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NATO's Afghanistan Policy

Spiegel International summarizes in English the commentary of three German papers about the NATO summit in Riga and writes in Twisting and Turning over German Troops:
Angela Merkel is resisting pressure from NATO: She refuses to station German troops in the south of Afghanistan. But she has agreed to let German troops conduct "emergency rescue missions" there. It sounds harmless, but it could have significant consequences for the troops.

Riga Summit Declaration

What are NATO's goals in Afghanistan? The Century Foundation's Afghanistan Watch recommends a Financial Times article and adds interesting comments:
The Financial Times opines today that the Riga summit has "the makings of a small disaster" but that can be salvaged by refocusing on the alliances most pressing priority: Afghanistan. The FT argues that in addition to more troops, leaders must figure out what they're trying to achieve, and that "the strategy for the Afghanistan mission -- to help the government of President Hamid Karzai extend its authority -- is too broad brush to be useful." Nietzsche once wrote that "the most fundamental form of human stupidity is forgetting what we were trying to do in the first place." As the FT notes, the current strategy "does not sufficiently indicate what kind of end state Nato is seeking to achieve or how long its troops will remain.
This post will be updated over the weekend for a more comprehensive coverage of the NATO Summit. Did you come across an interesting article about the summit? Please recommend in the comments section.

Related posts in the Atlantic Review:
Round-up of opinions before the NATO summit and Should Germany Send Troops to Southern Afghanistan? and Afghanistan Intervention "on the cheap"


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joe on :

I am sure someone has a good reference on how the questions about Afghanistan asked in the FT article were answered about the Balkans soon after NATO put forces on the ground. I would be particularly interested in what were the projections as to how long NATO forces would remain there and what was the “exit strategy”. If I remember correctly former Pres Clinton said the US would not be in the Balkans for a very long period of time. In fact, it seems to have been an open ended commitment with US forces still there. Thanks

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Are you suggesting some double standards? I don't know about the Financial Times, but I have repeatedly criticized the lack of progress in Kosovo: [url][/url] We need to increase our political efforts in Bosnia and Kosovo so that we can withdraw our troops. They are needed elsewhere, like in Afghanistan. Defense Minister Jung and his predecessor Struck and a few politicians from the Green Party have recently suggested that [b]Germany should participate in UN mission in Darfur[/b], "if the UN asks". Jung was heavily criticized from withhin his own party. I don't think anything will happen in the next few weeks. [b]Are there still US troops in the Balkans? [/b] I have not found any information about the number of US troops over there. The Defense Department search engine breaks dowon all the time. And and Wikipdiea are out-dated etc. Google is not helpful either. Or perhaps I used the wrong search terms. According to [u][url=!/delta/base64xml/L2dJQSEvUUt3QS80SVVFLzZfQV8xUlA!?yw_contentURL=%2FC1256EF4002AED30%2FW264VFT2439INFODE%2Fcontent.jsp]these Bundeswehr statistics from November 22nd[/url],[/u] Germany has 2915 troops in Kosovo and 883 in Bosnia. Why does not the US military have such website showing how many troops are deployed in the various missions? They got to have it somewhere, but I can't find it...

joe on :

I am not suggesting anything. I would like to know how NATO efforts in the Balkans compare to those in Afghanistan as far as commitment, timelines, identification of goals and objectives, measures of success, redeployment, etc. There are actually two aspects to this question, a military one and a political one. I realize these two NATO efforts are quite different. One, the Balkans, was more a show of force as compared to Afghanistan which is the actually conduct of ground combat operations. Needless to say because of these differences an entire new spectrum of issues has raised which were never addressed during the Balkans operations. Christoph Bertram in his RIGA essay for the MF, referenced in another thread, made the following observation about war fighting and stability operations. Stability operations . . .”These will only be met if NATO governments are willing to contribute significant numbers forces of their own, both in the UN and the NATO context. It is a task for which NATO is well-suited, while it is no longer suited to fighting traditional wars. Given the absence of any old-fashioned military threat to NATO territory, the wars that can occur will be those of choice, not necessity. Inevitably, not all of NATO’s members will want to make that choice and the consensus which is at the heart of NATO’s cohesion will not materialize. “ “Some may argue that the Kosovo campaign of 1999 suggests otherwise. After all, Serbia then posed no direct threat to the territory of any NATO member state. But, there were exceptional circumstances at play then. For one, NATO forces were engaged more in a demonstration of force than a proper war, conducted entirely from the air. For another, Kosovo is part of the Balkans, where NATO had invested heavily to promote a stability which now seemed threatened. Even then, consensus was brittle and would probably have collapsed if NATO had decided to launch a ground attack, in other words, to fight a proper conventional war against Serbia’s army. Thus the Kosovo experience would seem to confirm rather than dispute the rule that wars of choice overtax NATO’s cohesion.” By NATO’s on definition stability operations includes the providing of security and to establish, reestablish or support a foreign government’s ability to assure rule of law and internal security. This means there will be combat operations in a counter insurgency environment. It means there will be both fighting and dying. So the deployed forces with alternate between being peacekeepers and peacemakers. Had the US lead air campaign failed and NATO would have had to conduct ground combat operations the issues now confronting NATO would have had to be addressed. I say this was a US lead air campaign because the US flew 67% of all sorties and almost all the hot missions. This compares to say Germany’s 1.7% of all sorties and none of the hot missions. Based on what we are seeing in Afghanistan, it can be assumed those nations engaged in ground combat operations there would be the same nations which would have conducted ground combat operations in the Balkans. The US has slightly less than 2,000 soldiers deployed to the Balkans. About 1,600 of these are part of Task Force Falcon. The remainder are in support of NATO command and control elements. The current US forces are due to begin their rotation back to the US. They will be replaced for the 8th rotation during the first part of 2007. The US would like to obtain relief from this commitment so these soldiers can be used to support operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. What was interesting is the local population opposes this reduction. They want US forces to remain. This was reported by the M$M earlier in 2006. Unfortunately I did not keep a link. DOD does not keep a single site displaying the deployment status of US forces. Part of this is for operational security and part of this is both the complexity and ever changing nature of these deployments. Currently the US has military forces conducting operations of one type or another in over 119 nations. This link gives an overview of the scope of some of the current deployments.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Joe, your link has info about health services. I have not found any numbers regarding US troops in the Balkans. I'd appreciate it, if you could find out how many US troops are still in Bosnia and Kosovo. I will try to respond to the other issues in a couple of days.

Fuchur on :

"Are there still US troops in the Balkans?" There definitely are. Ok, pretty OT, but this reminded me: Last year, I followed [url=]Risawn´s blog[/url] for a while. She´s an American who blogged from her tour in Kosovo (she´s deenlisted now). And she likes posting cool pictures of herself with guns. Big guns. Preferably with bayonets... Anyway: Here´s her assessment of the German Kosovo forces: [url=]"Did I mention that the German Army is one of the coolest Armies in KFOR?"[/url] Ok, she was bribed with a [url=]Schützenschnur[/url] to say that, but I still found it cool...

joe on :

Jorg, I am not sure which link you are making reference too. This one is an overview of US deployments. This is a link about the current rotation of US forces. They are rotating KFOR-7 for KFOR-8

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Thanks. The first website does not mention current troop levels. According to the second link, the [b]US has or had 1,600 U.S. troops in Kosovo [/b](KFOR-7), which are leaving now. That is much more troops than I thought. I guess, that about the same number of troops goes to Kosovo now (KFOR-8)... Do you know how many US troops are in Bosnia? Germany has 2915 troops in Kosovo and 883 in Bosnia.

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