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Pentagon’s New Global Military Partner: Sweden

August 25, 2010 2 comments

Stop NATO
August 25, 2010

Pentagon’s New Global Military Partner: Sweden
Rick Rozoff

The longest war in U.S. history and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s first armed conflict outside Europe, as well as its first ground war, is nearing the beginning of its tenth year.

Over 120,000 troops are serving under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in addition to 30,000 under American command, and the Western military bloc recently confirmed that Malaysia has become the 47th official Troop Contributing Nation (TCN) for the war effort.

Never before have forces from so many nations served under a common command in one country, one war theater or one war.

All 28 full NATO member states have supplied soldiers for the campaign, as have over 20 Alliance partners in Europe, the South Caucasus, the South Pacific, Asia, Africa and South America. With the inclusion of contingents deployed and pledged by nations such as Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Colombia and Tonga as well as the 47 official troop contributors, there are military personnel from every populated continent assigned to the West’s war in Afghanistan.

European nations that have maintained neutrality since the end of World War Two and in some cases decades and centuries longer have provided NATO with troops for its International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Austria, Ireland and Switzerland have sent nominal contingents under Partnership for Peace (PfP) obligations. PfP member Finland has approximately 150 troops attached to NATO’s Afghan command and Sweden has 500. The Swedish consignment was until lately the second-largest of all non-NATO member states, only surpassed by Australia until over 750 more U.S. Marine Corps-trained Georgian troops arrived in the South Asian nation in April. (Last month Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili said that the 1,000 total troops he deployed were matriculated in the “school of Afghan warfare” for use in future conflicts like those of the five-day Georgian-Russian war of two years ago.)

The main function of the Partnership for Peace program – whose name is counterintuitive, Orwellian and blasphemous given the fact it has graduated 12 Eastern European nations into full membership in the world’s only military bloc and prepared them for deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq – is to integrate nations in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia for NATO operations abroad. The major beneficiary of that process is the Pentagon.

Over twenty nations currently in that category are having their armed forces, military doctrines, weapons arsenals and foreign policy orientation transformed for interoperability with the Western alliance and in particular its leading member, the United States.

The PfP is training the armies of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Austria, Bosnia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Macedonia, Montenegro and Sweden for the war in Afghanistan and, complementarily, is employing the war there to provide the militaries of those states combat experience and to build a globally deployable force for future NATO operations, including ones nearer the respective nations’ borders. [1] Other components of the strategy include conducting ever more frequent and large-scale war games and other combat training in partnership nations with Afghanistan the immediate battlefield destination but with general applicability for other locations, and expanding the arsenals of PfP states with – NATO interoperable – unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), armored combat vehicles, artillery, attack helicopters, advanced warplanes and other engines of war.

Al Burke and his dedicated colleagues with the Stop the Furtive Accession to NATO initiative in Sweden are conducting a tireless campaign to sound the alarm over the surreptitious and accelerating drive to integrate the nation into NATO’s – and the Pentagon’s – global military sphere. [2]

For over a year Swedish troops in charge of ISAF operations in four northern Afghan provinces have been engaged in regular firefights, the first combat operations the nation has conducted in almost two hundred years. Two Swedish officers were killed in February, the first troops killed in an exchange of fire with Afghan rebels.

On July 1 the Swedish government ended 109 years of conscription and made the country’s armed force entirely voluntary; that is, Stockholm – to use the approved term – professionalized the military according to NATO standards and demands.

As a result, “All Swedish soldiers will in future be liable to be sent abroad on missions against their will. Any soldiers who refuse could lose their jobs….” [3]

The four unions representing the nation’s military personnel are all opposed to the compulsory overseas deployment provision.

As a press agency reported on the day of the announcement, “At the same time, it was decided to loosen the country’s traditionally strict neutrality to allow participation in more international military operations, like the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan.” [4]

Last year Sweden hosted the ten-day Loyal Arrow 2009 NATO military exercise in its north. The war games consisted in part of “the biggest air force drill ever in the Finnish-Swedish Bothnia Bay” [5] and included the participation of 2,000 troops from ten nations, 50 warplanes and a British aircraft carrier. An account of it stated, “The exercise is based upon a fictitious scenario. Within this scenario, elements of the NATO Response Force (NRF)…will be deployed to a theatre of operations.” [6] The allegedly fictitious situation in question was one which could well be applied in the Baltic nations of Estonia and Latvia, the South Caucasus, Transdniester and other locations where NATO forces and war machinery could come into direct contact with their Russian opposite numbers.

Late this May NATO’s top military commander made a tour of inspection to Sweden, commending its government for deploying and maintaining 500 troops in Afghanistan. American Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, visited the country on the invitation of the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, Sverker Goranson. He also consulted with the State Secretary to the Prime Minister, Gustav Lind, and the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Frank Belfrage. [7]

A few days later several special representatives from “NATO Partner Nations Austria, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland,” among them Veronika Wand-Danielsson, ambassador of Sweden to NATO, met with French Air Force General Stephane Abrial, commander of Allied Command Transformation (ACT) at the latter’s headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia.

The European envoys “were also briefed by U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Lawrence Rice of U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) on that command’s mission and on the achievements and future of the ACT-USJFCOM cooperation.” [8]

NATO is and has always been designed to recruit nations into a military bloc so the Pentagon can integrate them into its own network as well. Where NATO advances, U.S. troops and bases follow, as with Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Poland where Washington has acquired air, training, interceptor missile and strategic airlift bases over the past five years.

In June Swedish troops were among 3,000 from 12 countries participating in the annual U.S.-led Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) NATO Partnership for Peace maneuvers, “the largest multinational naval exercise in the Baltic Sea,” [9] which included 500 U.S. Marines, 130 of whom stormed a beach in Estonia, the U.S. Marine Corps’ “first amphibious landing exercise in a territory that was once part of the Soviet Union,” [10] 90 miles from the Russian border.

At the same time United States Air Forces in Europe launched this year’s Unified Engagement “wargame designed to explore future joint warfare concepts and capabilities” [11] in Estonia. Last year’s version was conducted in Sweden.

