If the US has any hope of winning a war in Afghanistan, then all those NATO troops, and their politically correct approach to fighting a war, may, very well, have to be relieved. In fact, I see no real reason, anymore for continuing the alliance known as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization.)
There are, currently, 43,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan. Now, check this…. 14, 000 of THOSE NATO troops are American troops. Then look a tad closer and you’ll find another 13,000 American troops in Afghanistan, not serving under the NATO flag. So, only 29,000 of the NATO troops are non-American. When you add the American troops together you get 27,000 American troops in Afghanistan as opposed to 29,000 non-American NATO troops. Ponder those numbers for a moment.
Now, why aren’t the NATO troops more effective? When one looks objectively at the NATO troops performance in Afghanistan, one would have to conclude that NATO is certainly not winning the war against the Taliban. If anything, they have reached some sort of stalemate. Not winning and not losing.
Some observers say that some of the NATO countries insist on placing their troops in less dangerous parts of Afghanistan. Germany, for instance has her troops assigned to the northern part of that country where there is much less combat and much less chance that Germany will rack up combat deaths and injuries to her troops. US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, has said he is afraid that NATO is in danger of splitting into two parts. He went on to say this policy could end up… “forcing other allies to bear a disproportionate share of the fighting and dying." Needless to say some of the NATO partners are furious at the two-tied NATO policy. On the other hand, Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands are directly engaged in combat operations.
This infighting within NATO is nothing new. It has been going on since, well, early days of the NATO organization. The European countries, it seems, have always had their own ways of viewing threats to their particular countries and interpreting those threats and , it would seem, they still have trouble working together as a team.
On this side of the pond, Canada is threatening to take her NATO troops home next year. Canada wants one thousand more NATO troops, non-Canadians, sent to Kandahar, which is located in the south of Afghanistan, to take some of the pressure off the Canadians who have lost 66 Canadian troops in some of the hottest combat in that theatre of operations.
Look, there is no way around it. The Brits, the Canucks, and the Dutch are the fighting forces holding the line in Afghanistan! Who can blame them if they tend to get their backs up when fellow members of the NATO organization appear reluctant to fairly share the burden?
It is becoming clearer, as time passes, that handing off Afghanistan to NATO to begin with may have made a bad mistake. The armies of the various countries making up the NATO military forces in Afghanistan have different approaches to fighting a war. They have different rules of engagement and they even have different approaches to the various and sundry ways they go about re-building that war torn country. There is simply no way to devise a single strategy when NATO partners insist on doing things “their way”. Even a “wet-behind-the-ears” basic training recruit knows you cannot fight and win a war that way.
There is growing frustration among American military leaders, and many American civilians looking on, over NATO’s less than effective efforts in Afghanistan. Many of us have begun to wonder if the US made a mistake, a huge mistake, in handing over the war effort in Afghanistan to NATO. Not only are we wondering THAT, but we are also questioning whether NATO is worth saving. Now that we know which countries can field an effective fighting force, why not dissolve NATO and create an alliance of countries with battlefield tested and battlefield proven militaries. It might be a smaller organization, but it would certainly be a more effective military alliance.
Afghanistan is going to get a lot uglier in the months ahead. When the US/NATO forces finally decide to move against the half a million acres of heroin poppies grown, this year, in that country, some three million more Afghan civilians will suddenly become “insurgents” and turn on the US/NATO fighting forces and take their places right alongside the Taliban.
So far, the US has been able to avoid that catastrophe by assigning the “war on drugs”, in Afghanistan, to the Afghanistan military forces. But it is obvious to everyone that is not working. So, sooner, or later, it will become necessary to napalm those fields of poppies and make an organized effort to destroy the nationwide organization behind the drug trade there. No one should be surprised at how high into the upper echelons of Afghanistan society the tentacles of that organization reach.
When the US finally does focus on Afghanistan, we will recognize that, suddenly, we have a “tufor” (“two-for”)… a war on terror… AND… a war on drugs, all wrapped up in an “un-pretty” package just waiting to be opened.
J. D. Longstreet
J.D. Longstreet’s commentaries can also be found
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