Monday, August 27, 2007

Casualties begin to unravel Afghan force

Casualties are much more real to the public consciousness it seems than the lofty ideals that are always trotted out as reasons for the mission. The same tired phraseology is used after each casualty: the person believed in the mission, it would be wrong to pull out and: a) betray the people of Afghanistan (Iraq or wherever) b) leave Afghanistan (Iraq or wherever) to become a prey to i) chaos ii) terrorists iii) become a failed state. We are building a secure and democratic Afghanistan with the rule of law(Iraq or wherever) I am sure you could develop a simple computer program to spout out this stuff and dispense with commentators except to read the scripts.

Casualties begin to unravel Afghan force August 27, 2007
WASHINGTON: The US is worried about weakening Italian and German military commitments in Afghanistan as casualties mount in the International Security and Assistance Force, including the "friendly fire" incident on Friday that killed three British soldiers.

Debate is raging in Italy and Germany, and to a lesser extent in The Netherlands and Denmark, on whether they should remain in the ISAF, which is already grappling with a shortage of troops in the face of one of the most intense military engagements in decades.

"There is a good prospect that we are going to lose some" contributions from certain countries, a US administration official said, as European nations face votes at home on their reconstruction, military and training commitments in Afghanistan.

The NATO-led 37-nation ISAF and a separate US-led coalition, in total about 50,000 foreign soldiers, are together with Afghan security forces fighting to block the return to power of the Taliban after the hardline Islamic militia was ousted in late 2001.

But with the fighting at its toughest since then, Washington is deeply worried about eroding support for the effort.

"Italy and Germany are the ones that are of serious concern," the official added, citing Italy as "one that we are really concerned about".

With 2500 troops, Italy heads NATO's Herat-based regional command in western Afghanistan. Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema recently blamed a lack of co-ordination between US and ISAF forces for hundreds of Afghan civilian deaths, which he called "morally unacceptable".

In Germany, where polls show a strong 64 per cent majority calling for withdrawal, parliament would have to vote on whether to continue with commitments for reconstruction, military deployment and training of Afghan forces.

Germany has lost 25 soldiers, three police officers and four civilians in Afghanistan since 2002. The past month has been grim with the abduction by the Taliban of two German engineers, one of whom was shot dead. The other is reportedly ill and begging for his life.

Germany has contributed some 3000 troops to the NATO mission and has six Tornado reconnaissance planes helping to spot Taliban hideouts.

In The Netherlands, there is some unease about how long the Afghanistan effort will continue, but US officials believe cuts in the military deployment will be spared.

On Friday, three British soldiers were killed while fighting Taliban forces near Kajaki Dam in Helmand Province after being hit by a bomb dropped by a US fighter jet.


No comments: