Dutch government wants a return to Afstan…

Posted January 7th, 2011 in Afghanistan, Canada, International, Technology, united states by MarkOttawa

…to train police. Further to the Update here,

Media out! Of Afghanistan/People’s Daily Online Update

the latest:

THE HAGUE — The Dutch cabinet agreed Friday to a police training mission to Afghanistan, 11 months after the last government collapsed in a spat over military deployment to the conflict-torn nation.

“The cabinet decided today to send an integrated police training mission to Afghanistan in the period 2011 to 2014,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced after the weekly cabinet meeting.

“In total, the mission will entail 545 men and women,” he said, adding it would have a “strict training objective. No component of this mission will be involved in any military offensive.”

The decision comes some six months after Dutch troops withdrew from Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)…

NATO’s request for an extension of the Dutch deployment sparked a political row that led to the centre-left government’s collapse in February last year, precipitating the August pullout.

The governing coalition at the time was led by the Christian Democratic Action, which is now part of a right-leaning minority government in a loose alliance with the anti-Islam PVV, which is opposed to the training mission.

The government “needs a majority in parliament” to send the mission, said spokesman Henk Brons.

That means Rutte will need support from opposition lawmakers in the face of the PVV’s disapproval.

The prime minister said Friday the purpose of the new training mission would be “the strengthening of the civilian police and justice system in Afghanistan” and the “advancement of the constitutional state”.

The mission would include 225 police trainers in Kabul, Kunduz and Bamiyan.

“We will also retain four F16 (fighter jets) in Afghanistan. The F16s play an essential role in finding roadside bombs and boosting our security on the ground,” he said.

That will involve technical support personnel, including medical and logistics experts, as part of the team, said Rutte, arguing that the Netherlands’ work in Afghanistan “is not done”…

Rutte, who insisted the decision was “thoroughly deliberated” and based on the outcome of two fact-finding missions to Afghanistan, said the security of the Dutch trainers would be ensured by troops from Germany, the lead ISAF nation in Kunduz.

More from AP via the CBC website (will our other major media cover the news?):


The government says in a letter to parliament the mission will involve 225 police trainers and 320 military support staff who will be stationed in the capital Kabul and the northern province of Kunduz…

Plus earlier from Radio Nederland:

…The Dutch trainers would be deployed under the auspices of the European Police Training Mission (EUPOL)…

…Four Dutch F-16s would have to stay on in Afghanistan to provide protection to the troops. The jet fighters would have to be relocated from the southern province of Kandahar to the north of the country. The F-16 unit includes about 120 troops, bringing the total number of personnel for the mission to about 500…

So much for those quittists hoping for a grand Western bug-out. And aren’t those F-16s just a hoot?


Our government…has not been willing to employ our CF-18s in Afghanistan to support the CF and allied forces there even though urged to do so by our allies.  Too fearful of political and media reaction if a bomb or missile killed some civilians accidentally, don’t you know…

H/t Terry Glavin.

Update thought: The real message here, what with Canada’s also retreating to a training role, is that only two NATO members–the US and UK (plus the Danes)–are willing to engage in extended combat in Afstan.  Pathetic.  And why the Brits have a real special relationship with the Americans and we do not.  The way of the real, not Byers and Staples, world.

Mark
Ottawa

Ivory Coast: Is the UN good for anything? (Or Prof. Byers?)

Posted January 7th, 2011 in Afghanistan, Canada, International by MarkOttawa

Eric Morse and Eugene Lang have their doubts:

…Small, relatively prosperous, yet ethnically and religiously divided, this West African country with one principal export (cocoa) already has 9,000 UN peacekeepers on the ground, one of the UN’s largest operations. Gbagbo [still claiming to be president after an election the UN says he lost] faces both an international and African community united in outrage against his intransigence.

It should be a recipe for successful international action to remove him.

Instead, the aftermath of the election is turning into a prolonged standoff, a test of the relevance of the UN…

As for the UN, Gbagbo has thumbed his nose at New York, demanding peacekeepers leave the country. Although the UN is steadfastly refusing to retreat, the Security Council peacekeeping mandate does not extend to active military intervention in a political confrontation.

It’s unlikely Gbagbo will go anywhere he’s not forced to go, and that is the nub of the issue: How do you get rid of a despot who shows no sign of moving, and has a significant armed force at his disposal?…

That leaves the possibility of armed intervention. ECOWAS has had a fairly respectable record with this in neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia, but Ivory Coast is something else again. Gbagbo’s forces are capable of strong resistance if they are so minded.

