Archive for the ‘troops’ Category

Pentagon Rethinking Strategy, Planning, Budgeting and Weapons-Buying

March 14, 2009

The protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are forcing the Obama administration to rethink what for more than two decades has been a central premise of American strategy: that the nation need only prepare to fight two major wars at a time.

By Thom Shanker
New York Times
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For more than six years now, the United States has in fact been fighting two wars, with more than 170,000 troops now deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. The military has openly acknowledged that the wars have left troops and equipment severely strained, and has said that it would be difficult to carry out any kind of significant operation elsewhere.

To some extent, fears have faded that the United States may actually have to fight, say, Russia and North Korea, or China and Iran, at the same time. But if Iraq and Afghanistan were never formidable foes in conventional terms, they have already tied up the American military for a period longer than World War II.

A senior Defense Department official involved in a strategy review now under way said the Pentagon was absorbing the lesson that the kinds of counterinsurgency campaigns likely to be part of some future wars would require more staying power than in past conflicts, like the first Iraq war in 1991 or the invasions of Grenada and Panama.

In an interview with National Public Radio last week, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates made it clear that the Pentagon was beginning to reconsider whether the old two-wars assumption “makes any sense in the 21st century” as a guide to planning, budgeting and weapons-buying.

The discussion is being prompted by a top-to-bottom strategy review that the Pentagon conducts every four years, as required by Congress and officially called the Quadrennial Defense Review. One question on the table for Pentagon planners is whether there is a way to reshape the armed forces to provide for more flexibility in tackling a wide range of conflicts.

Among other questions are the extent to which planning for conflicts should focus primarily on counterinsurgency wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what focus remains on well-equipped conventional adversaries like China and Iran, with which Navy vessels have clashed at sea.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/washi
ngton/15military.html?_r=1&hp

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41% Say U.S. Focus on Economy Raises Risk of Terrorist Attack

March 12, 2009

“He who defends everything, defends nothing,” said Frederick II (1712-1786).

President Barack Obama is defending everything: the economy, earmarks, his health care plan, environmental plan, energy plan, education reform, government spending, bigger government, the rights to free and open seas (re: China), a stronger U.N., an encircled North Korea, the Muslim world, the power of negotiations (with Syria, Iran, and others), the ramp up of troops in Afghanistan, etc.

You get the idea.

In many ways I see this president as going the right things.  But then again he is doing everything.

He is pro-immigration and today he said he’d send troops to our border with Mexico, maybe.

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03
/12/obamas-border-talk-i-call-bull/

Michelle doubts that.

But then again: doesn’t everything depend upon the economy; followed closely by national security and stoppong terrorists?

But terrorists and terrorism are gone from our public discussion….deleted from the Obama lexicon.

Hmmm.

*****************

From Rasmussen Reports
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Forty-one percent (41%) of U.S. voters worry that America’s preoccupation with the ongoing economic crisis will make us more vulnerable to a terrorist attack, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

But 43% disagree and say it’s not a concern while 16% are not sure.

Forty percent (40%) also say America has more enemies than friends among the nations of the world, although 44% say we have more friends.

Voters are closely divided, too, over whether the current worldwide economic crisis is more likely to create tension between the United States and other nations or more likely to foster cooperation. Forty-four percent (44%) see more tension to come, while 43% expect greater cooperation between America and other countries.

Confidence in how America is doing in the War on Terror dropped dramatically in late February, but it is not yet clear whether the numbers are a statistical blip or a reflection of recent news developments.

Iran continues to be the country the plurality of voters (35%) expect to be the first to seriously test the Obama Administration. Nineteen percent (19%) say North Korea will be the new president’s first major threat, while 12% predict China. Eight percent (8%) say Russia will be the first serious challenger, but one-out-of-four voters (25%) are not sure which country is the greater threat.

Read the rest:
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_con
tent/politics/general_politics2/41_say_u_s_
focus_on_economy_raises_risk_of_terrorist_attack

Obama: Troop move to Mexican border under consideration

March 12, 2009

President Obama weighed in Wednesday on the escalating drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border, saying that he was looking at possibly deploying National Guard troops to contain the violence but ruled out any immediate military move.

“We’re going to examine whether and if National Guard deployments would make sense and under what circumstances they would make sense,” Obama said during an interview with journalists for regional papers, including a McClatchy reporter.

