General Mark Carleton-Smith, who commands British forces in Afghanistan is arguing there is need for a significant increase in the number of troops assigned to that nation if any progress is to be made against Taliban militants. Senior military officers are reported to seek a growth in the number of British troops from about 8,000 to 12,000 which would represent a significant rise considering they initially consisted of 3,000 back in 2006. “One of the characteristics of counter-insurgency,”he told The Independent, “unlike conventional war, is the more successful you are in the short term,the more troops you require. The more ground and the more people you become responsible for, the more troops you need….there is no point thinking that aviation is going to make a strategic difference.”
Seven years have passed during which there was ample time to create a powerful Afghanistan army. Perhaps, someone could explain why it took seven years for this need to be recognized. However, in the long run, counter-insurgencies are successful if they can win the support of local populations and that entails economic development and political changes that reflect meeting local needs. More troops without the other factors will not succeed.
According to senior British military sources, their troops were prevented from pulling out of Basra in March due to American pressure. “The decision to stay on was made in London, it was a political and not a logistical one. The Americans flatly refused to pull out their consulate and it was them informing us that they intended to send down a brigade which decided matters in London.” The British government had concluded earlier this year the presence of its troops in Basra increased rather than decreased violence in the area. They thought outside forces created a rationale for Shiite militia to fight and hoped by withdrawing fighting and violence would decrease. American military leaders insisted withdrawal would open the way for Iranian agents and al-Qaeda to enter the area.
It is somewhat ironic that Bush continues asserting we must turn over control to Iraq forces but he opposes an example of local Iraq forces being given an opportunity to handle the situation. Perhaps, a reason the United States opposed British withdrawal was it might set an example to justify arguments of opponents of the current Iraq policy who claim the United States must get out of Iraq. Bush continues using the al-Qaeda and Iran argument to justify America’s presence in Iraq.
Posted in George Bush, Iraq, Iraq War, Military, Peace, Politics, United States, US Foreign Policy, War, World News
Tagged al-Qaeda, Basra, British, Bush, Iran, Iraq
British forces in the Helmand province of Afghanistan are concerned American security companies will be playing an increasingly vital role in the area. The British have worked to win the “hearts and minds” of Afghanistanis and do not with the heavy handed private companies entering the area. A diplomat noted, “The worry is that there will be a blast and some contractors will panic and open fire as happened in Baghdad.” DynCorp will play an important role, but they were heavily involved in programs to eradicate poppy fields which angered local farmers. USAID workers expressed their concerns that much of American aid in Afghanistan gets siphoned off to security companies rather than getting to the average farmer or worker in the country.
In prior wars, groups like the famous Seabees of World War II handled construction projects. There is a difference in having regular army soldiers handling every aspect of the military than allowing private companies which are not subject to military rules and procedures. Such is the Bush legacy.