Tag Archives: US Forces

Pullback In Iraq– Yes Or NO?

General Odierno, the top American military commander in Iraq, insists the June 30th date for pullback of US forces from urban areas will proceed as planned. He is “absolutely committed” to pulling back those troops from combat areas in Iraq cities. Under the Iraq-US security pact, American combat forces must withdraw by June 30th and all US forces should be out of Iraq by 2011. The old saying about “the best laid plans of men” might arise to be a hindrance to this wonderful plan. According to the plan, there will be no American combat missions unless requested by Iraq authorities.

Of course, the history of military withdrawals does not preclude the possibility something might arise which could prevent the Iraq mission from proceeding as scheduled. The Maliki government has so far failed to create a unity government and its Sunni minority believes that promises to integrate its fighters into the Iraq army have not been carried out. Suppose, just suppose, the Sunni fighters decided to once again resort to hit-and-run tactics including bombings in cities. Would this result in requests for American forces to return to the cities? We are asking.

Flash! — Afghanistan Not Iraq! -No Kidding!

For the past year people like Senator John McCain have been repeating the mantra that a surge is needed in Afghanistan to replicate the “success” of Iraq. Of course, suicide bombers continue blowing themselves up and the situation is far from a “success” but it is so easy to urge just repeating in Afghanistan what happened in Iraq. Admiral Eric Olson, who commands the US Special Operational Command, warned Congress the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan was not a pleasant one although he was encouraged by priorities established by President Obama. “Al-Qaida’s surviving leaders have proven adept at hiding, communicating and inspiring” he told Congress. They operate in remote areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan which makes for difficulty to dealing with insurgents who readily disappear into mountains.

Olson is arguing the first necessity is securing urban areas and the roads leading into them so that supplies and support can readily reach the population. He believes Afghan forces have to take the initiative while US soldiers provide support services to them. The unanswered question is whether Afghan troops will actively become engaged in fighting.

US Surge Begins In Afghanistan

The American surge led by new forces stationed in Afghanistan has begun to attack Taliban forces. Close to 3,000 new troops are in action in areas around the capital of Kabul in order to restore the ability of the government to conduct its business without interference from militants. Taliban insurgents have fired on the troops placed roadside bombs but so far there have been few casualties. Col. David Haight believes that many Afghans are serving with the Taliban because they receive pay rather than based on ideological factors. On the other hand, Governor Atiqullah Ludin argues “there is a gap between the people and the government” and lack of economic opportunities has led to the growth in militancy.

A common complaint by honest Afghan officials is that all too often American and coalition forces act on the basis of incorrect information which enables an individual to take revenge against an enemy. A major problem is that innocent civilians get killed during military operations. That factor might be more important than needing a job.

Afghans Furious At US Air Strikes

There is little question the increasing confusion in Afghanistan concerning the correct military strategy to pursue has resulted in growing anger among the average people of that unfortunate land. President Hamid Karzai lashed out at the United States for the latest example of planes bombing suspected militant targets only to wind up killing innocent civilians. He charged at least 15 Afghan civilians died in an air strike, and emphasized such operations resulted in “strengthening the terrorists.” The Sunday attack came after a Saturday air strike the US claims killed 15 militants while the Afghans insist many civilians died. American military sources insist they have pictures which depict militants fighting, but refuse to release the photos for security reasons.

The basic problem with the Obama decision to dispatch 30,000 more troops and to continue the current bombing approach is the reality neither of these actions will result in ending the conflict. There is need to win the hearts of Afghan civilians and bombing from above is hardly the way to gain such results. Karzai is a corrupt leader, but air bombing is an unsuccessful approach to fighting a guerrilla war.

Afghanistan Wants To Know US Strategy

It is now over seven years since American forces drove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and since that time, little, if anything, has been done to develop an effective army to defend the country. President Karzai is anxious to know about American strategic plans once an additional troops arrive in his country by this summer. He was told reinforcements would be sent to deal with regions lacking security, but it is doubtful if 30,000 or fifty thousand additional troops will actually be able to maintain control over areas in which they fight. It i one thing to defeat a Taliban group in battle, it is another to ensure the Taliban do not return to the area.

A major issue is the use of bombing operations which invariably result in the death of innocent civilians. Until Afghanistan has its own functional military force, there is little likelihood foreign troops will be able to handle the situation.

