NZ economy than you...

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on August 20, 2011, 01:26:45 pm
Actually i didn't pinch it from KTJ the term ship jumper has been around for a long time. point of note I've never met KTJ, chances are I never will and i sure as hell don't support or agree with him!

...I probably are contributing more to the NZ economy than you

I very much doubt that seeing as I and my family own and operate a business in one of NZ's primary industries that is one of the main earners, which I've been working in since I was sixteen, in this country as well as working in for the last 13 years another of NZ's major money earners!

Post by: reality on August 20, 2011, 01:33:28 pm
great ..now can you answer the question... define the meaning ..to you ..about a"shipjumper"

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 20, 2011, 01:37:28 pm

Look on the bright-side for Jonkey....

He now gets to “big-note” at a military funeral.

Just think of all the television coverage he will get.

And it's election year too....Jonkey must be rubbing his hands together with glee!

Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on August 20, 2011, 01:40:36 pm
Dont rats jump off ships?(http://i703.photobucket.com/albums/ww32/XtraNewsCommunity2/Animated%20emoticons/04_Disappear.gif)

Post by: reality on August 20, 2011, 01:43:56 pm

 so can I take it then..that you dont feel competant enough to take up on the points I made to your post...and post a reply...must be about time for a feeble cartoon ...I feel it in my bones 8)

Post by: reality on August 20, 2011, 01:46:30 pm
sexy...you aint got time to be here boy...you gota start digging your hole ready to crawl into when "your" comet hits  ;D

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on August 20, 2011, 01:52:45 pm
great ..now can you answer the question... define the meaning ..to you ..about a"shipjumper"

Why don't you just look in your mirror... you'll see one first hand!

Maybe it would be better if a spelt it out for you... someone who couldn't handle it in their home country so they go to another because they believe the grass is greener then have the arrogance to poke their nose back into the lives of those who opt to stay home and tell them how they should be living etc or accusing them of not contributing to their country.... in a word... you!

Now i sit back, wait for the frothing at the mouth and the usual abuse... as we all know you can't hold a descent conversation without abusing someone for having differing views to yours... so don't let us down!

Post by: reality on August 20, 2011, 01:56:59 pm
an.."accusing them of not contributing to their country"

well you could start by  showing me where I made that accusation :o

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on August 20, 2011, 02:00:19 pm
an.."accusing them of not contributing to their country"

well you could start by  showing me where I made that accusation :o

I should have said supporting their country... but do you believe that people on the DPB etc don't contribute to their country? or only some don't and that you never generalise?

Post by: reality on August 20, 2011, 02:08:21 pm
AN...."but do you believe that people on the DPB etc don't contribute to their country? or only some don't and that you never generalise?"

...this is a bit out of left feild...I dont remember saying ANYTHING about the DPB :o, be pleased for you to show me..

the only thing I can think of...that you may be getting yourself confused with.. are the Govts annoucement about youth

..I certainly support what the Govt intend to do...

...I can only assume that ou are confusing me with someone else...love for you to explain though ::)

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on August 20, 2011, 02:13:40 pm
So you have never made comments about people on benefits etc?

And as for people not supporting businesses in NZ ie buying stuff from overseas you have never passed comments about?!

if not then i honestly and whole heartedly sincerely apologise for my mistake. and take back the ship jumper comment (but not the comment about your arrogance!).

BTW just what do you or at least how much do you contribute to NZ.... if at all? 

Post by: reality on August 20, 2011, 02:27:23 pm

an.."So you have never made comments about people on benefits etc?"


an..."And as for people not supporting businesses in NZ ie buying stuff from overseas you have never passed comments about?!"

..well I think alot of things in NZ come from overseas...but I have given one individual  (who shall remain nameless but is a dedicated unionist and professes to want the best for NZ workers and their pay and conditions...but then gloates about how he bypasses those NZ workers to get stuff cheaper through the internet )a bollocking but that dipstick would be the only one...and lets afce it..he doesnt really count ;)

I transfer money there to invest in property and other things....houses for kiwis to live in ;)...dont think I've heard many people over there asking for less housing ::).....I also pay  tax in NZ

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 20, 2011, 02:27:23 pm

From the Heinemann New Zealand Dictionary, Revised 2nd Edition, 1989....

busybody noun

a person who interferes or meddles in the affairs of others

From the New Zealand Oxford Dictionary, 1st Edition, 2005....

busybody [bizi:, bodi: / noun / plural: -ies]

1. a meddlesome person.

2. a mischief-maker.

Yep....both of those perfectly describe the ship-deserting rat & traitor (and IDIOT) from across The Ditch who continues to be a busybody sticking his nose into the affairs of New Zealand, even though he CHOSE to bugger off from New Zealand.

Post by: reality on August 20, 2011, 02:30:24 pm
...annnnnndd ...Me and my family have 6 votes  there at the elections...so bruce ...your vote is wiped out already ;)

Post by: Crusader on August 20, 2011, 02:31:18 pm

Just putting the news story back on the top page.

Seeing as it got buried in the previous page.

Jonkey will be happy....he WANTED glory when he sucked-up to Obama and went warmongering with him.

It's just a pity that someone else had to pay the ultimate price of Jonkey's glory, eh?  (http://www.smfboards.com/Smileys//smf/coolsmiley.gif)

And do you think those that joint the SAS do so to play it safe?

Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on August 20, 2011, 03:13:49 pm
US troops may stay in Afghanistan until 2024

there is also a video of the battle




Post by: AnFaolchudubh on August 20, 2011, 03:37:12 pm
[quote author=reality link=topic=3377.msg116386#msg116386 date=1313807243

I transfer money there to invest in property and other things....houses for kiwis to live in ;)...dont think I've heard many people over there asking for less housing ::).....I also pay  tax in NZ

Ooooh how big of you, you've a heart of gold.... but have you ever got you hands dirty here in NZ in good honest old fashioned hard work.... or just caliouses on you glutous maximus from sittng all day on an office cheer?

Post by: reality on August 20, 2011, 03:59:38 pm
owned and managed my own business there for 20 years , employed up to 60 people at one time ::)

Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on August 20, 2011, 04:17:39 pm
BS on steriods

And how did your workers deal with your constant abuse?

They were going to kill him
so he got scared and left the country (http://i703.photobucket.com/albums/ww32/XtraNewsCommunity2/Animated%20emoticons/48_WalkingHomeCrying.gif)

Post by: reality on August 20, 2011, 07:19:03 pm
Abbott pays tribute to SAS soldier

4:58 PM Saturday Aug 20, 2011

Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott has paid tribute to the New Zealand special forces soldier killed in a Taleban attack in Kabul.

Mr Abbott has spoken of the heroism of the Special Air Service (SAS) soldier, who is yet to be named, who was among nine people killed overnight in a raid on Britain's cultural centre in the Afghan capital.

"There's been another death in action in Afghanistan, not an Australian soldier but one of our trans-Tasman brothers ... who died heroically trying to rescue hostages in Kabul," he told reporters after addressing the State Liberal conference in Adelaide on Saturday.

"I just want to say on behalf of the coalition, our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of New Zealand at this moment.

"And I am sure the thoughts and prayers of every Australian is with our friends in New Zealand at this sad time."

Militants blasted their way into the British Council's Kabul compound before dawn on Friday, blowing up a car bomb at the gates and then detonating a second device.

At least four Taleban suicide bombers got inside, unleashing a series of explosions as foreign and Afghan forces engaged in fierce gunbattles for the next nine hours until all of the insurgents were killed.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has confirmed the soldier's death, but said he knew little of the circumstances.

"On behalf of the Government, I want to offer my condolences to the family of the soldier," he said.

Expressing his appreciation, British Prime Minister David Cameron thanked Mr Key for the role New Zealand's special forces had played in ending the raid.

It was the latest high-profile strike to underline fragile security in the Afghan capital as US-led Nato combat troops start leaving Afghanistan. They are all due to withdraw by the end of 2014.

A spokeswoman for Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith later said Mr Smith had spoken with his New Zealand counterpart, Defence Minister Wayne Mapp, to express the Australian Government's condolences at the loss.

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on August 20, 2011, 07:26:58 pm
owned and managed my own business there for 20 years , employed up to 60 people at one time ::)

Ahh now the truth comes out... just a soft skin business owner, so you've never actually done a descent days hard work then?... sorry old stick, being a boss for twenty years doesn't count.

Post by: reality on August 20, 2011, 07:42:30 pm
a boss who leads from the sharp end boyo...being a socialist ..you wouldn't understand about business ;)

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on August 20, 2011, 07:50:56 pm
a boss who leads from the sharp end boyo...being a socialist ..you wouldn't understand about business ;)

You do know that sitting on your chair dictating to the workers is not leading from the sharp end... or did you mean that you're like a gorse spine.

What part of own my own business did you not understand?

Haha socialist... me... not bloody likely canonseat!

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 22, 2011, 12:37:00 pm

Name of dead soldier released

By IMOGEN NEALE, TIM DONOGHUE and DANYA LEVY - The Dominion Post | 10:48AM - Monday, 22 August 2011

DOUG GRANT: The New Zealand Defence Force has confirmed that the SAS soldier killed
in a firefight in Afghanistan was Doug Grant.

THE New Zealand SAS soldier killed in Afghanistan has been named as Doug Grant, a Linton-based father of two.

Corporal Grant, 41, died after being shot in the chest while he and about 15 other New Zealand troops attempted to free hostages following a Taleban attack at the British Council diplomatic offices on Friday (New Zealand time).

He was married with a seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old son.

In a statement, Grant's family said he knew what he was going into in Afghanistan and did not make a big deal about his achievements.

"Some might wonder why Doug went into harm's way; Doug had absolute faith in his friends and colleagues, and what he was doing in Afghanistan."

"He understood what he was getting into and believed in the goal of training local forces for that country's future."

The family was incredibly proud of his achievements, including being a soldier, and said he died doing one of the things he loved. They asked for privacy.

Grant had been in Kabul for only a short time, although it was not his first tour of duty in Afghanistan.

He served in the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, Royal New Zealand Engineers and the SAS. As well as his two tours of Afghanistan, he had served twice in East Timor and once in the Former Yugoslavia.

Grant is being brought back to New Zealand in a commercial plane. A private commemoration will be held in Auckland and then he will be taken to Linton military base for a service.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said "the highest price has been paid" with Grant's death.

"Our SAS are resourceful, resilient and resolute."

Grant died protecting lives and "for that we should be grateful", Mapp said.

Prime Minister John Key visited the soldier's widow on Saturday.

Mapp reiterated that the 35 New Zealand SAS soldiers would not come home before March. He would not comment on whether troops would be redeployed after March.


Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones said the New Zealand SAS had been given the task to rescue hostages.

Grant had climbed onto the roof of a building next to the council offices, where he was shot with what is believed to have been a rifle or light machine gun.

The bullet entered through his armpit, went through his heart and out the other side.

He was the evacuated by medics but, in hindsight, he never would have recovered from his injuries, Jones said.

There was discussion about whether to cancel the transfer to hospital, but he still had a pulse.

"We are confident that the protection we have ... is world class," Jones said.

The SAS was a very tight unit which needed to keep out of the public eye so opponents did not learn its tactics.

Jones said forces were still adequate to train the Afghanistan's Crisis Response Unit.

Related stories:

On patrol with NZ soldiers in Afghanistan (http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/5482058/Arrival-of-soldiers-a-sign-of-Afghan-peace)

Key defends SAS combat role (http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/5484041/Key-defends-SAS-combat-role)


The New Zealand SAS are taking lead combat roles in Kabul and will probably find themselves in more firefights similar to that in which a Kiwi soldier was killed.

The international community is lobbying New Zealand to keep the SAS in Kabul, where the elite soldiers are mentors to the Afghan Crisis Response Unit.

The flag-draped coffin of the elite soldier began its journey back to New Zealand late last night when it was met at Bagram Airbase by Bamiyan provincial reconstruction team chief military officer Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh McAslan.

His SAS comrades performed a moving haka as his body was loaded on to a military Hercules aircraft.

The incident on Friday night showed that the Kiwi elite troops increasingly took the lead combat role in Kabul in their capacity as mentors, strategic analyst and political scientist Paul Buchanan said yesterday.

A former British ambassador to Kabul is heading to New Zealand to lobby Defence Minister Wayne Mapp. It is understood that Mark Sedwill, director-general (Afghanistan and Pakistan) at the British Foreign Office, will urge the Government to keep its forces in Afghanistan when he holds secret talks on Wednesday and Thursday.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday said that "a number" of other countries had offered to take over the SAS' role in Kabul "if we came home".

Dr Buchanan said the SAS' supposed role of "mentoring" the Afghan Crisis Response Unit in Kabul hid the truth about their work. "Mentoring in the counter-terrorism business means entering into combat."

The "strange part" was that, when the Government deployed the SAS in 2009, it told the public that the troops would not be in combat roles and would not be the first in during a terrorist crisis.

"What they would do is train these Afghans and that they, if necessary, would accompany them into situations but allow the Afghans to take the lead ... What we've discovered now is that [the SAS] take the lead — they're the first guys through the door and the reason is, you have to lead by example."

"I find it a little strange that the Government didn't admit upfront from the point they deployed [that] this is what they were going to do."

Dr Buchanan said the tempo of the Taleban's urban terrorist operation had increased now that the United States had announced that it was going to withdraw its troops, and people could expect to see more incidents such as Friday's.

"The Taleban are supremely motivated, fighting in their own country and prepared to die." Greens defence spokesman Keith Locke said Mr Key's comments about other countries being prepared to take on the Kiwis' role lent weight to calls to withdraw the SAS now. Kabul was "clearly more dangerous" and the reasons for keeping the SAS there were "largely symbolic".

Mr Key said the soldier's body was likely to be sent to Hawaii, where it would be collected by an Air Force Boeing 757.

"That would be the appropriate thing and we'll send some people up to accompany him home."

SAS in Afghanistan

First deployed to Afghanistan in 2001.

The former Labour government pulled the unit out in 2005 after three deployments.

About 70 troops were sent back by the National Government for a fourth deployment in 2009.

About 35 SAS troops are based in Kabul, where their main role is ostensibly to mentor and train the Afghan Crisis Response Unit.

They are scheduled to return to New Zealand in March next year, although no final decision has been made.

Related story:

Arrival of soldiers a sign of Afghan peace (http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/5482058/Arrival-of-soldiers-a-sign-of-Afghan-peace)

http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/5482193/Name-of-dead-soldier-released (http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/5482193/Name-of-dead-soldier-released)

Post by: Crusader on August 22, 2011, 01:03:38 pm
Whilst I believe our role over there is a waste of time, everyone who goes there is a volunteer and do so because that is what they want to do with their life. The Government does not force them to go. Most of us won't die doing the thing we love. At least he gets to. RIP.

Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on August 22, 2011, 02:46:22 pm
Yeah he wanted to go but its a rough on his wife and kids

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on August 24, 2011, 09:27:53 am
Yeah he wanted to go but its a rough on his wife and kids

It is but (and I hate to sound calious) is it anymore rough than if he'd died in a car accident or a terminal illlness?

Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on August 25, 2011, 12:06:42 am
True I guess everyone has their time to die

Post by: reality on August 28, 2011, 10:33:42 am
Al-Qaida 'No 2' killed in Pakistan: US
7:38 AM Sunday Aug 28, 2011
Since killing Osama bin Laden in May, US officials have said that al-Qaida's leader ship has been in disarray. Photo / APAl-Qaida's second-in-command, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, has been killed in Pakistan, delivering another big blow to a terrorist group that the US believes to be on the verge of defeat, US officials said.

Since Navy SEALs stormed Osama bin Laden's compound and killed him in May, the Obama administration has been unusually frank in its assessment that al-Qaida is on the ropes, its leadership in disarray. defence Secretary Leon Panetta said last month that al-Qaida's defeat was within reach if the US could mount a string of successful attacks.

"Now is the moment, following what happened with bin Laden, to put maximum pressure on them," Panetta said, "because I do believe that if we continue this effort we can really cripple al-Qaida as a major threat."

A Libyan national, al-Rahman never had the worldwide name recognition of bin Laden or bin Laden's successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. But al-Rahman was regarded as an instrumental figure in the terrorist organisation, trusted by bin Laden to oversee al-Qaida's daily operations.

When the SEALs raided bin Laden's compound, they found evidence of al-Rahman's deep involvement in running al-Qaida. Senior al-Qaida figures have been killed before, only to be replaced. But the Obama administration's tenor reflects a cautious optimism that victory in the decade-long fight against al-Qaida could be at hand.

"It does hold the prospect of a strategic defeat, if you will, a strategic dismantling, of al-Qaida," incoming CIA Director David Petraeus said in July.

Since bin Laden's death, counterterrorism officials have hoped to capitalize on al-Qaida's unsettled leadership. The more uncertain the structure, the harder it is for al-Qaida to operate covertly and plan attacks.

Al-Zawahiri is running the group but is considered a divisive figure who lacks the founder's charisma and ability to galvanise al-Qaida's disparate franchises.

A US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to summarize the government's intelligence on al-Rahman, said al-Rahman's death will make it harder for Zawahiri to oversee what is considered an increasingly weakened organisation.

"Zawahiri needed Atiyah's experience and connections to help manage al-Qaida," the official said.

Al-Rahman was killed Aug. 22 in the lawless Pakistani tribal region of Waziristan, according to a senior administration who also insisted on anonymity to discuss intelligence issues.

The official would not say how al-Rahman was killed. But al-Rahman's death came on the same day that a CIA drone strike was reported in Waziristan. Such strikes by unmanned aircraft are Washington's weapon of choice for killing terrorists in the mountainous, hard-to-reach area along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Al-Rahman has been thought to be dead before. Last year, there were reports that al-Rahman was killed in a drone strike; neither US officials nor al-Qaida ever confirmed them. The officials who confirmed the death Saturday said it represented the consensus opinion of the US government.

Born in Libya, al-Rahman joined bin Laden as a teenager in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union.

He once served as bin Laden's personal emissary to Iran. Al-Rahman was allowed to move freely in and out of Iran as part of that arrangement and has been operating out of Waziristan for some time, officials have said.

- AP

...well done America ;)

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on August 28, 2011, 01:18:50 pm
Hello, I see the kraken from across the ditch is awake!

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 28, 2011, 04:22:44 pm
Yeah he wanted to go but its a rough on his wife and kids

It is but (and I hate to sound calious) is it anymore rough than if he'd died in a car accident or a terminal illlness?

Technically, it was a workplace fatality.

He was working and he was in his workplace and he died of unnatural causes.

Unfortunately, a large number of Kiwis die in their workplace every year of unnatural causes.

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on August 28, 2011, 06:10:02 pm
Yeah he wanted to go but its a rough on his wife and kids

It is but (and I hate to sound calious) is it anymore rough than if he'd died in a car accident or a terminal illlness?

Technically, it was a workplace fatality.

He was working and he was in his workplace and he died of unnatural causes.

Unfortunately, a large number of Kiwis die in their workplace every year of unnatural causes.

But possible/ probibal (sp) death is part of their job.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 05, 2011, 02:34:36 am

A decade on, it's time to quit

Ten years into the war on terror, New Zealand's participation
seems worryingly tarnished and increasingly pointless.

By ANTHONY HUBBARD - Sunday Star-Times | 5:00AM - Sunday, 04 September 2011

CORRUPT: New Zealand's association with Hamid Karzai's crooked Afghanistan government — pictured
is Karzai meeting Foreign Minister Murray McCully in 2010 — has tainted our international standing.
 — Photo: REUTERS.

NEW ZEALAND should get out of Afghanistan. It has spent nearly 10 years there, the decade of the "war on terror". But the war in Afghanistan is no longer about terrorism. It is a bloody, messy civil war. We don't have a dog in that fight.

This war has been largely secret. Neither the government nor the military has wanted to say much about it, and for good reasons. We are fighting alongside the corrupt and brutal Karzai government. We have been tainted by our association with it, especially on the matter of torture.

The war is also unwinnable, as even New Zealand military leaders now admit. New Zealand has long since done its bit for its American patron. "We should declare it a victory," says retired Kiwi diplomat Terence O'Brien, "and go home."

Last week a lot of the secrecy about the war disappeared, with the publication of Nicky Hager's book Other People's Wars. The response of John Key and various retired military leaders was typical — they attacked the man and rubbished the book without reading it. The first casualty in war is reasoned argument.

The book reveals that only two weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks, an SAS intelligence analyst, Major Louisa Parkinson, had already spotted the trouble with invading Afghanistan.

"It will be very difficult to remove the Taliban from power, since there is no rigid, formal structure," she wrote.

"The Taliban is as much an idea as an entity and its influence extends beyond Afghanistan's borders — particularly into Pakistan."

The American-led invasion, of course, bombed the Taliban government to bits. But after 10 years of fighting, the Taliban still rules a large part of Afghanistan.

There was a case for attacking the Taliban government in 2001, because it sheltered the al Qaeda terrorists who murdered so many innocent people in New York. I supported the invasion of Afghanistan on those grounds. But Osama bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda has long since disappeared as an important force in Afghanistan.

Key justified the New Zealand involvement in Afghanistan as helping in the war against terror. There are certainly plenty of terrorists there, not just among the Taliban but among the fighters led by tribal leaders, war lords and the Karzai government. But they do not pose a threat to New Zealand or the West. The Taliban wants power in Afghanistan. It shows no sign of attacking us.

The official public discussion about the war is paltry. But in January the new New Zealand chief of defence force, Lieutenant-General Rhys Jones, made the surprising admission to the Sunday Star-Times that in Afghanistan "the military can never win ... What we are there for is to try to make life a little better and to stabilise it so that rational politics can go ahead."

Rational politics, he said, would include the Taliban. Nobody claimed, Jones said, that we can turn Afghanistan into a western democracy. Back-door negotiations are now taking place between the Americans and the Taliban, as newspapers reported last week. President Obama has said he wants American troops out by 2014. In other words, the United States has also given up the idea of a military victory over the Taliban.

It is deeply sad, O'Brien says, that the West will leave Afghanistan "not much better than when we went in there. But that is the way of the world".

So the government's main argument for involvement — that it is a war against terror — fails. The "good news" part of its message about the war seems almost as flawed. The government likes to present our Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamiyan province as providing "good works" and "nation-building". But this has been exaggerated.

A 2010 report on Bamiyan by NZAID, the official government body in charge of aid at that time, said: "The projects overseen by the [New Zealand Defence Force] through the PRT do not appear to be sustainable in any way and anecdotal evidence is that some have already failed."

It concluded that the defence force was "not an effective aid provider".

Defence, typically, tried to suppress these damning findings. These sentences were blanked out of the report released under the Official Information Act, on the spurious grounds that the information could prejudice "the security and defence of New Zealand".

Defence PR has always been ruthless in its pursuit of good news and its suppression of bad.

A secret defence report from 2003 showed that the military wanted to provide two key messages in talking about the PRT: "NZDF personnel are not going to war", and "The focus of this mission is reconstruction".

Defence has always had a PR advantage in the war. Most journalists who go there are embedded, that is, entirely under the care of the military. Their reports do not criticise their hosts. And the SAS's activities have always been shrouded in controversy.

However, controversy has arisen over the involvement of the SAS in taking prisoners who have been transferred to the Americans and Afghans and tortured.

Jerry Mateparae, the former defence force chief who was sworn in as governor-general this week, told the Sunday Star-Times on Thursday that he had "every confidence in the integrity of the New Zealand Special Air Service personnel and also the personnel in the Provincial Reconstruction team. I am confident in the decisions that I took as the chief of defence force and also the advice that I gave the government".

These bland and vague statements do nothing to settle the issue. And Jones himself said in January that transferred prisoners had been tortured. "We accept there will be times when, with hindsight, we will find, oops! This has occurred."

That is the trouble with the "war on terrorism" in Afghanistan. New Zealand has been fighting alongside a government which includes people who routinely torture. It has fought alongside American troops who have done the same.

The new book shows that plenty of Kiwi soldiers were unhappy about the attitude of the American troops. One SAS soldier said of the US Marines: "It's almost like they got given a licence to just be total dickheads and not think any longer about the value of human life."

New Zealand might have been justified in joining the invasion of Afghanistan. But 10 years later, everything has changed.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/opinion/5560475/A-decade-on-its-time-to-quit (http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/opinion/5560475/A-decade-on-its-time-to-quit)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 05, 2011, 02:36:41 am

Some further reading for that Reality idiot.....

Three Cheers for Nicky Hager: hip-hip ... hip-hip ... hip-hip (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php?topic=10395.0)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 14, 2011, 07:19:08 pm

Kabul attack ends after 20 hours

Reuters | 5:42PM - Wednesday, 14 September 2011

ATTACKS: Taleban fighters have fired rockets at the US
Embassy and Nato headquarters in Kabul.

AN ASSAULT by Taleban insurgents on the heart of Kabul's diplomatic and military enclave has ended after 20 hours, when security forces killed the last of six attackers, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior said on Wednesday.

"The operation just ended and 6 terrorists were killed by police. Details on casualties will be announced later," spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Twitter.

The insurgents had holed up in a multi-storey building still under construction and launched their attack early on Tuesday afternoon, firing rockets towards the U.S. and other embassies and the headquarters of Nato-led foreign forces.

Afghan security forces backed by Nato and Afghan attack helicopters fought Taleban insurgents floor-by-floor in the building in the longest sustained attack on the capital since the U.S.-led invasion a decade ago.

One or two fighters held out overnight in the high-rise building, site of the most spectacular of four coordinated attacks across the city. Suicide bombers had targeted police buildings in other parts of the city.

At least nine people were killed and 23 wounded in four attacks, and the ability of the Taleban to penetrate Kabul's vaunted was a clear show of strength ahead of a handover of security to Afghan forces slated for 2014.

A squad of insurgents were armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers, AK-47 assault rifles and suicide bomb vests, a Taleban spokesman said, but the amount of time they held off foreign and Afghan troops prompted speculation they had weapons and ammunition hidden in the building before the attack.

Gunfire continued throughout the night, with residents of nearby buildings staying indoors with their lights off, as children panicked and helicopters flew low overhead.