The American delegation was led by the commander of United States Air Forces in Europe, General Roger Brady, and worked with “counterparts from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden to strengthen relationships, and improve interoperability and future cooperation.” [12]

The United States Air Forces in Europe website described the event as a “transformation war game to explore future combined warfighting concepts and capabilities.”

According to Brady, “Because of training seminars like Unified Engagement, the U.S. Air Force and our partners worldwide are better prepared for future operational challenges.” [13]

In mid-June it was announced that “Swedish armed forces operating in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will be equipped with their first tactical UAV capability since deploying into theatre….”

Shadow 200 unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) systems, “Already operated by the US Army and Marine Corps in Afghanistan and Iraq,” will be deployed by the Swedish air force within months. [14]

During the same week the Finnish government announced it was presenting a proposal to the nation’s parliament to join the NATO Response Force, following up on a decision of three years ago to do so “as part of a joint decision and simultaneous membership with Sweden.” [15]

The U.S. led the annual NATO Partnership for Peace Sea Breeze multinational military exercises in Ukraine in the first half of July – in the Crimea, near the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol – with Alliance members and partners Sweden, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine.

In late July and early August the U.S. 555th Fighter Squadron with 250 airmen spent two weeks in Sweden conducting air-to-air and air-to-ground exercises with the host country’s air force during which “the U.S. Air Force worked side-by-side with their Swedish allies both in the skies and on the ground conducting more than 180 flying missions that tested their air combat capabilities as well as their precision weapons scoring….”

The deputy commander of the participating Swedish unit, Övlt (Lieutenant Colonel) Harri Larsson, stated on the occasion: “We really appreciate working with the U.S. Air Force because it gives us dimension…training with someone else, other equipment, other tactics, working in the English language, which is not our native language….I believe it gives us a lot of good experience which we can use in the future.”

He added that the air combat exercises were important for integrating the warfighting capabilities of his nation’s Gripen pilots with U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcon counterparts. “They can improve their training and we become more interoperable.”

Larsson also revealed the purpose behind the joint maneuvers: “Our government wants us to become more flexible and be able to, on a short notice, go abroad. (Therefore), we need to work with other countries, especially the U.S. (as) the U.S. is the biggest contributor to NATO and the UN. [F]rom our point of view it’s necessary to work with the U.S.”

As the American squadron returned to the Aviano Air Base in Italy, Övlt Larsson said “the F 21 Wing hopes to host its American allies again in the near future.” [16] The F 21 Wing, also known as the Norrbotten Air Force Wing, hosted the fifty NATO warplanes used in last year’s Loyal Arrow war games.

Last week the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead arrived in Sweden to inspect some of the country’s warships and a submarine and meet with his counterpart Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad to “discuss present and future operations between the two navies in the region and around the globe.” [17]

Sweden’s top military commander, General Sverker Goranson, was at the Pentagon on August 5 to meet with Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Goranson had earlier studied at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and served as military attache in the United States.

With eleven years of NATO expansion and the Alliance’s transformation into the world’s first internationally-oriented military bloc, no nation in Europe is permitted to be neutral and none can avoid involvement in military missions, including wars, abroad. Sweden is no exception, having joined scores of other previously non-aligned nations around the world in being pulled into the Pentagon’s orbit in the post-Cold War period.

To illustrate how widely the network has expanded, on July 16 military officers from 63 nations enrolled at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College – Swedish military chief Goranson’s alma mater – visited state officials in Topeka, Kansas.

The officers were from Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia, Botswana, Britain, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda and Ukraine. [18]

Related articles:

End of Scandinavian Neutrality: NATO’s Militarization Of Europe
Stop NATO, April 10, 2009

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/28/end-of-scandinavian-neutrality-natos-militarization-of-europe

Scandinavia And The Baltic Sea: NATO’s War Plans For The High North
June 14, 2009

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/scandinavia-and-the-baltic-sea-natos-war-plans-for-the-high-north

Afghan War: NATO Trains Finland, Sweden For Conflict With Russia
July 26, 2009

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/afghan-war-nato-trains-finland-sweden-for-conflict-with-russia

1) Afghan War: NATO Builds History’s First Global Army
Stop NATO, August 9, 2009

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/afghan-war-nato-builds-historys-first-global-army

2) Stop the Furtive Accession to NATO!

http://www.stoppanato.se/english/proposal.htm

http://www.stoppanato.se/english/guides.htm

3) The Local (Sweden), July 13, 2010
4) Agence France-Presse, July 1, 2010
5) Barents Observer, June 8, 2009
6) Allied Air Component Command HQ Ramstein, April 9, 2009
7) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
May 12, 2010
8) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Transformation
May 21, 2010
9) U.S. European Command, June 7, 2010
10) Associated Press, June 15, 2010
11) Russian Information Agency Novosti, June 7, 2010
12) United States Air Forces in Europe, June 8, 2010
13) Ibid
14) Shephard Group, June 16, 2010
15) Defense News, June 16, 2010
16) United States Air Forces in Europe, August 13, 2010
17) Navy NewsStand, August 24, 2010
18) The Capital-Journal, July 16, 2010

Afghan War: Petraeus Expands U.S. Military Presence Throughout Eurasia

Stop NATO
July 4, 2010

Afghan War: Petraeus Expands U.S. Military Presence Throughout Eurasia
Rick Rozoff

On July 4 General David Petraeus assumed command of 142,000 U.S. and NATO troops in a ceremony in the Afghan capital of Kabul. He succeeded the disgraced and soon to be retired General Stanley McChrystal as chief of all foreign troops in Afghanistan, those serving under U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A)/Operation Enduring Freedom and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

He now commands military units from 46 official troop contributing nations and others from several additional countries not officially designated as such but with forces in or that will soon be deployed to Afghanistan, such as Egypt, Jordan and Colombia. Neither the Carthaginian commander Hannibal during the Second Punic War nor Napoleon Bonaparte in the wars that bore his name commanded troops speaking as many diverse tongues.