Unless Gbagbo is persuaded it is in his self-interest to quit, the possibility of either a prolonged standoff or a bloody civil conflict or both is uncomfortably real. The international community has expressed its will and may be close to finding out that it has no realistic way to impose it, despite having thousands of UN troops on the ground. That would highlight the impotence of the UN as an entity capable of forging the political consensus for a military intervention, much less actually organizing an effective on-the-ground effort. And if civil war, genocide or crimes against humanity occur in Ivory Coast following the failure of the international community to force Gbagbo out, you can effectively say goodbye to the lofty and idealistic UN doctrine of Responsibility to Protect [see "There’s a responsibility to protect us from Pink Lloyd and Soft Rock"]…

It might well take the military efforts of France — the former colonial power that still has troops in the region and has a record of intervening in African hot spots — to save the UN’s bacon and restore something resembling democracy to Ivory Coast. France has said it won’t do it but in the end it may not have much choice. Wouldn’t that be ironic?

Eugene Lang, former chief of staff to two Liberal ministers of national defence, is co-author of The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar. Eric Morse is a former Canadian diplomat who is now vice-chair of security studies at the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto.

Meanwhile, in the same edition of the Ottawa Citizen, pernicious Prof. Michael Byers reveals a sweet stink of hypocrisy:


Canadians can help…by demanding that Ottawa support a UN-authorized military intervention by ECOWAS…

But why not simply have the Security Council give the UN peacekeepers already there (and reinforce them if necessary) a more robust mandate rather than outsourcing the job?

After all Mr Byers has not approved of the Security Council’s outsourcing (more here) the job in Afstan to NATO:

…Prof. Byers believes that “it’s time to move from a combat-oriented approach to one that focuses on negotiation, peacemaking and nation-building. … It’s time to move NATO troops out, and UN peacekeepers in.”..

So the Security Council’s outsourcing military intervention is a Good Thing in Ivory Coast but a Bad Thing in Afstan. UN peacekeepers are all that’s needed in the latter but not in the former.

Huh?

Update: A version of this post is at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute’s 3Ds Blog.

Mark
Ottawa

Afstan to the back burner

Posted January 6th, 2011 in Afghanistan, Canada by MarkOttawa

Our government, i.e. the prime minister, has basically lost interest (if they ever really had much)–even while the CF have some six more months of combat:

Conservatives shut down key Afghan cabinet committee

Military historian Jack Granatstein questioned whether the committee accomplished anything.

“I guess the question is: what has it been doing up till now?” he said. “There are a number of people who think it hadn’t been doing anything.”

Mr. Granatstein said Mr. Harper, and Mr. Harper alone, guided Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan and that his sense of direction lately has to be questioned.

When Mr. Harper came to power in 2006, he pledged that Canada would never “cut and run” while he was prime minister.

After Parliament approved a two-year extension to July 2011, Mr. Harper was adamant that the mission would end as scheduled, but he eventually agreed to have non-combat military trainers stay on for three more years.

Douglas Bland, chair of the Defence Management Studies Program at Queen’s University in Kingston, lamented the disbanding of the committee because it focused bureaucrats from several departments on important national security issues and forced them to work together.

A lot of bureaucrats have come to understand the broad meaning of national security and they need leadership from the cabinet to keep that up, otherwise they’ll wander off and do other things that bureaucrats do in the stovepipe democracy,” Mr. Bland said [emphasis added, likely a key consequence of disbanding the committee--civilian bureaucratic institutional structures, and knowledge, related to conducting war will rapidly atrophy].

“The lesson has been (that) war-like operations — and that’s what this was — require the attention of ministers and especially the prime minister.”

Mr. Bland said it is simply not good enough to leave the Afghanistan mission as an agenda item for cabinet’s Foreign Affairs and Defence committee…

Actually it’s been clear for three years or so that Mr Harper had lost any real commitment to the military mission:

Prime Minister grumpy about Afghanistan

Meanwhile his tardiness while finally flip-flopping to agree to an ongoing CF training mission is leading to its own problems:

Well, well, well: The consequences of delaying our Afghan decision

Great way to run a (serious?) country’s war effort. As for combat:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decided to send an additional 1,400 Marine combat forces to Afghanistan, officials said, in a surprise move ahead of the spring fighting season to try to cement tentative security gains before White House-mandated troop reductions begin in July.