By Maria Recio | McClatchy Newspapers

“I don’t have a particular tipping point in mind,” he said. “I think it’s unacceptable if you’ve got drug gangs crossing our borders and killing U.S. citizens.”

Read the rest:
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2
27/story/63800.html

Terrorist Released from Gitmo is Killing British, American Troops

March 11, 2009

The Taleban commander responsible for increasingly sophisticated explosives attacks on British soldiers in Afghanistan is a former detainee from Guantanamo Bay, British officials and Taleban sources have told The Times.

Abdul Ghulam Rasoul was held in Guantanamo for six years before his release, in December 2007, by the unanimous decision of a review board that determined he was no longer a threat.

British officials told The Times that Rasoul is the man that has since resurfaced as Mullah Abdullah Zakir, the Taleban’s new operations chief in southern Afghanistan and the architect of a new offensive against British and American troops.

The revelation of Rasoul’s return to the battlefield underscores the challenges faced by the Obama administration in carrying out its vow to close Guantanamo, and raises fresh questions about the quality of American intelligence used there.Pentagon records of Rasoul’s time in Guantanamo show he told investigators he had never been a commander in the Taleban, one of the factors that recommended him for release.

Read the rest:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/ne
ws/world/us_and_americas/article5
888427.ece

Related:

 Obama Policy On Gitmo, Taliban, Afghanistan, Intel: As Stupid as It Gets

http://libertyjustincase.com/
2009/03/11/prisoner-8/

China’s thirst for copper could hold key to Afghanistan’s future

March 8, 2009

In this Taliban stronghold in the mountains south of Kabul , the U.S. Army is providing the security that will enable China to exploit one of the world’s largest unexploited deposits of copper, earn tens of billions of dollars and feed its voracious appetite for raw materials.

U.S. troops set up bases last month along a dirt track that a Chinese firm is paving as part of a $3 billion project to gain access to the Aynak copper reserves. Some troops made camp outside a compound built for the Chinese road crews, who are about to return from winter break. American forces also have expanded their presence in neighboring Logar province, where the Aynak deposit is.

By Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers

The U.S. deployment wasn’t intended to protect the Chinese investment — the largest in Afghanistan’s history — but to strangle Taliban infiltration into the capital of Kabul . But if the mission provides the security that a project to revive Afghanistan’s economy needs, the synergy will be welcome.

“When you have men who don’t have jobs, you can’t bring peace,” said Abdel Rahman Ashraf , a German-trained geology professor who’s Afghan President Hamid Karzai‘s chief mining and energy adviser.

“When we take money and invest it in a project like Aynak, we give jobs to the people.” Indeed, the project could inject hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties and taxes into Afghanistan’s meager coffers and create thousands of desperately needed jobs.

Beijing faces enormous challenges in completing the project and gaining access to the estimated 240 million tons of copper ore that are accessible through surface mining. Taliban -led insurgents operate in large parts of Logar and Wardak; the area is sown with mines; and China must complete an ambitious set of infrastructure projects, including Afghanistan’s first national railway, as part of the deal.

China’s willingness to gamble so much in one of the world’s poorest and riskiest nations testifies to its determination to acquire the commodities it needs to maintain its economic growth and social stability.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/2
0090308/wl_mcclatchy/3182860_1

The struggle for commodities….
 Russia, “Desperate For Cash,” Sells Oil to China In “Very Bad Deal”

Afghan Supplies, Russian Demands, Obama’s Big Challenge

February 4, 2009

THE Taliban didn’t wait long to test Barack Obama. On Tuesday, militants bombed a bridge in the Khyber Pass region in Pakistan, cutting off supply lines to NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan. This poses a serious problem for President Obama, who has said that he wants more American troops in Afghanistan. But troops need supplies.

The attack was another reminder that the supply line through Pakistan is extremely vulnerable. This means that the Obama administration might have to consider alternative routes through Russia or other parts of the former Soviet Union. But the Russians were unhappy about the Bush administration’s willingness to include Ukraine and Georgia in NATO, and they will probably not want to help with American supply lines unless Mr. Obama changes that position.

By George Friedman
The New York Times

Related:
American Troops In Afghanistan Out On A Limb?

Alex Nabaum

 

THE Taliban didn’t wait long to test Barack Obama. On Tuesday, militants bombed a bridge in the Khyber Pass region in Pakistan, cutting off supply lines to NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan. This poses a serious problem for President Obama, who has said that he wants more American troops in Afghanistan. But troops need supplies.

