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NATO or TALIBAN? Who is Winning the War in Afghanistan?

Discussion in 'Pakistan's Internal Security' started by waraich66, Feb 1, 2009.

  1. waraich66

    waraich66 FULL MEMBER

    Oct 19, 2008
    +0 / 98 / -0
    NATO or TALIBAN? Who is Winning the War in Afghanistan?

    Seven years after entering Afghanistan as part of International Security assistance Force, four years after assuming the ISAF command, and within one year after taking over the charge of peacekeeping and combat operations throughout Afghanistan, NATO troops—currently numbering over 35,000 from 37 countries—are facing a revitalized Taliban –led militancy in the war-torn country.

    In the past year or so, attacks on civilians and US/NATO forces have increased significantly, opium cultivation has achieved record highs, and reconstruction efforts have faltered Since October 2006, when NATO assumed the charge of combat operations across Afghanistan, the Taliban attacks against NATO troops, mostly in the shape of suicide and roadside bombings, have intensified, causing much more physical loss to NATO forces than the previous years.

    Several reasons explain why NATO’s ISAF mission in Afghanistan is failing. They include the insufficiency of NATO troops available for combat operations in Afghanistan, the flawed nature of Afghan reconstruction and security sector reforms, the indigenous sources of Taliban-led militarism in the country, the continued support to Taliban from Pakistan’s tribal region, and the growing Afghan and regional perceptions of NATO as an ‘occupation force.’

    Lacking Troop Commitments from NATO

    The foremost reason behind NATO’s current failure in Afghanistan is the insufficient number of its troops available for combat operations, amid growing militancy by Taliban-led forces. It is not just that NATO needs more troops on the ground, but the troops from several NATO countries that are already deployed are restricted from engaging in combat operations in Afghanistan by their governments.

    The United State, Canada and Britain, which have done most of the fighting against Taliban, have had tremendous difficulties in getting support from other NATO countries for counter-Taliban operations. Major European countries such as France, Italy, Spain and Germany have refused to take part in operations that could involve fighting the Taliban

    One of the reasons why NATO countries hesitate from contributing more troops or refusing their combat use is that they consider Afghanistan as a high-risk combat theatre, where the results of military operations have not been too positive or visible. Other reasons include the rising death toll of NATO troops has caused public support to waver in countries suffering from heaviest casualties, particularly Britain and Canada.

    Such losses are doing little to increase support for the war in other NATO member states where the long-term support for the NATO mission is seriously lacking. Finally, if growing instances of NATO air-strikes targeting Afghan civilians have received severe criticism from the Afghan government and international human rights organizations, they have also caused great alarm among European people already weary of the war effort in Afghanistan.

    NATO’s combat troop insufficiency has had two negative consequences for the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. One, southern and south-eastern Afghan provinces such as Helmand, Kandahar and Oruzgan have particularly seen a significant rise in the power of Taliban. Two, the ISAF has still not developed a positive image of itself among the Afghans outside Kabul, as NATO forces seem to be far more concerned about their own security than the security of the Afghans they are supposed protect.

    Faulty Reconstruction and Security Sector Reforms

    If NATO has failed to tackle the immediate challenge of fighting Taliban-led militancy, its broad-based efforts to reconstruct Afghanistan and reform the country’s security sector have also produced minimal results. Reconstruction and security sector reforms—including the creation of Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP), and countering narcotics—are longer-term solutions to Taliban-led militarism and consequent under-development and insecurity in Afghanistan. NATO’s failure in realizing these broader goals, thus, directly impinges upon its current military mission in Afghanistan.

    NATO troops currently oversee the operation of some 25 Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) across Afghanistan. PRTs have been a mixed success to date, as civil and military actors have not necessarily communicated well and disagreed over the role of military forces in aid and development work. Moreover, several NATO countries have either not made the required financial contributions or have failed to fulfill their financial pledges to make the PRTs a success.

    Even though the current troops’ strength of the ANA stands at over 40,000, they are still incapable of conducting operations independently and suffering from basic problems such as inexperience, illiteracy and insufficient equipment. The target goal for the ANP, as established in the ANC, is 62,000 personnel, fully trained and equipped, by March 20, 2011. Well over half of this number of police personnel is currently operational in the country, but they are under-paid, ill-equipped and known to be incompetent.

    The NATO-led ISAF mission in Afghanistan has also failed to counter Afghanistan’s growing drug problem. The opium trade, which currently amounts to almost half of Afghanistan’s GDP, is the principal financier of Taliban-led militarism in Afghanistan. The Taliban-led violence is taking place in areas such as Helmand which are notorious for poppy cultivation and opium trade.

    Indigenous Sources of Taliban-led Militarism

    Beyond the purely military-specific causes of NATO’s failure in Afghanistan are some domestic realities that explain the success of Taliban-led militarism in the country. NATO leaders do not seem to recognize the fact that Taliban-led militancy in Afghanistan is currently not entirely motivated by religious factor alone; rather, an important cause behind it is continued alienation of the majority Pashtun from Afghanistan’s present government structure.