The Marine battalion could start arriving on the ground as early as mid-January. The forces would mostly be deployed in the south, around Kandahar [emphasis added--to where our soldiers now are?], where the U.S. has concentrated troops over the past several months…

Mark
Ottawa

Horsesh..: “human rights imperialism”

Posted January 4th, 2011 in Afghanistan, Canada, International by MarkOttawa

Terry Glavin skewers the broad elements on the left who (in my view) hate their own societies more than they care about actually existing people:

The Heart Of The Matter: A Corrosive, Reactionary Parochialism On ‘The Left’.

The headline on Stephen Kinzer’s unintentionally self-incriminating display of the rot that has eaten away at the rich world’s “left” spoke sufficient volumes all by itself last week: “End Human Rights Imperialism Now”.

Apart from being a classic study in deception masquerading as revelation and self-deception masquerading as reflection (and a workshop-worthy specimen of straw-man argument, besides), what was exceptionally useful about the spectacle Kinzer made of himself was the service he provided in presenting a textbook example of the madhouse delusion that will inevitably result from the muddles of moral, epistemic and cultural relativism.

There’s no point in resorting to empirically-derived evidence if you’re trying to talk sense to someone whose very arguments rest on the absence of such universal standards if not their wholesale rejection. The dialectic, as we used to say, is simply not going to move forward. There will be rot in both form and content. Some people are just numpties.

But today, also in the Guardian, in an essay well-titled Beware those who sneer at ‘human rights imperialism’, our friend Sohrab Ahmari does yeoman service in exposing the bankruptcy of the pseudo-left orthodoxy that Kinzer so helpfully distilled. Sohrab does so by simply raising this question:” If the isolationist, provincial left manages to convince us that the blessing of liberty is to be allocated randomly – along geographic lines and according to the accident of birth – will the heart still beat on the left?”

It’s my own view that on the so-called “anti-imperialist” left, the truly progressive heart had already stopped beating at least a decade ago. True enough, the zombies have been stumbling around for much longer than that…

The thing about the contemporary iterations of that decadence that gets at me like fingernails scratching on a blackboard is its cynical disregard for the bravery of hundreds of thousands of Afghans, especially, who every day take greater risks and make greater sacrifices in the struggle for the rule of law, free speech, womens rights and civil liberties than any of the rich-kid “anti-imperialists” have undertaken in their entire lives. It’s the arrogance of it all that I can’t abide. It’s a distinctly “western” kind of arrogance, parodoxically, that would assert that “western” values are what these brave Afghans are fighting for, but to which – owing to their nature, their “race,” their religion, their “identity” or some dang thing – they are somehow disentitled, and we in the west must not stand with them or support them because to do so is to engage in “imperialism.”..

Be not a numptie. Read the whole dang thing.  I think the difference between many of our progressives and 1890 Tories is that those Tories actually liked their own country.

Mark
Ottawa

Hornets at Kandahar Air Field/F-35 Update

Posted January 3rd, 2011 in Afghanistan, Canada, International, Technology, united states by MarkOttawa

Unfortunately not Canadian:

A Marine Corps squadron recently returned to the United States after a historic deployment as the first of the service’s F/A-18 Hornets to operate from a ground base in Afghanistan.

With Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 operating out of Kandahar Air Field, the unit’s pilots were much closer to infantry troops than they were during previous deployments when they operated of off naval aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea or Persian Gulf.

Their proximity to ground fighting during their last deployment allowed them to be more responsive and increased the number of successful combat missions, according to unit leaders.

That “feet dry” presence let pilots flying the squadron’s dozen F/A-18C Hornets and a couple of twin-seat F/A-18Ds work closely with some dozen ground combat units operating around Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province.


Sgt. Deanne Hurla / Marine Corps Cpl. Scott Esker, a plane captain with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232, directs Capt. Daniel Tongson, a VMFA-232 pilot, into a parking space at Kandahar Airbase, Afghanistan. The squadron became the service’s first to operate from a land base in the country, rather than from Navy aircraft carriers…

Our government, for its part, has not been willing to employ our CF-18s in Afghanistan to support the CF and allied forces there even though urged to do so by our allies.  Too fearful of political and media reaction if a bomb or missile killed some civilians accidentally, don’t you know.  Yet our Air Force supposedly needs stealthy, initial attack, bomb-truck F-35s while the US Navy, in addition to planning to buy F-35Cs, continues to acquire new Super Hornets.