That Petraeus took charge of soldiers from fifty nations occupying a conquered country on his own country’s Independence Day has gone without commentary, either ironic or indignant. In 1775 American colonists began an eight-year war against foreign troops – those of Britain and some 30,000 German auxiliaries, the latter a quarter of all forces serving under English command in North America. Currently the three nations providing the most troops for the nearly nine-year-old and increasingly deadly war in Afghanistan are the U.S. (almost 100,000), Britain (9,500) and Germany (4,500).

Petraeus’s remarks on the occasion of accepting his new dual command contained the standard U.S. and NATO characterization of their war in Afghanistan as aimed exclusively against armed extremists, in particular those portrayed as fighters from other countries. A representative quote states “al-Qaeda and its network of extremist allies will not be allowed to once again establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan.” Two hundred and thirty-five years ago the government of King George III may well have spoken in a similar vein concerning the likes of Johann de Kalb, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, Casimir Pulaski, Friedrich Von Steuben and the Marquis de Lafayette illegally entering British territories along the Atlantic Seaboard and waging warfare against the Crown’s troops.

Petraeus arrived in Kabul on July 2, direct from Belgium where he had addressed NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the 28 member states’ permanent representatives in the North Atlantic Council and representatives of 46 ISAF contributors at NATO Headquarters in Brussels and Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Egon Ramms, Commander Joint Force Command Brunssum, and other senior military staff at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe near Mons. (Two days later at NATO headquarters in Kabul he had two flags bestowed on him, “one for the U.S. and the other for NATO.”) [1]

NATO chief Rasmussen was in Lisbon, Portugal the day Petraeus left Belgium for Afghanistan, in part to prepare for the November summit of the world’s only military bloc there in November, where NATO will adopt its new, 21st century, Strategic Concept and endorse plans for an integrated interceptor missile grid to cover almost the entire European continent in conjunction with, and under the control of, the U.S.

In reference to General Petraeus taking up his new duties, Rasmussen stated at a press conference with Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado that “It has been a change of command but it will not be a change of strategy.”

A week after Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan [2], an ephemeral scandal that disappeared as quickly, which is to say instantaneously, as it developed, the U.S. Senate voted as it customarily does in matters of foreign policy – unanimously – and in a 99-0 vote confirmed Petraeus as the new commander of the world’s longest and largest-scale war.

He told Senate members on June 30 that “My sense is that the tough fighting will continue; indeed, it may get more intense in the next few months.”

A few days earlier he said of President Barack Obama’s proposed date for beginning the withdrawal of American and NATO troops from Afghanistan that the meaning of that pledge by the president, Petraeus’ commander-in-chief, was “one of urgency – not that July 2011 is when we race for the exits, reach for the light switch and flip it off.” Last December Petraeus asserted that there was no plan for a “rush to the exits” and that there “could be tens of thousands of American troops in Afghanistan for several years.” [3]

In May he spoke at an Armed Forces Day dinner in Louisville, Kentucky – on a day that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was visiting the same state – and insisted that “the US must continue to send troops to Afghanistan….” [4]

To indicate how thoroughly the Pentagon and NATO are inextricably enmeshed in not only the Afghan campaign but in a far broader and deeper partnership, a few days before Petraeus, speaking of his then-role as chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), said that he has striven to “operationalize” U.S.-NATO military integration at CENTCOM “where up to 60 representatives of coalition partner countries serve. In addition, officers from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia act as representatives of CentCom, increasing further the need to share sensitive information.” [5]

Afghanistan falls within CENTCOM’s area of responsibility and the war in that country is a mechanism for extending the Pentagon’s military contacts, deployments, acquisition of bases and general warfighting interoperability with scores of nations both within and outside CENTCOM’s formal ambit.

In April, three months before taking up his Afghan war post, Petraeus was in Poland – covered by U.S. European Command (EUCOM) – to meet with the nation’s Chief of the General Staff, General Franciszek Gagor, discuss the war that has now cost the lives of nineteen Polish soldiers, and disclose that “in a few months a 800-1,000 strong U.S. battalion would reinforce Poland’s ISAF forces in the Afghan province of Ghazni.

“Petraeus said that the U.S. troops would be placed under the Polish commander who is responsible for the province.” [6]

He also met with Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich and President Lech Kaczynski as well as delivering a lecture at the National Defence Academy. Kaczynski, who would perish in an airplane crash three days later, presented Petraeus with the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and the Iraq Star. [7]

Other new NATO members in Eastern Europe are equally involved, with the Pentagon employing seven new military bases in Bulgaria and Romania to train Stryker brigades and airborne troops for the war in Afghanistan. [8]

As commander of CENTCOM and superior to General McChrystal in Afghanistan, Petraeus methodically laid the groundwork for expanding the scope of the greater Afghan war throughout his command’s broad geographical reach, the heart of what has been deemed the broader Middle East – from Egypt in the West to Kazakhstan in the East, taking in Iraq and the rest of the Persian Gulf region, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, and all of Central and much of South Asia.

On January 2 of this year he traveled to Yemen and met with President Ali Abdullah Saleh after the Christmas Day airline bomb scare outside Detroit, though Petraeus had also been in Yemen the preceding summer. Pentagon assistance to the Yemeni government, administered under what is described as a counter-terrorism program, had grown from $4.6 million in fiscal 2006 to $67 million in fiscal 2009.

While in Iraq the day before his departure for Yemen in January, Petraeus stated, “We have, it’s well known, about $70 million in security assistance last year. That will more than double this coming year.” [9]

At the time leading U.S. officials and those of its NATO allies strained to link their counterinsurgency wars – overt and otherwise – in the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Aden regions as extensions of the Global War on Terror from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia. Then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown even affirmed that “The weakness of al Qaeda in Pakistan has forced them out of Pakistan and into Yemen and Somalia.” [10]

In May the New York Times revealed that last September Petraeus had authorized covert special forces operations under a directive called the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order.