"It would go silent for 30 to 35 minutes and then there were explosions and the sound of heavy machine guns," he said.

Explosions were interspersed with gunfire all afternoon on Tuesday and several rockets landed in the upmarket Wazir Akbar Khan district, near the British and other embassies. One hit a school bus but it appeared to have been empty at the time.

"There was almost certainly either a break-down in security among the Afghans with responsibility for Kabul or an intelligence failure," said Andrew Exum, fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

On the day the attack started, a U.S. Senate panel approved a $1.6 billion cut in projected U.S. funding for Afghan security forces, part of a significant reduction in outlays for training and equipping Afghan army and police expected in the coming years.

The U.S. and British embassies and the Nato-led coalition said all their employees were safe.

Violence is at its worst since U.S.-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taleban government in late 2001, with high levels of foreign troop deaths and record civilian casualties.

The assault was the second big attack in the city in less than a month after suicide bombers targeted the British Council headquarters in mid-August, killing nine people.

In late June, insurgents launched an assault on a hotel in the capital frequented by Westerners, killing at least 10. But Tuesday's attack was even more ambitious.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/5625107/Kabul-attack-ends-after-20-hours (http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/5625107/Kabul-attack-ends-after-20-hours)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 14, 2011, 11:38:21 pm

NZ SAS in Kabul fighting

Fairfax NZ and Reuters | 10:39PM - Wednesday, 14 September 2011

IN THE HEART OF THE CITY: Afghan police watch as a Nato
helicopter flies overhead during a battle with Taleban
insurgents who took over a building near the US
embassy in Kabul. — Photo: REUTERS.

ELITE New Zealand troops backed up Afghan forces during a 20 hour shoot out with Taliban insurgents in the Afghanistan capital, Kabul.

Nine insurgents were killed in the attack along with four Afghan policemen and at least two civilians.

A spokeswoman for Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said there were no New Zealand injuries.

She said SAS troops took a mentoring role throughout, advising the Afghan Crisis Response Unit (CRU) during the assault on the heavily-defended area around the United States Embassy and Nato headquarters.

But she could not rule out that the New Zealanders fired their weapons during the battle.

The attack was the boldest since the assault on the British Council last month in which 41-year-old NZ SAS soldier Corporal Doug Grant was killed.

The CRU led that engagement but called in the SAS when they were overwhelmed.

In July two SAS soldiers were injured after the CRU was forced to call for help to deal with an attack on the InterContinental Hotel.


Afghan security forces backed by Nato and Afghan attack helicopters fought Taleban insurgents floor-by-floor in the building in the longest sustained attack on the capital since the US-led invasion a decade ago.

One or two fighters held out overnight in the high-rise building, site of the most spectacular of four coordinated attacks across the city. Suicide bombers had targeted police buildings in other parts of the city.

The ability of the Taleban to penetrate Kabul's vaunted was a clear show of strength ahead of a handover of security to Afghan forces slated for 2014.

A squad of insurgents were armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers, AK-47 assault rifles and suicide bomb vests, a Taleban spokesman said, but the amount of time they held off foreign and Afghan troops prompted speculation they had weapons and ammunition hidden in the building before the attack.

Gunfire continued throughout the night, with residents of nearby buildings staying indoors with their lights off, as children panicked and helicopters flew low overhead.

A Defence Force spokesman said the latest attack had not moved to one like the attacks on the British Council or the hotel.

"It would go silent for 30 to 35 minutes and then there were explosions and the sound of heavy machine guns," he said.

Explosions were interspersed with gunfire all afternoon on Tuesday (local time) and several rockets landed in the upmarket Wazir Akbar Khan district, near the British and other embassies. One hit a school bus but it appeared to have been empty at the time.

"There was almost certainly either a break-down in security among the Afghans with responsibility for Kabul or an intelligence failure," said Andrew Exum, fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

The US and British embassies and the Nato-led coalition said all their employees were safe.

Violence is at its worst since US-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taleban government in late 2001, with high levels of foreign troop deaths and record civilian casualties.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/5625107/NZ-SAS-in-Kabul-fighting (http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/5625107/NZ-SAS-in-Kabul-fighting)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 28, 2011, 01:20:26 pm

NZ SAS soldier killed near Kabul

The Dominion Post | 1:51PM - Wednesday, 28 September 2011

John Key at the press conference delivering the news a New Zealand soldier was killed in Afghanistan.

A NEW ZEALAND SAS SOLDIER has been killed in Afghanistan.

He was shot in the head during an operation outside Kabul. He was rushed to surgery, but died on the operating table.

The Government has called an urgent press conference at Parliament, featuring Prime Minister John Key, Defence Minister Wayne Mapp and Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones.

Mr Key has confirmed a SAS soldier has been killed during the incident.

"I deeply regret the loss of our soldiers but I don't regret the commitment we've made to Afghanistan," he said.

He described the news as devastating and said the soldier paid the highest price.

The death would not alter New Zealand's commitment to operations in Afghanistan.

Mr Mapp offered his condolence to the soldier's family on "these most difficult of days".

Lieutenant General Jones said he could not give much detail about the operation, but said the team was engaged in executing a search warrant, under control of the Afghan Response Unit. The NZ SAS was playing a mentoring role, he said.

He said the name of the soldier would not be released for 24 hours to allow his wider family to be informed. His immediate family had been informed. The NZDF has confirmed the solider is not decorated SAS member Willie Apiata.

The soldier was killed during an exchange of rifle fire as they acted on information a group was preparing to launch an attack on Kabul.

Last month SAS soldier Doug Grant, 41, was killed after an attack by the Taleban at the British Council diplomatic offices.

Grant was killed in the country's capital, Kabul, helping save the lives of three British civilians and two Gurkha security guards.

Lieutenant Timothy Andrew O'Donnell, 28, was killed in August 2010.

He and two of his fellow soldiers were injured when their patrol was ambushed in the province of Bamiyan.

New Zealand troops were first deployed to Afghanistan in 2001.

The National-led Government redeployed the SAS to Kabul in 2009 and the troops are due to come home in March 2012.

New Zealand also has a peacekeeping unit, the Provincial Reconstruction Team, based in the Bamiyan province.

That unit has been in Bamiyan since 2003 and is due to pull out in September 2014.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/5698742/NZ-SAS-soldier-killed-near-Kabul (http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/5698742/NZ-SAS-soldier-killed-near-Kabul)

Post by: Im2Sexy4MyPants on September 28, 2011, 04:23:26 pm
Why are they sending our young people off to invade and die in a strange land?
Key should send his kid there...

Post by: Yak on September 28, 2011, 04:24:41 pm
First, my deep sympathy to the next of kin.

Secondly, its a rare occasion when I agree with Turia, but this is one.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said: "I'm not a great supporter of our soldiers fighting in countries where in fact I don't believe that we understand enough about the regimes that are running those countries.

"We're not politically aware of what the significant issues are there.

"I think there have been major issues in Afghanistan and I think it's time for us to review our role there."


What we are doing in Afghanistan. is what us jokers in the trade know as "Pushing shit uphill."

No invader has succeeded in Afghanistan in the last two thousand years and that isnt going to change any time soon.
Good live-fire training, but achieving little beyond that.

Post by: Crusader on September 28, 2011, 06:07:46 pm
Why are they sending our young people off to invade and die in a strange land?
Key should send his kid there...

They are not forced to go. They all volunteer.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 28, 2011, 06:34:53 pm
They are not forced to go. They all volunteer.

Yep....they all volunteer to work in a workplace where bullets are flying around and they are shooting at other people who are shooting at them.

So it was just another workplace death today. Unfortunately we get way too many workplace deaths in NZ.

It's just that as this one wasn't actually in NZ, OSH won't be involved.

And as Yak says.....no invader has succeeded in Afghanistan in more than two thousand years and it will be no different this time.

Eventually, the foreigners will leave as the population of the countries they represent tire of the continual warmongering and the Teliban (who have been waiting patiently) will take over Afghanistan again. The foreigners will leave and take their dead with them and things will be back to square one. Just like after the Soviet Union got their arses kicked in Afghanistan. Just like the Poms got their arses kicked in Afghanistan. It's just that the current mob haven't yet woken up to the fact they aren't going to achieve anything in the long run except a shitload of dead bodies (their own....and Afghans), and a shitload of money poured down the drain.

Such is life, eh?  (http://images.proboards.com/new/rolleyes.gif)

Remember this scene?


You WILL eventually see a version of it again, but this time in Afghanistan!

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on September 28, 2011, 07:08:34 pm
Why are they sending our young people off to invade and die in a strange land?
Key should send his kid there...

1 as has been said they volunteer.
2 it's their job
and death is a reality in their line of work, i very much doubt that people join up not thinking that if as a soldier they could find themselves in a hostile environment. That'd be like someone becoming a fireman then say shit I didn't realise I had to fight fires

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 30, 2011, 10:29:02 am


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 02, 2011, 01:25:20 pm


Post by: Crusader on October 02, 2011, 09:56:00 pm
What do these cartoons mean KTJ? Is it;

a. You don't have a mind of your own; or
b. You don't have a mind of your own.

Post by: Newtown-Fella on October 02, 2011, 10:16:30 pm
What do these cartoons mean KTJ? Is it;

a. You don't have a mind of your own; or
b. You don't have a mind of your own.

he wont answer that question Crusader but i think the answer would have to be a & b ....

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 03, 2011, 10:45:55 am

What those cartoons mean is that we're pouring money down the drain in Afghanistan when the Taliban are going to eventually win anyway when the crusaders tire of their expensive warmongering and go home.

The Afghans saw off the Soviet Union and they saw off the Poms before that.

Nobody has managed to subdue Afghanistan in more than two thousand years and it will be no different this time.

Eventually, the crusaders will go home with their tails between their legs and carrying their dead and the Taliban will win by default. And if it isn't the Taliban, then it will be some other despot group in Afghanistan.

And do you know what is hilariously funny? The Americans are frothing at the mouth accusing Pakistan of arming and supporting insurgents in Afghanistan. Yet the Americans were arming and supporting the insurgents when the last lot of crusaders (the Soviet Union) were occupying Afghanistan and attempting to subdue them. Talk about the Pot calling the Kettle black, eh? I guess it also shows that the saying “what goes around, comes around” is true! The 'mericans supported an insurgency in Afghanistan, now they are on the receiving end of an insurgency in Afghanistan supported by someone else.

Faaaaaark!!  (http://www.smfboards.com/Smileys//smf/uglystupid2.gif)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 05, 2012, 10:06:53 am

Two killed as New Zealand team attacked in Afghanistan

Fairfax NZ News | 9:42AM - Sunday, 05 August 2012

TWO NEW ZEALAND SOLDIERS have been killed and another six have been wounded in a battle in Afghanistan's Bamiyan province.

The soldiers, serving in the provincial reconstruction team, were attacked when they went to help local security forces who'd encountered suspected insurgents near a village south east of Do Abe, the Defence Force said in a statement today.

Two local security personnel were also killed, and a further 11 people, including one civilian, were wounded.

The firefight took place about 7pm last night New Zealand time.

The six wounded soldiers have been evacuated to a military hospital, but no further information was immediately available on their condition.

Do Abe is in the north east of Bamiyan.

The Defence Force is withholding the names of the dead soldiers for 24 hours saying it wants to give to give next of kin time to grieve.

Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones said, "We are deeply saddened by this loss and, on behalf of the entire New Zealand Defence Force, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family, colleagues and friends of the personnel involved."

The two dead soldiers were both male.

No further information on the age, rank or sex of the dead or wounded troops was being made available until Prime Minister John Key approved the release of this information, a  defence spokeswoman said.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/7418191/Two-killed-as-New-Zealand-team-attacked-in-Afghanistan (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/7418191/Two-killed-as-New-Zealand-team-attacked-in-Afghanistan)

Post by: Alicat on August 05, 2012, 10:11:49 am
Two New Zealand Defence Force personnel have been killed and six injured in Afghanistan.
The NZDF said in a statement the two were serving with the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team.
They were killed during an incident in the northeast of Bamiyan Province.
A further six NZDF personnel were wounded during the incident and they were evacuated to a military hospital.
Two local security personnel were also killed, and a further 11 personnel, including one civilian, were wounded.
Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones said: "We are deeply saddened by this loss and, on behalf of the entire New Zealand Defence Force, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family, colleagues and friends of the personnel involved."
The NZDF statement said the incident occurred about 7pm yesterday (NZ time), when the troops were assisting local authorities who encountered suspected insurgents near a village south of Do Abe.
Minister of Defence Jonathan Coleman has offered his condolences to the families of the soldiers.

"The thoughts of the Government and the people of New Zealand are with the NZDF today. Our thoughts are especially with the families of those who died, and the families of those who were wounded.
"The work the NZDF undertake in this region is dangerous and they have been well trained to respond to these incidents."
Dr Coleman said the soldiers were responding to local security forces coming under attack and it developed into a serious incident.
The deaths take the number of New Zealand forces killed in Afghanistan to seven.
August 2012: Two PRT soldiers killed in an attack in northeast Bamiyan Province.
April 2012: PRT Corporal Douglas Hughes dies in incident at Romero.
September 2011: SAS Lance Corporal Leon Smith killed during an operation in Wardak Province.
August 2011: SAS Corporal Doug Grant, 41, killed during a Taleban attack in Kabul.
February 2011: PRT Private Kirifi Mila killed in a Humvee accident in Bamiyan.
August 2010: PRT Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell killed in a firefight after an ambush in Bamiyan.


Post by: Alicat on August 05, 2012, 10:50:20 am
Two Kiwis killed, six wounded in Bamyan

Two New Zealand soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan's Bamyan province have paid the highest price, Prime Minister John Key says.

Another six New Zealand Defence Force personnel, 10 local security personnel and one civilian were also wounded in the incident about 7pm NZT on Saturday.

"It's with enormous sadness that I acknowledge that these soldiers have paid the highest price.

"This brings the total number of New Zealand soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan to seven," Mr Key says.

The Kiwis were part of the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team and had gone to the aid of local security forces who encountered suspected insurgents near a village south of Do Abe, in the northeast of the province.

The six wounded were evacuated to a military hospital. Two local security personnel were also killed during the attack.

The Defence Force says it is in the process of informing and supporting next of kin and the names of the dead and wounded will not be made public for 24 hours to give the families time to grieve.

Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones said: "We are deeply saddened by this loss and, on behalf of the entire New Zealand Defence Force, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family, colleagues and friends of the personnel involved."

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman has also offered his condolences to the families.

"Our thoughts are especially with the families of those who died, and the families of those who were wounded.

"The work the NZDF undertake in this region is dangerous and they have been well trained to respond to these incidents," he said.

Labour leader David Shearer said it was a real tragedy, particularly as the New Zealand operation in Afghanistan was winding down.

"These guys are doing their duty for the country. They have done a great job and our hearts are with the families," he told TVNZ.

Bamyan province was now one of the most settled and the New Zealand armed forces had played a big role in providing that stability.


Post by: Alicat on August 05, 2012, 11:31:42 am
Team carried out frequent patrols

The two dead and six wounded New Zealand soldiers in Afghanistan were part of the Provincial Reconstruction Team, established in 2002 to help maintain security and assist development in the Bamyan province.

The New Zealand Defence Force says as part of that job, they conduct frequent patrols throughout the province.

The team numbering about 140, comprises army, navy and air force personnel.

They also promote reconstruction and assess civil, political and military reform efforts.

The Defence Force says they have helped with the distribution of emergency humanitarian assistance, particularly during the harsh winter months.

The team is based outside the town of Bamian, about 200km northwest of the capital Kabul.

The NZDF team first took over command of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan (about 200km northwest of Kabul) in September 2003.

The Defence Force says previous contingents have provided a reassuring security presence, especially during the presidential elections in October 2004 and resulting in a particularly high voter turnout.


Post by: Alicat on August 05, 2012, 02:16:23 pm
Governor-General expresses 'great sadness' at soldiers deaths

Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO
Governor-General of New Zealand

Statement on the death of two soldiers, and six injured, in Afghanistan

It was with great sadness that I learned of the tragic death of our two soldiers in the Bamiyan Province.

Serving in New Zealand's Defence Force and being deployed in war-torn countries, such as Afghanistan, carries significant risk. The soldiers, whose names are yet to be released, bring to seven the number of New Zealand Defence Force soldiers to be killed while on operations in Afghanistan.

Serving with the Provincial Reconstruction Team, those two soldiers, who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and the six injured, have been part of a team that has worked tirelessly and consistently to bring peace and stability to the Province.

Their presence in Afghanistan exemplified their dedication to New Zealand and the New Zealand Defence Force's mission in that country.

On behalf of all New Zealanders, Janine and I extend our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and mates-in-arms of the two deceased soldiers, as they come to terms with this tragic loss. Our thoughts are also with the families and friends of those who have been injured.

Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae

Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief


Post by: Alicat on August 06, 2012, 08:29:47 pm
Kiwis troops in Afghanistan to widen patrols

Kiwi troops in Afghanistan are planning changes to their operations after two attacks in less than two days, one of which resulted in the deaths of two soldiers.

Lance corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone, who were part of New Zealand's Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamiyan, were killed after their armoured vehicles were attacked on Saturday night (NZ time). Six other New Zealand soldiers were injured.

The Taleban reportedly claimed responsibility for the deaths.

In an attack today, insurgents got within 50 to 100 metres of the New Zealand base, which is on the outskirts of the small mining town of Do Abe.

Prime Minister John Key this afternoon revealed Cabinet had agreed to a request from Defence Force chief Lieutenant-General Rhys Jones for some operational changes to the Kiwi mission in Bamiyan.

"I wouldn't describe them as dramatic changes … but they will include the likelihood that the patrolling area of the New Zealand Defence forces will be widened out slightly," Key said.

There was more insurgent activity and had been a heightened threat assessment in the area "for some years now," he said.

The changes would involve Kiwis in the PRT patrolling outside of the Bamiyan region they have covered for ten years.

Jones believed that was "likely to provide a greater level of protection to our soldiers," Key said.

"The [expanded] radius is all about our capacity to fully understand what's going on and to be in the best position to ensure that we are less likely to be subjected to insurgent activity."

New Zealand has announced a formal withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2013, as part of a wider plan for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to exit the war-torn nation.

Key denied the changes agreed by Cabinet were an expansion of the PRT role. Asked if it was a change, he said: "a slightly wider radius is the way I'd describe it".

"It's not outside of their capacity, in terms of their operational activity in Afghanistan, but it requires the Cabinet to agree to those things."

He confirmed troops in the neighbouring Hungarian-patrolled Baghlan Province did not typically patrol at night.


 The families of the two Kiwi soldiers killed in Afghanistan at the weekend say they are proud of their sons' time in the army.

Durrer was from Christchurch and Malone from Auckland.

Both were on their first deployment to Afghanistan.

Malone was helping his company commander, one of the six injured, when he was killed instantly.

"We are all thankful for the 26 years we had with Pralli and are proud of all that he accomplished in his short time with us,'' said Durrer's family, in a statement.

''He has had a rewarding career as a soldier and we know he had a positive effect on all those he worked alongside throughout his time with [the] NZ Army.''

Durrer's family had gathered together to support one another through his "sudden" death.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 08, 2012, 11:44:24 am


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 08, 2012, 11:44:49 am


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 20, 2012, 09:29:35 am

Woman among three Kiwi soldiers killed (http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/asia/7507715/Woman-among-three-Kiwi-soldiers-killed)

(Fairfax NZ News - Monday, 20 August 2012)

Hmmmmm.....the last military campaign in Afghanistan which actually completely subdued the Afghans was led by Ghengis Khan.

The Afghans saw off the Poms, they saw off the Soviet Union, and they will see off the current mob (which unfortunately includes ENZED).

Then the Taliban (or other despots) will become the government of that country again.

Post by: AnFaolchudubh on August 21, 2012, 09:13:46 am

What those cartoons mean is that we're pouring money down the drain in Afghanistan when the Taliban are going to eventually win anyway when the crusaders tire of their expensive warmongering and go home.

The Afghans saw off the Soviet Union and they saw off the Poms before that.

Nobody has managed to subdue Afghanistan in more than two thousand years and it will be no different this time.

Eventually, the crusaders will go home with their tails between their legs and carrying their dead and the Taliban will win by default. And if it isn't the Taliban, then it will be some other despot group in Afghanistan.

And do you know what is hilariously funny? The Americans are frothing at the mouth accusing Pakistan of arming and supporting insurgents in Afghanistan. Yet the Americans were arming and supporting the insurgents when the last lot of crusaders (the Soviet Union) were occupying Afghanistan and attempting to subdue them. Talk about the Pot calling the Kettle black, eh? I guess it also shows that the saying “what goes around, comes around” is true! The 'mericans supported an insurgency in Afghanistan, now they are on the receiving end of an insurgency in Afghanistan supported by someone else.

Faaaaaark!!  (http://www.smfboards.com/Smileys//smf/uglystupid2.gif)

I think you really should use a different term instead of crusaders, the Ruskies of the early 80's for one can not be compared with the medieval knights who swarmed into the holy land.

Our are you just lamely trying to be a vocab trend setter?

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 21, 2012, 11:59:01 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 22, 2012, 12:01:46 am


Post by: Crusader on August 22, 2012, 12:18:57 am
KTJ - on behalf of all those that are willing to risk their lives so you can have a better NZ - you're welcome

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 25, 2012, 05:25:34 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on August 27, 2012, 12:46:17 pm

Tom Engelhardt: Losing It in Washington

posted at 7:15PM - Sunday, August 26, 2012 | TomDispatch.com (http://www.tomdispatch.com/)


The Best Laid Plans

How Quickly Will the U.S. Leave Afghanistan?

By Tom Engelhardt (http://www.tomdispatch.com/authors/tom)

In the wake of several deaths among its contingent of troops in a previously peaceful province in Afghanistan, New Zealand (like France (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-10/france-to-begin-afghan-pullout-next-month/4062482) and South Korea (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2012/08/205_114963.html)) is now expediting the departure (http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/nz-afghan-withdrawal-set-for-april-20120820-24hy6.html) of its 140 soldiers. That’s not exactly headline-making news here in the U.S. If you’re an American, you probably didn’t even know that New Zealand was playing a small part in our Afghan War. In fact, you may hardly have known about the part Americans are playing in a war that, over the last decade-plus, has repeatedly (http://articles.boston.com/2012-08-17/nation/33233481_1_bloodiest-month-helmand-province-afghan-security-forces) been labeled “the forgotten war” (http://news.yahoo.com/americans-tune-afghan-war-fighting-rages-185225577.html).

Still, maybe it’s time to take notice. Maybe the flight of those Kiwis should be thought of as a small omen, even if they are departing as decorously, quietly, and flightlessly as possible. Because here’s the thing: once the November election is over, “expedited departure” could well become an American term and the U.S., as it slips ignominiously out of Afghanistan, could turn out to be the New Zealand of superpowers.

You undoubtedly know the phrase: the best laid plans of mice and men. It couldn’t be more apt when it comes to the American project in Afghanistan.  Washington’s plans have indeed been carefully drawn up. By the end of 2014, U.S. “combat troops” are to be withdrawn, but left behind (http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/04/11/150433077/panetta-reassures-afghans-on-u-s-training-role-possibly-beyond-2014) on the giant bases the Pentagon has built will be thousands of U.S. trainers (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/05/01/fact-sheet-us-afghanistan-strategic-partnership-agreement) and advisers, as well as special operations forces (http://cnsnews.com/news/article/marine-general-us-special-forces-will-be-afghanistan-years-after-2014) to go after al-Qaeda remnants (and other “militants”), and undoubtedly the air power to back them all up.

Their job will officially be to continue to “stand up” the humongous security force that no Afghan government in that thoroughly impoverished country will ever be able to pay for. Thanks to a 10-year Strategic Partnership Agreement that President Obama flew to Kabul (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303916904577378080052874406.html) to seal with Afghan President Hamid Karzai as May began, there they are to remain until 2020 or beyond.

In other words, it being Afghanistan, we need a translator. The American “withdrawal” regularly mentioned in the media doesn’t really mean “withdrawal.” On paper at least, for years to come the U.S. will partially occupy a country that has a history of loathing foreigners who won’t leave (and making them pay for it).

Tea Boys and Old Men

Plans are one thing, reality another. After all, when invading U.S. troops triumphantly arrived in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, in April 2003, the White House and the Pentagon were already planning to stay forever and a day — and they instantly began building permanent bases (though they preferred to speak of “permanent access” (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174807/engelhardt_the_great_disconnect) via “enduring camps” (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/59774/engelhardt_can_you_say_permanent_bases)) as a token of their intent. Only a couple of years later, in a gesture that couldn’t have been more emphatic in planning terms, they constructed (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174789/the_mother_ship_lands_in_iraq) the largest (and possibly most expensive) embassy on the planet as a regional command center in Baghdad. Yet somehow, those perfectly laid plans went desperately awry and only a few years later, with American leaders still looking for ways (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/19/us-iraq-usa-panetta-idUSTRE77I6HC20110819) to garrison (http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2011-07-05-iraq-us-troops_n.htm) the country into the distant future, Washington found itself out on its ear. But that’s reality for you, isn’t it?

Right now, evidence on the ground — in the form of dead American bodies piling up (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/22/us/war-in-afghanistan-claims-2000th-american-life.html) — indicates that even the Afghans closest to us (http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175576/tom_engelhardt_death_by_ally) don’t exactly second the Obama administration's plans for a 20-year occupation. In fact, news from the deep-sixed war in that forgotten land, often considered the longest conflict (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/afghan-war-now-longest-war-us-history/story?id=10849303) in American history, has suddenly burst onto the front pages of our newspapers and to the top of the TV news. And there’s just one reason for that: despite the copious plans of the planet’s last superpower, the poor, backward, illiterate, hapless, corrupt Afghans — whose security forces, despite unending American financial support and mentoring, have never effectively “stood up” (http://cnsnews.com/news/article/gao-less-10-afghan-forces-capable-operating-independently) — made it happen. They have been sending a stark message, written in blood, to Washington’s planners.