Update: Latest F-35 scuttlebutt:

U.S. to detail $100 billion in Pentagon savings, cuts: sources

The Pentagon’s largest weapons program, the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is facing another restructuring that could extend the program’s development phase by up to two years, said a third source familiar with the plans.

The program was already restructured last year, adding 13 months to the development phase…

If the program is so delayed there is no way Canada will start getting the planes in 2016 as the government has claimed. Nor will they cost in the $70-$80 million range. See this earlier post:

Canadian Government has no idea what the F-35 will cost…

Also recent and relevant:

F-35 Begins Year With Test Objectives Unmet

Upperdate: A version of this post is at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute’s 3Ds Blog.

Mark
Ottawa

Comments Off

First Canadian C-130J in Afstan/Fixed-wing SAR never never land

Posted January 2nd, 2011 in Afghanistan, Canada by MarkOttawa

The Jerc has landed:

Canadian pilots will be able to drop cargo to troops on the ground with far greater accuracy now that a new Hercules aircraft has arrived in southern Afghanistan.

The first of Canada’s new Hercules C-130J aircraft arrived at Kandahar Airfield over the weekend, with a second scheduled to arrive later this spring…

The new aircraft look almost identical to the old ones, except that they are slightly longer and can seat up to 125 people instead of 92.

But that’s about where the similarities end. The new Hercules are largely automated and require fewer crew members.

Pilots say it will be easier to drop supplies to soldiers because a computer now calculates wind speed, weather conditions and other variables. The computer can hit a drop point within 30 metres. Before, when it was done manually, supplies could land much farther from the drop point.

“When we’re doing an air drop, the computer’s actually doing the drop and we’re monitoring it. So it tends to be much, much more accurate,” Wintrup said.

Most of the flying to ferry troops and equipment around Afghanistan is done by Canadians.

The Conservative government ordered 17 new Hercules aircraft from Lockheed Martin three years ago at a cost of $1.4 billion [more here]. So far, the company has delivered five aircraft. Two will be in Kandahar and the rest will be based at the air force base in Trenton, Ont.

The entire order is supposed to be filled by the end of 2012…

From the DND news release:


The first CC-130J Hercules tactical aircraft arrived in Canada on June 4, 2010, six months ahead of the original scheduled delivery date. The Air Force team demonstrated its agility, flexibility and professional capabilities by readying the aircraft and its crews for deployment to Afghanistan in less than seven months. Training, maintenance and operation procedures needed to be adapted to the specific characteristics of this aircraft, while ensuring an efficient and effective implementation schedule that will facilitate safe, effective, and sustained operations…

All 17 CC-130Js will be based at 8 Wing Trenton, along with the future Air Mobility Training Centre that will house the equipment and personnel required to train the operators and maintainers of the CC-130J Hercules aircraft…

More on the plane here and a photo:

Remember all the controversy over the Conservative government’s effectively sole-sourcing this contract, ignoring the Airbus A400M? Well the A400M was a paper aircraft in 2006 and the Jerc was a real one–and has been delivered ahead of schedule. Meanwhile the A400M is still in flight testing and will be several years late entering service.

Our four C-17 strategic airlifters were also, sensibly, sole-sourced and arrived quickly and on time. Another plane that had been proved in service. In the case of both these transports there really was only one aircraft that fit the CF’s bill. Whereas in another case we really do not know.

Meanwhile another very-long planned aircraft purchase continues to go nowhere.  This from the Liberals’ federal Budget, March 23, 2004, “The Importance of Canada’s Relationship to the World“:


Another major priority for Canada’s military is the purchase of modern Fixed Wing Search and Rescue aircraft (SAR) to replace older Hercules aircraft and Canada’s fleet of Buffalo aircraft. Under Defence’s current plan, deliveries of the new aircraft will begin much later in the decade. This budget sets aside non-budgetary resources to allow the Department of National Defence to move this acquisition forward in time without displacing other planned capital investments. By doing so, the Government will accelerate the process so that deliveries of the replacement SAR planes to Canada’s military can begin within 12 to 18 months…

Well it’s now 2011 and just last spring this government essentially went back to the drawing board on the whole project–see also “Rescue Required: Canada’s Search-And-Rescue Aircraft Program”. I strongly suspect a major cause for delays is lobbying by Bombardier to have a (unsuitable) version of its Q-Series considered. And others are lobbying too:

Union selfishness and new Air Force aircraft…

Almost seven freaking years and no competition is now under way. Help.