A United Press International feature last month indicated part of the order’s designs:

“The recent disclosure that the U.S. military is expanding its covert operations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa is widely seen as a dangerous precedent, with Iran as one of the main targets….Officials stressed that the directive…permits operations that could pave the way toward possible military attacks against Iran if the confrontation over Tehran’s nuclear program worsens.” [11]

This March the U.S. Defense Department’s website featured an article entitled “Centcom Looks Beyond Iraq, Afghanistan, Petraeus Says” in which, in addition to discussing counterinsurgency operations in Pakistan and Yemen, “Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the United States must remain vigilant in overseeing broader security challenges throughout the region.

“Petraeus called Iran the ‘primary state-level threat’ in the Middle East. He told the panel that Iran undermines security throughout the region in its efforts to gain nuclear weapons, which threatens a broader arms race, and uses its paramilitary force to influence Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, Afghanistan and the Gulf region.” [12]

Two months before he announced the U.S. was maintaining several Aegis class warships in the Persian Gulf, ships equipped with advanced missile radar and Standard Missile-3 interceptor missiles. “The U.S. positioned eight Patriot missile batteries in the Middle East and Aegis ballistic missile cruisers in the Persian Gulf, Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. Central Command leader, told the Institute for the Study of War on Jan. 22.” [13]

The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 theater missile interceptors are to be deployed to Iran’s Persian Gulf neighbor states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

In early March Petraeus was in what is now crisis-stricken Kyrgyzstan, less than a month before President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was overthrown in a bloody uprising [14]. He had arrived in Kyrgyzstan on March 10, one day after “the U.S. embassy said [a] $5.5 million anti-terrorist center would be built in Batken in southern Kyrgyzstan – where Russian and Kyrgyz officials had earlier said Moscow might consider building a similar military facility.” [15] It would appear that Petraeus and the Pentagon once more beat Russia to the punch.

He met with Bakiyev (who would be forced into exile early the next month) “to discuss bilateral cooperation and the situation in Afghanistan.” [16] The U.S. has used an air base at the Manas International Airport near the nation’s capital since 2001 for moving troops in and out of Afghanistan, recently at a rate of 55,000 a month.

A political analyst based in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, Aleksandr Knyazev, was quoted by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty during Petraeus’ visit on the repercussions of the Pentagon constructing a counterinsurgency/special forces base in the country: “Such a demonstrative act by the Kyrgyz side to agree…to (build a U.S.-funded counterterrorism center) is like throwing down a challenge to Russia and China.”

The feature from which the above comment is borrowed added:

“The Kyrgyz plan to set up a U.S.-funded training center in Batken might upset Russia, as the Russian-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization announced its intention last year to build a military base in southern Kyrgyzstan.

“Kyrgyzstan had been under pressure by Russia and China to close the U.S. air base. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security treaty dominated by Russia and China, has called on the United States to close its military bases in Central Asia.

“According to the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek, Washington has committed $5.5 million toward the completion of the counterterrorism center.” [17]

Petraeus also visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in early April and immediately after his return Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with President Barack Obama in Washington. Nazarbayev announced that he had granted the Pentagon the right to fly troops and military equipment over his nation for the expanding war in Afghanistan. According to Michael McFaul, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director of Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council, “the agreement will allow troops to fly directly from the United States over the North Pole to the region.” [18]

In early June a report titled “Pentagon Looks to Plant New Facilities in Central Asia” disclosed that the U.S. is “preparing to embark on a mini-building boom in Central Asia” and “the US military wants to be involved in strategic construction projects in all five Central Asian states, including Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.” [19]

In what was described as the major component of the project, the aforementioned training center in Kyrgyzstan, the report also stated, “The facility was originally intended to be built in Batken. But now it appears that it will be situated in Osh.” [20]

Three days after the above excerpts appeared online the city of Osh erupted into violence, a deadly conflict between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks which cost hundreds of lives and led to hundreds of thousands of Uzbeks being displaced.

An account of an announcement reported to have been posted on the U.S. government’s Federal Business Opportunities website in the middle of this May included this quote: “We anticipate two different projects in Kyrgyzstan. Both are estimated to be in the $5 million to $10 million dollar range.”

The posting “added that up to $5 million each was earmarked for Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It also listed two separate proposals for Tajikistan, one valued at up to $5 million, the other worth up to $10 million.” [21]

The U.S. military was evicted from the Uzbek air base at Karshi-Khanabad in November of 2005 and neither troops nor planes have returned since. But this April General Petraeus visited Uzbekistan, met with President Islam Karimov, and “the sides exchanged opinions on the issues of further development of Uzbek-US cooperation and other areas of mutual interest.” [22] American troops and pilots may soon join their German NATO allies operating from the air base at Termez near the Uzbek-Afghan border.

On June 25 Western news agencies reported that Ken Gross, the American ambassador to Tajikistan, where a French-dominated NATO operation has been run since early 2002 at the Dushanbe Airport but where to date no U.S. forces have been stationed, revealed that the Pentagon is to “build a facility for training local troops” to be opened next year. The American envoy said that “The plan [includes] almost $10 million to build this national training centre for the Tajik armed forces.” [23]

An Agence France-Presse report added that “The United States has in past years built training facilities, financed military programs and established airbases in a handful of strategic ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia….These include Georgia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus as well as Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia.” [24]

Petraeus’s visits to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in April followed up on trips to the same three Central Asian nations last August, to Tajikistan in October and to Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan in January of last year.

What his visits have focused on and in large part accomplished is to secure transit rights and, as has been seen above, a military foothold in the former Soviet republics in Central Asia. Starting in earnest with his tour of Central Asia in January of 2009, Petraeus has solidified what is known as a Northern Distribution Network for the Afghan war, a three-prong project that takes in a majority of the fifteen nations that formerly constituted the Soviet Union and that circumvents Pakistan, hitherto the main land route for U.S. and NATO supplies into Afghanistan but one which is more endangered by attacks with each passing day.

The first route starts in Latvia on the Baltic Sea and proceeds overland through Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Last month “NATO marked a new first in its Afghan campaign…as officials announced that the alliance had sent supplies by rail to its troops via Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for the first time….”

