Strategy and Tactics
Pajamas Media reports on efforts to save Afghanistan. You know, the Good War.
President Bush will meet on Tuesday with NATO allies on the growing terror violence in the other front in the Global War on Terror. The president will make a stop in Estonia on his way to a NATO summit in Riga, Latvia. NATO military commander (of international forces in southern Afghanistan) General David J. Richards (UK) cites the need for 2500 more troops and various equipment in the country, but “NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said on the eve of the summit he had no concrete offers of more troops to join the 32,000-strong NATO-led peacekeeping force […], and key European nations remain reluctant to lift restrictions on the use of their forces.” The key European nation named? France.
But Afghanistan is not as good as the Gooder War. Kosovo. Time reports:
Are the 31,000 troops in Afghanistan enough? More troops could be put to good use: NATO has 16,000 soldiers in Kosovo, which is less than 2% the size of Afghanistan. But with major contributing countries already stretched in Iraq, Kosovo and Lebanon, a big infusion of new soldiers is not realistic. So the Riga horse-trading will concentrate on a related problem: that commanders often can't deploy existing troops as they would like because of national limits—or "caveats"—on their use. U.S., British, Canadian and Dutch troops are doing most of the frontline fighting; support from many of the other 33 countries in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force [ISAF ] ranges from secondary to symbolic. At Tuesday night's dinner with other NATO leaders, U.S. President George W. Bush is likely to take up the demands of ISAF commander General David Richards that national governments loosen the strings. He will get support from Polish Defense Minister Radek Sikorski, who told TIME: "What is the use of having the troops there if you can't use them when they are needed?"
It is, ahem, well known that more boots on the ground are required to fight a successful counterinsurgency. Every European military could see the fundamental mistake of Donald Rumsfeld, that rank amateur who was the Secretary of Defense, was to starve Iraq of troops. But in Afghanistan and Kosovo who is providing the actual combat troops? The men under that military incompetent, Donald Rumsfeld.
Sometimes I think one of the main swindles of the media coverage of the War on Terror was to ascribe to tactics the faults of strategy. There were endless discussions about oil spots, more troops, less troops, sophisticated political ploys etc. But did the many of the critics really want to win? If not in Iraq, then what about in Kosovo and Afghanistan, places where they were presumably committed to victory?