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  • Attention shifting to Afghanistan....

    Top brass shifting focus to Afghanistan

    As Iraq drawdown continues, Mullen looks for boost in Central Asia
    By William H. McMichael - [email protected]
    Posted : September 22, 2008

    With trends continuing in a positive direction in Iraq, the nation’s top military officer said Sept. 10 that it is time for a “new, more comprehensive strategy” in Afghanistan “that covers both sides of the border” with neighboring Pakistan.
    Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, acknowledged that the Afghanistan situation continues to present significant challenges to the NATO effort — an aggressive and “ever-more-sophisticated” insurgency, a poor economy, a “still-healthy” drug trade and political instability in nearby Pakistan, where terrorist groups enjoy safe haven in that nation’s Federally Administered Tribal Area.
    But these challenges can be overcome, Mullen told the House Armed Services Committee.
    “I am not convinced we’re winning in Afghanistan,” Mullen said, but added: “I am convinced we can.”
    Mullen said the strategy will envision a greater role for the U.S. military in helping Pakistan confront insurgents in the FATA along the Afghan border.
    About a dozen U.S. troops are training members of Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps, composed of local citizens led by Pakistani army officers. The U.S. is supplying millions of dollars to reinforce and train the Frontier Corps. The U.S. development plan includes intelligence sharing, increased cross-border cooperation and providing training for the regular Pakistani military, according to a January U.S. Central Command report.
    But the U.S. appears to be taking matters into its own hands as well. Navy SEALs and an AC-130 gunship reportedly took part in an early September raid in Pakistan that left about two dozen suspected insurgents dead, according to the New York Times. It reported Sept. 11 that President Bush in July secretly authorized such cross-border raids without the approval of the Pakistani government. Pakistan’s government has said it will not tolerate the raids; U.S. officials refused to comment.
    In addition, the CIA has been launching cross-border missile attacks from Predator drone aircraft “for several years,” the Times said.
    Mullen’s remarks came one day after President Bush announced he will call another 8,000 troops home from Iraq while sending about 5,300 fresh troops to Afghanistan, where violence has spiked sharply in recent months and U.S. military casualties have risen to some of the highest levels since that conflict began in 2001.
    Bush said U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan will rise, beginning in November with deployment of a Marine battalion, followed by an Army brigade combat team in January. Those units had been slated for deployment to Iraq.
    “The war on terror started in this region,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said of Afghanistan. “It must end there.”
    The Pentagon says 33,000 U.S. troops are now in Afghanistan, 50 percent more than in 2006, while about 146,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq. When the announced moves and other previously scheduled redeployments are complete, U.S. troop strength will stand at roughly 138,000 in Iraq and 34,600 in Afghanistan.
    The latter total will be the highest U.S. presence ever in that country, according to U.S. Central Command figures, while the troop level in Iraq will be the lowest since February 2007, a month after the administration launched its “surge” of roughly 30,000 troops aimed at quelling raging sectarian violence.
    Mullen said the risks posed by a continued reduction of U.S. troop strength in Iraq are “minimal at best,” citing “dramatically improved security on the ground,” the “growing competence” of Iraq Security Forces and “burgeoning” economic progress.
    At the same time, a resurgent insurgency in Afghanistan has heightened the need for more U.S. troops there — despite promises by NATO allies to send more of their own forces.
    Army Gen. David McKiernan, the NATO force commander there who was nominated by Bush Sept. 10 for reappointment as commander of the International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan, has asked for three more brigades.
    “I judge the risk of not sending them too great a risk to ignore,” Mullen said, but added: “It’s going to be awhile” before McKiernan’s full request can be fulfilled.
    Troops alone, however, can’t win the war in Afghanistan, Mullen cautioned.
    “We can’t kill our way to victory,” he said. “It is my professional opinion that no amount of troops in no amount of time can ever achieve all the objectives we seek in Afghanistan.
    “And frankly, we are running out of time.”
    Staff writer Rick Maze contributed to this report.

    ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.

  • #2
    Heard on the radio this morning that the Pakistani troops can now fire on American troops if the enter into Pakistan, which our side has gone into after terrorists in western Pakistan.

    I personally don't see anything wrong going into that country after the terrorists, as they don't seem go after the Taliban and al Qaeda that hard anyway. They are just taking the money our government gives them and thats it.
    R.I.P. my Bros from the 1st MAR DIV, 3rd MAR DIV, 25th I.D., 10th MTN DIV, V Corps, 170th IBCT who gave their lives in the Cold War, Marines we lost in Korea during Team Spirit '89 & Okinawa '89- bodies never recovered, Panama, 1st Gulf War, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq...


    • #3
      from my perspective, I believe there is going to be alot more bloodshed in the months to got Marines and soldiers coming out of Iraq, reduced confined fighting in a wide open country......The death toll will rise and I'm pretty sure the Pakistanis don't really want to fire on american troops considering the amount of damage we will cause......Pakistan needs to get off their azz and do something about this problem......

      ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.


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