A 15-year-old “tea boy” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/deadly-insider-attack-that-left-3-us-marines-dead-was-work-of-an-afghan-teenager/2012/08/17/20916eca-e7b8-11e1-936a-b801f1abab19_story.html?hpid=z3) at a U.S. base opened fire on Marine special forces trainers exercising at a gym, killing three of them and seriously wounding another; a 60- or 70-year-old farmer (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/military/july-dec12/afghanistan_08-17.html), who volunteered to become a member of a village security force, turned the first gun his American special forces trainers gave him at an “inauguration ceremony” (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-33816_162-57495893/u.s-troops-have-guns-at-the-ready-amid-spike-in-afghan-insider-attacks/) back on them, killing two; a police officer who, his father claims (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/afghan-in-uniform-kills-3-us-special-forces-troops-in-third-such-attack-this-week/2012/08/10/c8b43faa-e31d-11e1-ae7f-d2a13e249eb2_story.html), joined the force four years earlier, invited Marine Special Operations advisers to a meal and gunned down (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/afghanistan/story/2012-08-10/afghanistan-attack/56943458/1) three of them, wounding a fourth, before fleeing, perhaps to the Taliban.

About other “allies” involved in similar incidents — recently, there were at least 9 (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/19/us-afghanistan-usa-attacks-idUSBRE87I06L20120819) "green-on-blue" attacks in an 11-day span in which 10 Americans died — we know almost nothing, except that they were Afghan policemen or soldiers their American trainers and mentors were trying to “stand up” to fight the Taliban. Some were promptly shot to death. At least one may have escaped.

These green-on-blue incidents, which the Pentagon recently relabeled “insider attacks,” have been escalating for months. Now, they seem to have reached a critical mass and so are finally causing a public stir in official circles in Washington. A “deeply concerned” President Obama commented (http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/20/world/asia/afghanistan-unrest/index.html) to reporters on the phenomenon ("We've got to make sure that we're on top of this...”) and said he was planning to “reach out” to Afghan President Karzai on the matter. In the meantime, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta did so, pressing Karzai (http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/policy-and-strategy/244259-panetta-calls-karzai-as-concern-grows-over-afghan-insider-attacks-on-us-forces-) to take tougher steps in the vetting of recruits for the Afghan security forces. (Karzai and his aides promptly blamed (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/karzai-advisers-blame-insider-attacks-on-foreign-spy-agencies/2012/08/22/6abcf54c-ec7b-11e1-866f-60a00f604425_story.html) the attacks on the Iranian and Pakistani intelligence agencies.)

General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, flew to Afghanistan to consult with his counterparts on what to make of these incidents (and had his plane shelled on a runway at Bagram Air Field — “a lucky shot,” claimed (http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/21/13389385-top-us-generals-aircraft-hit-by-rocket-fire-in-afghanistan) a NATO spokesman — for his effort). U.S. Afghan War commander General John Allen convened a meeting (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/world/asia/afghan-attacks-on-allied-troops-prompt-nato-to-shift-policy.html) of more than 40 generals to discuss how to stop the attacks, even as he insisted “the campaign remains on track.” There are now rumblings in Congress (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79903.html) about hearings on the subject.

Struggling With the Message

Worry about such devastating attacks and their implications for the American mission, slow to rise, is now widespread. But much of this is reported in our media as if in a kind of code. Take for example the way Laura King put the threat in a front-page (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghanistan-turncoats-20120820,0,3639047.story) Los Angeles Times piece (and she was hardly alone). Reflecting Washington’s wisdom on the subject, she wrote that the attacks “could threaten a linchpin of the Western exit strategy: training Afghan security forces in preparation for handing over most fighting duties to them by 2014.” It almost sounds as if, thanks to these incidents, our combat troops might not be able to make it out of there on schedule (http://news.antiwar.com/2012/08/24/will-green-on-blue-attacks-change-nato-strategy/).

No less striking is the reported general puzzlement over what lies behind these Afghan actions. In most cases, the motivation for them, writes King, “remains opaque.” There are, it seems, many theories within the U.S. military about why Afghans are turning their guns on Americans, including personal pique, individual grudges, cultural touchiness, “heat-of-the moment disputes in a society where arguments are often settled with a Kalashnikov,” and in a minority of cases — about a tenth of them, according to a recent military study, though one top commander suggested (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/24/world/asia/general-notes-taliban-coercion-in-some-attacks-on-troops-in-afghanistan.html) the number could range up to a quarter — actual infiltration or “coercion” by the Taliban. General Allen even suggested (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-commander-says-strain-of-ramadan-fasting-is-factor-in-afghan-troops-attacks-on-us-troops/2012/08/23/31b29268-ed2d-11e1-866f-60a00f604425_story.html?hpid=z4) recently that some insider attacks might be traced to religious fasting for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, combined with unseasonable summer heat, leaving Afghans hungry, tetchy, and prone to impulsive acts, guns in hand. According to the Washington Post, however, “Allen acknowledged that U.S. and Afghan officials have struggled to determine what’s behind the rise in attacks.”

“American officials are still struggling,” wrote (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/opinion/the-enemy-within.html) the New York Times in an editorial on the subject, “to understand the forces at work.” And in that the editorial writers like the general reflected the basic way these acts are registering here — as a remarkable Afghan mystery. In other words, in Washington’s version of the blame game, the quirky, unpredictable Afghans from Hamid Karzai on down are in the crosshairs. What is the matter with them?

In the midst of all this, few say the obvious. Undoubtedly, a chasm of potential misunderstanding lies between Afghan trainees and their American trainers; Afghans may indeed feel insulted by any number of culturally inapt, inept, or hostile acts by their mentors. They may have been on edge from fasting for Ramadan. They may be holding grudges. None of the various explanations being offered, that is, may in themselves be wrong. The problem is that none of them allow an observer to grasp what’s actually going on. On that, there really should be few “misunderstandings” and, though you won’t hear it in Washington, right now Americans are actually the ones in the crosshairs, and not just in the literal sense either.

While the motives of any individual Afghan turning his gun on an American may be beyond our knowing — just what made him plan it, just what made him snap — history should tell us something about the more general motives of Afghans (and perhaps the rest of us as well). After all, the United States was founded after colonial settlers grew tired of an occupying army and power in their midst. Whatever the individual insults Afghans feel, the deeper insult almost 11 years after the U.S. military, crony corporations, hire-a-gun outfits, contractors, advisers, and aid types (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175019/ann_jones_the_afghan_reconstruction_boondoggle) arrived on the scene en masse with all their money, equipment, and promises is that things are going truly badly; that the westerners are still around; that the Americans are still trying to stand up those Afghan forces (when the Taliban has no problem standing its forces up and fighting effectively without foreign trainers); that the defeated Taliban, one of the less popular movements of modern history, is again on the rise; that the country is a sea of corruption; that more than 30 years after the first Afghan War against the Soviets began, the country is still a morass of violence, suffering, and death.

Plumb the mystery all you want, our Afghan allies couldn’t be clearer as a collective group. They are sick of foreign occupying armies, even when, in some cases, they may have no sympathy for the Taliban. This should be a situation in which no translators are needed. The “insult” to Afghan ways is, after all, large indeed and should be easy enough for Americans to grasp. Just try to reverse the situation with Chinese, Russian, or Iranian armies heavily garrisoning the U.S., supporting political candidates, and trying to stand us up for more than a decade and it may be easier to understand. Americans, after all, blow people away regularly over far less than that.

And keep in mind as well what history does tell us: that the Afghans have quite a record of getting disgusted with occupying armies and blowing them away.  After all, they managed to eject the militaries of two of the most powerful empires of their moments, the British in the 1840s and the Russians in the 1980s.  Why not a third great empire as well?

A Contagion of Killing

The message is certainly clear enough, however unprepared those in Washington and in the field are to hear it: forget our enemies; a rising number of those Afghans closest to us want us out in the worst way possible and their message on the subject has been horrifically blunt. As NBC correspondent Jim Miklaszewski put it (http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/10/13212597-three-us-special-ops-troops-killed-afghan-officials-say) recently, among Americans in Afghanistan there is now “a growing fear the armed Afghan soldier standing next to them may really be the enemy.”

It’s a situation that isn’t likely to be rectified by quick fixes, including the eerily named Guardian Angel program (which leaves an armed American with the sole job of watching out for trigger-happy Afghans in exchanges with his compatriots), or better “vetting” of Afghan recruits, or putting (http://articles.boston.com/2012-08-21/world/33287415_1_insider-attacks-afghan-troops-afghan-security) Afghan counterintelligence officers in ever more units to watch over their own troops.

The question is: Why can’t our leaders in Washington and in the U.S. military stop “struggling” and see this for what it obviously is? Why can't anyone in the mainstream media write about it as it obviously is?  After all, when almost 11 years after your arrival to “liberate” a country, orders are issued (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/08/u-s-troops-ordered-to-be-armed-at-all-times-following-afghan-attacks/) for every American soldier to carry a loaded weapon everywhere at all times, even on American bases, lest your allies blow you away, you should know that you’ve failed. When you can’t train your allies to defend their own country without an armed guardian angel (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/world/asia/afghan-attacks-on-allied-troops-prompt-nato-to-shift-policy.html) watching at all times, you should know that it’s long past time to leave a distant country of no strategic value (http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/08/14/the_lessons_of_afghanistan) to the United States.

As is now regularly noted, the incidents of green-on-blue violence are rising rapidly. There have been 32 of them (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/21/barack-obama-afghanistan-green-on-blue) reported so far this year, with 40 American or coalition members killed, compared to 21 reported in all of 2011, killing 35. The numbers have a chilling quality, a sense of contagion, to them. They suggest that this may be an unraveling moment, and don’t think — though no one mentions this — that it couldn’t get far worse.

To date, such incidents are essentially the work of lone wolf attackers, in a few cases of two Afghans, and in a single case of three Afghans plotting (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/16/world/asia/trained-by-the-us-led-coalition-some-afghan-allies-turn-enemy.html) together. But no matter how many counterintelligence agents are slipped into the ranks or guardian angels appointed, don’t think there’s something magical about the numbers one, two, and three. While there’s no way to foresee the future, there’s no reason not to believe that what one or two Afghans are already doing couldn’t in the end be done by four or five, by parts of squads, by small units. With a spirit of contagion, of copycat killings with a message, loose in the land, this could get far worse.

One thing seems ever more likely. If your plan is to stay and train a security force growing numbers of whom are focused on killing you, then you are, by definition, in an impossible situation and you should know that your days are numbered, that it’s not likely you’ll be there in 2020 or even maybe 2015. When training your allies to stand up means training them to do you in, it’s long past time to go, whatever your plans may have been. After all, the British had “plans” for Afghanistan, as did the Russians. Little good it did them.

Imagine for a moment that you were in Kabul or Washington at the end of December 2001, after the Taliban had been crushed, after Osama bin Laden fled to Pakistan, and as the U.S. was moving into “liberated” Afghanistan for the long haul. Imagine as well that someone claiming to be a seer made this prediction: almost 11 years from then, despite endless tens of billions of dollars spent on Afghan “reconstruction,” despite nearly $50 billion spent (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/afghan-security-forces-training_n_1703000.html?utm_hp_ref=politics) on “standing up” an Afghan security force that could defend the country, and with more than 700 bases (http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175204/nick_turse_america%27s_shadowy_baseworld) built for U.S. troops and Afghan allies, local soldiers and police would be deserting in droves (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/more-afghan-soldiers-deserting-the-army/2011/08/31/gIQABxFTvJ_story.html), the Taliban would be back in force, those being trained would be blowing their trainers away in record numbers, and by order of the Pentagon, an American soldier could not go to the bathroom unarmed on an American base for fear of being shot down by an Afghan “friend.”

You would, of course, have been considered a first-class idiot, if not a madman, and yet this is exactly the U.S. “hearts and minds” record in Afghanistan to date. Welcomed in 2001, we are being shown the door in the worst possible way in 2012. Washington is losing it. It’s too late to exit gracefully, but exit in time we must.


Note: To read previous TomDispatch posts on green-on-blue violence, check out Death-By-Ally (http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175576/tom_engelhardt_death_by_ally) and Blown Away (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175509/tomgram%3A_engelhardt_and_turse,_the_end_in_afghanistan).

• Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project (http://www.americanempireproject.com/), runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com (http://www.tomdispatch.com/). His latest book is “The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s” (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1608460711/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20) (Haymarket Books). You can catch a Timothy MacBain TomDispatch video interview with me on our "stimulus" spending abroad by clicking here (http://tomdispatch.blogspot.com/2010/11/monster-embassies.html) or download it to your iPod, here (http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=j0SS4Al/iVI&subid=&offerid=146261.1&type=10&tmpid=5573&RD_PARM1=http%3A%2F%2Fitunes.apple.com%2Fus%2Fpodcast%2Ftomcast-from-tomdispatch-com%2Fid357095817).

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175587/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_losing_it_in_washington (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175587/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_losing_it_in_washington)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 18, 2012, 12:12:45 am

From the Los Angeles Times....

NATO disasters stack up in Afghanistan

More ‘insider’ slayings, as well as a NATO airstrike
that killed eight women, follow a Taliban attack that
destroyed more than $150 million worth of equipment.

By LAURA KING | 8:10PM - Sunday, September 16, 2012

Afghan protesters shout slogans during an anti-NATO protest in the city of Mehtar Lam
in Laghman province after eight women were killed in a NATO airstrike.
 — Photo: Waseem Nikzad/AFP/Getty Images/September 16, 2012.

KABUL, Afghanistan — In a disastrous day for the NATO (http://www.latimes.com/topic/unrest-conflicts-war/defense/nato-ORGOV000049.topic) force in Afghanistan, four American troops were gunned down Sunday by Afghan police, a U.S. airstrike killed eight Afghan women foraging for fuel on a rural hillside, and military officials disclosed that a Taliban strike on a southern base had destroyed more than $150 million worth of planes and equipment — in money terms, by far the costliest single insurgent attack in 11 years of warfare.

The confluence of events underscored some of the conflict's most damaging trends: an unrelenting tide of "insider" attacks, in which Afghan forces turn their weapons on coalition allies; the daily loss of civilian lives to war's ravages; and the continuing ability of insurgent forces to inflict disproportionate havoc on the far more powerful Western military.

The lethal encounter between U.S. forces and Afghan police took place soon after midnight in Zabol province in the south, military and Afghan officials said. The provincial governor, Mohammad Ashraf Naseri, said the shooting occurred at a joint base in Zabol's Mezan district.

The NATO force confirmed the deaths without disclosing the nationality, but U.S. officials said the troops were American. The killings came less than 24 hours after two British soldiers were gunned down by an Afghan policeman and brought to 51 the number of Western service members killed this year by Afghan security forces.

Both Western and Afghan officials acknowledge insider shootings have become an extremely serious problem — about 15% of all coalition deaths come at the hands of Afghan forces — and they have taken urgent steps to stop the attacks. Forces on both sides are undergoing cultural training to try to avoid deadly misunderstandings. NATO troops have been ordered to keep rounds chambered in their weapons at all times, and armed Western troops called "guardian angels" have been posted to watch over others in mess halls, sleeping tents and gyms. Thousands of members of a locally recruited village militia were ordered rescreened for links with the insurgency.

How to reduce such attacks is the subject of considerable debate among U.S. and NATO officials. Moves that slow the training of Afghans (http://www.latimes.com/topic/intl/afghanistan-PLGEO00000021.topic) to take over security in their own country could undercut the goal of a Western military withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. And steps seen as too heavy-handed could be taken by Afghans as an insult in a culture where perceived slights can swiftly lead to more violence.

The eight women killed in an airstrike in Laghman province, in eastern Afghanistan, were poor villagers who were gathering brush for cooking fires, provincial authorities said. In addition to those killed, seven people were reported injured. Villagers loaded the bodies into trucks and drove them to the provincial governor's office, parading them through the streets in protest.

The NATO force acknowledged that five to eight civilians were accidentally killed in a strike targeting a group of insurgents, and expressed regret.

A spokesman for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization coalition, Air Force Captain Dan Einert, said the bombardment followed a "significant engagement" Sunday morning in the remote Alingar district of Laghman province. He said a unit of NATO's International Security Assistance Force positively identified a group of about 45 insurgents with hostile intent and called in the airstrike, which killed a large number of them.

"Unfortunately, we are aware of civilian casualties as a result of this strike," he said.

In recent years, NATO and Afghan government forces have been responsible for a shrinking proportion of civilian deaths, with nearly all such deaths and injuries blamed on insurgents. But airstrikes remain the single largest cause of civilian casualties inflicted by international forces.

Meanwhile, Western officials disclosed early Sunday that an insurgent raid at Camp Bastion, in Helmand province, had been far more serious than initially reported. Military officials had already reported the deaths of two U.S. Marines in the strike that began Friday evening and continued into the early hours of Saturday. On Sunday, however, they reported that the insurgents had managed to destroy six sophisticated AV-8B Harrier jets, together with three refueling stations. Two other Harrier aircraft were "significantly damaged," as were six soft-skin aircraft hangars.

Bastion, where Britain (http://www.latimes.com/topic/intl/united-kingdom-PLGEO000005.topic)'s Prince Harry (http://www.latimes.com/topic/politics/harry-of-wales-PECLB004759.topic) is deployed as part of an Apache helicopter crew, is considered one of the most heavily fortified bases in Afghanistan. That a relatively small squad of insurgents was able to breach the perimeter and inflict such a degree of damage surprised the U.S. and British command.

In London, a Defense Ministry spokesman, speaking under the customary request of anonymity, said Sunday that the prince's deployment would continue. "In light of this event, there aren't any plans for him to be withdrawn," he said.

LA Times staff writer Henry Chu in London contributed to this report.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghan-violence-20120917,0,3894338.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghan-violence-20120917,0,3894338.story)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 19, 2012, 11:39:48 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

NATO halts routine joint patrols with Afghan forces

NATO troops in Afghanistan will cut back on joint patrols
and small operations with Afghan forces. Officials
cite ‘insider’ shootings and an anti-Islam film.

By LAURA KING | 6:49PM - Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Afghan and NATO troops patrol in a village in eastern Afghanistan's Khowst province last month.
 — Photo: Jose Cabezas/AFP/Getty Images.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Across Afghanistan, at combat outposts in the wind-scoured desert and the jagged mountains, it was daily routine: A small group of Afghan police or soldiers and Western ground troops would gather their gear and set out together on a foot patrol or a village visit.

Until now.

In its most sweeping response yet to "insider" shootings that have seen 51 Western troops killed this year by Afghans in uniform, the NATO force is halting, at least temporarily, joint patrols and other small-unit ground operations by Afghan and foreign troops unless specifically approved by a high-ranking regional commander, military officials said Tuesday.

The move calls into question what has been the centerpiece of the Western exit strategy: foreign forces training Afghan counterparts by working closely with them in the field, with the aim of readying the Afghan police and army to take the lead in fighting the Taliban by the end of 2014.

Western officials sought to portray the move as a relatively minor adjustment to the relationship with Afghan allies. NATO's International Security Assistance Force "remains absolutely committed to partnering with, training, advising and assisting our [Afghan] counterparts," it said in a statement.

But three junior NATO field officers in different parts of Afghanistan, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter, said the order would dramatically alter the tenor and tempo of activity. Before the directive, Western officials had touted the fact that up to 80% of missions were partnered operations involving Western and Afghan troops. Already, there is concern that without American and other Western troops to bolster them in ground operations, some Afghan units will balk at setting out alone.

Officials said the decision was prompted not only by insider shootings, which have accounted this year for about 15% of the NATO force's fatalities and seriously eroded trust between Afghans and Westerners, but also by the trailer of the crude anti-Islam film that has triggered furious anti-American protests across the Muslim world.

In Afghanistan, reaction has included a demonstration Monday in Kabul that left dozens of police officers injured, and a suicide attack Tuesday morning said to be in retaliation for the film.

Eight South Africans, a Kyrgyz national and three Afghans died in the attack when a female bomber rammed her car into a van carrying aviation workers to Kabul's international airport, Afghan officials said. The insurgent group Hezb-i-Islami, which has staged few attacks in the capital, claimed responsibility.

Western officials said the tempestuous atmosphere made it an appropriate time for American and allied troops to step back from public view.

"In this time of heightened tension, we are trying to reduce our profile somewhat," said U.S. Army Col. Thomas Collins, a spokesman for the NATO force, describing the directive as a "prudent and temporary step."

"Will it have an impact? Yes, and we understand that," he said.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization says the insurgency is responsible, directly or indirectly, for as much as 25% of insider shootings.

Some of the shooters have been planted by the Taliban, military officials believe, but sometimes Afghan soldiers and police come under pressure from the Taliban via threats to their families or are recruited to the rebellion's ranks while on leave. Other attacks stem from personal disputes, often fueled by cultural differences. Frequently, it's hard to determine the exact reason.

In one case in mid-August, a policeman who had joined a village militia just five days earlier opened fire as soon as he was handed his service weapon to begin his first weapons-training session. The attacker, Mohammad Ismail, killed two Americans and a member of the Afghan national police before being killed by return fire.

Days earlier, a police commander lured Marines to a meal during the holy month of Ramadan and then opened fire, killing three of them.

As a sign of how seriously the Pentagon takes the issue, the Defense Department released a statement Tuesday saying that Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had sought advice on how to deal with insider shootings from his counterpart in the Russian military, which battled a U.S.-backed insurgency in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

Under the new directive, Afghan and NATO troops will continue to share jointly run bases. However, without the explicit permission of higher-ups, encounters between the two sides will be limited to meetings of officers at the battalion level, often in the form of planning sessions, military officials said.

The order was given by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. James Terry, who heads the NATO force's Joint Command, on Sunday, the same day that four American troops were shot and killed by Afghan police. The NATO force did not publicize the directive other than to provide copies in response to specific queries from news organizations.

Exceptions to the directive would have to be approved by regional commanders, most of whom are two-star generals. Previously, junior officers, including captains and lieutenants, were authorized to give the go-ahead for patrols and other ground operations with Afghan forces.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said the directive meant that partnered operations below the battalion level would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

"In some cases, [Afghan] forces are fully capable of increased independent activity, and their advisors will simply be stepping back to advise at the next level," he said.

It was unclear whether the order would affect special operations raids against the Taliban, which are frequently conducted jointly with Afghan commandos.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said at a news conference in Beijing that the directive was in response to the insider attacks, but he also called those attacks a sign of weakness.

"I don't think these attacks indicate that the Taliban is stronger," Panetta said. "I think what it indicates is that they are resorting to efforts that are trying to strike at our forces, trying to create chaos, but do not in any way result in their regaining territory that has been lost."

LA Times staff writers David S. Cloud in Beijing and Tony Perry in San Diego contributed to this report.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-us-afghan-patrols-20120919,0,4169136.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-us-afghan-patrols-20120919,0,4169136.story)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 21, 2012, 12:51:33 pm

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/Cartoons%202012/2661_SAStoAfghanistan_21Sep12_zps4b1b538f.jpg) (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10835489)

          (click on the cartoon to read the news story)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on September 28, 2012, 05:18:29 pm


Post by: Crusader on September 28, 2012, 10:41:57 pm

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/Cartoons%202012/2661_SAStoAfghanistan_21Sep12_zps4b1b538f.jpg) (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10835489)

          (click on the cartoon to read the news story)

Wow quite the hypocrite. In another thread you call for the government to be more open, yet here you post a cartoon that makes a mockery about the government being open.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on March 14, 2013, 06:24:36 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Moving mountains of war gear home from Afghanistan

Major General Kurt Stein has to figure out how to move $48-billion worth of
war gear back home from landlocked, mountainous and war-torn Afghanistan.

By DAID ZUCCHINO | 5:59P - Wednesday, Marth 13, 2013

Bringing billions of dollars' worth of military gear back from Afghanistan poses a logistical challenge.
 — Photo: Anja Niedringhaus/Associated Press/March 11th, 2013.

FORT BRAGG, North Carolina — For the last 11 years, the U.S. military has stuffed bases in Afghanistan with Humvees and bullets, radios and radars, armored vehicles and surveillance balloons. Army Major General Kurt Stein has less than two years to move $48-billion worth of weapons, gear and equipment back home.

Before U.S. combat troops leave at the end of 2014, Stein has to figure out how to transport 35,000 vehicles, 95,000 shipping containers and mountains of other war materiel out of a landlocked, mountainous country in the middle of a war.

It's not the first monumental moving job for Stein, 54, a burly former enlisted man with 37 years experience in military logistics. He was a top commander of the massive effort to move gear and equipment out of Iraq two years ago.

"Hard but not that hard," Stein said of moving tons of materiel on paved Iraqi highways into relatively safe and orderly Kuwait. "Afghanistan? Big difference. We don't have the road networks or the ports."

There's one more thing: Stein doesn't know how much stuff to leave behind, if any, because he doesn't know how many troops will remain after 2014, if any. That is still being negotiated by the U.S. and Afghanistan, with a target date of November 2013.

"All we can do now is get after what we know today," he said. The rest, he said, "depends on the end state, which we certainly don't know."

Stein estimates moving the materiel will cost taxpayers about $6 billion. The job is being tackled by more than 86,000 people, military and civilian, under his command.

Stein is technically deployed to Afghanistan, but he commutes to Fort Bragg. Chronically jet-lagged, Stein lives on Afghan time, starting work at 4:30 a.m. at Fort Bragg to stay in sync with operations in Afghanistan. Clocks on his office wall are set to times in North Carolina, Greenwich Mean Time, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He hasn't had time to finish setting up his office here because he's usually traveling — his territory covers 6 million square miles. He took command on a Friday last June, then flew to Afghanistan the following Monday.

Until last month, Stein spent millions of extra dollars to fly out gear and equipment because Pakistan would not guarantee truck passage through the Khyber Pass to Pakistani ports. After lengthy negotiations with U.S. officials, Pakistan agreed in mid-February to allow daily ground shipments across the border, but it could still close the crossing at any time.

Trucks are carrying materiel to Pakistani ports, where it is shipped to the U.S. Separately, military aircraft and contracted civilian planes are taking some materiel to ports in Jordan, Dubai and Oman, where containers are loaded onto ships headed to U.S. ports. From there, goods are trucked to military depots and arsenals around the country.