“The first trial shipment of the NATO train departed Riga, Latvia on May 14 and arrived in Afghanistan on June 9….” [25]

The second starts at the Georgian Black Sea port cities of Poti and Batumi and moves south and east to Azerbaijan, then across the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan, from there to Uzbekistan and then to Afghanistan. A third option bypasses Uzbekistan by going, as the first does, from Latvia through Russia to Kazakhstan, but then from the last country through Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan.

As commander of Central Command Petraeus oversaw a proxy war on the Arabian Peninsula [26] in Yemen and in conjunction with NATO engineered the military buildup against Iran in the Persian Gulf. [27]

He also to varying degrees pulled the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan deeper into the Afghan war nexus. Even nations outside of Central Command’s area of operations – Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Latvia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and now Russia – are part of the network. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine have troop contingents serving under NATO in Afghanistan, with Moldova likely to provide troops soon. Of the fifteen former Soviet republics, then, only Belarus would remain completely aloof from the war.

While speaking outside NATO headquarters in Kabul on July 4, General Petraeus stated “We are in this to win.” Only four days before, the deadliest month of the war for NATO forces ended and with it the lives of over a hundred foreign soldiers.

Petraeus’s 150,000 U.S. and NATO troops are not going to turn the tide in America’s longest, and NATO’s first ground, war. Nor will the conflict be shortened by pulling more nations, with almost a third of the world’s already embroiled, into the Afghan vortex.

1) Associated Press, July 4, 2010
2) West’s Afghan Debacle: Commander Dismissed As War Deaths Reach Record Level
Stop NATO, June 25, 2010

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/wests-afghan-debacle-commander-dismissed-as-war-deaths-reach-record-level

3) New York Times, December 7, 2009
Nobel Committee Celebrates War As Peace
Stop NATO, December 8, 2009

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/nobel-committee-celebrates-war-as-peace%5D

4) KEYC TV, May 15, 2010
5) Air Force Times, May 12, 2010
6) Xinhua News Agency, April 7, 2010
7) Ibid
8) U.S. And NATO Accelerate Military Build-Up In Black Sea Region
Stop NATO, May 20, 2010

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/u-s-and-nato-accelerate-military-build-up-in-black-sea-region

9) Reuters, January 1, 2010
10) Agence France-Presse, January 4, 2010
U.S., NATO Expand Afghan War To Horn Of Africa And Indian Ocean
Stop NATO, January 8, 2010

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/u-s-nato-expand-afghan-war-to-horn-of-africa-and-indian-ocean-2

11) United Press International, June 3, 2010
12) U.S. Department of Defense
American Forces Press Service
March 16, 2010
13) Stars and Stripes, February 3, 2010
U.S. Extends Missile Buildup From Poland And Taiwan To Persian Gulf
Stop NATO, February 3, 2010

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/u-s-extends-missile-buildup-from-poland-and-taiwan-to-persian-gu

14) Kyrgyzstan And The Battle For Central Asia
Stop NATO, April 7, 2010

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/kyrgyzstan-and-the-battle-for-central-asia

15) Reuters, March 9, 2010
16) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March 10, 2010
17) Ibid
18) Washington Post, April 12, 2010
Kazakhstan: U.S., NATO Seek Military Outpost Between Russia And China
Stop NATO, April 14, 2010

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/kazakhstan-u-s-nato-seek-military-outpost-between-russia-and-china/

19) EurasiaNet, June 8, 2010
20) Ibid
21) Ibid
22) UzReport, April 7, 2010
23) Agence France-Presse, June 25, 2010
24) Ibid
25) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, June 11, 2010
26) Yemen: Pentagon’s War On The Arabian Peninsula
Stop NATO, December 15, 2009

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/yemen-pentagons-war-on-the-arabian-peninsula

27) NATO’s Role In The Military Encirclement Of Iran
Stop NATO, February 10, 2010

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/natos-role-in-the-military-encirclement-of-iran

West’s Afghan Debacle: Commander Dismissed As War Deaths Reach Record Level

Stop NATO
June 25, 2010

West’s Afghan Debacle: Commander Dismissed As War Deaths Reach Record Level
Rick Rozoff

On June 23 President Barack Obama announced the dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal, commander of all foreign troops in Afghanistan, and within hours Associated Press reported that the Western military death toll in the country had reached at least 80 so far this month, making June NATO’s deadliest month in a war that will enter its tenth year on October 7.

McChrystal, appointed on June 15 of last year as top commander of all U.S. and all NATO-led International Security Assistance Force troops in the South Asian war zone – currently 142,000 with thousands more on the way – was to have led the largest assault of the war this month in the province and capital city of Kandahar.

The campaign, which was to have consisted of 25,000 U.S., NATO and Afghan government troops, appears to have been postponed indefinitely and may in fact never occur.

The Kandahar offensive was planned as the culmination of McChrystal’s much-vaunted counterinsurgency strategy that was inaugurated in earnest on February 13 of this year with Operation Moshtarak in the Marjah district of Kandahar’s neighboring province, Helmand.

In that operation at least 15,000 U.S., British, French, Canadian and Afghan National Army troops poured into a district that has been described as a loose aggregation of small agricultural hamlets and other communities with a combined population as low as 50,000. A CBS News report of February 9 stated 30,000 troops were to be involved in the U.S. Marine-led offensive. [1] One major Western news agency estimated that the amount of insurgents confronting the 15,000-30,000 NATO and Afghan government forces was as low as 200.

Far from overwhelming and quickly subjugating the area, however, the Western troops and their Afghan subordinates, the latter reluctantly dragooned into service for the attack, encountered fierce and intractable resistance.

Almost a month into the fighting – an operation by U.S.-led forces with as much as a 75- to 150-1 advantage in numbers – the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission estimated that 28 civilians, including 13 children, had been killed and 70 more civilians had been wounded, 30 of those children. The report issued by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission attributed most of the casualties to U.S. and NATO rocket and artillery fire.

Having taken the rural district by storm and, to employ the Pentagon parlance faithfully passed on by the mainstream media, eliminated the last pockets of resistance, the U.S. and NATO victory soon evaporated with the West’s inability to pacify Marjah for transfer to the control of the Hamid Karzai regime in Kabul.

