Saturday, September 09, 2006

About That Emboldened Taliban Insurgency

The Taliban wanted to exploit what they thought would be a weakness in coalition strategy. By the US handing off duties to NATO, the Taliban thought that NATO wouldn't have the stomach to continue the fight against the Taliban.

The Taliban thought wrong.

The Taliban have been getting wiped out at every turn, with more than 300 killed in the course of Operation Medusa. Yet, this is comment is both troubling and encouraging:
NATO's top commander appealed for 2,000 more troops to help quell the insurgency, which has proven more intense than anticipated in the five weeks since the alliance took over from the U.S.-led coalition in the south.
The Times reports 2,000 troops were requested, but other reports suggest a request of up to 1,000.
Also, while the NY Times reports about 30 were killed, other reports indicate 40.

The need for additional troops is a sign that the NATO commanders want to get this job done right. They want to eliminate and crush the Taliban, and need the troops to get this done. The Taliban have repeatedly claimed that they're going to go on the offensive, and the current escalation in violence is a sign not only of that offensive by the Taliban, but because the NATO forces are flushing out the Taliban. That the Taliban have massed for these attacks have provided a golden opportunity to do exactly that. NATO agreed to bolster the force overnight, but there are problems with NATO as well:
Asked whether it was realistic to expect more troops from armies that are already complaining of being stretched by military operations from Iraq to the Lebanon, Mr Boudreau said: "Of course it is realistic. But it is a political decision and we cannot answer that."

NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe James Jones, the alliance's top commander of operations, said this week he was confident the three days of talks in Warsaw would yield offers. But firm pledges of more troops are only expected later after military chiefs go home and consult with their governments.

Mr Jones insisted the call for reinforcements was not a panic reaction but was designed to ensure the success of a NATO offensive in the south which it says has already killed hundreds of insurgents. Taliban leaders deny losses on that scale.

The talks in Warsaw took place after at least 16 people were killed overnight in the deadliest suicide bombing in the Afghan capital Kabul since the fall of the Taliban, an attack which appeared to be aimed at a US military convoy.

British, Dutch and Canadian troops leading the mission in the south are taking almost daily casualties in what is the toughest ground combat mission in NATO's 57-year history.

Under pressure from Washington to do more, NATO expanded its operations from the north, west and Kabul to the south a month ago despite nations having only come up with about 85 per cent of military requests for troops and equipment.
There are also questions over whether Germany, Italy, or Spain would agree to make troops available to assist in Southern Afghanistan where the bulk of the fighting is going on as Northern Afghanistan is largely quiet. Politics undermining the mission. Figures. Mullah Omar is said to be in Pakistan, leading his forces from hiding. Gee, that isn't surprising. The Afghan-Pakistani border is like a sieve, and one can easily cross from one country into another. Securing that border would improve Afghanistan's security situation and cut off Taliban resupply. A military solution to that issue isn't going to solve the problem alone. A diplomatic solution to dealing with the border issue will need to be implemented as well.

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