The attack was another reminder that the supply line through Pakistan is extremely vulnerable. This means that the Obama administration might have to consider alternative routes through Russia or other parts of the

In addition to our guaranteeing that NATO will not expand further, the Russians seem to want the United States to promise that NATO forces will not be based in the Baltic countries, and that the United States will not try to dominate Central Asia. In other words, Russia wants the United States to pledge that it will respect the Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union. They will probably want this guarantee to be very public, as a signal to the region — and the Europeans — of Russian dominance. This is one guarantee that Mr. Obama will not want to give.

There is also no certainty that countries in the Russian sphere of influence, like Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, would agree to let the United States use these routes without Russian permission.

Here is where Mr. Obama could use some European help. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to come soon. Many Europeans, particularly Germans, rely on Russia’s natural gas. In January, the Russians cut natural gas shipments to Ukraine. As much of the Russian natural gas that goes to Europe runs through Ukraine, the cutoff affected European supplies — in the middle of winter. Europeans can’t really afford to irritate the Russians, and it’s hard to imagine that the Germans will confront them over supply routes to Afghanistan. Pakistan, unfortunately, is hardly a reliable partner either.

So how can Mr. Obama reconcile the two goals of strengthening the American presence in Afghanistan while curbing Russian expansionism? The answer is to rely less on troops, and more on covert operations like the C.I.A. Covert operators are far more useful for the actual war that we are fighting (and they can carry their supplies on their backs). The primary American interest in Afghanistan, after all, is preventing terrorist groups from using it as a base for training and planning major attacks. Increasing the number of conventional troops will not help with this mission.

What we need in Afghanistan is intelligence, and special operations forces and air power that can take advantage of that intelligence. Fighting terrorists requires identifying and destroying small, dispersed targets. We would need far fewer forces for such a mission than the number that are now deployed. They would make us much less dependent on supply deliveries, which would help solve our Russian problem.

Winding down the conventional war while increasing the covert one will demand a cultural change in Washington. The Obama administration seems to prefer the conventional route of putting more troops on the ground. That would be a feasible strategy if supply lines to Afghanistan were secure. The loss of that bridge yesterday demonstrates very clearly that they are not.

 

George Friedman is the chief executive of Stratfor, a global intelligence company, and the author of “The Next 100 Years.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/04/o
pinion/04georgefriedman.html?_r=1

American Troops In Afghanistan Out On A Limb?

February 4, 2009

Could American troops in Afghanistan be out on a limb?

It seems so.

Attacks on the U.S. and NATO supply lines from Pakistan continue.  The Taliban seems to have realized that attacking the supply route has less risk that facing U.S. and NATO troops in the field.

Pakistani trucks, bound for neighboring Afghanistan, wait for ... 
Pakistani trucks, bound for neighboring Afghanistan, wait for road open on the outskirts of Landi Kotal, a town close to the Pakistani tribal area Khyber, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009. The Khyber route was cut Tuesday when suspected militants set off a bomb that wrecked a bridge across a rocky gorge near the pass. The red metal bridge was twisted and partially collapsed at one end.(AP Photo/Qazi Tariq)

The U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan cannot follow the Taliban into Pakistan, which has resulted in U.S. drone attacks which Pakistan continues to protest.

Today, Kyrgyzstan’s government submitted a draft bill to parliament calling for the closing of the U.S. base at Manas that is key to the military campaign in Afghanistan. The U.S. Air Base has been especially important, both the State Department and Pentagon say….

And yesterday the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff — that just a week ago asked for more troops for Afghanistan to get to some 35,000 — got a Pentagon study recommending lower goals in Afghanistan.

Evan Thomas at Newsweek is already calling Afghanistan “Obama’s Vietnam.”

Lots to think about….

Related from CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asia
pcf/02/04/pakistan.NATO.trucks/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/
02/03/kyrgyz.base/index.html

Related:
 Russia Boosts Aid To Neighbors; Wants U.S. Base, Influence Ended

 Pentagon study: US should pare Afghanistan goals

Can Obama succeed in the ‘land of the unruly?’ Afghanistan Won’t Be Easy

Obama’s Vietnam

Troubling Obama Trends Seen By Some In Military? Why Die For “Limited Goals” In Afghanistan?

