Thursday, February 15, 2007

There's a Reason....

...that President Bush used a portion of today's speech on the War on Terror to encourage our NATO allies to send more troops to Afghanistan, and ease restrictions on how they can be employed.

As Bill Roggio reports, NATO forces are already battling the Taliban in Helmand Province, in the southern part of Afghanisstan. Taliban forces seized key positions in the region last November, and NATO troops have launched a counter-offensive (labeled Operation Kryptonite) before the spring thaw. More than a few analysts are expecting a major Taliban offensive in the spring, and some have predicted that NATO positions could be overrun, unless some of the "reluctant" alliance members allow their troops to take a more active role in combat operations.

Will that happen? Mr. Roggio has a link to an AP story from Spain, where NATO is holding a meeting. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been making the rounds in Spain, trying to convince NATO members to send more resources to Afghanistan, in support of a spring push against the terrorists. Not surprisingly, the response from key European allies (Germany, Spain, Italy) has been underwhelming; they question the wisdom of sending more troops, offering quotes that seem to mirror those from Democrats in Congress.

The handwriting on this one seems clear: NATO efforts in Afghanistan--as in Iraq--will largely remain a U.S. and British show, with other alliance members only providing token support. As you might imagine, those "less engaged" nations are the very ones who've adopted a garrison strategy in Afghanistan, refuse to patrol aggressively (if at all), and are most in danger from the Taliban's spring offensive. And, of course, if their positions are overrun, that will provide the pretext for these reluctant allies to end their participation, once and for all.

Back in the days of the Cold War, the standard NATO line was that our European friends would fight "to the last dollar and the last American." Afghanistan is proving (once again) that there was more than an element of truth in that joke.

7 comments:

warhorse said...

Given that Canadian troops have suffered almost exactly as many KIA as the British (44 vs 46) while having a bit less than half the number of troops deployed (2500 vs 5600, by one recent count), I really don't think it's fair that you ignore our contribution in Afghanistan. It does seem noteworthy that most of the fighting involves Anglosphere troops, though ...

Spook86 said...

Warhorse--Did not intend to impune Canada's significant contributions to the war in Afghanistan. By all accounts, Canadian troops have played an instrumental role in taking the fight to the Taliban. American commanders have had high praise for Canadian snipers in particular--and the terrorists will certainly attest to their effectiveness in combat.

On the other hand, there are too many NATO "allies"--particularly the Germans, Italians, etc., who won't patrol and spend all their time hunkered down inside the perimeter wire. Their refusal to effectively engage the enemy is a big reason we're having trouble in southern Afghanistan, although Pakistan is to blame as well.

Acad Ronin said...

1) Same-same Warhorse. Your response noted, but above the fold would be nice.

2) Dutch, Danes, and Aussies are apparently in the fight too.

3) Agree with you re French, Germans, Italians, and Spaniards.

Mike H. said...

When I was in the Marine Corps allies were considered to be one and the same, same ability to bitch and the same ability to joke. More was said about slackers. When I read the Aussie news I don't get PO'ed about the fact that we're not mentioned and when Beccy Cole sings 'Poster Girl' I don't get riled about the fact that she's not singing about A-US-sies. That's the way it is, the only reason that we work separately is because of the language and some of us are multilingual to boot. Eh?

Spokane, WA with roots in AB.

Of course I'm an old fart so things may have changed.

José Joseph said...

You've overlooked Canada's forces, including their seriously aggressive Leopard battle tanks. These guys have been slugging it out in southern Afghanistan all winter. Not that we mind being ignored, however - we're used to it. But the Taliban sure can't ignore the 120mm shells landing in their midst!

I just noticed that you replied to another poster, but what the heck I'll send it anyway just to stay in the spirit of all the indignant noise-making!

eatyourbeans said...

Care to speculate about whether or not the European troops would show more fight in urban battles in their own cities?

warhorse said...

Spook86 --- apology accepted, with thanks. And I will admit that in terms of raw numbers of troops on the ground, your characterization is not unreasonable. Again, thank you. :-)