    The Taliban were never properly defeated following the US-led invasion in 2001. In the initial few years of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom, the Taliban and their extremist allies were not able to withstand the severe military assault that the United States waged with the help of its superior air power. Over time, however, the Taliban-led forces have been able to re-group in the south and south-eastern parts of Afghanistan, where they are currently well-entrenched in a number of largely inaccessible areas.

    The NATO mission in Afghanistan is also compounded by a number of problems facing the Afghanistan government led by President Hamid Karzi, including corruption, the slow progress of reconstruction, widespread poppy cultivation and the continued power of local warlords and militias. These interconnected issues all require redress if the Afghan government is to establish legitimate authority across the country, but lie outside the core mission and competency of NATO’s ISAF forces.

    Support to Taliban from Pakistan

    NATO’s failure to co-opt Pakistan for jointly managing the threat from Taliban and their militant-extremist sympathizers in Pakistan’s tribal regions bordering Afghanistan is another major challenge facing the NATO mission in Afghanistan. There is no doubt that Pakistan’s tribal regions have served as an important base for Taliban re-grouping and infiltration across the unrecognized Durand Line into Afghanistan.

    Preventing Pakistan’s tribal regions from becoming a safe heaven for Taliban requires close collaboration between NATO command in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s security apparatus. Pakistan has, indeed, been a part of the Tri-Partite Commission tasked with ensuring security in Afghanistan’s border areas—with Afghanistan and US/NATO being its two other members—but the NATO leadership has preferred in much of the past four years of its ISAF command to side with the Afghan and US leadership in blaming Pakistan for not "doing enough" to prevent Taliban regrouping in its tribal regions and their infiltration into Afghanistan.

    The stiff resistance that Pakistan military has received from pro-Taliban extremists in the tribal regions indicates that preventing the re-grouping of Taliban in these regions and their infiltration into Afghanistan is quite a huge task that Pakistan alone may not be able to perform. Had the US/NATO and Afghan leaders been more forthcoming on the measures Pakistan proposed to institutionalize new security arrangements along the Durand Line within the framework of the Tri-Partite Commission, the said problem could have been solved considerably over time.

    The establishment of the Joint Intelligence Operations Center (JOIC) in Kabul, where ISAF, Afghan and Pakistani officials share intelligence on Taliban and terrorist networks, is an important step in building the necessary links with Pakistani intelligence that will be invaluable to defeating the Taliban. However, insofar as the issue of Pakistan’s tribal regions acting as a safe heaven for Taliban fighters in Afghanistan is concerned, much more needs to be done, including the socio-economic development of these regions and the repatriation of Afghan refugees from there.

    Millions of Afghan refugees are still camped in Pakistan’s tribal regions. The Afghan refugee camps are an important source of Taliban militancy. As long as Pakistan’s tribal regions are beset by extreme poverty and illiteracy, they will remain an ideal place for the generation of extremism and terrorism. Given the prevailing state of insecurity in the tribal regions, the US plan to develop them economically has not materialized.

    Likewise, the deterioration in Afghanistan’s security has dissuaded the Afghan refugees from returning to their country. Building Pakistan’s tribal regions and repatriating Afghan refugees from Pakistani soil, however, remain important pre-requisites for the success of NATO mission in Afghanistan, eve if they do not directly fall into its purview.

    Perceptions about NATO as an ‘Occupation Force’

    A final, perhaps more important, reason for the failure of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan are growing domestic and regional perceptions about NATO as an ‘occupation force" in Afghanistan with an expansionist regional agenda. The ISAF was mandated by the UN to secure and stabilize post-Taliban Afghanistan. Instead, its primary mission, even after NATO assumed its command in 2003, has been to secure the Karzai government in Kabul, which is perceived to be unrepresentative of the majority Pashtun interests, especially in Taliban-infested south and south-eastern parts of the country.

    Even otherwise, the Afghans in general have historically distrusted a strong central authority, what to speak of a foreign power trying to forcibly dictate its will upon them. Given that, it is but natural for the Afghan people living in southern and south-eastern regions and in the firing line of US/NATO operations to increasingly perceive NATO as an "occupation force." The significant rise in civilian deaths caused by ill-planned NATO air-strikes has alienated the very civilian population whose support is essential for the success of NATO mission.

    It is not just in Afghanistan but also in the country’s neighbourhood, particularly Pakistan and Iran, that NATO’s Afghan mission has generated hostile public reaction. In the past couple of years, on a number of occasions, NATO also adopted a threatening posture vis-à-vis Pakistan’s tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

    In order to stop the alleged infiltration of Taliban from the region into Afghanistan, NATO and Afghan forces have, in a number of reported instances, exchanged fire with Pakistani troops posted along the Durand Line. The NATO command may have engaged in hot pursuit of Taliban fleeing into Pakistan’s tribal region after conducting military operations in Afghanistan, but its said policy has not gone down well in Pakistani pubic opinion.