Update: A version of this post is at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute’s 3Ds Blog.

Mark
Ottawa

Well, well, well: The consequences of delaying our Afghan decision

Posted December 31st, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International by MarkOttawa

You can’t always get what you want. See this Nov. 17 post by BruceR. at Flit:

I hear Mazar in spring is even nicer than Kabul in winter

Matthew Fisher continues to perform the sin of actual journalism by trying to pin down people on where Canadian troops in Afghanistan post-2011 will be going and what they’ll be doing. This was telling:

As Canada is insisting that most of its trainers will be in or near the capital, which is already awash with trainers from other countries, there is immense interest in what specific training tasks Canada is to be assigned by NATO and how its trainers will be shoehorned into already-crowded bases in the capital…

…the demand for what could be readily offered [by the CF] becomes rather small. So in the Kabul area, there were only 106 critical jobs in police and army training that could be filled by “regular” soldiers as of the NTM-A [NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan] annual report, dated three weeks ago… far less than what Canada is now offering…

Looks like Bruce was bang-on:

Canadian trainers likely to be sent across Afghanistan

The Canadian Forces is rushing to draw up a list of military trainers to send to Afghanistan once Canada’s combat mission ends next summer, but senior officers say training positions in the safer regions of the country are already growing few and far between.

The federal government announced earlier this year that up to 950 Canadian soldiers would participate in a three-year mission to train the nascent Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police force.

The Conservative government insisted that the Canadian trainers would be based “inside the wire,” working in secure bases in the relatively stable area around Kabul, the Afghan capital.

But the NATO training organization in Afghanistan is expanding rapidly and needs trainers at sites across the country.

Many of the training jobs in Kabul have been snapped up by nations who committed to the training mission much earlier and Canada may have to send its soldiers into riskier regions of the country.

Maj.-Gen. Stuart Beare, the Canadian deputy commander of the NATO training mission, told CTV News that the coalition needs military and police trainers in almost every province of Afghanistan…

Col. Paul Scagnetti is one of a group of Canadian officers that helped establish the Afghan Army Command College in Kabul, helping to train the Afghan army’s future leaders.

“They know how to fight, there’s no doubt about that: They’ve been doing it for 30 years,” Scagnetti said. “What we’re trying to do is give them a structure, an organization that’ll make them more effective in their fighting.”

But Scagnetti and his fellow trainers have been so successful that they’ve put themselves out of at least one training job: when the new Canadian-funded college opens next spring it will be run by Afghans [I think that may well be the staff college that Brian Platt posted about when he was in Kabul--unembedded--in early November] .

Caught by surprise at the government’s announcement of the training mission, the Canadian Forces is now working overtime to draw up plans for where the Canadian troops will go and what exactly they will be doing.

Lt.-Gen. Marc Lessard, the head of Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, acknowledged that Canada may have little choice but to send soldiers into more volatile regions of Afghanistan.

“The direction I have from (Chief of Defence Staff) Gen. Natynczyk is that it is to be Kabul-centric,” Lessard told CTV News. “And what that means is that the emphasis is to be on Kabul, but not solely Kabul.”

Details of the training mission may become clearer after a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels later in January…

Update remark: Politics, politics, all is politics.

Mark
Ottawa

Key differences between Canada and the US

Posted December 22nd, 2010 in Canada, International, united states by MarkOttawa

I cannot imagine any Canadian political leader saying this with reference to, say, Jim Balsillie:

…How are we creating opportunity for everybody? So that we celebrate wealth. We celebrate somebody like a Steve Jobs, who has created two or three different revolutionary products. We expect that person to be rich, and that’s a good thing. We want that incentive. That’s part of the free market [productive greed is indeed a Good Thing?]…

Then there’s this earlier at his press conference today from the supposedly oh so progressive Democratic President Obama:

With respect to the issue of whether gays and lesbians should be able to get married, I’ve spoken about this recently. As I’ve said, my feelings about this are constantly evolving. I struggle with this. I have friends, I have people who work for me, who are in powerful, strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions. And they are extraordinary people, and this is something that means a lot to them and they care deeply about.

At this point, what I’ve said is, is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have. And I think — and I think that’s the right thing to do. But I recognize that from their perspective it is not enough, and I think is something that we’re going to continue to debate and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward.