The prototype for not only the largest but what was planned as the decisive military offensive of the long-drawn-out war preparatory to the White House’s pledged withdrawal of troops starting next year – the assault on the insurgent stronghold of Kandahar – evidently fared poorly enough for the latter offensive to be delayed if not scrapped.

Even without an operation in Kandahar, though, the West has already lost 80 soldiers in Afghanistan this month, the most since July of 2009 when 79 U.S. and NATO personnel were killed, with almost half of this month’s fatalities being non-American.

To employ one of the expressions from the cliché book of Western journalism, several grim milestones have been reached this month. U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan have officially surpassed the 1,000 mark. The Pentagon has now been conducting the longest sustained combat operations in the history of the United States, exceeding in duration those in Vietnam from 1964-1973.

The British death toll has reached at least 303, more than in any other conflict since the 1950s. Australia lost three soldiers on June 21, the most deaths in one day the nation has suffered after its role in supporting the U.S. in Vietnam.

Romania, a new NATO member which will soon have over 1,600 troops in Afghanistan, lost two soldiers on June 23. “Romania began to send troops to Afghanistan in July 2002. The action was the country’s first military mission abroad after the Second World War.” [2]

On June 6 a rocket attack on the Polish forward operating base in Ghazni province wounded four soldiers and on June 12 a similar attack on the same base killed one soldier and wounded eight more. Poland, with 2,600 soldiers serving under NATO in Afghanistan and another 400 held in reserve for deployment there, has lost 17 soldiers in one of the country’s first two overseas military operations – Iraq being the other – in its history and its first combat role since the Second World War.

As for NATO as a whole, the Afghan mission has achieved three major precedents: The first armed conflict outside of Europe, the first ground war and the first combat deaths (several hundred such) in the military bloc’s 61-year history.

It is against this backdrop that General McChrystal was abruptly and summarily relieved of his dual command over U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

After a 30-minute tête-à-tête with McChrystal, then a war council with Vice President Joseph Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, National Security Advisor James Jones and White House Chief of Staff and in many respects grey eminence Rahm Emanuel, President Obama stood behind a podium in the White House Rose Garden and announced McChrystal was not to return to Afghanistan as commander of U.S. and NATO forces.

His career had ended the way his predecessor’s, Army General David McKiernan, had a year before: He was unceremoniously deposed.

Flanked on both sides by Mullen, Biden, Gates and McChrystal’s hastily appointed successor General David Petraeus, Obama characterized the sacking of the Afghan war’s military chief as a resignation, the public relations equivalent of leaving a loaded revolver on the desk of a discredited subordinate.

The uptake of the American commander-in-chief’s address was contained in two sentences: “The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system.” In fact the piece in question would not be published for another two days.

He was referring to leaked excerpts from a Rolling Stone magazine feature on McChrystal and several of his aides, in particular off-the-cuff comments by aides as well as McChrystal, including ones uttered during a bibulous bus ride from Paris to Berlin in April. Wine keeps neither secrets nor promises as the aphorism has it.

Members of the establishment press corps (consumed with envy at not scooping the scandalous quotes themselves) scrambled for a thesaurus to characterize McChrystal and company’s less than flattering word portraits of Biden, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and White House Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke as intemperate, indiscreet, impolitic and so on down the list. Recall that their indignation was provoked by assorted obiter dicta issued on the wing and on the run over a month-long period. Being unenthusiastic about opening emails from Richard Holbrooke is not a crime of lese majesté, is not high treason.

Along the lines of Obama’s reference to maintaining civilian control of the military, mainstream political analysts and commentators made strained allusions to Abraham Lincoln’s firing of General George McClellan during the Civil War and Harry Truman’s cashiering General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War.

The freelance reporter whose story was the occasion for McChrystal’s departure, Michael Hastings, said after McChrystal’s dismissal that “he believed the story would last for 72 hours and then McChrystal and his staff would get back to business as usual.” [3]

Not so much a matter of changing commanders in midstream as it is throwing overboard the captain of a ship threatened with being capsized by a tempest.

That the commander of all foreign military forces in the world’s most extensive military conflict, one that involves over 50 nations [4] on six continents and will shortly reach its ninth year, would be dismissed within two days of a leaked report from an entertainment magazine (two days before its publication) is to all outward appearances a drastically disproportionate response, one that itself could be branded intemperate.

There were and are other, more substantial, dynamics at play.

Another American general who left his last post under a cloud, former U.S. European Command chief and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark – never one to be shy of the limelight or a television camera – appeared on CNN the evening of McChrystal being dumped and dutifully echoed the official post-purge position: “I think that there are lines you can’t cross and I think there’s responsibilities that you have to uphold as a senior commander.”

In reference to Central Command head David Petraeus taking charge of 150,000 U.S. and NATO (and in truth what there is of an Afghan National Army) troops, Clark added a revealing item which may prove to be the main intention behind and result of McChrystal’s dismissal: “I don’t know what the timetable means. Whether it means you’ve got to pull a brigade out or four brigades out or half the troops out or, you know, an outpost out, I’m not quite clear.”[5]

With mid-term congressional elections in early November and Obama’s presumed reelection bid two years later, Petraeus’ appointment may have a distinctly political dimension. Either simply an effort to put a new face on a disastrous affair or to signal a shift in war tactics. But if meant to boost the election prospects of Democratic candidates this year and Obama in 2012, the White House may get more than it bargained for.

A graduate of the West Point Military Academy like McChrystal, Petraeus has been the subject of rumours – for at least three years – that he intends to run for the U.S. presidency, and in fact has been deftly positioning himself for just that eventuality.

Presented as the hero of the war in Iraq who as commander of Multi-National Force – Iraq (MNF-I) from January of 2007 to September of 2008 presided over the so-called surge during that interim – and ballyhooed as the father of a Petraeus Doctrine at the time – his reprising that role in Afghanistan could enhance his appeal as a war hero cum man on horseback in 2012, much as the aforementioned Wesley Clark attempted (with scant success but having tested the waters) in 2004.