In the meantime, Stein has to continue to pour in supplies, weapons and ammunition, plus food and water, to the 66,000 U.S. troops still manning bases and outposts in the 11-year-old war. The stuff coming in crosses paths with the stuff going out. About 1,500 vehicles and 1,000 cargo containers exit Afghanistan monthly.

U.S. forces have shut down or turned over to Afghan forces 619 bases and combat outposts, with 193 still to be handed over or dismantled. All that equipment has to go somewhere. Some — portable toilets, concrete barriers, vehicles, modular housing — is going to Afghan security forces because it costs more to ship than it's worth. Other stuff — wood and metal from temporary buildings and barriers, plus old vehicles and trailers — is being crushed and sold to Afghans as scrap.

Some of the stuff is just plain worn out and will be destroyed. "The Afghans don't want junk, either," Stein said.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-moving-afghan-20130314,0,829078.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-moving-afghan-20130314,0,829078.story)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on April 02, 2013, 10:25:44 am

from World Politics Review....

Strategic Horizons: Iraq Today is Afghanistan Tomorrow

By STEVEN METZ (http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/authors/790/steven-metz) | Wednesday, 27 March 2013

THE recent 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq sparked a flurry of attention. Op-eds, blogs, conferences and panels of all sorts sprouted, most dealing with the "lessons" the United States should draw from its initial decision to invade and subsequent long involvement in the country. As the lesson fest subsides, attention is shifting to Iraq's current security predicament and its relationship with the United States. Unfortunately, it is not a pretty picture.

With war raging in neighboring Syria and the Shiite-dominated regime in Baghdad continuing to exclude Sunni Arabs as much as possible, al-Qaida is on the rebound in Iraq, its terrorism growing in scale. In a single day last week, more than a dozen suicide attacks and car bombs killed nearly 60 people (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/19/us-iraq-violence-idUSBRE92I04Q20130319) in Baghdad's Shiite areas. Yet there is little the United States can do. As Iraq spirals downward with little sign of a political resolution to its sectarian and ethnic conflict, America's voice has "been reduced to a whimper" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/a-decade-after-iraq-invasion-americas-voice-in-baghdad-has-gone-from-a-boom-to-a-whimper/2013/03/23/2f334826-9303-11e2-a31e-14700e2724e4_story.html). In the words of Saleh al-Mutlak, an Iraqi deputy prime minister, "No one thinks America has influence now in Iraq."

This matters because Iraq itself matters. But it also offers a window into the future. If everything goes exactly right, Afghanistan tomorrow may look much like Iraq today. This is a depressing thought. It certainly wasn't what Americans expected as they poured blood, money and effort into the two conflicts. No so long ago, the belief was that Iraq and Afghanistan would become stable, pro-American nations playing a major role in combating violent Islamic extremism. But unsurprisingly, things went badly wrong.

Two “big ideas” help explain why counterinsurgency campaigns like those in Iraq and Afghanistan don't turn out the way Americans hope or expect. One is what can be called (http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/unruly-clients-trouble-allies) the "partner problem." When the United States elected to become an active global power following World War II, it recognized that it could not directly apply power everywhere, so it opted for an indirect approach, strengthening partners with advice and aid. That worked in places like Europe, Latin America and Northeast Asia, where allies with effective governments shared American priorities and objectives. But it foundered where America's partners were weak or deeply flawed regimes with radically different priorities and objectives. In those places — and Iraq and Afghanistan are both examples — politics is a spoils system. The ethnic group, sect, tribe, clan or region that controls the state uses it to benefit its own narrowly defined group at the expense of all the others. Since the stakes of political competition are so high, participants go to great — and often nefarious or violent — lengths to win. Once they win, they cling to power for as long as possible. Being gracious in defeat and alternating power between competitors simply make no sense in such an environment.

Not surprisingly, this type of political system is conflict-prone since the losers have few nonviolent means to promote their interests. And those in power have little incentive to change the system since they have a vested interest in maintaining it. They may make token gestures or engineer superficial reforms to attract outside — particularly American — support, but they will not address the structural problems that generate violent opposition. In fact, some degree of violence is helpful for holding Washington's attention and keeping assistance flowing.

When the United States stumbles into a situation like this, it avoids pushing its partner too hard lest the insurgents or terrorists win. The more committed the United States is to a partner, the less leverage Washington has. American threats are not taken seriously since the partner regime knows that any U.S. president would pay a heavy price for abandoning a partner after convincing the public and Congress that supporting it was a vital national interest. Abandonment would be seen as a U.S. defeat, and the American political system does not take kindly to architects of defeat. Afghan President Hamid Karzai fully understands this and has made clear that he feels that he has more leverage over the United States than Washington has over him. Thus he can vilify Americans at will (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/world/asia/karzais-bet-vilifying-us.html) and ignore Washington's calls for deep reform of his corrupt and inept government.

The second big idea is that insurgencies seldom end as Americans expect. Americans consider counterinsurgency to be a variant of war and hence expect a clear and decisive victory. More often the government and its security forces become just effective enough to prevent an outright insurgent victory. This lowers the elites’ incentive for deep reform even further. The insurgents then hang on and play for time, undertaking enough violence to remind their enemies and supporters that they are still around and plotting a comeback. This is not hard: Terrorism doesn't require extensive public support — only a handful of fanatics and a modest amount of money. Explosives, arms and information are easy to buy. So the losers of a large-scale insurgency can continue to bomb, raid and assassinate for a very long time.

This pattern of insincere political reform and persistent terrorism is now playing out in Iraq. Afghanistan might some day follow suit. Even if Karzai leaves power when his term of office expires in 2014, whoever follows him will invariably be cut from the same bolt of cloth and know how to use political power to fuel patronage. The faces and names might change, but the system will persist. Those excluded from the gravy train will continue to resist. In a nation with a deep martial tradition, plenty of arms and little memory of peace, resistance will be violent.

A future Afghan government, whether under Karzai, if he finds a way around constitutional barriers to re-election, or a Karzai clone, will probably control Kabul and a few other major cities. Perhaps the government will be able to maintain control of the roads that connect those cities as well as those that connect the country to its neighbors. Government corruption will remain the norm, paralyzing economic development and stoking anger. The regime will turn a blind eye to violent extremists who only target neighboring countries or the president's opponents. It will sustain a quiet working relationship with local drug lords and arms smugglers. It may make a few token reforms if that will keep American aid flowing, but it will not change Afghanistan's political, economic or social structure in any meaningful way. To do so would, from the perspective of the future regime, be stupid, even suicidal. Bombings, raids and assassinations will continue unabated. And American leverage will remain modest at best.

In the broadest sense, this is Iraq now, minus Afghanistan’s drug lords. This is not what Americans who paid a great price to help defeat the Iraqi insurgency hoped for. Sadly, however, today's Iraq is what successful counterinsurgency looks like. Perhaps tomorrow Afghanistan will look the same. This is very far from what Americans wanted but probably the best that can be expected.

Steven Metz is a defense analyst and the author of "Iraq and the Evolution of American Strategy". His weekly WPR column, Strategic Horizons, appears every Wednesday.

http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/12824/strategic-horizons-iraq-today-is-afghanistan-tomorrow (http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/12824/strategic-horizons-iraq-today-is-afghanistan-tomorrow)

Post by: Yak on April 02, 2013, 10:56:57 am
Unfortunately, the rest of the world is also paying for Americas ill advised adventurism.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on April 09, 2013, 12:30:09 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on April 28, 2013, 12:29:14 pm


Our Afghanistan embarrassment

Matt McCarten (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/matt-mccarten/news/headlines.cfm?a_id=284) on politics

HERALD on SUNDAY (http://www.nzherald.co.nz) | 5:30AM - Sunday, April 28, 2013

Official closing ceremony of Kiwi Base in Bamiyan, Afghanistan.
 — Photo: NZ Defence Force.

LAST Sunday morning I was on TVNZ as a Q+A panelist.

One of the guests was Major General Dave Gawn, the head of our army. He was asked, now we are leaving, whether our more than decade-long mission in Afghanistan was a success.

His extended pause was the answer. The best he could come up with was that he hoped the locals would remember our presence fondly after they return to their pre-invasion status. Presumably he wasn't referring to the families of the locals who died in the US-led mission.

Our original mission in invading Afghanistan was to help the US capture Osama bin Laden. On arrival, the western armies overthrew the zealot Taleban rulers and corrupt government made up of brutal warlords nominally headed by a US puppet.

Embarrassingly, after blunders by US politicians, bin Laden and his entourage decamped to Pakistan.

After bin Laden's departure, no one could think of what to do next. In lieu of any strategy, New Zealand was assigned as the occupation force in the Bamiyan province.

As propaganda, our troops built schools and hospitals as our elite SAS and killed Afghan resistance. For political cover we label them al Qaeda, although that group as a force no longer really exists in Afghanistan.

Our evacuation leaves the people of Bamiyan to the rule of the victorious Taleban, who even the most ardent supporters of the invasion acknowledge will play the key role in the post-occupation government.

As admission of our failure, we brought our military's 33 Afghan interpreters and their families to New Zealand. If we had left them behind they would have been arrested and possibly executed for collaborating with the foreign occupation. Hardly the actions of a government that believes we won over the people of Bamiyan.

It's a pity thousands of Afghans and 10 Kiwi soldiers had to die because a delusional bin Laden, a former ally of the US, financed 17 of his fellow Saudis to fly a couple of planes into the Twin Towers.

Afghanistan has parallels with Gallipoli. On Thursday, like many Kiwis, I attended an Anzac ceremony.

We want to believe the sacrifices of our soldiers mean something noble. But at Gallipoli and in Afghanistan we fell over ourselves to invade another country at the behest of a super-power. We killed peasants defending their own country. Wouldn't we defend our country in those circumstances?

Despite our superior troops and armament, we lost.

The answer to the question on whether our Afghanistan mission was a success is simple. It was not.

At Anzac services attendees are solemnly urged to remember the lessons of Gallipoli. Yeah, right.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10880130 (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10880130)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on May 03, 2013, 02:03:03 am


Post by: Yak on May 03, 2013, 08:07:22 am
Matt McCarten is not naïve, but would appear so above.  To my chagrin, [I do try to avoid leftist mantra] I actually agree with the sentiments expressed in the article, but know there are many more counters on the table beyond merely jumping at the command of a superpower.

Apart from both being a disaster, to compare Afghanistan with Gallipoli is facile.  One was a facet of a major world wide conflict, the other an aspect of Americas oil wars.
I suppose both actions were promoted by an incompetent, one the First Lord of the Admiralty who had no grasp of military tactics either then or later once he regained the ability to destroy further Commonwealth soldiers in Greece, Crete and Dieppe - The other in an effort to outdo daddy and boost the fortunes of his oil companies.
[Don't mistake me, Churchill was an amazing mover of men - he just had no ability as a military tactician - but after a few of his disasters, did actually start to heed the advice of his war cabinet]

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 13, 2013, 03:00:00 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Talks on U.S. future in Afghanistan make headway

Karzai and Kerry report progress after their talks on the U.S. role after 2014. But the
issue of immunity for U.S. troops from local prosecution remains a key sticking point.

By PAUL RICHTER and HASHMAT BAKTASH | 7:42PM - Saturday, October 12, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry greets Afghan President Hamid Karzai during their joint news conference after
their talks in Kabul, the Afghan capital. — Photo: Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images/October 12th, 2013.

WASHINGTON — U.S. and Afghan officials claimed progress Saturday in long-running negotiations that will determine whether American forces remain in Afghanistan after next year, but said the key issue of immunity for U.S. troops from local prosecution remained unresolved.

After hours of talks between President Hamid Karzai and Secretary of State John F. Kerry in Kabul, the Afghan leader said the issue of which country would have jurisdiction after 2014 over any crimes committed by U.S. forces would have to be resolved by an assembly of Afghan elders and by his nation's parliament.

"It was a hard discussion," Karzai told reporters at a news conference that had been postponed three times as talks were extended. "Afghanistan had its own vision and interests, and the United States had its own vision and interests."

Kerry said the U.S. could prosecute any crimes committed by American armed forces.

"The one issue that is outstanding is the issue of jurisdiction," Kerry said as he met alongside Karzai with reporters. "We need to say that if the issue of jurisdiction cannot be resolved, unfortunately there cannot be a bilateral security agreement."

U.S. officials have long insisted that their troops around the world be insulated from local prosecution.

U.S. and Afghan officials said they had made progress on other issues and had a draft agreement. They face an end-of-the-month deadline for a long-term security agreement.

Karzai said the draft framework agreement included his demands for the protection of Afghan sovereignty and rules on how military operations are to be carried out on Afghan territory.

"Tonight we reached some sort of agreement," Karzai told reporters. U.S. forces "will no longer conduct operations by themselves. We have been provided written guarantee of the safety of the Afghan people. And a clear definition of ‘invasion’ was provided."

President Obama has long promised there would be at least a small residual U.S. military force in Afghanistan after 2014, and a failure to reach an agreement would be a setback after the 12-year U.S. commitment. The administration failed in its efforts to win Iraq's consent for a residual force there, leading to a U.S. troop withdrawal in December 2011.

Kerry signaled the gravity of the issue by traveling Friday to Afghanistan to meet with Karzai.

The issue of how much autonomy U.S. forces might have after 2014 was punctuated in recent days by the announcement that American troops this month had captured Latif Mehsud, a senior deputy to the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, as he traveled in eastern Afghanistan's Logar province. Afghan intelligence and security officials reportedly were not happy about the U.S. operation, saying that Mehsud was in their custody when he was forcibly taken by U.S. troops.

U.S. authorities have signed previous agreements with Afghanistan that promised close U.S.-Afghan collaboration in fighting terrorism. But Afghan officials contend that U.S. officials have not lived up to the terms.

Karzai has complained bitterly in recent days about perceived American violations of Afghan sovereignty. But Kerry has long experience in dealing with the mercurial Afghan leader, and has been unfazed by his harsh bursts of criticism of U.S. tactics.

Karzai and his weak government are dependent on American military might and cash. But he also needs to deflect the anger of Afghans about the damage and humiliation they believe are often caused by U.S. troop activities.

Also on Saturday, a suicide car bomber in a Toyota Corolla detonated his explosives at the entrance to the main police headquarters in the eastern city of Jalalabad, killing two police officers and two civilians, said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, the governor's spokesman for Nangarhar province. The blast also wounded five police officers and two civilians, he said.

L.A. Times staff writer Richter reported from Washington and special correspondent Baktash from Kabul. L.A. Times staff writer Mark Magnier in New Delhi contributed to this report.

http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-kerry-afghanistan-20131013,0,6537505.story (http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-kerry-afghanistan-20131013,0,6537505.story)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on December 30, 2013, 03:29:21 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

Insurgents could quickly bounce back in Afghanistan, analysis warns

If U.S. troops fully withdraw next year, a resurgent Taliban could launch serious
strikes within months, say officials familiar with a classified assessment.

By DAVID S. CLOUD | 6:38PM PST - Sunday, December 29, 2013

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix/latimes_2013dec29stm_zps801be1d7.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-52c0dc99/turbine/la-1424650-fg-0424-bombhunt-06-cmc-jpg-20131229)
Sergeant Trevor Meysembourg of Weimar, Texas, is part of a route-clearance team working in Kunduz province in April. Security conditions
in Afghanistan probably will worsen regardless of whether the U.S. keeps troops in the country, according to a new, classified assessment
by U.S. intelligence agencies. — Photo: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/April 23rd, 2013.

WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence agencies warn in a new, classified assessment that insurgents could quickly regain control of key areas of Afghanistan and threaten the capital as soon as 2015 if American troops are fully withdrawn next year, according to two officials familiar with the findings.

The National Intelligence Estimate, which was given recently to the White House, has deeply concerned some U.S. officials. It represents the first time the intelligence community has formally warned that the Afghan government could face significantly more serious attacks in Kabul from a resurgent Taliban within months of a U.S. pullout, the officials said, speaking anonymously to discuss classified material.

The assessment also concludes that security conditions probably will worsen regardless of whether the U.S. keeps troops in the country.

"It's very pessimistic about the future, more pessimistic than ever before," said one of the officials.

The new analysis comes as the chief allied commander in Afghanistan, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., has recommended keeping 12,000 troops in the country after next year. In private discussions this month with President Obama and his top advisors, Dunford has proposed that the U.S. keep 8,000 troops in the country and that other countries contribute 4,000, according to one of the officials.

Under Dunford's plan, about one-sixth of the force — around 1,800 to 2,000 special operations troops — would be reserved for counter-terrorism operations, the official said. The rest would support, train and advise Afghan commanders, but would be barred in most cases from participating in combat except for self-defense.

Dunford warned that fewer than 12,000 troops would not be enough to carry out meaningful training of Afghan forces and counter-terrorism operations and still protect the handful of U.S. and international bases that would remain. If forced to go below 12,000, Dunford told White House advisors, he would favor withdrawing virtually all U.S. troops and keeping only a token force of several hundred, the official said.

The general's recommendation and the intelligence assessment frame a sharp debate within the Obama administration over whether the U.S. should keep some troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

The administration has sought to do so, but that course has become more uncertain in recent months as Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign an agreement that the two sides negotiated authorizing a continued troop presence.

Some White House officials have argued that the administration should be willing to accept the so-called zero option of withdrawing all troops at the end of 2014. Those favoring full withdrawal appear to have been bolstered by the intelligence assessment's conclusion that security gains achieved since 2010 in the south and east of the country are likely to significantly erode in the next three years even if the U.S. and its allies maintain a modest troop presence.

But Susan Rice, Obama's national security advisor, is said to be leaning toward Dunford's plan.

The intelligence estimate, the findings of which were first disclosed by the Washington Post, reflects a consensus view of all 16 intelligence agencies.

Along with its other findings, the assessment warns that the U.S. ability to carry out drone strikes and other counter-terrorism operations against the remnants of Al Qaeda and other militant groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan will probably become more constrained as political opposition to such operations grows in both countries, the officials said.

In response to questions, an administration spokesperson, who insisted on anonymity, said Obama "has not yet made any decisions about troop numbers, nor will he" without a signed agreement with Afghanistan permitting troops to remain after 2014.

"We will be weighing inputs from our military commanders, as well as the intelligence community, our diplomats and development experts as we make decisions on our post-2014 presence," the official said.

Dunford did not submit a formal dissent to the intelligence assessment, a step several of his predecessors have taken in response to past intelligence reports they regarded as overly pessimistic about Afghanistan's future, another official said.

Pentagon officials said the CIA and other intelligence agencies have long underestimated the Afghan army and police. Despite still-severe shortcomings, the Afghans have fought aggressively in some parts of the country over the last year as the U.S. has pulled back from an active combat role, they said.

Dunford's plan calls for locating most of the 8,000 U.S. troops who would remain in Afghanistan at Bagram air base, which is north of Kabul, and at Kandahar air base in the south. A small contingent would be based around Kabul, to help train Afghan forces.

Troops from other countries would be located near Mazar-i-Sharif in the north and Herat in the west, one of the officials said.

Col. David Lapan, Dunford's spokesman in Kabul, said the general had no comment on the troop plan. Spokespeople for the director of national intelligence, who coordinates intelligence estimates, and the Central Intelligence Agency declined to comment.

Despite severe losses and morale problems in local units, the Taliban remains a potent force. In part, that stems from the fact that large numbers of Taliban fighters and leaders, many of them based in Pakistan, do not feel they have been decisively defeated, the intelligence assessment concluded, according to the two officials.

The Afghan government could still withstand the insurgency, said one of the officials, noting that with elections to replace Karzai scheduled for spring there probably will be a "recalibration" of the country's politics.

Keeping U.S. troops for several more years would give Afghan officials more confidence that they were not being abandoned, in addition to enabling more training and advising of Afghan commanders, supporters of that option say.

But opponents of keeping troops argue that Afghanistan's stability has become less of a concern to the U.S., because it is no longer as important a sanctuary for terrorist groups who seek to attack U.S. targets.

If Karzai refuses to sign the troop agreement, those officials insist that it is unlikely his successor will agree to do so, since signing would be seen by many Afghans as an embarrassing compromise of sovereignty.

Related news stories:

 • U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan attacked; no casualties reported (http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-us-embassy-afghanistan-attacked-20131225,0,893318.story)

 • From MRAP to scrap: U.S. military chops up $1-million vehicles (http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-afghanistan-armor-20131227,0,5362453.story)

 • Afghanistan: Three NATO troops dead in Kabul suicide attack (http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-afghanistan-three-nato-troops-dead-kabul-suicide-20131227,0,2057316.story)

http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-us-afghanistan-20131230,0,2259163.story (http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-us-afghanistan-20131230,0,2259163.story)

Post by: Yak on December 30, 2013, 04:52:05 pm
If U.S. troops fully withdraw next year, a resurgent Taliban could launch serious
strikes within months, say officials familiar with a classified assessment.

I don't know of anyone who has any knowledge of what has gone down in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, that doesn't expect the Taliban to resume business as usual within days - if not hours - of the last American invader leaving the country.
Within a decade, America has turned the middle east into a seething hotbed of anti western hatred and a haven for terrorism and terrorists.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on February 14, 2014, 04:54:13 pm

From the Los Angeles Times....

U.S. says freed Afghan prisoners are a threat to civilians, troops

Afghanistan releases 65 prisoners whom the U.S. linked
to attacks on coalition forces and Afghan civilians.

By HASHMAT BAKTASH and SHASHANK BENGALI | 4:42PM PST - Thursday, February 13, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_2014feb13afg_zps61d8d09f.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-52fd6672/turbine/la-apphoto-afghanistan-jpg-20140213)
Afghan soldiers stand guard near the main gate of the Parwan prison on the outskirts of Bagram. The government released 65 inmates from the prison,
saying there was insufficient evidence to prosecute them. — Photo: Massoud Hossaini/Associated Press.

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — Over strong U.S. objections, Afghanistan on Thursday released 65 prisoners it has said it cannot prosecute despite American warnings that they could return to attacking coalition forces and civilians.

The U.S. military had expected the move and denounced it in a series of news releases in recent weeks. But the Afghan government maintained that there was insufficient evidence to try the prisoners or continue to hold them at the formerly U.S.-run detention facility at Bagram, north of Kabul.

The dispute has further inflamed tension between the United States and Afghanistan in the final year of the U.S.-led military intervention. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has angered U.S. officials by refusing to sign a security agreement that would allow a few thousand American troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014, has sharply criticized the prison at Bagram, likening it to a "factory" for creating Taliban insurgents.

The 65 prisoners, released to their homes, are directly linked to attacks that have killed or maimed dozens of coalition soldiers and Afghan civilians, the U.S. military alleges. They are among 88 prisoners at Bagram who the U.S. military had contended shouldn't be released.

The government-owned RTA television channel showed the detainees after their release, wearing traditional clothes and white hats. One unnamed former prisoner said they were treated well by their Afghan army jailers. "We didn't have problems with the ANA [Afghan National Army]. We don't have problems with them now and we will not have any in the future," he said.

The dispute over their release has simmered since early last year, when the United States turned over the prison to Afghan control as part of its plan to withdraw forces from Afghanistan. The U.S. argument, experts say, is that by letting the prisoners go free, Afghanistan is violating agreements it made to hold inmates deemed to be security threats in "continued detention under Afghan law."

"The release of these dangerous individuals poses a threat to U.S., coalition and Afghan National Security Forces, as well as the Afghan population," the U.S. military said in a statement Thursday. "Insurgents in the group released today have killed coalition and Afghan forces."

The U.S. military even took the rare step of publicly releasing information about some of the prisoners, citing biometric data and explosives residue tests as indications that they were linked to the insurgency.

One former detainee, Mohammad Wali, captured by coalition forces in Helmand province in May, was described by U.S. military officials as "a suspected Taliban explosives expert" who placed roadside bombs targeting Afghan and coalition forces. Another, Nek Mohammad, allegedly participated in rocket attacks against pro-government forces and was found to be possessing artillery shells, mortar rounds and at least 25 pounds of homemade explosives.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen backed the U.S. position, saying the decision "appears to have been made based on political calculations and without regard for due process before the Afghan courts."

Afghan officials said they carefully reviewed the evidence and leads supplied by the United States but judged them to be insufficient to prosecute the men.

"The U.S. may be right — in part — in claiming the Afghan government has violated the agreement" governing the transfer of control of Bagram, Kate Clark, an expert with the Kabul-based Afghanistan Analysts Network, wrote in a commentary. "Yet this bitter dispute also shows just how weak the Americans have become in the face of the Afghan state's assertion of sovereignty."

Special correspondent Hashmat Baktash reported from Kabul and Los Angeles Times staff writer Shashank Bengali from Mumbai, India.

http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-afghanistan-prisoners-20140214,0,6051268.story (http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-afghanistan-prisoners-20140214,0,6051268.story)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on February 21, 2014, 11:55:44 pm


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 23, 2014, 06:22:41 pm

from the Los Angeles Times....

Execution of 5 Afghans in gang rape stirs questions

By ALI M. LATIFI - reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan | 2:54PM PDT - Wednesday, October 08, 2014

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/LA%20Times%20News%20Pix%202014/latimes_20141008nooses_zps078d4cff.jpg) (http://www.trbimg.com/img-543528ea/turbine/la-fg-afghanistan-rape-execution-20141008)
Nooses hang at Afghanistan's Pul-e-Charkhi prison, where five men were executed on October 8th for the gang rape of four women.
 — Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images.

THE Afghan government on Wednesday executed five men accused of the gang rape of four women traveling home from a wedding in August, a case that generated national outrage.

The execution by hanging came after weeks of public outcry, with Afghans calling for the death penalty for the 10 men originally accused of robbing the group of travelers and raping the women, who were returning from a wedding in Paghman, a lake district 20 minutes from Kabul, the capital.

Seven of the men, arrested less than a week after the August 23rd attack, were convicted and sentenced to death. But a September 7th appeal reduced the sentences for two of them to up to 20 years in prison. Three suspects remain at large.

