Thursday, August 9, 2012

Everything is hunky-dory in Afghanistan

From the AP:
Two Afghan soldiers tried to gun down a group of NATO troops outside a military base in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, officials said. No international forces were killed, but one of the attackers was killed as NATO forces shot back.

It was the second apparent attack by Afghan forces on their international counterparts this week. On Tuesday, two gunmen wearing Afghan army uniforms killed a U.S. soldier and wounded two others in Paktia province...

So far this year, 27 coalition service members have been killed in 20 green-on-blue attacks, according to an Associated Press tally. [Other news sources have reported a higher number of green-on-blue casualties. ] That compares with 11 fatal [green-on-blue] attacks and 20 deaths the previous year.

In 2007 and 2008, there were a combined total of four [green-on-blue] attacks and four deaths.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan have escalated dramatically since President Obama took office, responsibility for the country's security - according to Obama's current plans - will be handed over to the Afghan National Security Forces by the middle of 2013. And all International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) troops will be withdrawn from combat operations by the end of 2014.

However, the Telegraph-UK offers up some additional cautionary notes:
[British] Military commanders have warned the [British] Prime Minister [David Cameron] that Afghanistan’s future could be jeopardised with al-Qaeda returning to the country if foreign troops are withdrawn too quickly.

British commanders believe that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the Army and police, are not yet fully capable of taking over from international forces...

Mr Cameron has now been advised that there are significant fears over the quality and ability of Afghan troops, who are supposed to gradually take over control from ISAF (International Security and Assistance Force) soldiers next year.

Concerns over the ANA have been growing, and aired in public before. But the move to inform Mr Cameron of fears over the ANA’s performance shows just how seriously they are being taken at the highest level by the [British] military - and also that any move to speed up withdrawal would be resisted by senior officers...

One source said: “The Afghan Army is not going to be ready to take the lead in operations next year, that is certain..."...

One particular concern [out of many] is that there are desertions not just because soldiers are going home, but because they are changing sides to the Taliban, taking with them arms and expertise gained in training.

In the case of the cadre of 40 police who changed sides in Bagdis, in the north-west of Afghanistan, the whole unit had been created by a US initiative in 2010 during the peak of the war to help ISAF coalition and Afghan troops prevent the influence and spread of the insurgency...
However, it should also be noted that despite these reservations, and despite assertions from the leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees [Senator Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers] - upon returning from from a recent fact-finding trip to Afghanistan - that the Taliban is even stronger now than it was before Mr. Obama ordered the U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan [in 2009], the President has proclaimed on numerous occasions that the Taliban's momentum has been blunted and that the Taliban is weaker. And he would never utter a falsehood to the American people - certainly not in an election year........