    In Iran, Afghanistan’s next important neighbour in the south-west and not far from the areas of intense Taliban-led militancy, public perceptions about NATO’s role in Afghanistan and beyond are no different than those existing in much of Afghanistan and Pakistan—but for an additional reason: Unlike Pakistan, Iran was anti-Taliban. US/NATO’s failure to enlist Iranian support to secure and stabilize Afghanistan after the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001, therefore, constitutes an important reason behind growing Taliban-led militarism in Afghanistan and consequent NATO’s failure to provide security and stability in the war-torn country.

    Since US attempts to up the ante over Iran’s nuclear issue have taken place side by side with NATO’s expanding operational mission in Afghanistan, it is but natural for the Iranians to perceive the former as indicative of NATO’s US-dictated expansionist policy vis-à-vis Iran. In retrospect, therefore, NATO’s military mission in Afghanistan neither has the requisite domestic pubic approval nor is it perceived as friendly in countries bordering Afghanistan, including perhaps Central Asia as well, where regimes’ preference is to consolidate ties with China and Russia within the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organization. In the absence of Afghan public approval and friendly regional climate, the NATO mission in Afghanistan will continue to hang in the balance.

    NATO or TALIBAN? Who is Winning the War in Afghanistan?

    But why NATO dont try to change its failed strategy????
  2. fatman17


    Apr 24, 2007
    +47 / 25,880 / -0
    Militants in Pakistan sever Afghan supply link

    PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Suspected militants blew up a bridge in northwestern Pakistan's Khyber Pass on Tuesday, cutting the main route for supplies bound for Western forces in Afghanistan, Pakistani government officials said.

    Separately, security forces killed at least 35 Taliban insurgents and wounded many others in an attack Monday night in the Swat Valley, northeast of the Kyber Pass, a military spokesman said.

    Militants in northwestern Pakistan stepped up attacks on the road through the Khyber Pass, a crucial route into land-locked Afghanistan, last year in an attempt to deprive international forces fighting the Taliban of supplies trucked in from Pakistan.

    The 30-meter (100-foot) iron bridge, 23 km (15 miles) west of the city of Peshawar, was blown up after midnight and administration officials said all traffic along the route was suspended.

    "Militants blew up the bridge and it's going to take some time to fix it," said government official Rahat Gul. He declined to estimate how long it might take.

    Guards are usually posted on heights above bridges on the road but it was not clear why they had been unable to stop the attack.

    Militant attacks over recent months have disrupted supplies but the route had only been briefly closed twice since September.

    The U.S. military and NATO's Afghan force have played down the impact of the attacks but nevertheless have been looking for alternative routes.

    A NATO force spokesman in Kabul said he had no information about Tuesday's attack.

    There are two routes through Pakistan into Afghanistan, one through the Khyber Pass to the border town of Torkham and on to Kabul. The other runs through Pakistan to the border town of Chaman and on to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

    The U.S. Defense Department says the U.S. military sends 75 percent of supplies for the Afghan war through or over Pakistan, including 40 percent of the fuel for its troops.


    Pakistani customs officials say about 300 trucks with Western force supplies travel through Torkham every day, compared with about 100 through the Chaman crossing.

    With the U.S. military set to send thousands more soldiers to Afghanistan in coming months, perhaps nearly doubling the number to about 60,000, the need for reliable supply routes will become that much more vital.

    The chief of the U.S. Central Command, General David Petraeus, said last month agreements had been reached for new routes into northern Afghanistan through Central Asian states and Russia. He did not give details.

    In the Swat Valley, security forces pounded militants with artillery as they gathered to launch an attack, killing at least 35 of them, an officer in the military's information department said.

    "We opened fire with artillery and mortars on credible information that a group of militants had gathered and was planning an attack in the dark," the officer said.

    There was no independent verification of the casualty estimate.

    The scenic Swat valley, only 130 km (80 miles) northwest of the capital Islamabad, and not on the Afghan border, was until recently one of Pakistan's prime tourist destinations.

    Now the valley is on the front line of the country's struggle against Islamist militancy and has become a test of the government's resolve to check the spread of the Taliban.

    (Reporting by Ibrahim Shinwari and Junaid Khan; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Jerry Norton)
  3. waraich66

    waraich66 FULL MEMBER

    Oct 19, 2008
    +0 / 98 / -0
    NATO already facing shortages blew up of bridges furthure increases the supply problems and still there is no alternate route available,coming months are real test for NATO controlling less then 25% of Afghanistan.

    Normally in summer Talaban esclate attacks.Only 30000 thausand new soldiers are not enough to control the insurgency.US government is also afaraid of increase in death rate .