welcome to the meat grinder

US-NATO War in Afghanistan (abridged)
Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO, Dec 5 2009

On Dec 1 2009, Obama announced that he was deploying 30,000 new troops to Afghanistan in addition to the 68,000 already there and two days later Def. Sec. Gates told Congress that the surge force of 30,000 going to Afghanistan will grow to at least 33,000 when support troops are included. That is, over 100,000 troops. Along with private military and security contractors whose number is even larger. US troops are now involved in the ninth year of combat operations in the country and in less than four weeks will be engaged in their tenth calendar year of war there. On Nov 25, White House spokesman Gibbs assured the people of his nation:

We are in year nine of our efforts in Afghanistan. We are not going to be there another eight or nine years.

The implication is that the US may wage a war in Afghanistan that could last until 2017. For sixteen years. The longest war in US history prior to the current one was that in Vietnam. US military advisers were present in the country from the late 1950s onward and covert operations were carried on in the early 1960s, but only in the year after the contrived Gulf of Tonkin incident, 1965, did the Pentagon begin major combat operations in the south and regular bombing raids in the north. The last US combat unit left South Vietnam in 1972, seven years later. The US (and Britain) began bombing the Afghan capital of Kabul on Oct 7 2001, with Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from warships and submarines and bombs dropped from warplanes and shortly thereafter US special forces began ground operations, a task that has been conducted since by regular Army and Marine units. The bombing and the ground combat operations continue more than eight years later and both will be intensified to record levels in short order. Since late last summer the US and its NATO allies have launched regular drone missile and attack helicopter assaults inside Pakistan.

Every once Warsaw pact nation now has forces serving under NATO and killing and dying in the Afghan war theater: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the former German Democratic Republic (subsumed under a united Federal Republic, which has almost 4,500 soldiers stationed there). They are among troops from close to 50 nations serving or soon to serve under NATO command on the Afghanistan-Pakistan war front, which include the following from the Alliance and several of its partnership programs. NATO members: Albania, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain. Turkey, the US (35,000 troops with as many more on the way). Partnership for Peace/Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council: Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Sweden, Switzerland (withdrawn last year), Ukraine. Contact Countries:
Australia, Japan (naval forces), New Zealand, South Korea. Adriatic Charter (overlaps with the Partnership for Peace): Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro. Istanbul Cooperation Initiative: UAE. Trilateral Afghanistan-Pakistan-NATO Military Commission: Afghanistan, Pakistan. Miscellaneous: Colombia, Mongolia, Singapore.

The above roster includes seven of fifteen former Soviet republics (another development worthy of consideration), with Moldova after this year’s “Twitter Revolution” and Kazakhstan, where in September the US ambassador pressured the government for troops, candidates for deployments under Partnership for Peace obligations. (Both had earlier sent troops to Iraq.) Their participation would lead to 60% of former Soviet states having troops committed to NATO in Afghanistan. With Moldova added, every European nation (excluding microstates like Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City) except for Belarus, Cyprus, Malta, Russia and Serbia will have military forces serving under NATO in Afghanistan. Never in the history of world warfare have military contingents from so many nations, fifty or more, served in one war theater. In a single nation. Troops from five continents, Oceania and the Middle East. Even the putative coalition of the willing stitched together by the US and Britain after the invasion of Iraq in Mar 2003 and until troops were pulled for redeployment to Afghanistan only consisted of forces from thirty one nations: the US, Britain, Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Japan, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Thailand and Ukraine. Twenty two of those thirty one contributors were former Soviet bloc (Albania remotely) nations or former Yugoslav republics that had recently (1999) joined NATO or were being prepared for integration into or in other manners with the bloc. The world’s last three major wars, those in and against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq, have been used as testing and training grounds for the expansion of global NATO.

The consolidation of an international rapid response (strike) force and occupation army under NATO control was further advanced this week with Obama’s troop surge speech on Dec 1 and follow-up efforts by Sec. State Clinton and NATO Sec.-Gen. Rasmussen to recruit more allied troops at the recently concluded meeting of NATO (and allied) foreign ministers. On Dec 4, NATO’s top official said that at least 25 countries will send a total of about 7,000 additional forces to Afghanistan next year ‘with more to come,’ as Clinton sought to bolster allied resolve. In attendance at the NATO meeting in Brussels were also an unspecified number of foreign ministers of non-NATO nations providing troops for the Afghan war, Gen. McChrystal and Afghan FM Spanta.

7,000 more NATO troops with “more to come” would, added to some 42,000 non-US soldiers currently serving with NATO and 35,000 US forces doing the same, mean at least 85,000 troops under NATO command even without the 33,000 new US troops headed to Afghanistan. The bloc’s largest foreign deployment before this was to Kosovo in 1999 when at its peak the Alliance-led KFOR consisted of 50,000 troops from 39 nations. The combined US and NATO forces would represent a staggering number, in excess of 150,000 soldiers. By way of comparison, as of September of this year there were approximately 120,000 US troops in Iraq and only a small handful of other nations’ personnel, those assigned to the NATO Training Mission Iraq, remaining with them. Among NATO member states Italian DM La Russa recently announced an increase of 1,000 troops, bringing the nation’s total to almost 4,500, 50% more than had previously been stationed in Iraq. Poland will send another 600-700 troops which, added to those already in Afghanistan, will constitute the largest aggregate Polish military deployment abroad in the post-Cold War era and the highest number of troops ever deployed outside Europe in the nation’s history. Britain will provide another 500 troops, with its total rising to close to 10,000. Bulgarian DM Mladenov said last week:

There is a strong possibility that the country will increase its military contingent in Afghanistan.

