Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nato's Afghan forces 'hit limit'

Coalition forces in Afghanistan have

"now reached their limit"
according to General Sir Michael Rose, former commander of UN forces in Bosnia.

What does he mean by this?

General Rose, who has recently returned from Afghanistan, says while the international community is clearly committed to a victory there, serious operational problems remain which could still undo NATO's mission.

He also points out that there are only 8,000 servicemen and women in a vast swathe of territory that is home to more than a million Afghans.

He then goes onto say

As in all insurgency wars, winning the confidence and consent of the people of Afghanistan will always be more important than winning any particular tactical level military battle against the Taleban

This is not new thinking and particularly not new thinking for Britain. The "Emergency" in Malaya (as was) was won by this sort of tactic, getting the people on board and using them to win the war. We and the USA in particular have been very poor at achieving this both in in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gen Rose also suggests forming Afghan tribal militias to aid western forces and the Afghan army.

"By winning the support of the Pashtun tribes who live on both sides of the border and by developing a sympathetic understanding of their complex tribal systems, it should be possible to achieve security in the key eastern and southern areas of Afghanistan,"
However, he does believe the war is being won - at least on a military level - for now.

"Afghanistan is not Vietnam, it is not even Iraq. The insurgency war that is being fought in Afghanistan today is militarily winnable and it is slowly being won."

How long it would take to win this war and how many of our servicemen's lives this will cost is not clear and this should be a huge concern. Only by getting the people of Afghanistan and Iraq involved can we really hope to see this war won without many years of conflict.

BBC NEWS UK Nato's Afghan forces 'hit limit'

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