Then-President Hamid Karzai approved and signed the execution order last month on his last day in office, a rare such authorization in his more than decade-long tenure, the Associated Press reported.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times after the initial convictions, Saeeq Shajjan, a Kabul-based lawyer, called the case “one of those rare instances that has brought people from all walks of life together.”

“Ordinary Afghans, civil society, politicians, senior leadership of the government, including the presidential palace, and jihadi leaders have all condemned this evil act,” he said.

Others, however, questioned the judicial procedure that led to the executions.

Shortly after Kabul Police Chief General Zahir Zahir confirmed the deaths at Pul-e-Charkhi prison outside Kabul, Amnesty International issued a statement saying the “execution of five men in Afghanistan who had been convicted of a gang rape following a series of flawed trials is an affront to justice.”

Shajjan said that though he commended the police for quick action in arresting the seven accused, the judiciary’s willingness to disclose information to journalists, including the identities of the accused, was in contravention of Afghan law.

Along with rape, the accused were tried on charges of impersonating police officers and armed robbery, Shajjan said. This may have added to the pressure on Karzai’s government to act swiftly, the lawyer said.

Still, he said, “this does not mean rights guaranteed for the accused under the constitution and other laws of Afghanistan should be violated.... Protecting all rights of the accused does not mean that there should be any leniency toward the accused.”

Wazhma Frogh, a women’s rights activist based in Kabul, said in a recent interview that although a swift response is warranted, it has little effect on the implementation of a law designed to eliminate violence against women, approved by presidential decree in 2009.

“We still have so many cases of rape pending in the court, and they won't see the same level of reaction nor judicial response,” Frogh said.

Khalil Sherzad, originally from the eastern province of Nangarhar, said the hangings put the minds of many Afghans at ease.

“I am happy. They actually should have been stoned to death, but this is still sufficient,” Sherzad said.

But Omaid Sharifi, a civil society activist based in Kabul who opposes capital punishment, said the accused “should have been imprisoned for life.... Keeping them in prison will force them to sit with their thoughts and truly realize that they have done something wrong.”

Ali M. Latifi is a special Los Angeles Times correspondent.

http://www.latimes.com/world/afghanistan-pakistan/la-fg-afghanistan-rape-execution-20141008-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/world/afghanistan-pakistan/la-fg-afghanistan-rape-execution-20141008-story.html)

Post by: reality on October 23, 2014, 08:21:21 pm
well said..good idea ;)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 04, 2015, 12:21:06 pm

I see the Americans are at it again....indulging in war-crimes in Afghanistan.

Adding to their long history of bombing wedding parties, they have now used an AC-130 gunship Hercules to shoot-up a Doctors Without Borders trauma hospital, killing heaps of kids in the process (have the Americans learnt the Israeli practice of killing kids when they go to war?). Definitely a WAR CRIME!

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 04, 2015, 12:21:22 pm

from The Washington Post....

Doctors Without Borders says U.S. airstrike
hit hospital in Afghanistan; at least 19 dead

By TIM CRAIG | 2:47PM - Saturday, October 03, 2015

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151003_DoctorsWithoutBordersHospitalKunduz_zpsobbwgwi4.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rw/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/10/03/Foreign/Images/Del6449086-6610.jpg)
An airstrike damaged much of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz. — Photograph: Msf/AFP/Getty Images.

CLICK HERE (http://www.washingtonpost.com/video/world/possible-us-airstrike-hits-doctors-without-borders-hospital/2015/10/03/83e4975a-69d7-11e5-bdb6-6861f4521205_video.html) to view a video showing images of the aftermath of the airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders trauma hospital.

KABUL — U.S. forces may have mistakenly bombed a hospital in northern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least 19 people, including three children, in an incident that will likely raise new questions about the scope of American involvement in the country's 14-year war.

In a statement, Doctors Without Borders (http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org) said an airstrike “partially destroyed” its trauma hospital in Kunduz, where the Afghan military has been trying to drive Taliban fighters from the city.

The airstrike killed at least 12 Doctors Without Borders staff members, the group said. Three children were also reportedly killed. At least 37 other people were seriously injured, including 19 staff members and 18 patients and caretakers. Officials warned the death toll could rise as dozens of people remain unaccounted for.

“This attack is abhorrent and a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law,” Meinie Nicolai, the group's president, said in a statement.

Nicolai called for an independent investigation into the incident: “We demand total transparency from Coalition forces. We cannot accept that this horrific loss of life will simply be dismissed as ‘collateral damage’.”

The United Nations' top human rights official also called for an independent investigation, while equating the airstrike on the hospital to a war crime.

“This event is utterly tragic, inexcusable, and possibly even criminal,” Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.

“This deeply shocking event should be promptly, thoroughly and independently investigated and the results should be made public,” he said. “The seriousness of the incident is underlined by the fact that, if established as deliberate in a court of law, an airstrike on a hospital may amount to a war crime.”

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter issued a statement saying: “While we are still trying to determine exactly what happened, I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to everyone affected. A full investigation into the tragic incident is underway in coordination with the Afghan government.”

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151003graphic_KunduzTraumaCentreGraphic_zpsaxruygep.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/10/03/Foreign/Graphics/promo-Afghan1004-kunduz.jpg)

Doctors Without Borders said its facility came under attack beginning at 2:08 a.m. It was hit by a series of aerial bombardments, lasting until 3:15 a.m. The main central hospital building, housing the intensive care unit, emergency rooms, and physiotherapy ward, was repeatedly hit very precisely during each aerial raid, the group says, while surrounding buildings were left mostly untouched.

The bombing forced the surviving staff to set up a makeshift operating room in the undamaged section of the facility, but seriously wounded patients had to be sent to the nearest hospital, two hours drive away.

“Besides resulting in the deaths of our colleagues and patients, this attack has cut off access to urgent trauma care for the population in Kunduz at a time when its services are most needed,” Nicolai said in the statement.

Military officials in Afghanistan confirmed that there was an airstrike, saying it was targeted at insurgents firing on U.S. service members assisting Afghan Security Forces.

“I am aware of an incident that occurred at a Doctors without Borders hospital in Kunduz city today,” said General John F. Campbell, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. “I have spoken with [Afghanistan] President Ghani regarding today's events. While we work to thoroughly examine the incident and determine what happened, my thoughts and prayers are with those affected.”

Over the past week, U.S. military jets have conducted numerous airstrikes in Kunduz after the Taliban overwhelmed Afghan security forces on Monday. American Special Operations troops and on-the-ground military advisers from the NATO coalition also have been assisting Afghan forces.

Kunduz resident Mirza Langhmani has counted 30 to 35 airstrikes in the area over the past five days. U.S. forces conducted 12 of them, including the one suspected of striking the hospital on Saturday, a coalition spokesman said. Afghan forces are also carrying out strikes.

A U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity to speak freely, said U.S. special forces soldiers were on the ground advising Afghan special forces. The official said that the U.S. troops detected incoming fire from the Taliban, so an AC-130 gunship was authorized to return fire, at an area that was apparently close to the hospital.

The official said a high-ranking officer is on the way to lead the investigation.

The AC-130 gunship, commonly known as the Spectre, is a favorite of special operation forces. It has an ability to stay above a target for long amounts of time and carries a number of weapons, including a 105mm cannon that is specially mounted to be fired from the air.

As well as a large number of weapons, the gunship has infrared sensors that allows it to see targets at night. Because of its size, low-altitude flight pattern and vulnerability to ground fire, AC-130s rarely fly air support during daylight hours.

The Doctors Without Borders facility was the only functional hospital in that part of Afghanistan. The organization posted photographs on Twitter (https://twitter.com/MSF_USA) showing part of the hospital was engulfed in flames shortly after the attack.

As the Afghan army battled Taliban fighters in the streets of Kunduz this week, the hospital has been struggling to treat hundreds of patients. At the time of Saturday's airstrike, 105 patients and more than 80 doctors and nurses were inside the hospital, according to Doctors Without Borders.

In recent days, Doctors Without Borders issued frequent updates to the media detailing the strain of trying to cope with the influx of patients. The hospital was also reportedly running low on supplies.

Officials with the relief group repeatedly informed the U.S.-led coalition of the hospital's precise GPS coordinates over the past few months, hospital officials said. The location of the hospital was last conveyed to the international coalition three days ago, officials added.

Once the airstrike began Saturday, hospital officials immediately reached out to U.S. military officials in Kabul and Washington, according to Jason Cone, executive director of Doctors Without Borders in the United States.

“The bombing continued for more than 30 minutes after American and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed,” the organization said in a statement.

On Saturday morning, the Taliban accused the U.S.-led coalition of “savagery” and a “barbaric act”.

The International Red Cross also condemned the bombing.

“This is an appalling tragedy,” said Jean-Nicolas Marti, director of Red Cross operations in Afghanistan. “Such attacks against health workers and facilities undermine the capacity of humanitarians to assist the Afghan people.”

In a separate statement, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said it “mourns for the individuals and families affected by the tragic incident.”

“Doctors Without Borders performs terrific work throughout the world, including Afghanistan, and our thoughts and prayers are with their team at this difficult moment,” the embassy said. “We remain deeply concerned about the ongoing violence in Kunduz and the difficult humanitarian situation faced by its residents.”

On Saturday morning, Doctors Without Borders circulated photographs showing the aftermath of the bombing. In one photo, a health-care worker in blood-stained scrubs huddled in a corner with another man. Another photograph showed doctors and nurses operating on a patient in an undamaged section of the hospital.

Hospital officials are trying to evacuate critically wounded patients to another facility two hours away, a risky undertaking  as fierce fighting continues across swaths  of northeastern Afghanistan.

Doctors Without Borders was one the last remaining international relief organizations in Kunduz. The United Nations and several other relief groups evacuated their staffers on Monday as the Taliban advanced into the city.

Concerns about civilian casualties in Kunduz, Afghanistan's sixth largest city, have been mounting all week.

Abdul Qahar Aram, spokesman for the Afghan Army's 209th Corps in northern Afghanistan, on Saturday said Taliban fighters are now hiding in “people's houses, mosques and hospitals using civilians as human shields.”

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday said those concerns were one reason Afghan security forces were being cautious in their efforts to retake the city.

Afghan soldiers were battling militants near the Doctors Without Borders hospital when Saturday's airstrike took place, said Laghmani.

“The Taliban are taking and evacuating their wounded fighters to the hospital for treatment,” said Laghmani, who said the militant group still controls most of the city. “It was the only advanced hospital, and it was operating under good, foreign leadership.”

Sultan Arab, a local police commander in Kunduz, said the hospital came under an airstrike, “because the Taliban had shifted their command center inside the hospital.”

In a statement, the Taliban denied any of its fighters were at the hospital at the time of the airstrike.

A Doctors Without Borders spokeswoman declined to comment on the allegations, but noted the organization “treats every patient irrespective of whether they are military or civilian.” In 1999, the organization was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for its work.

Langhmani said Kunduz faces a deepening humanitarian crisis.

“The dead bodies are lying on the streets, both the Taliban and also civilians, and no one is allowed to pick up the bodies,” Langhmani said. “There is also an electricity shortage, a water shortage plus a bread shortage.”

Over the past decade, U.S. airstrikes have been controversial in Afghanistan because of the risk of civilian causalities and so-called friendly fire incidents.

During his final years in office, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai repeatedly accused the United States military of being reckless in how it carried out airstrikes. After Ghani replaced Karzai last year, relations between the Afghan government and coalition officials improved dramatically.

But in July, a coalition airstrike killed 10 Afghan soldiers, local officials said. Last month, Afghan officials accused the international coalition of killing 11 counter-narcotic officers during an airstrike in Helmand Province.

Coalition officials initially denied involvement. But they issued another statement a day later retracting that denial, saying the matter was now under investigation.

A Kunduz official wants the air campaign to continue despite local residents' anger about the strike that damaged the hospital.

“I believe it is impossible to push back the Taliban from the city without airstrikes,” local police commander Sultan Arab said. “Airstrikes have been so efficient in Kunduz.”

Langhmani said he and many other Kunduz residents also still want the U.S. military’s help against the Taliban.

“But we want precise airstrikes,” Langhmani said. “If there is another like the one that at (the hospital), the people might rise up against both the government and the Taliban.”

Mohammad Sharif in Kabul, and Missy Ryan and Thomas Gibbons-Neff in Washington contributed to this report.

• Tim Craig is The Washington Post's bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.


Related stories:

 • Afghans who once watched war from afar forced to flee as front lines shift (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/number-of-afghans-forced-from-home-soars-to-highest-level-since-taliban-era/2015/07/13/816fd27e-19d1-11e5-bed8-1093ee58dad0_story.html)

 • U.S. troops dispatched to Kunduz to help Afghan forces (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/us-troops-dispatched-to-kunduz-to-help-afghan-forces/2015/09/30/ea7768f2-66e5-11e5-9223-70cb36460919_story.html)

 • In Taliban-held Kunduz, echoes of a 1988 guerrilla assault after the Soviets withdrew (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/09/30/in-taliban-held-kunduz-echoes-of-a-1988-guerilla-assault-after-the-soviets-withdrew)

 • Doctors, aid workers fight Ebola in West Africa, then fear of disease in U.S. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/doctors-aid-workers-fight-ebola-in-west-africa-then-fear-of-disease-in-us/2014/10/24/f6999aae-5a4f-11e4-b812-38518ae74c67_story.html)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/doctors-without-borders-airstrike-hits-afghan-hospital-killing-3-staffers/2015/10/03/2ed13104-b50a-48ec-9eb9-92db8ee3a876_story.html (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/doctors-without-borders-airstrike-hits-afghan-hospital-killing-3-staffers/2015/10/03/2ed13104-b50a-48ec-9eb9-92db8ee3a876_story.html)

Post by: reality on October 04, 2015, 02:32:51 pm
collateral damage is always most unfortunate...but in the fight against terrorists will happen from time to time..its inevitable  :-[

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 04, 2015, 02:47:39 pm

Ah, yes....I just knew the despicable maggot would post in this thread making excuses for killing kids.

How did I know? 'Cause the maggot has a history of making up excuses for the Israelis killing kids in Gaza.

So making excuses for the 'merkins killing kids in Afghanistan is simply “business as usual” for the maggot.

Has CYPFs ever evaluated your suitability to be allowed to have contact with kids, maggot?

Post by: reality on October 04, 2015, 03:56:21 pm
Oh really...you concerned about kids being killed now....I think 5 or 6 babies have been murdered in NZ this year...ain't seen a lot of helpful ideas from you about it😦..
...funny how you get concerned only when it's Americans involved.....don't see any concern from you when it's Assad murdering his own people or ISIS MURDERING WHOLE COMMUNITIES..



Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 06, 2015, 02:53:32 pm

from The Washington Post....

U.S. military struggles to explain how it wound up
bombing Doctors Without Borders hospital

By THOMAS GIBBONS-NEFF | 6:38PM - Monday, October 05, 2015

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/Washington%20Post%20Pix%202015/20151005dwbh_KunduzHospital_zpsficpd1bv.jpg) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/Wires/Online/2015-10-04/AP/Images/Afghanistan-0c49f.jpg)
The Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen in flames, after explosions in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, on Saturday, October 3rd, 2015.
Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 22,
including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. In a statement,
the international charity said the “sustained aerial attack” took place at 2:10 a.m. (21:40 GMT). Afghan forces backed by U.S.
airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz on Monday.
 — Photograph: Médecins Sans Frontières via Associated Press.

A HEAVILY-ARMED U.S. GUNSHIP designed to provide added firepower to special operations forces was responsible for shooting and killing 22 people at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan over the weekend, Pentagon officials said on Monday.

The attack occurred (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/doctors-without-borders-airstrike-hits-afghan-hospital-killing-3-staffers/2015/10/03/2ed13104-b50a-48ec-9eb9-92db8ee3a876_story.html) in the middle of the night on Saturday, when Afghan troops—together with a U.S. special forces team training and advising them—were on the ground near the hospital in Kunduz, the first major Afghan city to fall to the Taliban since the war began in 2001. The top U.S. general in Afghanistan said on Monday the airstrike was requested by Afghan troops who had come under fire, contradicting earlier statements from Pentagon officials that the strike was ordered to protect U.S. forces on the ground.

The new details of the attack, and the continuing dispute over what exactly happened, heightened the controversy over the strike. In the two days since the incident, U.S. officials have struggled to explain how a U.S. aircraft wound up attacking a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders. On Monday, the medical humanitarian group said the United States was squarely responsible.

“The reality is the U.S. dropped those bombs,” Doctors Without Borders' general director Christopher Stokes said in a statement. “With such constant discrepancies in the U.S. and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical.”

The weekend's disastrous airstrike reinforces doubts about how effectively a limited U.S. force in Afghanistan can work with Afghan troops to repel the Taliban, which has been newly emboldened as the United States draws down its presence.

The strike also comes as the Obama administration is currently weighing (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-considering-plan-to-leave-significant-force-in-afghanistan/2015/10/05/16842a9c-6b56-11e5-b31c-d80d62b53e28_story.html) whether to keep as many as 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2015, according to senior officials. Obama has not made a final decision on the proposal, but the recent advances by the Taliban have certainly complicated the president's calculus.

Campbell told reporters on Monday at a press conference that Afghan forces “advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from U.S. forces.” Campbell made it clear that this differed from initial reports that said U.S. forces were under attack and called in the airstrikes for their defense.

Campbell's remarks differed from two previous comments, including one made by Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter on Sunday that said U.S. forces were under attack.

“At some point in the course of the events there [they] did report that they, themselves, were coming under attack. That much I think we can safely say,” Carter told reporters on Sunday.

Abdul Qahar Aram, spokesman for Afghan army's 209th Corps in northern Afghanistan, said he could not comment on the specifics of Saturday's hospital bombing. But Aram said there was a “strong possibility” that Afghan forces had requested it.

A spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had no immediate comment to Campbell's comment.

One aspect of the strike that remained unclear Monday was the exact role played by U.S. forces accompanying the Afghans that night.

After Kunduz became overrun with Taliban fighters late last month, American special operations forces were ferried in to shore up Afghan forces that were making little ground in the fight to retake the populated city-center. Together, the U.S. and Afghan forces have been able to retake nearly all of the city.

These “train, advise and assist” missions are a staple of U.S. special forces capabilities and have been conducted extensively in recent years. In combat situations, rather than return fire, U.S. troops on these missions are more likely to help direct communication, casualty evacuation and direct air support from an AC-130, for instance, if it's available.

As a result, there has been little direct contact between U.S. troops and the Taliban since most U.S. forces have been relegated to the sidelines with official combat operations over last year.

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/Washington%20Post%20Pix%202015/20151005gs_AC130_zpsn4esshka.jpg) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2011/03/28/Foreign/Images/AP040427014473.jpg)
An AC-130 gunship is shown in this undated photo provided by the U.S. Air Force. — Photograph: via Associated Press.

The aircraft that carried out the weekend attack was an AC-130 gunship, according to Army General John Campbell, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan. Unlike jets, the AC-130 is a unique aircraft dedicated almost entirely to supporting special operations forces.

In order to make sure targeting and communication from the ground to the aircraft is as seamless as possible, every AC-130 flies with a liaison officer that has spent time as a special forces soldier on the ground.

While most jets streak across a target, moving quickly while dropping either bombs or firing fixed weapons like cannons or machine guns, the AC-130 essentially loiters over a target at around 7,000 feet. It then flies overhead in a circle and fires from weapon ports mounted on the aircraft's left side.

Unlike other military fixed-wing aircraft, an AC-130 is requested differently. While a jet requires a map coordinate to engage its target, the AC-130 relies on direction (a compass heading) and a distance to the enemy target from the friendly forces engaged on the ground. In short, it relies on visual targeting.

This difference might explain why the hospital was targeted even though Doctors Without Borders said it had given U.S. and Afghan forces its map coordinates before.

“It's a visual acuity aircraft,” said a U.S. close-air support pilot who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of his active duty status. “An AC-130 finds the friendly force then fires over their left or right shoulder.”

The pilot went on to add that an AC-130 does not enter enemy airspace and look for targets. It specifically has to be guided on to the target by a force on the ground and will fire only after identifying friendly and enemy forces, he said.

The aircraft, because of its large profile and the fact that it operates at low altitude, only flies close air support missions at night. Since it only works in the dark, the crew of roughly a dozen uses a number of infrared sensors and night vision devices to see and engage targets on the ground.

According to Pentagon Spokeswoman Navy Commander Elissa Smith, there have been 12 U.S. airstrikes around the city of Kunduz since September 29th. The airstrike on the Doctors without Borders hospital was the second strike within the city.

It now ranks among one of the most high-profile U.S. strikes to result in civilian casualties in Afghanistan. In July 2002, a U.S. AC-130 fired on a wedding party, killing more than 40 and injuring more than 100 people in northern Helmand Province.

Since the attack, Doctors Without Borders has left Kunduz.

Tim Craig contributed to this report from Kabul.

• Thomas Gibbons-Neff is a staff writer at The Washington Post and a former Marine infantryman.


Read more on this topic:

 • Doctors Without Borders leaves Afghan city after airstrike (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/doctors-without-borders-19-dead-in-afghan-clinic-airstrike/2015/10/03/e43a168e-6a31-11e5-bdb6-6861f4521205_story.html)

 • Afghan response to hospital bombing is muted, even sympathetic (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/afghan-official-hospital-in-airstrike-was-a-taliban-base/2015/10/04/8638af58-6a47-11e5-bdb6-6861f4521205_story.html)

 • Afghans who once watched war from afar forced to flee as front lines shift (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/number-of-afghans-forced-from-home-soars-to-highest-level-since-taliban-era/2015/07/13/816fd27e-19d1-11e5-bed8-1093ee58dad0_story.html)

 • U.S. troops dispatched to Kunduz to help Afghan forces (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/us-troops-dispatched-to-kunduz-to-help-afghan-forces/2015/09/30/ea7768f2-66e5-11e5-9223-70cb36460919_story.html)

 • Afghan forces undertake bid to regain key city seized by Taliban (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/us-military-launches-airstrike-on-kunduz-after-taliban-assault-on-key-city/2015/09/29/6cc68d0c-6627-11e5-bdb6-6861f4521205_story.html)

 • The bloody history of Kunduz, from Afghanistan's ‘Convoy of Death’ to now (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/09/28/the-bloody-history-of-kunduz-from-afghanistans-convoy-of-death-to-now)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/10/05/afghan-forces-requested-airstrike-that-hit-hospital-in-kunduz (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/10/05/afghan-forces-requested-airstrike-that-hit-hospital-in-kunduz)

Post by: reality on October 06, 2015, 04:13:06 pm
The results of the investigation will be interesting...cant really form an opinion until the FACTS come in ;)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 06, 2015, 04:59:00 pm

MAGGOT....the facts are simple.

The Americans spent a whole hour shooting up a hospital with multi-barrel 50mm fully-automatic cannons, killing heaps of doctors and kids in the process.

The Americans have even admitted it was them who shot-up the hospital.

Is there anything more intelligent than the equivalent of dog shit inside your head?

Post by: Yak on October 06, 2015, 05:07:55 pm
The results of the investigation will be interesting...cant really form an opinion until the FACTS come in ;)
I don't think they'll see the light of day.

I recall Spooky - a Dakota with 3 mini guns and I think, later an added 20mm cannon - these were manually operated and they eventually led to the Spectre, or AC130 which is an entirely different kettle of fish.
The gunfire from the Spectre is computer controlled.  It is said that a Spectre can place one round in every square inch of a football field without going outside the goal and sidelines.  Every target is designated and entered into the computer via cursor on an active map or plan of the area.  The hospital would have to have been deliberately targeted,  This isn't to say that faulty Intel wasn't provided, but it could not have been accidently engaged

Post by: reality on October 06, 2015, 05:58:25 pm
..mm..interesting..I have heard a report that said it was the Afghan military who called in the bombing

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 06, 2015, 06:30:32 pm
..mm..interesting..I have heard a report that said it was the Afghan military who called in the bombing

That's not what the Pentagon originally said.

Then they changed their story.

Then they changed their story again.

Notice how the 'merkins always resort to bullshit whenever they get caught out killing innocent people?

Post by: reality on October 06, 2015, 06:52:29 pm
yaaawwwnnn.....The results of the investigation will be interesting...cant really form an opinion until the FACTS come in

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 06, 2015, 07:14:32 pm

Errrrrrr.....read the second Washington Post article.

The 'merkins have admitted it was their armed forces who shot-up the hospital.

Although they've changed their story....twice....over who called in the air strike.

I guess their first lot of bullshit wasn't good enough, so they came back with some more creative bullshit, then when they got caught out with that, they came back with a third lot of creative bullshit.

What facts do you need? The 'merkins have admitted they did it....end of story.


Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 06, 2015, 09:13:44 pm

(http://i365.photobucket.com/albums/oo92/RasputinDude/Cartoons%202015/20151007_Kunduz_zps6rj0qspg.jpg) (http://static1.squarespace.com/static/52aca146e4b06d986ca82df3/52c0ec1ce4b0f4346e9358a5/561374a2e4b0ef382da8f95f/1444115640034/kunduzW.jpg)

Post by: reality on October 07, 2015, 06:22:54 am
yup..of course the Americans did the bombing...there was a question of who called for the bombing..

..look forward to the results of the investigation ::)

..but ...regardless...we all know that in a war on terror...there will be mistakes...it's an occupational hazard :o

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 07, 2015, 11:00:38 am
yup..of course the Americans did the bombing...there was a question of who called for the bombing..

Dumbshit....(http://i703.photobucket.com/albums/ww32/XtraNewsCommunity2/Animated%20emoticons/19_HammerHead.gif)....explain how you can carry out a bombing with 50mm multi-barrel cannons.

'cause that is the weapons AC-130 gunships are equipped with.

And as for the results of an investigation....the 'merkins have now changed their story FOUR TIMES. That's right....every time they get caught out trying to explain their murder of doctors and kids with spin and bullshit, they change their story to yet more spin and bullshit.

from The Guardian....