To indicate the nature of the commitments new NATO member states shoulder when they join the Alliance and what their priority then becomes, three days earlier Mladenov, speaking of budgetary constraints placed on the armed forces because of the current financial crisis, affirmed:

We may cut down some other items of the army budget, but there will always be enough money for missions abroad.

Washington has also pressured Croatia, which became a full member of the bloc this past April, to supply more troops and PM Kosor hastened to pledge:

Croatia, being a NATO member, will fulfill its obligations.

The Czech republic’s DM Bartak spoke after the Obama troop surge speech earlier this week and threatened the Czech parliament by stating:

It will have to be explained to allies why the Czech Republic does not want to take part in the reinforcements while Slovakia and Britain, for instance, will reinforce their contingents.

Slovakia has announced that it will more than double its forces in Afghanistan. The German parliament has just renewed for another year the deployment of the nation’s almost 4,500 troops in Afghanistan, the maximum allowed by the Bundestag, although discussions are being held to increase that number to 7,000 after a conference on Afghanistan in London on Jan 28. German armed forces in the country are engaged in their nation’s first ground combat operations since WW2. A news report on Dec 3 said that US ambassador to Turkey Jeffrey was pressuring Ankara to provide a “specific number” of troops and to be “”more flexible” in how they will be deployed, meaning that Turkey must drop so-called combat caveats and engage in active fighting along with its NATO allies. After meeting with US Vice Pres. Biden on Dec 4, Hungarian PM Bajnai vowed to send 200 more soldiers to the South Asian war zone, an increase of 60% as Hungary currently has 360 there. Regarding NATO partner states, US Dept. Asst. Sec. Def. for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia Wallander was in Armenia to secure that nation’s first military deployment to Afghanistan, the handiwork of NATO’s first Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia Simmons, who has also gained a doubling of troops from neighboring Azerbaijan and a pledge of as many as 1,000 Georgian troops by next year. During a press conference at NATO headquarters on the first day of the Alliance’s recent Afghan war council, Dec 3, the bloc’s chief Rasmussen expressed gratitude to the UAE for dispatching troops to Afghanistan and “hosting the alliance’s International Conference on NATO-UAE Relations and the Way Forward in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative last October.” The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative was launched at the NATO summit in Turkey in 2004 to upgrade military partnerships with members of the Mediterranean Dialogue (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE).

US Forces Press Service published an article on Dec 3 that discussed the Quadrennial Defense Review currently being deliberated on at the Pentagon. Dept. Def. Sec. Lynn, who before assuming that post was Vice Pres. of Government Operations and Strategy for Raytheon, was quoted as boasting:

The Quadrennial Defense Review will be unlike any other: the first to be driven by current wartime requirements, to balance conventional and nonconventional capabilities, and to embrace a ‘whole of government’ approach to national security. This is a landmark QDR. Sec. Gates has made clear that the conflicts we’re in should be at the very forefront of our agenda. He wants to make sure we’re not giving up capabilities needed now for those needed for some unknown future conflict. He wants to make sure the Pentagon is truly on war footing. For the first time in decades, the political and economic stars are aligned for a fundamental overhaul of the way the Pentagon does business.

The more than eight-year war in Afghanistan is not going to end in 2011, Obama’s asseverations notwithstanding, nor will it be the last of its kind. It will continue to engulf neighboring Pakistan with the threat of also spilling over into Central Asia and Iran. The crisis confronting the world is not only the war in South Asia: It is war itself. More particularly, the recklessness of the self-proclaimed sole superpower and the military bloc it heads in arrogating to themselves the exclusive right to threaten nations around the world with military aggression. If that policy is not brought to an end by the real international community, the more than six-sevenths of humanity outside the greater Euro-Atlantic world (as it deems itself), Afghanistan will not be this century’s last war front but its first and prototypical one. Portents are of even worse to come.

6 Comments

  1. jameela
    Posted December 6, 2009 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    thankyou for posting this, Rowan

  2. niqnaq
    Posted December 6, 2009 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Can these various Talibans all just be funded by opium exports from the areas they control? I doubt it. I think there’s outside funding, but whose I just can’t imagine.

  3. Dr Jaafar
    Posted December 6, 2009 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    This is World War III! All those nations ganging up together, all in that one impoverished sad country! Those poor Afghans. Will they ever have peace? Whatever the pirates leave in place – assuming that they will actually achieve something before they leave with their tails between their legs – will be torn up again – rightly – by the people of that country after they go. What a waste of life and resources. All because of US arrogance and stupidity.

  4. Posted December 7, 2009 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    But this surge will be totally different from the previous ten, and this year will be different from the previous ten, and this defeat, coming at a time of unprecedented economic turmoil (the Depression happened when it was possible to actually have jobs; there no longer exist any equivalent to the manufacturing jobs that literally made the American dream), will also be different.

  5. niqnaq
    Posted December 7, 2009 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    This story says the opium exporters are making $10m/day:
    https://niqnaq.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/maybe-opium-really-does-finance-the-taliban/

  6. Posted December 8, 2009 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Then it’s poppy-planting time in Detroit.

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