Commentators have alluded to the 1962 novel (and its cinematic adaptation two years later) Seven Days in May [6] lately in reference to outgoing Afghan war commander Stanley McChrystal. The parallel may more properly suit Petraeus.

When he assumed command of the Multi-National Force – Iraq in the very month that President George W. Bush launched the Iraq surge with the announcement of 20,000 more troops to be deployed there, Petraeus took control of all foreign occupation forces in the country, not only from the U.S. and Britain but also from dozens of other nations, primarily at the time 20 new NATO and NATO candidate and other partner states from Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.

All of the above except for Kazakhstan and Moldova (for the time being), with new nation Montenegro added, have troops assigned to NATO in Afghanistan.

The war in and occupation of Iraq provided Petraeus and the Pentagon an unprecedented opportunity to integrate the armed forces of dozens of nations – others included Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Mongolia and Singapore, which now have troops in Afghanistan as well – for purposes of weapons and combat interoperability and for NATO membership and assorted partnerships under wartime conditions.

Preceding his appointment as commander of the Multi-National Force – Iraq in 2007, Petraeus was named both head of the Multi-National Security Transition Command — Iraq and the first commander of the NATO Training Mission-Iraq in 2004.

Before that, while a brigadier general, he served in Bosnia in the early years of this decade as part of NATO’s Operation Joint Forge and as Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations for the NATO-led Stabilization Force and Deputy Commander of the U.S. Joint Interagency Counter-Terrorism Task Force.

In recognition of his role in Iraq, in April of 2008 Secretary of Defense Gates announced that President Bush was nominating Petraeus to head up U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which post he took up on October 31, 2008.

The U.S. is the only nation in history to divide the world into military commands. CENTCOM’s area of responsibility includes, in addition to Afghanistan and Iraq, other nations beset by armed conflicts like Pakistan and Yemen, and all of the Middle East (except for Israel), the Persian Gulf (including Iran) and Central Asia. Egypt is the only African nation left to CENTCOM, with Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia and Sudan ceded to the new U.S. Africa Command, though Lebanon and Syria were transferred from European Command to Central Command in 2004.

In the past twenty months Petraeus has not only overseen ongoing military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen and supported those in Pakistan, but has also worked assiduously at building a far-reaching nexus of military overflights, land routes and transit bases from the Persian Gulf and the South Caucasus to Central Asia for the Afghan war.

He will now step down as head of CENTCOM to command 150,000 U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The lionization of Petraeus began before the fact regarding the dual Afghan commands and within hours of his announced appointments, with the predictable claque clapping like trained seals.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen guaranteed that Washington’s 27 partners in the military alliance would sheepishly keep their own counsel: “After all, they are only supplying 25 percent of the alliance’s 130,000 troops in Afghanistan. They will accept Mr Obama’s step, be it with some disappointment because they generally agreed that McChrystal was doing a good job.” [7] Hardly a passionate endorsement of the organization he heads and which is touted as a “military alliance of democratic states in Europe and North America.”

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius regaled his readers with a glowing panegyric entitled “Gen. David Petraeus: The right commander for Afghanistan,” which is replete with these specimens of fawning puffery:

- Gen. David Petraeus didn’t sign on as the new Afghanistan commander because he expects to lose.

- Obama has doubled down on his bet, much as George W. Bush did with his risky surge of troops in Iraq under Petraeus’s command.

- [A]s I’ve heard him say: “The thing about winners is that they know how to win.”

- Petraeus is, among other things, the most deft political figure I’ve seen in uniform. In just two years he has gone from being Bush’s go-to general to Obama’s. [8]

The piece goes on in that vein for an unconscionably, an insufferably, long time.

It is emblematic of the peculiarly American art of concocting an overnight hero mythos. The identical technique was exhibited a year ago when Stanley McChrystal was promoted to four-star general to take command of the Afghan war.

Petraeus, like the fox in the fable of Aesop, may want to think twice about entering a lion’s den in which he sees footprints enter but not come out. Unless political ambition blinds him to the evidence.

1) http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/02/09/eveningnews/main6191709.shtml
2) Xinhua News Agency, June 24, 2010
3) New York Daily News, June 24, 2010
4) Afghan War: NATO Builds History’s
First Global Army
Stop NATO, August 9, 2009

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/afghan-war-nato-builds-historys-first-global-army

5) CNN, June 23, 2010
6) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Days_in_May
7) Radio Netherlands, June 24, 2010
8) Washington Post, June 24, 2010 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/23/AR2010062304005.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Military Watershed: Longest War In U.S. And Afghan History

Stop NATO
June 9, 2010

Military Watershed: Longest War In U.S. And Afghan History
Rick Rozoff

This week news about the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization armed conflict in Afghanistan, the largest and longest-running war in the world, has begun to penetrate the wall of triumphalism and complacency erected by Washington during the past year’s unparalleled military escalation in the South Asian nation.

Between the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States on January 20, 2009 and now, the number of American troops in the war zone has almost tripled, from 32,000 to 94,000, with the total to reach 100,000 in upcoming weeks. Late last month U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan for the first time outnumbered those in Iraq, 94,000 compared to 92,000. There will soon also be an aggregate of 50,000 armed forces provided by Washington’s NATO allies and NATO partnership nations.

The 150,000 U.S. and allied troops in place by this summer will exceed by tens of thousands the largest amount of foreign forces ever before stationed in Afghanistan: An estimated 118,000 Soviet troops that constituted the high water mark of the USSR’s deployment between late 1979 and early 1989. [1]

The territory of what is now Afghanistan was invaded in remote times by Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan among other conquerors, but the first two armed attacks against Afghanistan itself were in 1839 and 1878, in both cases by English and colonial troops invading from British India.

In the First Anglo-Afghan War of 1839–1842 over 20,000 British and Indian troops invaded the country, ending in an inglorious – a disastrous – rout for the aggressors. In the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1878–1880 Britain invaded with a force of 40,000 troops and that incursion also culminated in a withdrawal to India.