If Prime Minister Harper had sad anything similar to the two above quotes he’d be crucified by the Canadian opposition and most of the punditocracy.

Canadians, because of labels and their own ignorance, simply fail to recognize that President Obama and his actual policies are well to the right of our so-called Conservatives. I challenge anyone to name one major issue of public policy that would disprove my assertion, e.g.:

Health care
Afstan
Missile defence
Income tax levels
Foreign ownership of the media
Military spending
Immigration control of borders
Dealing with terrorism suspects
Capital punishment
Etc., etc., etc…

Earlier on the theme at Daimnation!:

Bush-lite

When will besotted Canadians wake up to the real Obama?

Stephen Harper is no Barack Obama

Please take a look at the above links for a dose of reality. And at this in comparison with the official left in the UK:

Canada’s odd approach to immigration, or, currying favour

Only here would the current government be considered even remotely conservative. The terms of political discourse in this country are, to be polite, out to flipping progressive lunch. To conclude:

Stephen Harper’s agenda is so well hidden…

Mark
Ottawa

How to help the Afghans

Posted December 22nd, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International, united states by MarkOttawa

Louise Arbour (of whom this blog generally disapproves) looks like she’s actually on to something in the view of Terry Glavin:

As I Was Saying: Get Real.

Most recently here, which I was then pleased to find Christopher Hitchens reiterating here, Louise Arbour, former Supreme Court judge, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and currently president of the International Crisis Group, asserts in clear and unforgiving terms here:

“Shortcuts and backroom deals just won’t cut it. Instead, Canada and other NATO members must focus their efforts on reforms that can give Afghans stability, security and rule of law. More attention and resources, not less, must be focused on building governmental capacity and combatting corruption…

…Canadians must recognize that their continued engagement in Afghanistan must rest not on wishful thinking but on a policy grounded in reality.”

Thank you, Justice Arbour. You’ve just neatly summarized everything the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee has been saying [disclosure: I'm a member--MC].

A truly eclectic meeting of minds.  But achieving their ends will take an awful lot of neo-imperial twisting of Afghan arms, primarily by the US.  And, I suspect, at least tacit Pakistani acquiescence.

Mark
Ottawa

AfPak round-up (Canada may cause NATO training problems)/Girls with guns Update

Posted December 21st, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International, united states by MarkOttawa

1) NATO fails to deliver half of trainers promised for Afghanistan


A further complication is that some contributing countries, including Canada, have placed restrictions on how and where their trainers can be used in Afghanistan.

The pledge of Canadian trainers last month came with the caveat that they not be used outside the Kabul area or “outside the wire,” such as in mentoring roles that would put them in the field with Afghan soldiers or police officers.

Although the makeup of the Canadian training force has yet to be announced [the US has been pressing us], the limitation sets a domino effect into motion. To find places for them, NATO commanders will likely have to move trainers from other countries out of bases and schools in the Afghan capital…

Lots more on that wee difficulty from BruceR. at Flit.

2) Foreign troop deaths in Afghanistan top 700 in 2010: site


The latest figures came as The New York Times reported that senior US military commanders in Afghanistan are pushing to expand special operations ground raids across the border in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas.

But the story was denied by a spokesman for ISAF, who said there was “absolutely no truth” to any suggestion that ground operations into Pakistan were planned.

3) U.S. Military Seeks to Expand Raids in Pakistan

WASHINGTON — Senior American military commanders in Afghanistan are pushing for an expanded campaign of Special Operations ground raids across the border into Pakistan’s tribal areas, a risky strategy reflecting the growing frustration with Pakistan’s efforts to root out militants there.

The proposal, described by American officials in Washington and Afghanistan, would escalate military activities inside Pakistan, where the movement of American forces has been largely prohibited because of fears of provoking a backlash.

The plan has not yet been approved, but military and political leaders say a renewed sense of urgency has taken hold, as the deadline approaches for the Obama administration to begin withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan. Even with the risks, military commanders say that using American Special Operations troops could bring an intelligence windfall, if militants were captured, brought back across the border into Afghanistan and interrogated…

…one senior American officer said, “We’ve never been as close as we are now to getting the go-ahead to go across.”..

Update: From Terry Glavin:


http://www.tolonews.com/images/stories/afghan-police-women-in-balkh.jpg

All I’m saying here is that nothing cheers me up more than the sight of an unveiled Afghan woman cradling a machine gun [actually an AK assault rifle variant].

Mark
Ottawa