Doctors Without Borders airstrike: US alters story for fourth time in four days (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/06/doctors-without-borders-airstrike-afghanistan-us-account-changes-again)

Post by: reality on October 07, 2015, 04:27:55 pm
I dont think it is helpful to jump to conclusions before  investigations are carried out...  ::)

..it's like saying something really stupid.....like..England is going to win the rugby world cup...now you may think that it is impossible for someone to be so stupid..but ...hey ..they are actually out there..mainly in the Musturbaturtun area ;D

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 07, 2015, 06:37:26 pm

Too stupid to explain how 50mm multi-barrel cannons can or cannot drop bombs?

I guess that PROVES that you are full-of-shit, eh?

Just like those American “doctor & kid murderers” who have so far changed their story FOUR TIMES.

Post by: reality on October 07, 2015, 06:41:55 pm
..and you also said that England was going to be in the final of the world cup...how is the prediction going? ;)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 07, 2015, 07:05:16 pm

That's alright....I'll continue to wind you up with whoever is left in the competition....be it France....or even Australia.

(Hey....if the final is NZ vs Australia, I'll probably barrack for Australia just to wind you up.)

And you still continue to display your stupidity be NOT explaining how multi-barrel 50mm cannons can BOMB a hospital.

Post by: reality on October 07, 2015, 07:10:52 pm
kj..."..be it France.."

..yes .. you support the terrorist Rainbow Warrior  bombers..as always ::)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 07, 2015, 07:26:09 pm

I'll support whoever will piss off you (and John Key) the most if they beat the All Blacks.

It'd be hilariously funny watching John Key ditching the “All Blacks brand” like a hot potato and fleeing back to ENZED if the All Blacks lose.

You see, that is how SHALLOW John Key is....as soon as somebody loses, they suddenly aren't his friend any more.

It would almost be worthwhile seeing the All Blacks lose just so John Key displays his TRUE colours when he buggers-off quick-smart.

Post by: reality on October 07, 2015, 07:36:08 pm
....are you talking about the same John Key who has been on a trip to Iraq to visit our kiwi troops ?..yup..John Key..living on the edge.....

......some members here claim to "live on the edge",,but they are just try-hards compared to the best PM in the world :P

kj..."It would almost be worthwhile seeing the All Blacks lose just so John Key displays his.."

..dare you to go down to the local and sat that :P

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 12, 2015, 12:30:05 pm

from The Washington Post....

By evening, a hospital. By morning, a war zone.

By TIM CRAIG, MISSY RYAN and THOMAS GIBBONS-NEFF | 9:52PM - Saturday, October 10, 2015

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151010a_DoctorsWithoutBorders_zpszuugarhc.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/10/10/National-Security/Images/TS-Del6449087.jpg)
Medical personnel treat the injured on October 3rd following an attack by a U.S. gunship on the Doctors Without Borders hospital
in Kunduz, Afghanistan. — Photograph: Courtesy of Doctors Without Borders via AFP/Getty Images.

KABUL — The day after Taliban fighters swept through Afghanistan's northern city of Kunduz, capturing a major urban area for the first time since 2001, six stray bullets crashed through the windows at the Doctors Without Borders hospital there.

The spillover from the militant assault, which had overwhelmed local security forces, was an unsettling sign at the lightly guarded civilian facility, where doctors and nurses were tending to a crush of patients.

It was also a foreshadowing of a far greater calamity that would descend on the hospital four days later when, in the early hours of October 3rd, nearby U.S. combat advisers authorized a gunship to unleash a powerful attack. The AC-130U plane, circling above in the dark, raked the medical compound with bursts of cannon fire, potentially even using high explosive incendiary munitions, for more than an hour. The assault left at least 22 people dead, some of them burned to death.

The aid group, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières, has demanded an international investigation of what it deems a possible war crime.

The U.S. military, whose own account of what took place changed in the initial days after the attack, has said that the hospital was “mistakenly struck” in an attempt to support Afghan security forces. But the military has declined to provide full details of the incident while its investigators examine what occurred in the worst example of errant U.S. air power in recent years.

This account of what took place is based on multiple interviews in Afghanistan and the United States with U.S. and Afghan military officials, Doctors Without Borders personnel and local Kunduz residents; some of those interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151010b_KunduzHospitalLocator_zpsfch5nion.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/10/11/National-Security/Graphics/w2300-KunduzHosp1011-locator.jpg)

Although government forces have recaptured much of Kunduz, the city's collapse to a relatively small militant force was a blow to the Afghan government and its Western allies, illustrating the Taliban's potency at a time when foreign forces are winding down their long mission in the country.

In the days after the city’s September 28th collapse, Taliban fighters consolidated their control of the neighborhood around the hospital's tree-lined compound, clamping down on residents' movement and imposing their harsh interpretation of Islam.

For much of that week, the central Kunduz neighborhood of Spinzar, which was under the militants' control, was relatively quiet, according to residents and hospital officials.

Inside the hospital, which the international relief agency in recent years had turned into the province's most advanced medical facility, doctors and nurses were busier than ever. Between September 28th and October 3rd, exhausted hospital staffers treated 394 people, many of whom had received gunshot wounds during the battle for the city.

All that week, a steady stream of Taliban fighters appeared at the hospital seeking treatment, adding to the patient load, according to a hospital security guard.

Before fighters were admitted onto hospital grounds, the guard said, they were required to hand over their assault weapons to facility guards. Once inside, the Taliban fighters — many of whom had been shot — were treated like any other patient.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151010c_KunduzHospitalTaliban_zpsaa6cpvn8.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/10/11/National-Security/Graphics/w2300-KunduzHosp1011-taliban.jpg)

The Taliban appeared to respect the neutrality of the charity operation, the only hospital functioning in Kunduz that week.

“Even the Taliban didn't harm wounded Afghan security forces taken to the hospital,” the guard said.

Doctors Without Borders has declined to discuss patient identities, pointing to rules under the Geneva Conventions that state wounded soldiers or militants must be treated like other noncombatants. “We don't even want to know who is inside because that is a basic protection, as a patient,” said Guilhem Molinie, director of the organization's operations in Afghanistan.

But organization officials said that some Taliban fighters were treated.

According to the guard's account, not just wounded Taliban fighters were present at the hospital that week. On Monday, September 28th, as the battle for Kunduz kicked off, Mullah Abdul Salam, the most senior Taliban commander in Kunduz province, visited wounded fighters receiving treatment there, the guard said.

Some Afghan leaders have suggested that the Taliban had been using the hospital as a base. MSF officials have strongly denied those claims, saying no Taliban commanders and fighters had used hospital grounds to plan or carry out attacks.

Shattered calm

Early on Saturday, October 3rd, a team of U.S. Special Operations forces was tracking the fighting across Kunduz from a small U.S.-Afghan joint operations center at the airport, about five miles south of the city. The JOC, as it is called, has become a hallmark of the long insurgent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where U.S. forces liaise closely with their local counterparts.

As part of the limited U.S. military mission in Afghanistan, that night the U.S. forces were supporting elite Afghan troops as they fought their way through the city, and helped coordinate U.S. air power to back their assault against the Taliban.

General John F. Campbell, commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, told lawmakers in Washington on Thursday that his forces were providing planning and “training advice” for local forces around Kunduz, with a headquarters support group at the airfield.

In the days after the city's fall, Afghan security forces had advanced into Kunduz's commercial district but were still locked in intense clashes with Taliban militants holed up in government buildings, private homes and the abandoned offices of international aid groups. That Afghan security forces had made it into the city at all was a result of the airstrikes that the U.S. military began to conduct to support their advance.

The strikes earlier in the week were reported to have killed nearly 50 Taliban fighters who were attempting to advance on Afghan and coalition troops at the Kunduz airport.

In central Kunduz on the night of October 2nd, hospital staffers were settling in. Five patients — members of a family shot while trying to flee Kunduz — had been brought in earlier that evening, around 6 p.m. The wards were mostly quiet after that, and no major fighting had been reported.

“It was the first time the team could rest and [the] first time we could plan some operations that had been delayed before,” Molinie said.

Shortly before midnight, clashes erupted nearby between Taliban and government forces and quickly intensified, said Islamuddin, a Kunduz resident who lives about 50 yards from the hospital gates and, like many Afghans, goes by one name. At the airport, U.S. advisers received a request from Afghan special forces for urgent help in the vicinity of the hospital, where they reported receiving Taliban fire.

Scrambling to assist, American Special Operations forces advisers requested immediate close air support for the Afghan commandos.

Soon after, an AC-130U from the 4th Special Operations Squadron — call sign “Hammer” — was lumbering through a mostly clear night sky toward the target position.

The AC-130U is one variant of the AC-130 gunship. A holdover from the Vietnam War, the plane is a converted transport aircraft loaded with 25mm and 40mm cannons as well as a 105mm howitzer. As its weapons jut from the left side the aircraft, the AC-130 engages targets in a wide left turn. Crewed by a dozen airmen, including a Special Operations Ground liaison officer responsible for coordinating with ground forces, the AC-130 has low-light and thermal sensors that give it a “God's eye” of the battlefield in almost all weather conditions.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151010d_KunduzHospitalGunship_zps88njp6a9.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/10/11/National-Security/Graphics/w2300-KunduzHosp1011-plane.jpg)

According to individuals familiar with the incident, American forces from the JOC directed the aircraft over the Afghan special forces and sent up the initial “call for fire” to the aircraft. The request gave the aircraft the necessary targeting information as well as the location of friendly forces.

According to an individual familiar with the aircraft's operations that night, the sensor operators identified fighters moving into and firing from one of the hospital's front porticos. The crew, piloting an aircraft that rarely targets buildings, asked the JOC twice if they wanted the aircraft to engage, the individual said. How close active Taliban forces may have been to the hospital — a point where the accounts of the charity's personnel and Afghan security officials diverge — is now a central question for investigators. Even if Taliban militants were firing from the compound, U.S. rules of engagement would not have allowed an airstrike if the crew knew it was a protected civilian facility.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151010e_KunduzHospitalHowitzer_zps2dkei0qv.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/10/11/National-Security/Graphics/w2300-KunduzHosp1011-m120.jpg)

On Saturday, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said that the U.S. military was authorized to make “appropriate” condolence payments to the families of civilians killed in the hospital attack, and to provide funding for repairing the hospital.

U.S. investigators are now trying to determine whether the air crew knew that the target was a hospital.

While the Afghan government has not said definitively whether it thinks that the Taliban forces were firing from near or within the compound, local officials have said that the group had set up a “command center” at the facility — an assertion Doctors Without Borders has strongly rejected.

Who placed the call?

Another unresolved question is who placed the request for the air support. According to Brigadier General Dawlat Waziri, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, troops from the Afghan army's 209th Corps were fighting on the ground in that area, but officials in Kabul were unsure whether they made the request processed by U.S. advisers at the Kunduz airport.

Waziri suspects that Afghan soldiers were aware of the hospital's location. Before soldiers begin combat, they receive detailed maps from local police outlining the locations of mosques, schools and hospitals, he said.

A few minutes after 2 a.m., following approval from U.S. forces, the plane fired a massive initial burst at the main hospital building, which houses the facility's emergency rooms and intensive care unit.

While it is unclear what weapons were employed, the AC-130U's 40mm round has a high explosive incendiary munition that is lined with zirconium. The rounds are known for causing fires.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151010e_KunduzHospitalHowitzer_zps2dkei0qv.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/10/11/National-Security/Graphics/w2300-KunduzHosp1011-l70.jpg)

One MSF physician, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for security reasons, had finished his shift and was drifting off to sleep in the hospital's break room when a giant blast shook the building. Light fixtures and parts of the ceiling crashed down on him.

The explosion, possibly from the plane's 105mm gun, was so powerful that it shattered windows of nearby homes. “I saw the flame of fire rise from the hospital,” Islamuddin said.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151010g_KunduzAirstrike_zpswwuwzyhp.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/10/10/National-Security/Images/Afghanistan-Airstrike_Victims-088ed.jpg)
The Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz in flames following the October 3rd airstrike by an American AC-130 gunship.
 — Photograph: Courtesy of Doctors Without Borders via Associated Press.

The physician and other staff members rushed to the hospital's basement, which was used as a makeshift bomb shelter.

Far above, the U.S. pilots banked the aircraft into a wide orbit circling the hospital. Over the next 65 minutes, the plane unleashed additional fire on each pass around the facility below, every 15 minutes or so.

Some staff members and patients may have died instantly; others died amid the rubble or as colleagues tried fruitlessly to administer care. A pharmacist died in the hospital office. As a fire engulfed the hospital building, at least six patients burned to death in the intensive care unit.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151010h_DoctorsWithoutBorders_zpsgpiwje2t.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/10/10/National-Security/Images/Del6450072.jpg)
Doctors Without Borders medical personnel treat wounded colleagues and patients after the American aerial assault on October 3rd.
 — Photograph: Courtesy of Doctors Without Borders via AFP/Getty Images.

During the attack, staff members placed desperate calls to colleagues, who relayed messages to U.S. officials in Kabul and Washington, including to the Pentagon's Joint Staff in Washington, the organization said.

In the days before the assault, Doctors Without Borders said, it provided the hospital's location repeatedly to the same officials. But the relief group has declined to provide details of exactly who it alerted. The office of the Joint Staff says it has not yet located an individual who received that information.

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Washington%20Post%20pix/20151010i_KunduzHospitalDamage_zpsuz4rnrf7.jpg~original) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2015/10/11/National-Security/Graphics/w2300-KunduzHosp1011-damage.jpg)

At about 3:30 a.m., staffers huddled in the basement bomb shelter heard the guns fall silent. It is not known why the air crew chose to halt the attack.

Many of those who had taken shelter below ground were too frightened to emerge and stayed there until dawn. “Then we heard this calling, ‘Anyone alive? You can come out’,” the physician recalled.

When he emerged into the rubble of the smoldering hospital, the doctor immediately saw the bodies of patients and colleagues. Other staffers began to make their way out into the open and rushed to treat those wounded in the attacks. Some could not be saved. One doctor died on a desk while another staff member tried to perform emergency surgery to save him.

Mohammad Sharif in Kabul and Julie Tate and Andrew Katz in Washington contributed to this report.

• Tim Craig is The Washington Post's bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.

• Missy Ryan writes about the Pentagon, military issues, and national security for The Washington Post.

• Thomas Gibbons-Neff is a staff writer at The Washington Post and a former Marine infantryman.


Read more on this topic:

 • The Pentagon's evolving response to the Afghan hospital attack (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/10/06/how-the-pentagon-shifted-from-collateral-damage-to-deepest-regrets-on-afghan-hospital-attack)

 • Top U.S. general in Afghanistan: Hospital ‘mistakenly struck’ (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/top-us-general-in-afghanistan-hospital-was-mistakenly-struck/2015/10/06/0da262e8-6c34-11e5-9bfe-e59f5e244f92_story.html)

 • Doctors Without Borders says U.S. airstrike hit hospital in Afghanistan (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/doctors-without-borders-afghan-clinic-bombed-3-staff-dead/2015/10/03/cb02f0de-698a-11e5-bdb6-6861f4521205_story.html)

 • The bloody history of Kunduz, from Afghanistan’s ‘Convoy of Death’ to now (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/09/28/the-bloody-history-of-kunduz-from-afghanistans-convoy-of-death-to-now)

 • In Kunduz, echoes of a 1988 guerrilla assault after the Soviets withdrew (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/09/30/in-taliban-held-kunduz-echoes-of-a-1988-guerilla-assault-after-the-soviets-withdrew)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/story-of-how-a-kunduz-hospital-was-shelled-by-us-gunship-in-question/2015/10/10/1c8affe2-6ebc-11e5-b31c-d80d62b53e28_story.html (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/story-of-how-a-kunduz-hospital-was-shelled-by-us-gunship-in-question/2015/10/10/1c8affe2-6ebc-11e5-b31c-d80d62b53e28_story.html)

Post by: reality on October 14, 2015, 05:44:45 pm
Yeah the Taliban should not use innocent people as human shields..the hospitals should not be treating the Taliban who are the cause of many injuries..and are terrorists  :o

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 14, 2015, 07:27:05 pm

And what is wrong with medical staff treating anybody who turns up needing treatment?

My Dad served in the 6th Field Ambulance in North Africa and Italy during World War Two and he treated both friend and foe alike without fear or favour.

Are you slagging off at my late Father, you disgusting piece of shit?

You are a total sicko who is justifying the WAR CRIME of deliberately murdering doctors and kids.

You are really showing your despicable and disgusting true colours with what you are posting in this group.

Perverted cunts like you should NEVER be allowed anywhere near kids.

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 14, 2015, 07:40:42 pm

from FUSION.net....

What if the military blew up a hospital in the U.S.?


By JEN SORENSEN | 1:34PM - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Cartoons/20151013_HospitalBombing1_zpsspc7mtwp.jpg~original) (http://i2.wp.com/fusiondotnet.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/hospitalbombing1.png)(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Cartoons/20151013_HospitalBombing2_zps7gkwmoqs.jpg~original) (http://i1.wp.com/fusiondotnet.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/hospitalbombing2.png)
(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Cartoons/20151013_HospitalBombing3_zpswfyiarxn.jpg~original) (http://i0.wp.com/fusiondotnet.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/hospitalbombing3.png)(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/Cartoons/20151013_HospitalBombing4_zpsifhk897d.jpg~original) (http://i0.wp.com/fusiondotnet.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/hospitalbombing4.png)

APOLOGIES to the Mayo Clinic for this one. They were on my mind because my aunt recently had heart surgery there (I hear she received excellent care).

While the U.S. may not blow up civilians in foreign lands every single day, many civilians do fear air strikes by the U.S. and our allies every day. These massacres keep happening over and over and over again. Would Americans tolerate drone strikes and other aerial bombings in their neighborhoods because someone thinks a terrorist might be hiding in a nearby house? Can you imagine living this way for years on end?

This case is particularly bad since it seems to be a deliberate strike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital. Glenn Greenwald does a good job summing up the shifting arguments coming out of the military (see article below).

http://fusion.net/comic/213768/what-if-the-military-blew-up-a-hospital-in-the-u-s (http://fusion.net/comic/213768/what-if-the-military-blew-up-a-hospital-in-the-u-s)

from The Intercept....

The Radically Changing Story of the U.S. Airstrike on Afghan Hospital: From Mistake to Justification

By GLENN GREENWALD | 3:11AM - Tuesday, October 06, 2015

WHEN news first broke of the U.S. airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders hospital (https://theintercept.com/2015/10/03/one-day-after-warning-russia-of-civilian-casualties-the-u-s-bombs-a-hospital-in-the-war-obama-ended) in Kunduz, Afghanistan, the response from the U.S. military was predictable and familiar. It was all just a big, terrible mistake, its official statement suggested (https://twitter.com/stuartmillar159/status/650271482057113601): an airstrike it carried out in Kunduz “may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” Oops: our bad. Fog of war, errant bombs, and all that.

This obfuscation tactic is the standard one the U.S. and Israel both use whenever they blow up civilian structures and slaughter large numbers of innocent people with airstrikes. Citizens of both countries are well-trained — like some tough, war-weary, cigar-chomping general — to reflexively spout the phrase “collateral damage”, which lets them forget about the whole thing and sleep soundly, telling themselves that these sorts of innocent little mistakes are inevitable even among the noblest and most well-intentioned war-fighters, such as their own governments. The phrase itself is beautifully technocratic: it requires no awareness of how many lives get extinguished, let alone acceptance of culpability. Just invoke that phrase and throw enough doubt on what happened in the first 48 hours and the media will quickly lose interest.

But there's something significantly different about this incident that has caused this “mistake” claim to fail. Usually, the only voices protesting or challenging the claims of the U.S. military are the foreign, non-western victims who live in the cities and villages where the bombs fall. Those are easily ignored, or dismissed as either ignorant or dishonest. Those voices barely find their way into U.S. news stories, and when they do, they are stream-rolled by the official and/or anonymous claims of the U.S. military, which are typically treated by U.S. media outlets as unassailable authority.

In this case, though, the U.S. military bombed the hospital of an organization — Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières [MSF]) — run by western-based physicians and other medical care professionals. They are not so easily ignored. Doctors who travel to dangerous war zones to treat injured human beings are regarded as noble and trustworthy. They're difficult to marginalize and demonize. They give compelling, articulate interviews in English (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/u-s-airstrike-hits-doctors-without-borders-hospital-afghanistan) to U.S. media outlets. They are heard, and listened to.

MSF has used this platform, unapologetically and aggressively. They are clearly infuriated at the attack on their hospital and the deaths of their colleagues and patients. From the start, they have signaled an unwillingness to be shunted away (https://twitter.com/MSF/status/650397969779425280) with the usual “collateral damage” banalities and, more important, have refused to let the U.S. military and its allies get away with spouting obvious falsehoods. They want real answers (https://twitter.com/MSF/status/651003030557560832). As The Guardian's Spencer Ackerman put it last night (https://twitter.com/attackerman/status/650821262898544640): “MSF's been going incredibly hard, challenging every US/Afgh claim made about hospital bombing.”

In particular, MSF quickly publicized numerous facts that cast serious doubt on the original U.S. claim that the strike on the hospital was just an accident. To begin with, the organization had repeatedly advised the U.S. military of the exact GPS coordinates of the hospital. They did so most recently on September 29th, just five days before the strike. Beyond that, MSF personnel at the facility “frantically” called U.S. military officials during the strike to advise them that the hospital was being hit and to plead with them to stop, but the strikes continued in a “sustained” manner for 30 more minutes. Finally, MSF yesterday said this:

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/News/20151006a_TwitterMSF_zpsjrk75k0z.jpg~original) (https://twitter.com/MSF/status/650689029072125952)

All of these facts make it extremely difficult — even for U.S. media outlets — to sell the “accident” story. At least as likely is that the hospital was deliberately targeted, chosen either by Afghan military officials who fed the coordinates to their U.S. military allies and/or by the U.S. military itself.

Even cynical critics of the U.S. have a hard time believing that the U.S. military would deliberately target a hospital with an airstrike (despite how many times (https://twitter.com/mcurryfelidae07/status/651001001743372288) the U.S. has destroyed hospitals with airstrikes (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3988433.stm)). But in this case, there is long-standing tension between the Afghan military and this specific MSF hospital, grounded in the fact that the MSF — true to its name — treats all wounded human beings without first determining on which side they fight. That they provide medical treatment to wounded civilians and Taliban fighters alike has made them a target before.

In July — just 3 months ago — Reuters reported that Afghan special forces “raided” this exact MSF hospital (http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/02/us-afghanistan-hospital-idUSKCN0PC14Z20150702) in Kunduz, claiming an Al Qaeda member was a patient. This raid infuriated MSF staff:

he French aid group said its hospital was temporarily closed to new patients after armed soldiers had entered and behaved violently towards staff.

“This incident demonstrates a serious lack of respect for the medical mission, which is safeguarded under international humanitarian law,” MSF said in a statement.

A staff member who works for the aid group said, “The foreign doctors tried to stop the Afghan Special Operations guys, but they went in anyway, searching the hospital.”

The U.S. had previously targeted a hospital in a similar manner: “In 2009, a Swedish aid group accused U.S. forces of violating humanitarian principles by raiding a hospital in Wardak province, west of Kabul.”

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/News/20151006b_Reuters_zps9h8tdojg.jpg~original) (https://firstlook.org/wp-uploads/sites/1/2015/10/reuters1.png)

News accounts of this weekend’s U.S. airstrike on that same hospital hinted cryptically at the hostility from the Afghan military. The first New York Times story (https://theintercept.com/2015/10/05/cnn-and-the-nyt-are-deliberately-obscuring-who-perpetrated-the-afghan-hospital-attack) on the strike — while obscuring who carried out the strike (https://theintercept.com/2015/10/05/cnn-and-the-nyt-are-deliberately-obscuring-who-perpetrated-the-afghan-hospital-attack) — noted deep into the article that “the hospital treated the wounded from all sides of the conflict, a policy that has long irked Afghan security forces.” Al Jazeera similarly alluded to this tension (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/10/aid-workers-killed-air-strike-afghan-hospital-kunduz-151003043052500.html), noting that “a caretaker at the hospital, who was severely injured in the air strike, told Al Jazeera that clinic’s medical staff did not favour any side of the conflict. ‘We are here to help and treat civilians’, Abdul Manar said.”

As a result of all of this, there is now a radical shift in the story being told about this strike. No longer is it being depicted as some terrible accident of a wayward bomb. Instead, the predominant narrative from U.S. sources and their Afghan allies is that this attack was justified because the Taliban were using it as a “base”.

Fox News yesterday cited (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/10/03/3-doctors-without-borders-members-killed-in-us-airstrikes-in-afghanistan) anonymous “defense officials” that while they “regret the loss of innocent life, they say the incident could have been avoided if the Taliban had not used the hospital as a base, and the civilians there as human shields.” In its first article on the attack (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/doctors-without-borders-afghan-clinic-bombed-3-staff-dead/2015/10/03/cb02f0de-698a-11e5-bdb6-6861f4521205_story.html), The Washington Post also previewed this defense, quoting a “spokesman for the Afghan army's 209th Corps in northern Afghanistan” as saying that “Taliban fighters are now hiding in ‘people's houses, mosques and hospitals using civilians as human shields’.” Associated Press yesterday actually claimed (https://twitter.com/billmon1/status/650873821587767296) that it looked at a video and saw weaponry in the hospital's windows, only to delete that claim (http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_AFGHANISTAN_ASOL-?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2015-10-04-11-39-32) with this correction:

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/News/20151006cAssociatedPressOneShot_zps46h8s6jx.jpg~original) (https://firstlook.org/wp-uploads/sites/1/2015/10/ap.jpg)

The New York Times today — in a story ostensibly about (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/05/world/asia/doctors-without-borders-says-it-is-leaving-kunduz-after-strike-on-hospital.html) the impact on area residents from the hospital's destruction — printed paragraphs from anonymous officials justifying this strike: “there was heavy gunfire in the area around the hospital at the time of the airstrike, and that initial reports indicated that the Americans and Afghans on the ground near the hospital could not safely pull back without being dangerously exposed. American forces on the ground then called for air support, senior officials said.” It also claimed that “many residents of Kunduz, as well as people in Kabul, seemed willing to believe the accusations of some Afghan officials that there were Taliban fighters in the hospital shooting at American troops.” And this:

Still, some Afghan officials continued to suggest that the attack was justified. “I know that there were civilian casualties in the hospital, but a lot of senior Taliban were also killed,” said Abdul Wadud Paiman, a member of Parliament from Kunduz.