Iraqi Opposition Demonstrates Against Pact With USA

The Bush administration has pushed for an American presence in Iraq for at least three more years despite the presence of strong opposition to any continued US forces remaining in Iraq. Followers of Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, burned an effigy of President Bush to show their anger at the security pact. Thousands of Iraqis protested in a central Baghdad square where they placed the effigy of Bush in the same place where once stood a statue of Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi parliament is expected to approve the pact next week, but there still remains a large number of Iraqis who want a quick exit of American forces. Salah al-Obeidi, a spokesman for al-Sadr, emphasized, “this crown shows that opposition to the agreement is not insignificant and parliament will be making a big mistake if it chooses to ignore it.”

Barack Obama has consistently set an exit date closer to 2011 than to 2012. He might gain support from all sectors of Iraq if he urged the Iraqi government to have US forces leave in 2011. The danger is failure to address opposition feelings adds to the possibility they will resort to violence, an action which could delay and American exit.

US Iraq Forces Quietly Leaving Cities

Two years ago, walking the streets of Baghdad was a dangerous expedition into the teeth of violence, but today, most inhabitants of the capital stroll without fear due to the decline in violence. The American military is slowly abandoning its presence in urban areas as Iraqi military steps up to assume responsibility for maintaining law and order. The goal is transforming control of Iraq cities to that nation’s military no later than June, 2009. President elect Obama has made clear he wants the focus to shift from Iraq to Afghanistan where he situation continues its slide into chaos.

The unknown aspect of the shift is what will happen when American forces no longer are in the major cities. Will it lead to renewed fighting between Sunni and Shiite factions? Will it encourage al-Qaeda to return to its violence? The success of withdrawing American forces lies in the ability of the Shiite Iraq government to cooperate with its Sunni citizens. There is still a question mark if Shiites and Sunni can cooperate.

American Military Uncertain About Drawdown

A string of bombings in the city of Tal Afar, a small but strategic locale, is raising fears about a return to sectarian conflict highlights the complexity of withdrawing forces from Iraq. General Petraeus has yet to conclude US forces can be withdrawn in the coming months. Since April the four bombings in the city have killed 40 people and wounded dozens of others which has alarmed Mayor Najim Abdullah if Iraqi troops could enforce law and order in his city if the Americans left. Theoretically, in 2005, Iraq soldiers drove out militants from the city, but three years later there are still bombings and deaths. Abduallah notes: “there used to be a whole brigade here and now it’s less. Soon these policies(withdrawal) will backfire in Tal Afar and allow terrorists to come in.”

Hopefully, the bombings in places like Tal Afar will not increase once American troops withdraw, but the question still remains– are Iraq forces sufficiently strong to maintain law and order in their nation once the Americans depart?

US Considers Invading Pakistan To Pursue Militants

Top Bush officials are urging the president to unleash US forces so they can pursue militants into Pakistan. They want greater flexibility for US military leaders to operate against Taliban and al-Qaeda forces who use sanctuaries inside the northwest tribal region of Pakistan. One proposed plan is attaching special forces to the CIA and allowing them to hit specific targets located inside Pakistan. A meeting last week of senior members of the national security team explored “the possibility that political fragmentation in Pakistan is going to continue,” according to one official and will that necessitate altering US military strategy in the region. The current strategy is relying on Pakistan to control the tribal region and there is little evidence that is actually happening.

Some State Department officials are leery about talk of invading Pakistan(sorry, sending troops into a country without their specific invitation is an invasion) since it might increase the already fragmented state of that nation. Afghanistan Ambassador Said T. Jawad told AP he supports sending US troops into Pakistan. But, when exactly has the current Afghanistan government been able to implement successful military operations inside its own country.

Pakistan currently is going through a constitutional crisis. An American invasion of their country will only add to the already confusing picture. Ironically, such action might lead to President Musharraf turning from being an American ally to an American foe which would probably allow him to continue in office.

Clashing Views And Clashing Forces In Pakistan

The volatile situation on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border continues to elicit conflicting views as to what exactly it taking place in the region. United States sources insist the recent attack which led to the death of about a dozen Pakistan soldiers was due to Pakistan failure to control militants in the region. Pakistan sources insist the United States was given the location of its military unit. Pakistan security forces launched heavy attacks on militants in the Hangu district and cleared out Taliban strongholds. According to local officials, “the security forces, backed by tanks and gunship helicopters” secured many areas and drove out the Taliban.

From the Pakistan perspective their forces are attacking the Taliban, but American leaders insist nothing is being done. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned on Pakistan TV the United States retains the right to unilaterally launch attacks on pakistan soil if there is not sufficient effort made by Pakistan military forces to wipe out the Taliban.

There is sufficient evidence Pakistan forces are attacking the Taliban, but they undoubtedly are not being as successful as desired by the United States. Of course, Pakistan could point out the entire situation was created when George Bush diverted the US military from the task of wiping out the Taliban and sent them off chasing WMD in Iraq that never existed.