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NATO's Increasing Involvement in Afghanistan

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the US led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) have separate mandates and missions. Although ISAF took over the command of Afghanistan's South from OEF, ISAF will continue to focus on its stabilisation and security mission whilst OEF will continue to carry out its counter-terrorism mission. However, the South is still (or again) a dangerous Taliban stronghold...

According to ABC News: The alliance's 8,000-strong NATO deployment in the South includes some U.S. troops and will be under the command of British Lt. Gen. David Richards. Officials said Richards effectively becomes the first non-U.S. general to command American forces in combat operations. (NATO does not yet have all of the planned 8,000 troops in the South.) Australia, Britain, Canada, Estonia, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Romania are also contributing troops to the ISAF's Southern Command.

The Bundeswehr is not in the South, but Germany contributes by far the most troops to ISAF in general. The Associated Press graphic on the right is based on NATO sources and counts a total of 10,500 troops as of July 22nd. NATO, however, states: "From 31 July, NATO-ISAF is leading some 18,500 troops from 37 countries in Kabul, the north, west and south of the country and running 13 Provincial Reconstruction Teams. This is NATO’s first and largest ground operation outside Europe."

The US-led OEF coalition retains responsibility for Afghanistan's East. Afghan and coalition forces there conduct regular combat patrols to defeat the Taliban and related movements, and the coalition will also retain its counter-terrorist mission throughout Afghanistan.
According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer (HT: Joe):
The Pentagon announced Wednesday that a combat brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., will deploy to Afghanistan late this year as part of the next rotation of forces. The deployment, to include the 82nd Airborne headquarters staff and various unidentified support units, will total about 11,000 soldiers, the Pentagon said. The announcement gave no indication that this would represent either an increase or a decrease in U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, which currently stand at about 22,000. At a Pentagon news conference, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that based on his visit last week to Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan he is optimistic about progress in Afghanistan. Regarding troops levels, Pace said, "The U.S. contribution has stayed stable and will remain stable." Late last year the Pentagon said U.S. troop levels would be reduced by 3,000 this year, but that has not happened, mainly because the Taliban armed resistance has stepped up its attacks, particularly in the volatile southern areas.
Those southern areas, however, are now mainly NATO's problem.


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Don on :

The table titled 'Nations Forces in Afchanistan has a misleading title. It implies the US has only 261 troops in Afghanistan. I think the table is actually the ISAF composition - only. I saw and interesting piece in The New Republic about Wil(helm)sonism - Germanies increasing presence abroad. Enjoy.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

My text is hopefully clear about what the graphic means. Besides, the graphic counts 10.000 soldiers in Afghanistan, although there should be some 18,000. It seems that the 8.000 soldiers for the South are coming from home. A bit confusing all. Thanks for the link. Very interesting article. I will blog about it at the weekend.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

I am pretty much illiterate when it comes to graphic software, but I have managed to change the title of the Associated Pres graphic. The AP title was confusing. The new one is better. I don't want to confuse anybody.

Don on :


Chris on :

All Western militaries that matter are spread very thin now. Not good.

Don on :

True, though the meaning of 'spread thinly' seems to have changed in recent times. Any army officer of the British Empire would have chuckled at the idea that 2000 deaths over 3 years of an 'insurgency' (what they would have called a colonial war) was heavy losses and due to a lack of troops. It wasn't unusual to lose 2000 in a bad day or a bad week. You want to see the meaning of stretched go look up 'The Black Hole of Calcutta' or the battle of Roarke's Drift'.

Chris on :

Don, interesting points. Modern militaries are very different than the one serving the crown in India as well. I think the ratio between combat troops to support troops is something like 1:3 or 1:5 in Iraq (forgive the vague recollection). I have no idea how "expensive" it was to train and equip a British soldier in India, but I am going to guess that it was cheaper than the investments we make now. Your perspective is nonetheless important.

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