So now we're into full-on justification mode: yes, we did it; yes, we did it on purpose; and we're not sorry because we were right to do so since we think some Taliban fighters were at the hospital, perhaps even shooting at us. In response to the emergence of this justification claim, MSF expressed the exact level of revulsion appropriate (http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/msf-response-spurious-claims-kunduz-hospital-was-taliban-base) (emphasis added):

“MSF is disgusted by the recent statements coming from some Afghanistan government authorities justifying the attack on its hospital in Kunduz. These statements imply that Afghan and US forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital with more than 180 staff and patients inside because they claim that members of the Taliban were present.

“This amounts to an admission of a WAR CRIME. This utterly contradicts the initial attempts of the US government to minimize the attack as ‘collateral damage’.

“There can be no justification for this abhorrent attack on our hospital that resulted in the deaths of MSF staff as they worked and patients as they lay in their beds. MSF reiterates its demand for a full transparent and independent international investigation.”

From the start, MSF made clear that none of its staff at the hospital heard or saw Taliban fighters engaging U.S. or Afghan forces:

(http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo227/Kiwithrottlejockey/News/20151006d_TwitterMSF_zpsx45ggzut.jpg~original) (https://twitter.com/MSF/status/650757799119593476)

But even if there were, only the most savage barbarians would decide that it's justified to raze a hospital filled with doctors, nurses and patients to the ground. Yet mounting evidence suggests that this is exactly what the U.S. military did — either because it chose to do so or because its Afghan allies fed them the coordinates of this hospital which they have long disliked. As a result, we now have U.S. and Afghan officials expressly justifying the consummate WAR CRIME: deliberately attacking a hospital filled with doctors, nurses and wounded patients. And whatever else is true, the story of what happened here has been changing rapidly as facts emerge proving the initial claims to be false.


Just as this article was being published, NBC News published a report (http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/pentagon-afghan-forces-asked-airstrike-hospital-n438626?cid=sm_tw&hootPostID=96eee0f105373c4aa97d7c183a1de670) making clear that even the latest claims from the U.S. and Afghan governments are now falling apart. The Pentagon's top four-star commander in Afghanistan, Army General John Campbell, now claims that “local Afghans forces asked for air support and U.S. forces were not under direct fire just prior to the U.S. bombardment” of the hospital. As NBC notes, this directly contradicts prior claims: “The Pentagon had previously said U.S. troops were under direct fire.”

See also from today: CNN and the NYT Are Deliberately Obscuring Who Perpetrated the Afghan Hospital Attack (https://theintercept.com/2015/10/05/cnn-and-the-nyt-are-deliberately-obscuring-who-perpetrated-the-afghan-hospital-attack)


UPDATE: Responding to the above-referenced admission, MSF has issued this statement (http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/msf-response-pentagon-claim-afghan-forces-called-kunduz-airstrike):

“Today the US government has admitted that it was their airstrike that hit our hospital in Kunduz and killed 22 patients and MSF staff. Their description of the attack keeps changing—from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government. The reality is the US dropped those bombs. The US hit a huge hospital full of wounded patients and MSF staff. The US military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition. There can be no justification for this horrible attack. With such constant discrepancies in the US and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical.”

The U.S. seems to have picked the wrong group this time to attack from the air.

https://theintercept.com/2015/10/05/the-radically-changing-story-of-the-u-s-airstrike-on-afghan-hospital-from-mistake-to-justification (https://theintercept.com/2015/10/05/the-radically-changing-story-of-the-u-s-airstrike-on-afghan-hospital-from-mistake-to-justification)

Post by: reality on October 15, 2015, 04:52:22 am

"President Karzai said that the agreement "will close the season of the past 10 years and is going to open an equal relationship season. With the signing of this agreement, we are starting a phase between two sovereign and independent countries that will be based on mutual respect, mutual commitments and mutual friendship".[44] During a background briefing on the strategic partnership agreement by senior administration officials aboard Air Force One en route to Afghanistan, an unnamed U.S. official said: "This agreement will make clear to the Taliban, to al Qaeda, and to other international terrorist groups that they cannot wait us out. The agreement is not only a signal of long-term commitment by the United States, but a document that enshrines commitments by both countries to each other with a common purpose. Our commitments to support Afghanistan's social and economic development, security, institutions and regional cooperation is matched by Afghan commitments to strengthen accountability, transparency, oversight, and to protect the human rights of all Afghans, men and women."[3] Another U.S. official told The New York Times the agreement is necessary to give the United States the capacity to carry out counter-terrorism operations in order to prevent Al Qaeda's resettlement in Afghanistan and ensures "a regional equilibrium that serves our national security interest. And that's ultimately why we went in there in the first place."

good idea :P

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 15, 2015, 09:42:40 am

You can waffle all you like, it still doesn't change the FACTS....

“The USA has now joined Israel in committing WAR CRIMES, such as murdering doctors and children!”

And talking about Israel, I see they have been calling up reservists.

It would appear they are getting ready to go on another kid-killing spree.

More war-crimes coming up from those who are delusional enough to claim they are the “chosen” of some imaginary god.

Post by: reality on October 15, 2015, 11:36:28 am
kj..."It would appear they are getting ready to go on another kid-killing spree."

..or..they could be getting ready to defend themselves from people who have terrorists running their camp :P

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 15, 2015, 11:54:43 am

Oooooh, look....stupid MAGGOT has ooooooozed out of his hole.

Yet again he is making excuses for kid-killers.

Talk about being a sick cunt, eh?

Post by: reality on October 15, 2015, 04:30:57 pm
now, now...theres no need for the vulgar language..lets keep it civil ;)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 15, 2015, 04:33:13 pm

There is nothing at all wrong with ACCURATE descriptions.

And you are a sick cunt.

Post by: reality on October 15, 2015, 04:35:33 pm
Do you know what that word means?

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on October 15, 2015, 05:10:17 pm

Who'd have thought it, eh?

That the Americans would become accomplished doctor-killers and kid-killers.

It must take a special type of bravery to sit in an aeroplane and pour cannon shells into doctors and kids, eh?

Do you reckon the Americans should add a kid-killing medal to their decorations?

Kid-killers from gunships could wear it with pride.

Post by: reality on October 15, 2015, 05:20:13 pm
kj..."Do you reckon the Americans should add a kid-killing medal to their decorations?"

yeah..nah...we probably beat them at that pastime



Matiu Wereta named as dead Hawke's Bay toddler in assault case
 Matiu Wereta, Hastings toddler who died on October 14
Matiu Wereta, Hastings toddler who died on October 14

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Police have named the 2½-year-old boy who died after an alleged assault in Hastings.

Matiu Wereta died on Wednesday evening in the intensive care unit at Hawke's Bay Hospital after allegedly being assaulted at his home in Columbus Cres, Flaxmere, on Monday.

A 17-year-old male has been charged with assault and appeared in the Hastings District Court on Tuesday. He was remanded to a Rotorua address on bail to reappear in court on November 3 and was granted interim name suppression.

The family released the following statement:

"This is a very difficult time for us as we go through the grieving process and take in the events of the past few

"We have a very supportive whanau around us and are being supported by our local community.

"Matiu was a happy, smiley, adventurous boy who loved being active and getting involved in a lot of activities.  He loved kapa haka,
which his family has been involved in for some time.

"Matiu attended Te Tirahou daycare at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga and was a popular little boy there. He loved to sing, dance and play with all his friends and teachers.  He touched many hearts with his cheeky smile and warm heart, and will be sadly missed by all his whanau and friends.

"We appreciate all the kind wishes and support we have been offered from many people.  This is a tragic event that is extremely hard for any family to comprehend or experience.  We must now wait for the judicial process to take its course.

The family asked for privacy.

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An uncle of the accused man said on Tuesday the boy died as the result of a tragic accident.

He said his nephew told him he had been having a shower with the boy when the boy ran out of the shower and fell down a set of stairs.

He was confident the police investigation would conclude the death had been the result of an accident.

"It's a traumatic experience for our families. It's a shock. No-one expects accidents to happen to children, and it's certainly affected everyone involved and certainly our family is grieving for what's happened," he said.

"We're certainly supportive of the processes that are happening. Our family is involved with both my nephew and the young woman," he said.

He said there was no animosity between the two families and both were being supportive to the couple.

"Everyone supports the due process involved with police when a child dies like this. We're confident the process will endorse what actually happened, which was an accident," he said.

Flaxmere community leader and Hastings District councillor Henare O'Keefe said he knew the families involved and the community was rallying around them.

He understood the toddler's biological father was living in Australia but had returned home.
"In situations like this you just run out of cliches. You get anger and frustration and utu and revenge. All of those feelings. You can understand how people feel that way," he said.

"I can't imagine how those people must be feeling. We give them out total and absolute love and sympathy. That's a void in their life that may possibly never heal. This harmless, precious little chap who through no fault of his own has had his life cut short," O'Keefe said.

"We'll do all that we can to support the family. To date we've stood back while they've been in intensive care. The last thing they want is people right now," he said.

"I don't know what the solution is, but I know what people should be doing now. Go back to their families and give them a hug, tell them you love them," he said.

"I would say to people don't give up on Flaxmere," O'Keefe said.

Several tributes for Matiu have been posted on his mother Eranna Tiopira's Facebook pages.

One person wrote: "Sending so much love to you ... There's no words to describe the feeling you are going through right now and the pain". Another wrote "Feeling for you ... love uz so much gf omg my hearts breaking for you see you soon my girl."

Another wrote "Love u baby... rest in peace such devastating news to hear cant imagine what mummy and daddy are going through right now we are going to miss you so much especially poppy you have brought happiness and joy into our lives and to my bro... stay strong my friend I love you so much... Praying for you my friend I am so sorry I can't be there at this time I'd come back in a heartbeat if I could....xxxx Rest in peace baby ... We love you..."

Residents of Columbus Cres, where the alleged assault took place, said the boy and his mother were new to the neighbourhood and kept to themselves.

The dead boy's mother works locally and the general manager at organisation where she is employed said their hearts went out to the family and they were doing all they could to support their staff member and her family.

The mother of the accused declined to comment.

 - Stuff

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 18, 2017, 07:07:09 pm

from The Washington Post....

Could mercenaries end America's longest war?

Nothing else has worked in Afghanistan.

By RICHARD COHEN | 7:32PM EDT - Monday, July 17, 2017

(https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1000w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2017/07/17/Editorial-Opinion/Images/2017-07-07T182358Z_1775586022_RC12173EABD0_RTRMADP_3_AFGHANISTAN-USA-2288.jpg) (https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_2500w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2017/07/17/Editorial-Opinion/Images/2017-07-07T182358Z_1775586022_RC12173EABD0_RTRMADP_3_AFGHANISTAN-USA-2288.jpg)
U.S. troops walk outside their base in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, on July 7th. — Photograph: Omar Sobhani/Reuters.

SHORTLY AFTER the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks, I differed with a friend who said I was wrong to support an invasion of Afghanistan to root out al-Qaeda and punish the Taliban. I said the United States had no choice but to make the terrorists and their Afghan hosts pay for what they had done. I insisted I was right. That, amazingly, was almost 16 years ago. I never expected to be right for so long.

Afghanistan has become the war without end. The United States cannot win it and cannot afford to lose it. The country consumes American wealth and lives. More than 2,300 American soldiers (http://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/06/13/soldiers-killed-in-afghanistan-return-very-emotional-ceremony.html) have died there. Some $828 billion (https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-macarthur-model-for-afghanistan-1496269058) has been spent there (http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2016/Costs%20of%20War%20through%202016%20FINAL%20final%20v2.pdf). Generals who once commanded there are deep into their retirement, and soldiers who fought there as youths are approaching middle age. Kipling's Brits could not control the country; neither could the Russians nor, come to think of it, can the Afghans. Afghanistan is not a country. It's a chronic disease.

The Trump administration, like the several that preceded it — George W. Bush twice and Barack Obama twice — is mulling a new approach. This time, there will be no certain date when American involvement will end — a bit of Obama-era silliness that, in effect, told the Taliban to hold on, be patient, and the Yanks will leave. President Trump has reportedly left decisions on troop levels to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a retired Marine general and a man of such reckless courage that he refused to fawn over Trump at a Cabinet meeting. Somewhere a medal awaits.

Mattis, however, is reportedly cool to a plan developed by Erik Prince that would entail turning over a substantial part of the Afghanistan effort to “contracted European professional soldiers” (https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-macarthur-model-for-afghanistan-1496269058) — what you and I call mercenaries. The term has an odious connotation, but there is no avoiding it. Prince is referring to British, French, Spanish and other Europeans who are experienced soldiers. They would not, as is now the case with Americans, be rotated out of the country after a period of time to the effect that, in a sense, the United States is always starting anew. These contract soldiers would get about $600 a day (http://www.salon.com/2017/06/03/erik-princes-dark-plan-for-afghanistan-military-occupation-for-profit-not-security) to command Afghan troops and be embedded with them — much as U.S. Special Operations forces now are. Trouble is, the United States has a limited number of those forces.

I took the phrase “contracted European professional soldiers” from an op-ed Prince wrote for The Wall Street Journal. It seems (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/10/world/asia/trump-afghanistan-policy-erik-prince-stephen-feinberg.html) the president read it and was intrigued. Good. The plan has its virtues, the most obvious one being that nothing else has worked — and more of the same is going to produce more of the same. The plan also has its difficulties, one of them being its provenance. Prince is the founder of the highly controversial security firm Blackwater, which he has since sold. While he owned it, though, some of its employees opened fire (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/03/world/middleeast/03firefight.html) in Baghdad's Nisour Square, killing 17 civilians and wounding more than 20.

If Prince remains controversial, he also remains influential. He's a former Navy SEAL who has entry to the White House and the CIA, and his sister is Betsy DeVos, the education secretary. Like his sister, Prince is rich and indefatigable. He has been peddling his Afghanistan plan for more than a year, and while it is frequently described with the pejorative term “for profit”, it has, as Prince contends, a pedigree. “Contract Europeans” were used by the British East India Company to rule India for more than 100 years.

Prince's references to colonial rule are admiring. He has even revived the term “viceroy” to describe the person who would direct American policy in Afghanistan. By his count, the United States has had 17 military commanders in the past 15 years — not counting ambassadors, CIA station chiefs and, of course, the inevitable special representatives, such as Richard Holbrooke, whose genius and energy were wasted by Obama. All that would stop. The viceroy would run things.

The war in Afghanistan is the longest in American history. A loss would allow the country to revert to a terrorist haven. A win would require a commitment in manpower that the United States is not willing to make. In almost 16 years, the fight in Afghanistan has gone from noble cause to onerous obligation. I don't know if Prince has the answer, but he has come up with one way to sustain the fight at less cost in American lives and treasure. Will it work? I don't know, but nothing else has.

• Richard Cohen writes a weekly political column for The Washington Post.


Related to this topic:

 • The Washington Post's View: Trump is right to leave Afghanistan troop levels up to the Pentagon (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/trump-is-right-to-leave-afghanistan-troop-levels-up-to-the-pentagon/2017/06/16/60a94564-51e9-11e7-be25-3a519335381c_story.html)

 • Katrina vanden Heuvel: The U.S. will never win the war in Afghanistan (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-us-will-never-win-the-war-in-afghanistan/2017/05/16/ac65a52e-39c0-11e7-8854-21f359183e8c_story.html)

 • Stephen J. Hadley, Andrew Wilder and Scott Worden: Four steps to winning peace in Afghanistan (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/four-steps-to-winning-peace-in-afghanistan/2017/04/27/953fac4c-2b5a-11e7-a616-d7c8a68c1a66_story.html)

 • John McCain and Lindsey Graham: Why we need more forces to end the stalemate in Afghanistan (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/john-mccain-and-lindsey-graham-why-we-need-more-forces-to-end-the-stalemate-in-afghanistan/2017/03/13/6c8f7a6e-05b4-11e7-b1e9-a05d3c21f7cf_story.html)

 • Josh Rogin: Selling Trump a new Afghanistan commitment (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/selling-trump-a-new-afghan-commitment/2017/02/26/a8e6862e-fac4-11e6-be05-1a3817ac21a5_story.html)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/could-mercenaries-end-americas-longest-war/2017/07/17/9ff2bca6-6b1a-11e7-b9e2-2056e768a7e5_story.html (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/could-mercenaries-end-americas-longest-war/2017/07/17/9ff2bca6-6b1a-11e7-b9e2-2056e768a7e5_story.html)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on July 18, 2017, 07:12:09 pm

Sixteen years, eh?

Sixteen years of dead Jesuslanders being airfreighted home in bodybags.

America's perpetual war is a good thing....it is continuing to suck billions out of the American economy.

Post by: Donald on July 19, 2017, 02:03:13 am
Yup...Oh...bummer.....cost  how many American lives in Afghanistan during his reign..thanks demented left🙄

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on January 28, 2018, 05:57:53 pm

Hilarious.....Dubya's “war on terror” in Afghanistan turned into America's GREAT QUAGMIRE; it continued as America's perpetual war under Obama; and now it is Donald J. Trump's perpetual, never-ending war, sucking oxygen out of the American economy. President Dumb is all “piss & wind” when he spouts that he is going to end the war in Afghanistan. It will still be America's perpetual war during the terms of the 46th president, the 47th president, the 48th president, and so-on, until the dumb Jesuslanders admit they cannot win and go home with their tails between their legs like the Soviet Union did after their military adventure in Afghanistan.

from The New York Times....

‘It's a Massacre’: Blast in Kabul Deepens Toll of a Long War

At least 95 were killed and 158 others were wounded when a car bomber
drove an ambulance past two checkpoints and detonated explosives.

By MUJIB MASHAL and JAWAD SUKHANYAR | Saturday, January 27, 2018

(https://static01.nyt.com/images/2018/01/28/world/asia/28afghanistan8/merlin_132970100_f2c9eae6-4afb-46b0-97ca-6c5b3fe5a436-superJumbo.jpg) (https://static01.nyt.com/images/2018/01/28/world/asia/28afghanistan8/merlin_132970100_f2c9eae6-4afb-46b0-97ca-6c5b3fe5a436-superJumbo.jpg)
A bomb placed inside an ambulance exploded on a busy Kabul street on Saturday, killing at least 95 people and injuring at least 158 others.
The explosion comes a week after another attack shook the city. — Photograph: Andrew Quilty/The New York Times.

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — The Taliban drove an ambulance packed with explosives into a crowded Kabul street on Saturday, setting off an enormous blast that killed at least 95 people and injured 158 others, adding to the grim toll in what has been one of the most violent stretches of the long war, Afghan officials said.

The attack came days after a 15-hour siege (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/world/asia/kabul-hotel-attack-us-victims.html) by militants at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul that left 22 dead, including 14 foreigners.

On Saturday, hospitals overflowed with the wounded, and forensic workers at the morgue struggled to identify the dead.

The casualties were another reminder of how badly Afghanistan is bleeding. Over the past year, about 10,000 of the country's security forces have been killed and more than 16,000 others wounded, according to a senior Afghan government official. The Taliban losses are believed to be about the same.

And about 10 civilians were killed every day on average over the first nine months of 2017, data from the United Nations suggests.

The surge in violence across the country, particularly deadly attacks that have shut down large parts of Afghan cities, comes as the government is in disarray.

(https://static01.nyt.com/images/2018/01/28/world/asia/JP-28afghanistan/28afghanistan-slide-DKMI-superJumbo.jpg) (https://static01.nyt.com/images/2018/01/28/world/asia/JP-28afghanistan/28afghanistan-slide-DKMI-superJumbo.jpg)
Injured Afghans ran from the scene of the blast, stepping over the dead and the wounded. Kabul's hospitals were overwhelmed by the number of injured people.
 — Photograph: Andrew Quilty/The New York Times.

President Ashraf Ghani has struggled to build consensus and has recently found himself in a protracted showdown with a regional strongman (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/23/world/asia/afghanistan-atta-muhammad-noor.html), a dispute that has taken up much of the administration's energy. The strongman, Atta Muhammad Noor, a powerful governor, was fired by the president but has refused to leave his post, raising fears that escalating political tensions could further undermine the country's fragile security.

The recent carnage is also tied, analysts said, to President Trump's decision last month to increase pressure on Pakistan, long seen as supporting the Taliban as a proxy force in Afghanistan. Mr. Trump made a gamble to try to tilt the war in Afghanistan toward a resolution, holding back security aid to Pakistan (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/04/us/politics/trump-pakistan-aid.html) for what he called the country's “lies and deceit”.

At the time of the announcement, many Afghan officials feared an immediate escalation in violence in retaliation and wondered whether their shaky government could absorb the blows.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump issued a statement denouncing the attack. “I condemn the despicable car bombing attack in Kabul today that has left scores of innocent civilians dead and hundreds injured,” he said. “The Taliban's cruelty will not prevail. The United States is committed to a secure Afghanistan that is free from terrorists who would target Americans, our allies, and anyone who does not share their wicked ideology.”

In last weekend's attack, Taliban militants barged into the highly guarded Intercontinental Hotel (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/21/world/asia/afghanistan-hotel-attack.html), battling security forces in an hours-long siege. At least 14 of their victims were foreign citizens, including Americans, and nine were pilots and flight crew members from Ukraine and Venezuela who worked for a private Afghan airline, Kam Air.

At the time of Saturday's attack, General Joseph L. Votel, the commander of the United States Central Command, which oversees military operations in the region, was in Kabul. He met with Mr. Ghani, and officials aware of the discussion said Pakistan was much of the focus.

(https://static01.nyt.com/images/2018/01/27/world/asia/28afghanistan-slide-E27N/28afghanistan-slide-E27N-superJumbo.jpg) (https://static01.nyt.com/images/2018/01/27/world/asia/28afghanistan-slide-E27N/28afghanistan-slide-E27N-superJumbo.jpg)
Officials feared that the death toll could rise. The Taliban claimed responsibility. — Photograph: Andrew Quilty/The New York Times.

Anger at the Afghan government for its dysfunction and ineffectiveness in the face of violence was palpable on the streets.

At the site of the explosion, an old man, his clothes stained with blood, sat on the ground and wailed. He cursed the two leaders of the Afghan government — President Ghani and his coalition partner, Abdullah Abdullah — for the security lapses. He said his son was dead.

“May God punish you, may Allah punish you both,” the old man repeated. “There is nothing left for me anymore — come kill me and my family, too.”

Saturday's explosion occurred on a guarded street that leads to an old Interior Ministry building and several embassies. Many ministry departments still have offices there, and visitors line up every day for routine business.

“I saw a flame that blinded my eyes, then I went unconscious,” said Nazeer Ahmad, 45, who suffered a head wound. “When I opened my eyes, I saw bodies lying on the ground.”

“It's a massacre,” said Dejan Panic (https://twitter.com/emergency_ong/status/957175369454575616), the coordinator in Afghanistan for the Italian aid group Emergency, which runs a nearby trauma center. At least 131 people were brought to the group's Kabul hospital.

(https://static01.nyt.com/images/2018/01/28/world/asia/28afghanistan3/merlin_132956576_03a7a1c3-05df-443b-8ed7-86f11db1550a-superJumbo.jpg) (https://static01.nyt.com/images/2018/01/28/world/asia/28afghanistan3/merlin_132956576_03a7a1c3-05df-443b-8ed7-86f11db1550a-superJumbo.jpg)
Medical staff treated the wounded at the Jamhuriat Hospital in Afghanistan. — Photograph: Wakil Kohsar/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

Baseer Mujahid, a spokesman for the Kabul police, said the bomber drove past the first checkpoint, at the entrance to the street. The police had allowed it to pass because it was an ambulance, and one of the city's main hospitals was just beyond the checkpoint.

“Police stopped the vehicle at the second checkpoint,” Mr. Mujahid said. “Then he tried to drive in from the wrong lane. Again, the police tried to stop him. But he detonated the explosive-laden vehicle.”

At Malalai maternity hospital, near the carnage, health workers said the explosion had briefly interrupted their work, and jolted patients out of their beds. Then, the staff continued to bring new life into a violent world.

“It has become normal in Afghanistan,” a midwife said. “Every day, we hear these kind of sounds.”

Others at the hospital were deeply affected. Abdul Khaliq, who anxiously waited in the hospital yard, said his sister-in-law had given birth through cesarean section just days ago.

“During the suicide attack, she was at the hospital and now she is shocked. She doesn't want to breast-feed her baby,” Mr. Khaliq said. “Her doctor is trying to convince her that everything is O.K., but she cries and says nothing.”

(https://static01.nyt.com/images/2018/01/28/world/asia/28afghanistan9/merlin_132970052_c36eac00-15a6-4092-89e0-8adfa3c370cf-superJumbo.jpg) (https://static01.nyt.com/images/2018/01/28/world/asia/28afghanistan9/merlin_132970052_c36eac00-15a6-4092-89e0-8adfa3c370cf-superJumbo.jpg)
Many of the buildings and shops on the streets in the Afghan capital were shattered, their windows blown out. — Photograph: Andrew Quilty/The New York Times.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, the chief of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, condemned the attack as “nothing short of an atrocity” and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

“I am particularly disturbed by credible reports that the attackers used a vehicle painted to look like an ambulance, including bearing the distinctive medical emblem, in clear violation of international humanitarian law,” Mr. Yamamoto said.

Later in the day, family members lined up outside the morgue at the Kabul forensic medical department, trying to identify their loved ones. The staff could not draw a list of the victims because most were unidentifiable, or did not carry any documentation.

After the remains were cleaned, the staff lined them up in the yard outside and allowed family members to walk around and identify them. Once remains were identified, the morgue staff would write the name on the forehead, or on the chest if the head was missing.

For some, though, the search continued.

“My cousin was a police officer; he was the person who stopped the ambulance laden with explosives,” said Attaul Haq, 36, who waited outside the morgue. “He was 28, he had a son and a daughter.”