Afghan Supplies, Russian Demands, Obama’s Big Challenge

Senior U.S. commanders are finalizing plans to send tens of thousands of reinforcements to Afghanistan’s main opium-producing region and its porous border with Pakistan, moves that will form the core of President Barack Obama’s emerging Afghan war strategy.
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From the Wall Street Journal:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123370741
624945711.html

http://cadillactight.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/th
e-geography-of-afghanistan/

Biden: Expect More U.S. Combat Deaths in Afghanistan

January 25, 2009

Vice President Joe Biden says the nation should expect more U.S. military casualties as the Obama administration plans to send additional troops to Afghanistan.

Pentagon officials say they plan to send up to 30,000 additional troops to the Afghan war, where the Taliban is resurgent and violence has been on the rise. The request for more troops from military commanders was endorsed by the Bush administration and has been favored by the Obama government, too.

Associated Press

In this photo provided by CBS, Vice President Joe Biden appears ... 
In this photo provided by CBS, Vice President Joe Biden appears on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ in Wilmington, Del., Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009.(AP Photo/CBS Face the Nation, Karin Cooper)

Biden said Sunday that additional U.S. forces will be engaging the enemy more. Asked if that means the U.S. public should expect more American casualties, the vice president said: “I hate to say it, but yes, I think there will be. There will be an uptick.”

Biden spoke on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Israel Withdraws All Troops From Gaza

January 21, 2009

JERUSALEM  —  Israel withdrew the last of its troops from the Gaza Strip before dawn on Wednesday, the military said, as the government pursued diplomatic efforts to stanch the flow of arms into the Hamas-ruled territory.

The timing of the pullout reflected Israeli hopes to defuse the crisis in Gaza before President Barack Obama entered the White House. The military said troops remain massed on the Israeli side of the border, prepared to take action in the event of renewed militant fire. And Israeli navy ships shot rounds of machine-gun fire at the beaches of northern Gaza.

The military had no immediate comment on the gunboat fire.

Israel sent thousands of ground troops into the Palestinian territory earlier this month as part of a bruising offensive meant to permanently halt years of militant rocket fire on growing numbers of Israelis and to halt the smuggling of arms into Gaza.

Some 1,300 Palestinians were killed, more than half of them civilians, Gaza health officials and the U.N. have reported, a death toll that has provoked international outrage. In Israel, however, the war was popular because it was seen as a legitimate response to militants who now have one-eighth of the population within rocket range.

Read the rest:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,481087,00.html#

Gaza: Day 1 Cease Fire Closing, Hope, Expectations High, Tense, Fragile

January 18, 2009

Israel’s Prime Minister called the cease fire fragile.

Hamas declared its own cease fire this morning: but it was packaged within a threat to again rocket Israel if Israeli troops fail to leave in one week.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began a partial withdrawal of ground troops from the Gaza Strip on Sunday evening, hours after ending a three-week offensive on the Hamas-ruled coastal territory.

“We are monitoring all of the developments, minute after minute, hour after hour,” the Israeli prime minister said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

The military forces in the Strip have their eyes wide open, are attentive to any rustle and ready for any order from their commanders,” Olmert continued. “The decision on the cease-fire leaves Israel the right to react and renew its military actions if the terror groups continue firing,” he said.

Olmert also called Hamas “the Gaza branch of Iran.”

Prime Minister Olmert continued a series of “thank yous” started last night.

 “Egypt’s backing of the understanding that we hold fire while the IDF remains in Gaza is not to be taken for granted, this is no trivial matter,” he said, adding that it showed Egypt’s determination to prevent arms smuggling through its border.

Olmert also had warm words for Likud chairman and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu. “I would like to praise the opposition leader for supporting the government during the operation and explaining Israel’s position to the world,” he said.

Netanyahu largely supported the Olmert government during the Gaza operation.

The Washington Post reported that Hamas leaders had initially vowed to keep fighting until Israel pulled out, but changed their mind Sunday and said they would go along with the cease-fire.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, an exiled Hamas leader based in Damascus, said the Islamist movement and other Palestinian fighters would press ahead with negotiations, mediated by Egypt, to end Israel’s 18-month economic blockade of Gaza. “We are ready,” Marzouk said, reading a statement on Syrian television, “to reach a definite agreement that meets our known demands to lift the blockade permanently and open all border crossings.”

Related:
Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co
ntent/article/2009/01/18/AR2009011800204.html

Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/

Haaretz:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen
/spages/1056246.html

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/m
east/01/18/israel.gaza/index.html