August 25, 2010
Pentagon’s New Global Military Partner: Sweden
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.  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. 
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….” 
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.” 
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”  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.”  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. 
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.” 
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,”  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,”  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”  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.” 
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.” 
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. 
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.” 
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.”  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.” 
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. 
End of Scandinavian Neutrality: NATO’s Militarization Of Europe
Stop NATO, April 10, 2009
Scandinavia And The Baltic Sea: NATO’s War Plans For The High North
June 14, 2009
Afghan War: NATO Trains Finland, Sweden For Conflict With Russia
July 26, 2009
1) Afghan War: NATO Builds History’s First Global Army
Stop NATO, August 9, 2009
2) Stop the Furtive Accession to NATO!
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
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
June 9, 2010
Military Watershed: Longest War In U.S. And Afghan History
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. 
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,”  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. 
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.” 
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. 
1) New York Times, February 16, 1989, “according to Western intelligence
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
NATO In Afghanistan: World War In One Country
War In Afghanistan Evokes Second World War Parallels
Afghanistan: NATO Intensifies Its First Asian War
West’s Afghan War: From Conquest To Bloodbath
End Of The Year: U.S. Recruits Worldwide For Afghan War
Afghanistan: World’s Lengthiest War Has Just Begun
U.S., NATO War In Afghanistan: Antecedents And Precedents
Christmas 2009: U.S., NATO To Expand New Millennium’s Longest War
Afghanistan: West’s 21st Century War Risks Regional Conflagration
Following Afghan Election, NATO Intensifies Deployments, Carnage