On successive weekends in January this year, Kabul was struck by two major terrorist attacks that killed at least 117 people. The last half of 2017 saw five attacks that left 37 or more dead.

  • 150 Killed, May 2017: In Kabul, a truck bombing near the German embassy was the deadliest attack since 2001.

  • At least 67, and as many as 88 killed, October 2017: Two suicide bombings within hours, both targeting mosques, one in Kabul and the other in Ghor Province.

  • 41 killed, December 2017: Bombing at a Shiite cultural center in Kabul that also housed a news agency, Afghan Voice Agency.

  • At least 40 killed, possibly more than 50 killed, August 2017: Suicide bombers targeted a Shiite mosque in Kabul.

  • 37 killed, August 2017: Suicide bombers targeted a Shiite mosque in Herat, killing the father of an Afghan female robotics team.


Fatima Faizi, Fahim Abed and Charles O’Malley contributed reporting.

• Mujib Mashal is The New York Times senior correspondent in Afghanistan. Before joining the paper, he wrote for magazines such as The Atlantic, Harper's, TIME and others. He began his journalism career as an intern with The Times's bureau in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2010, before moving on to work for Al Jazeera English in Doha and then pursued magazine writing. He returned to The Times as a senior correspondent in October 2016. Born in Kabul, he received a degree in history from Columbia University.

• Jawad Sukhanyar is a reporter for The New York Times in Afghanistan.


Related to this topic:

 • Grounded and Gutted, Main Afghan Airline Struggles After Taliban Attack (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/24/world/asia/save-the-children-afghanistan.html)

 • Deadly ISIS Attack Hits an Aid Group, Save the Children, in Afghanistan (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/24/world/asia/save-the-children-afghanistan.html)

 • Siege at Kabul Hotel Caps a Violent 24 Hours in Afghanistan (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/21/world/asia/afghanistan-hotel-attack.html)

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/27/world/asia/afghanistan-kabul-attack.html (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/27/world/asia/afghanistan-kabul-attack.html)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on January 29, 2018, 07:39:16 pm

from The New York Times....

We Can't Win in Afghanistan Because We Don't Know Why We're There

By STEVE COLL | Sunday, January 26, 2018

(https://static01.nyt.com/images/2018/01/28/opinion/sunday/28Coll-sub/merlin_99836641_63ef22f7-8740-4e85-8c54-fb22577d1328-superJumbo.jpg) (https://static01.nyt.com/images/2018/01/28/opinion/sunday/28Coll-sub/merlin_99836641_63ef22f7-8740-4e85-8c54-fb22577d1328-superJumbo.jpg)
American soldiers in Kunduz, Afghanistan, in October 2010. — Photograph: Damon Winter/The New York Times.

“THE United States is not losing in Afghanistan, but it is not winning either, and that is not good enough,” reads the opening sentence of a top-secret review of the war in Afghanistan commissioned by President George W. Bush in 2008, according to multiple participants in that review. Subsequent classified reviews of the American strategy in the war have repeated that conclusion.

The Trump administration undertook the latest rethinking (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/20/world/asia/trump-afghanistan-strategy-mattis.html) of the war in August. President Trump's advisers again reviewed its causes: opium, corruption, ethnic factionalism and, above all, the support and sanctuary provided to the Taliban by Pakistan, through the covert action arm of its powerful spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence.

Why is this problem so hard? Why, since the September 11 attacks, has the United States been unable to prevent Pakistan, a notional ally that has received billions of dollars (https://tribune.com.pk/story/1498815/war-terror-aid-pakistan-received-33-4bn-us) in aid, from succoring the Taliban at such a high cost in American lives and Afghan misery?

One major reason is American war aims in Afghanistan have been, and remain, riddled with contradictions and illusions that Inter-Services Intelligence can exploit. President Bush, President Barack Obama and President Trump have all offered convoluted, incomplete or unconvincing answers (http://lacrossetribune.com/news/opinion/barack-obama-the-u-s-has-vital-interests-in-afghanistan/article_5182c4ee-dfae-11de-9223-001cc4c03286.html) to essential questions: Why are we in Afghanistan? What interests justify our sacrifices? How will the war end?

Mr. Trump is departing from his predecessors by getting tougher on Pakistan. His administration is withholding (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/04/us/politics/trump-pakistan-aid.html) as much as $1.3 billion worth of annual aid to Pakistan until it does more to pressure the Taliban. Unfortunately, the record of using threats and sanctions to change Pakistan's conduct is a dismal one, and the influence and leverage of the United States in Pakistan is shrinking.

Mr. Trump is not the first president to struggle over how to align goals with reality. In 2009, as President Obama escalated (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/world/asia/06reconstruct.html) combat troop levels in Afghanistan, his advisers identified only two vital American interests in the war, according to participants, the kinds of interests that might justify sending soldiers into battle.

One was the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. The second was the terrorist threat posed by Al Qaeda “and its affiliates.” Neither problem really existed in Afghanistan; they resided over the border, in Pakistan. After 2002, Al Qaeda's most lethal operators (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/11/world/asia/11pakistan.html) largely fled to Pakistan. Mr. Obama's strategists nonetheless rationalized their escalation on the grounds that if Afghanistan fell into chaos, Al Qaeda would return — a plausible fear but an indirect and even speculative reason to send American men and women to war.

President Obama and his strategists also debated whether the Afghan Taliban posed the same threat to the United States that Al Qaeda did. Mr. Obama did not think so; he wanted a laser focus on Al Qaeda. Some Pentagon commanders did want to fight the Taliban. But the national security cabinet, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, recognized that a United States-led war against the Taliban could not be won, at least not fast enough or at an acceptable cost. The Taliban were part of Afghanistan's “political fabric” (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/34995797/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/t/gates-taliban-part-afghan-political-fabric/#.WmjC7ZP1VsM), Mr. Gates noted accurately.

The Obama strategists decided (http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1999511,00.html) to try to “degrade” the Taliban and “reverse its momentum,” according to participants, while building up Afghan security forces to take charge. The language was vague and subjective because the goals were, too. The idea was to buy time and give the Afghan government a chance.

The leaders of Inter-Services Intelligence understood that they could wait Washington out. Mr. Obama made this obvious when he announced in 2009 that American troops would start withdrawing (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/02/world/asia/02prexy.html) and handing off the war to Afghan forces in 2011. Pakistan's generals, led then by the Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, a former director of the spy agency, privately told American and NATO military leaders that they would fail. “Given the number of troops you have and the time constraints, you won't be able to do it,” General Kayani said, according to a participant in the meeting.

He meant that the American-led effort against the Taliban would not be decisive and that Afghan forces would never cohere enough to win. General Kayani wanted a less ambitious plan aimed at clearing radicals out of the Afghan-Pakistan border. Considering Inter-Services Intelligence's role in the conflict, however, his prediction of American failure could be heard as much as a threat as a forecast. Pakistan's objective has been to prevent Afghanistan's violence from spilling over its border and to prevent India from gaining influence in a neighboring country.

Apart from the convoluted policies of the United States, there are other reasons the Pakistani spy agency's approach has prevailed despite American frustration and periodic threats. Because keeping Pakistan's nuclear bombs (http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/the-pentagons-secret-plans-to-secure-pakistans-nuclear-arsenal) out of the wrong hands has long been a top priority for the United States and Europe, it follows that Pakistan's overall stability is crucial. Yet the more violent the Afghan war became after 2001, the more it destabilized Pakistan.

After Al Qaeda took refuge in Pakistan, it collaborated with local radicals. Starting in 2007, those networks turned against the Pakistani state and touched off the worst years of domestic terrorism Pakistan has ever known. Suicide and car bombings rocked major cities, and tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians, security personnel and insurgents died. The country has paid a steep price (https://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/12/pakistan-is-winning-its-war-on-terror) for Inter-Services Intelligence's coddling of groups like the Taliban for decades.

Only since 2016 has Pakistan somewhat restored domestic security; last year was the least deadly since 2005, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, a research project, yet more than 500 Pakistani civilians perished (http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/database/casualties.htm) in terrorist attacks.

The thinking of the United States and the European governments has been consistent, if rarely enunciated in public: To keep Pakistan stable and its nuclear arms under control, there is a limit to how much outside pressure can be brought to bear on the country.

President Obama authorized the C.I.A. to attack Al Qaeda with armed drones (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/24/unblinking-stare) in Pakistan's tribal areas along the Afghan border. And of course, Mr. Obama authorized a daring SEAL raid inside Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden, without asking permission. But the larger terrorist infrastructure — the Afghan Taliban's leadership and many other violent groups nurtured and tolerated by Inter-Services Intelligence — remains unscathed, operating from Lahore to Karachi to Quetta to Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.

In effect, Pakistan's strategy of nuclear deterrence, conceived to keep India's military at bay, has also deterred the United States. The United States has so feared the risks of violent disarray in Pakistan that it has tolerated interference by Inter-Services Intelligence in Afghanistan since 2001 that it otherwise would most likely not have accepted.

It is understandable that Afghan leaders and American generals express fury over the spy agency's complicity in Afghanistan's violence, including in the deaths of American soldiers. Through the first nine months of 2017, the United Nations reported the deaths of 2,640 civilians, including nearly 700 children, a toll similar to that of the same period last year. Most of the civilian deaths are caused by the Taliban and other anti-government guerrillas. This month the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/21/world/asia/afghanistan-hotel-attack.html) on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul that killed at least 22 people, including Americans.

There are alternatives to accepting the status quo. If sanctions against Inter-Services Intelligence or Pakistan's military were combined with serious diplomacy to engage China, which is by far Pakistan's most important ally, as well as other regional powers, there might be a path to improvement.

China, Pakistan, Russia and Iran share an interest with the United States in preventing the Islamic State, which has established a foothold in eastern Afghanistan, from expanding. China has long protected Pakistan from outside pressure on terrorism and nuclear proliferation issues, but it has an interest in a more stable region where there is a reduced need for an American combat presence.

For years, almost every American general dispatched to command the Afghan war has conceded that the conflict must ultimately end with a political settlement, supported by regional powers, and that there is no purely military solution possible against the Taliban. Nonetheless, the United States continues to prioritize military action over diplomacy. Stalemated civil wars like Afghanistan's can last a very long time. They end only through negotiations with the enemy.

The Obama administration tried talking in secret to the Taliban and made some progress but was undone by the contradictions in its own strategy and by Inter-Services Intelligence, which wanted a hand in any deal, even though the Taliban's leadership preferred to be free from Pakistan's influence. Many Afghan government officials and former Taliban leaders have tried on their own to talk their way to peace (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/26/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-peace-talks.html) during the past decade; some have been assassinated by hard-liners.

For the United States, an alternative to pursuing difficult and uncertain negotiations would be to give up and leave, but the most likely result of a unilateral military pullout now would be more violence and rising influence for the Taliban and the Islamic State.

The most rational course is one for which President Trump would seem poorly suited: to work closely with allies, prioritize high-level diplomacy, be smart in pressuring the Inter-Services Intelligence and accept that in Afghanistan, a starting point for any international policy is humility.


• Steve Coll is the author of the forthcoming Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1594204586).

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/opinion/sunday/united-states-afghanistan-win.html (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/opinion/sunday/united-states-afghanistan-win.html)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on January 31, 2018, 11:35:11 am

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

Militant attacks rise with U.S. surge in Afghanistan

The Taliban is displaying its strength.

By SHASHANK BENGALI and SULTAN FAIZY | Wednesday, January 30, 2018

(http://origin.misc.pagesuite.com/3630c326-c935-42f5-b0da-daebc36b7646/images/IMG_LA-APphoto_Afghanist_2_1_N637KFG3.jpg) (http://origin.misc.pagesuite.com/3630c326-c935-42f5-b0da-daebc36b7646/images/IMG_LA-APphoto_Afghanist_2_1_N637KFG3.jpg)
Men carry the coffin of a victim of the fake-ambulance attack in Kabul. — Photograph: Rahmat Gul/Associated Press.

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — With U.S. troops surging into Afghanistan, Taliban militants challenged a new and inexperienced U.S. president with an escalating campaign of bombings that illustrated the difficulties of winning the war.

The year was 2009, the president was Barack Obama and the cheap and devastating Taliban tactic was the roadside bomb, which quickly became the No.1 killer of both U.S.-led coalition forces and Afghan civilians.

Nearly a decade later, with President Trump renewing the war effort by sending thousands more troops and expanding their combat mission, Afghanistan is experiencing another grim increase in insurgent violence with three major attacks in Kabul that killed at least 136 people within a span of 10 days.

The latest came on Monday when five militants attacked an Afghan army unit guarding the country's main military academy, killing at least 11 soldiers and wounding 16 others, officials said.

The attack in Kabul, for which Islamic State claimed responsibility, began before dawn and sparked a gun battle that continued for several hours. The capital's weary residents awoke to more carnage on a day that had been declared a holiday to mourn victims of the last bombing — less than 48 hours earlier, when a Taliban assailant blew up a car bomb disguised as an ambulance outside a hospital, killing at least 103 people.

“It's similar to what happened during the Obama surge, that instead of confronting NATO forces on the battlefield they opted for these low-cost terrorist attacks, and they have been very effective,” said Haroun Mir, a political analyst in Kabul.

“It is becoming obvious that the insurgents, with three or four attackers, are capable of paralyzing the capital,” Mir said.

Every attack now seems to come more quickly than Afghans can recover from the one before. A week before the hospital bombing, a handful of Taliban gunmen raided the Intercontinental Hotel, a landmark in the capital, and killed 22 people, including four U.S. citizens.

The last time Afghanistan endured a week this deadly was barely three months ago, when more than 200 soldiers and civilians were killed, including at least 50 in an Islamic State-claimed attack on a Shiite mosque in Kabul.

Violence in Afghanistan used to take a breather in winter, when cold conditions made it more difficult for insurgents to move back and forth across the border from their havens in Pakistan. But 16 years after the U.S.-led military invasion toppled the Taliban, the increasingly unrelenting pace of bombings has damaged Afghans' faith in their government and raised questions about Trump's strategy to stifle the militants.

In boosting the U.S. troop presence to 15,000 from 11,000 and giving U.S. commanders greater authority to strike militants, Trump implicitly endorsed the idea that Taliban insurgents could be defeated on the battlefield — or at least weakened enough that they would be forced to negotiate a truce with the Kabul government.

But that strategy hinges on the performance of Afghan security forces — trained and equipped largely by the U.S. at a cost of about $70 billion since 2002 — who have proved woefully incapable of stopping devastating attacks against supposedly well-guarded targets. The ambulance attacker got past a security checkpoint by claiming he was ferrying a wounded patient; the Intercontinental siege went on for 15 hours and required U.S. troops to respond to assist the Afghans.

The Taliban has shown little regard for civilian lives; analysts say its goal is to weaken the resolve of Afghanistan's foreign backers, mainly the United States, by showing it can strike anywhere and at any time.

“Time is with the Taliban,” Mir said. “They know that Trump is in office for four years, and two years from now there will be another election and another political debate about whether the U.S. should stay in Afghanistan or not. These kinds of attacks show their strength while avoiding confrontation — that's their strategy to overcome the U.S. surge.”

Trump said on Monday that the worsening violence made negotiating with the Taliban a distant prospect.

“Innocent people are being killed left and right, bombing in the middle of children, in the middle of families, bombing, killing all over Afghanistan,” Trump said. “So we don't want to talk with the Taliban. There may be a time, but it's going to be a long time.”

(http://origin.misc.pagesuite.com/3630c326-c935-42f5-b0da-daebc36b7646/images/IMG_LA-AFP-Getty_BESTPIX_3_1_O037KS25.jpg) (http://origin.misc.pagesuite.com/3630c326-c935-42f5-b0da-daebc36b7646/images/IMG_LA-AFP-Getty_BESTPIX_3_1_O037KS25.jpg)
Afghans carry away a body after a car bomb disguised as an ambulance exploded Saturday in Kabul, killing at least 103. The capital has experienced
three major attacks that killed at least 136 people in 10 days. — Photograph: Wakil Kohsar/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

General Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command who was in Kabul at the time of the ambulance attack, told reporters that the increasing violence “does not impact our commitment to Afghanistan” and that victory was “absolutely” possible.

Since the end of 2014, when the U.S.-led coalition shifted to more of an advisory role and gave Afghan forces responsibility for security, the annual number of “security incidents” recorded by the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan has risen by more than 10%, according to an analysis (https://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/more-violent-more-widespread-trends-in-afghan-security-in-2017) published on Monday by Thomas Ruttig, co-director of the Kabul-based Afghanistan Analysts Network.

“All parties to the conflict — the Taliban, the Afghan and the U.S. government — are almost entirely focused on the war … and achieving military advantage,” Ruttig wrote.

Under Obama's surge, the number of U.S. troops rose to nearly 100,000 from fewer than 40,000, and the pace of fighting rose at the same time.

“What happened during Obama's surge of 2010 to 2012 could be repeated, that we see a mutually reinforcing spiral of escalation of the conflict,” Ruttig wrote.

The recent attacks also point to a bloody tussle between the Taliban — Afghanistan's largest insurgent group — and supporters of Islamic State, who U.S. officials say number less than 1,000 in pockets of eastern and northern Afghanistan. The tit-for-tat bombings by members of the rival militant groups, Ruttig said in an interview, reflect “something of a competition over who, on the insurgents' side, dominates the war theater.”

In interviews, many Afghans blamed President Ashraf Ghani's 3-year-old government, which they argued is preoccupied with political squabbles and too slow to stamp out corruption that has hollowed out the army and police.

In a news conference on Sunday, top security officials did little to reassure Afghans about their response. Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak blamed intelligence lapses and insurgent spies in the Afghan forces. Intelligence chief Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai said, “Some incidents really cannot be stopped.”

Abdullah Hasanzadah, a 24-year-old who said he lost a friend in the ambulance attack, said he didn't blame individual soldiers or police for the security failures.

“It's a major concern that the leadership is corrupt, and it's their weaknesses that jeopardize our lives,” Hasanzadah said.

Remote parts of Afghanistan have long been outside government control. The Taliban maintains “shadow governors” in many outlying areas, where they collect taxes and settle disputes. As of October the government controlled or held sway over only 57% of the country's 407 districts, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, a U.S. watchdog.

U.S. officials say the statistics are misleading because most insurgent-controlled districts are sparsely populated, and their strategy has been to provide security in cities and towns where most Afghans live.

But that isn't working, not even to safeguard supposedly fortified military installations. In the last 12 months, militants have infiltrated a major base outside the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and killed more than 100 soldiers — a stunning breach that prompted the resignations of Afghanistan's defense minister and army chief — and killed about 50 people at Kabul's main military hospital.

With military targets so often attacked, many civilians said they feel even more vulnerable. Some Kabul residents said they were avoiding crowds and busy streets, restricting their movements and returning home before nightfall.

Omid Azimi, a 19-year-old high school graduate, said he prays each time he leaves the house. He has also begun carrying a piece of paper in his wallet on which he's written a relative's phone number.

“In case I get killed or wounded,” he said, “it would be easy for people to inform my family.”


Special correspondent Sultan Faizy reported from Kabul and L.A. Times staff writer Shashank Bengali from Mumbai, India.

• Shashank Bengali is the Los Angeles Times' South Asia correspondent, covering a stretch of countries from Iran to Myanmar. He joined the L.A. Times in 2012 as a national security reporter in the Washington bureau. He has reported from more than 50 countries since beginning his career with McClatchy Newspapers, where he served as a foreign correspondent in Africa and the Middle East.In 2016, he shared in the Pulitzer Prize awarded to the Los Angeles Times staff for coverage of the mass shootingin San Bernardino, California. Originally from Cerritos, California, Shashank holds degrees in journalism and French from USC and a master's in public policy from Harvard. He lives with his wifein Mumbai, India.

• Sultan Faizy is a special correspondent to the Los Angeles Times, based in Kabul, Afghanistan. He previously reported for Associated Press and presented for National Public Radio.

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=0ebfa6e9-cdbe-43e1-a18a-751c5abe6570 (http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=0ebfa6e9-cdbe-43e1-a18a-751c5abe6570)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on January 31, 2018, 12:46:31 pm

Remember when America funded and supplied weapons to the Mujahideen who were fighting against the warmongering invaders from the Soviet Union?

Well, the Mujahideen morphed into the Taliban, who have been fighting against the warmongering invaders from America since the early years of this century.

America's perpetual, never-ending war which is going to eventually end with the Jesuslanders withdrawing from Afghanistan with their tails between their legs.

Just like what happened to the Soviet Union. Except that the Soviet Union had the smarts to get out while they still could.

The Americans/Jesuslanders still think they can win in Afghanistan. Poor dumb, stupid suckers …… I guess the quagmire is going to continue for many more years yet.

See: Remember when America funded the Taliban against the USSR? (http://xtranewscommunity2.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,15631.0.html)

Post by: Kiwithrottlejockey on January 31, 2018, 01:50:09 pm

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

What Tet taught the U.S.

By M.L. CAVANAUGH | Wednesday, January 30, 2018

(http://origin.misc.pagesuite.com/3630c326-c935-42f5-b0da-daebc36b7646/images/IMG_LA-AFP-Getty_VIETNAM_2_1_D937LHA4.jpg) (http://origin.misc.pagesuite.com/3630c326-c935-42f5-b0da-daebc36b7646/images/IMG_LA-AFP-Getty_VIETNAM_2_1_D937LHA4.jpg)
Members of a North Vietnamese female combat unit at the grave of a comrade killed during the Tet Offensive, which began on January 31st, 1968. The North
lost in the fighting, but the carnage turned the U.S. public against the Vietnam War. — Photograph: Hoang Dinh Nam/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

FIFTY YEARS AGO, the stunning Tet Offensive shattered the American war effort in Vietnam. But its impact wasn't limited to Vietnam — it created a shadow that has darkened American military strategy ever since.

On January 31st, 1968, 84,000 North Vietnamese troops attacked 100 cities across U.S.-backed South Vietnam, including the key targets of Hue, Da Nang and Saigon. They aimed to spark a widespread uprising, which didn't happen.

Instead, North Vietnam stumbled into a costly war-winning strategy. Costly because more than half its attacking forces were killed, wounded or captured. Winning because the carnage forced Americans to confront the reality of the war: a savage, endless conflict that contradicted official talking points.

The U.S. commander, Army General William Westmoreland, famously focused on enemy body counts in a strategy designed to kill North Vietnamese troops “at a rate as high as their capacity to put men into the field.” Just before Tet, Westmoreland was “absolutely certain” the U.S. was winning. After Tet, he called it “a striking military defeat for the enemy.”

The media was skeptical. On February 8th, The New York Times opined “neither side can win.” And on February 27th, CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, back in the U.S. after a reporting trip to Vietnam, delivered a commentary to more than 20 million viewers (https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106775685): “We are mired in stalemate,” he said. “The only rational way out … will be to negotiate, not as victors …” American public support soon withered. President Nixon replaced President Lyndon Johnson. Eventually, the United States withdrew from South Vietnam, which subsequently fell to the North in 1975.

Tet validated a Japanese concept. Toward the end of World War II, when the American military was dominant, Hiromichi Yahara, a Japanese army colonel serving on the island of Okinawa, forged a strategy to win against such military superiority. Yahara saw that direct assaults against overwhelming American forces wouldn't work. Instead, he aimed to punish his adversary through attrition, to inflict a terrible price on the enemy no matter the cost to his own soldiers. His plan was guided by this precept: “If a poor man fights with the same tactics as a rich man, he is sure to lose.”

Yahara used intense bunker- and cave-fighting to bleed America's will to fight. It yielded painful results: The battle for Okinawa in 1945 resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties and helped dissuade the U.S. from invading and occupying Japan. Still, the war too far gone, Japan would surrender — the last time a nation formally surrendered to the American military.

What didn't work for Japan succeeded in Vietnam after Tet. And since then, weaker adversaries have adopted strategies with common features against stronger forces. Don't try to win; make your opponent lose. Attack will; not strength. Leverage chaos; inflict pain for gain. Bring down the pillars of power, even if it costs you everything.

Davids” have won a majority of wars against “Goliaths” since 1945. A 2010 Rand Corporation study found that of 30 insurgencies around the globe since 1978, only eight were clear victories for the governments over the rebels.

The American “Goliath” has also fared poorly. In 1993, warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid bloodied the U.S., turning public opinion against American involvement in Somalia; U.S. forces withdrew. Osama bin Laden saw what had happened and devised a plan, as he described it in 2004, “to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses.” The 9/11 attack cost Al Qaeda $500,000; it ultimately forced America to spend nearly $5 trillion in its long-term response. Initial victories in Afghanistan and Iraq have settled into slogs and become the longest wars in American history.

Even the successful Gulf War is a rule-proving exception. When the U.S. fights in open deserts against uniformed soldiers, precise firepower works and America tends to win. But that's not where this nation's toughest enemies choose to fight.

Our sharpest adversaries, following Yahara's precept and Tet's example, prefer to fight in cities like Kabul, which Afghan President Ashraf Ghani now describes as “under siege.” Our enemies confront us in densely populated urban areas because they know these features negate American technological advantages, particularly air strikes.

So how does Goliath win against such enemies?

Despite the fact that a few stubborn military officers still believe we can just kill enough of the enemy to win, there's a better way. Going forward, America's best strategy is smart attrition warfare: Use multiple, precise military means to remove the bad guys from the field, including traditional strikes, but combine that with non-lethal approaches such as co-option, alliance-building and other inducements to support local good guys and generate gains.

We shouldn't kid ourselves that war will ever be bloodless, but we must also recognize that strategic success has never been strictly limited to killing the enemy. And it never will be.

When the Gulf War ended, President George H.W. Bush claimed America had “kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!” That statement was premature. Hopefully, with smarter military strategies, we finally will.


• Army Major M.L. Cavanaugh is a non-resident fellow with the Modern War Institute at West Point and co-edited the forthcoming book, with Max Brooks, Strategy Strikes Back: How Star Wars Explains Modern Military Conflict (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1640120335).

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=7bd8e367-66ab-4ce4-99f3-54dc72a419d7 (http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=7bd8e367-66ab-4ce4-99f3-54dc72a419d7)