The Third Anglo-Afghan War of 1919 was a three-month campaign waged by London against the government of Amanullah Khan which ended in a stalemate and in the effective independence of Afghanistan as a modern nation.

The 150,000 U.S. and NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops in the country, then, represent the largest invasion, occupation and foreign warfighting force in Afghanistan’s history. They are also the most diverse military force not only in Afghan but in any nation’s experience: Armed combatants from as many as fifty nations and all continents except uninhabited Antarctica.

On June 7 mainstream American media acknowledged that the war in Afghanistan is now their country’s longest one, with Washington having entered month 104 of a conflict that began on October 7, 2001.

The most protracted war before had been that in Vietnam. Current calculations based on the beginning of the American role in major and independent combat operations in that Southeast Asian nation – from the Tonkin Gulf Resolution passed by the U.S. Congress on August 7, 1964 – to the withdrawal of the last American combat troops in March of 1973 total 103 months. In fact it took several months for the Pentagon to act on the resolution and as such the Afghan war has already been the lengthiest in America’s history, but the formal recognition of it as such is now a matter of public record.

As for Afghanistan itself, the first Soviet troops entered the country on December 24, 1979 and the final troop withdrawal began on May 15, 1988 and ended on February 15, 1989, a total of 102 and 111 months respectively.

By the beginning of next year U.S. troops will have been in Afghanistan longer than Soviet ones were.

On June 8 CNN (Cable News Network) featured an online report stating “The United States passed [a] grim milestone” on that date with the death of its 1001st soldier in Afghanistan. The next day four more American soldiers were killed when a helicopter they were traveling in was shot down in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.

The independent iCasualties website had already estimated 1,108 U.S. soldiers killed in and around Afghanistan (that is, also in Pakistan and Uzbekistan) and previous accounts had mentioned deaths in excess of 1,000 in the sixteen-nation greater Operation Enduring Freedom area of operations, but the acknowledgement of over 1,000 U.S. fatalities in Afghanistan alone by the commercial media is another landmark.

American deaths this year are now at least at the 165 mark, compared to 327 for all last year and 155 in 2008 according to iCasualties. Total foreign military losses since 2001 are over 1,800. Britain lost its 294th soldier on June 9, the highest number of combat deaths the United Kingdom has registered since the counterinsurgency war in Malaya in the 1950s and 39 more than in the 1982 war with Argentina over the Falklands/Las Malvinas. Two days before Canada lost its 147th soldier, the highest military death toll for the nation since the Korean War.

On the same day a Polish forward operating base in the province of Ghazni came under rocket attack and four Polish soldiers were wounded. On June 1 Denmark announced the first-ever death of a female service member in an improvised explosive device attack in Helmand Province.

With the five American and British deaths on June 9, NATO has lost at least 29 soldiers in the first nine days of this month. Ten foreign soldiers were killed on June 7 alone, including two Australian and one French serviceman. The deaths occurred both in southern and eastern Afghanistan.

Ahead of what has been planned as the largest military offensive of the nearly nine-year war, the assault against the southern province of Kandahar and in particular the city of the same name which is its capital, the initiative does not appear to be with the U.S. and NATO. The campaign was scheduled to begin this month and culminate in August when combined U.S. and NATO troop strength in Afghanistan will reach 150,000.

On the morning of June 9 fifty NATO tankers transporting oil and other supplies were attacked only fifty kilometers south of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

According to earlier reports, top U.S. and NATO commander Stanley McChrystal is amassing over 25,000 troops – American, NATO and Afghan government – for the offensive in the city of Kandahar.

The Daily Telegraph recently reported that “British military intelligence estimates there are between 500 and 1,000 insurgents who operate regularly in the area,” [2] which would mean as high as a 50-1 ratio of U.S.-led troops to Afghan insurgents, comparable to February’s attack on the town of Marjah in neighboring Helmand Province where 15,000 U.S.- and NATO-led forces faced as few as 400 armed fighters. [3]

The Kandahar operation is still scheduled to commence this month and “will focus on Kandahar city and the farmland around it, and could take from four to six months. While Nato commanders are promising a low-key, Afghan-led approach to Kandahar city itself, international troops are preparing for combat operations in some of the areas around the city.” [4]

Despite the pledge by President Obama that after what was touted in advance as a victory in Kandahar and throughout the war-wracked nation to begin drawing down U.S. and NATO troops in 2011, all indications are that Western forces will remain in Afghanistan long after that. Far longer than any foreign military power has ever stayed in the nation before in a war that is already the longest in American history. [5]

1) New York Times, February 16, 1989, “according to Western intelligence
estimates”
2) The Telegraph, June 1, 2010
3) Associated Press, February 14, 2010
4) The Telegraph, June 1, 2010
5) Afghanistan: Charlie Wilson And America’s 30-Year War
Stop NATO, February 15, 2010

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/afghanistan-charlie-wilson-and-americas-30-year-war

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NATO In Afghanistan: World War In One Country

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/nato-in-afghanistan-world-war-in-one-country

War In Afghanistan Evokes Second World War Parallels

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/war-in-afghanistan-evokes-second-world-war-parallels

Afghanistan: NATO Intensifies Its First Asian War

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/afghanistan-nato-intensifies-its-first-asian-war

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http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/wests-afghan-war-from-conquest-to-bloodbath

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http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/12/24/end-of-the-year-u-s-recruits-worldwide-for-afghan-war

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http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/12/18/afghanistan-worlds-lengthiest-war-has-just-begun

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http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/u-s-nato-war-in-afghanistan-antecedents-and-precedents

Christmas 2009: U.S., NATO To Expand New Millennium’s Longest War

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/christmas-2009-u-s-nato-to-expand-new-millenniums-longest-war

Afghanistan: West’s 21st Century War Risks Regional Conflagration

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/afghanistan-wests-21st-century-war-risks-regional-conflagration

Following Afghan Election, NATO Intensifies Deployments, Carnage

http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/09/06/following-afghan-election-nato-intensifies-deployments-carnage

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