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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #550 on: December 06, 2009, 10:06:54 AM »

Tis passing odd that I would post something by POTH blathering idiot Frank Rich, but I do so precisely because of where he sits on the political spectrum and what he says.

ColumnistObama’s Logic Is No Match for Afghanistan Recommend
By FRANK RICH
Published: December 5, 2009

AFTER the dramatic three-month buildup, you’d think that Barack Obama’s speech announcing his policy for Afghanistan would be the most significant news story of the moment. History may take a different view. When we look back at this turning point in America’s longest war, we may discover that a relatively trivial White House incident, the gate-crashing by a couple of fame-seeking bozos, was the more telling omen of what was to come.

Obama’s speech, for all its thoughtfulness and sporadic eloquence, was a failure at its central mission. On its own terms, as both policy and rhetoric, it didn’t make the case for escalating our involvement in Afghanistan. It’s doubtful that the president’s words moved the needle of public opinion wildly in any direction for a country that has tuned out Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq alike while panicking about where the next job is coming from.

You can think the speech failed without questioning Obama’s motives. I don’t buy the criticism that he contrived a cynical political potpourri to pander to every side in the debate over the war. Nor was his decision to escalate mandated by his campaign stand positing Afghanistan as a just war in contrast to the folly of Iraq. Nor was he intimidated by received Beltway opinion, which, echoing Dick Cheney, accused him of dithering. (“The urgent necessity is to make a decision — whether or not it is right,” wrote the Dean of D.C. punditry, David Broder.)

Obama’s speech struck me as the sincere product of serious deliberations, an earnest attempt to apply his formidable intelligence to one of the most daunting Rubik’s Cubes of foreign policy America has ever known. But some circles of hell can’t be squared. What he’s ended up with is a too-clever-by-half pushmi-pullyu holding action that lacks both a credible exit strategy and the commitment of its two most essential partners, a legitimate Afghan government and the American people. Obama’s failure illuminated the limits of even his great powers of reason.

The state dinner crashers delineated those limits too. This was the second time in a month — after the infinitely more alarming bloodbath at Fort Hood — that a supposedly impregnable bastion of post-9/11 American security was easily breached. Yes, the crashers are laughable celebrity wannabes, but there was nothing funny about what they accomplished on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Their ruse wasn’t “reality” television — it was reality, period, with no quotation marks. It was a symbolic indication (and, luckily, only symbolic) of how unbridled irrationality harnessed to sheer will, whether ludicrous in the crashers’ case or homicidal in the instance of the Fort Hood gunman, can penetrate even our most secure fortifications. Both incidents stand as a haunting reproach to the elegant powers of logic with which Obama tried to sell his exquisitely calibrated plan to vanquish Al Qaeda and its mad brethren.

For all the overheated debate about what Obama meant in proposing July 2011 as a date to begin gradual troop withdrawals, the more significant short circuit in the speech’s internal logic lies elsewhere. The crucial passage came when Obama systematically tried to dismantle the Vietnam analogies that have stalked every American foreign adventure for four decades. “Most importantly,” the president said, “unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border.” This is correct as far as it goes, but it begs a number of questions.

“Along its border,” of course, means across the border — a k a Pakistan. Obama never satisfactorily argued why more troops in Afghanistan, where his own administration puts the number of Qaeda operatives at roughly 100, will help vanquish the far more substantial terrorist strongholds in Pakistan. But even if he had made that case and made it strongly, a larger issue remains: If the enemy in Afghanistan, whether Taliban or Qaeda, poses the same existential threat to America today that it did on 9/11, why is the president settling for half-measures?

It’s not just that Obama is fielding somewhat fewer troops than the maximum Gen. Stanley McChrystal requested. McChrystal himself didn’t ask for enough troops to fight a proper counterinsurgency in Afghanistan in the first place. Using the metrics outlined in the sacred text on the subject, Gen. David Petraeus’s field manual, we’d need a minimal force of 568,000 for Afghanistan’s population of 28.4 million. After the escalation, allied forces will reach barely a quarter of that number.

If the enemy in Afghanistan today threatens the American homeland as the Viet Cong never did, we should be all in, according to Obama’s logic. So why aren’t we? The answer is not merely that Afghans don’t want us as occupiers. It’s that such a mission would require a commensurate national sacrifice. One big difference between the war in Vietnam and the war in Afghanistan that the president conspicuously left unmentioned on Tuesday is the draft. Given that conscription is not about to be revived, we’d have to spend money, lots more money, to recruit the troops needed for the full effort Obama’s own argument calls for.

Which again leads us back to the ghosts of Vietnam. As L.B.J. learned the hard way, we can’t have both guns and the butter of big domestic projects, from health care to desperately needed jobs programs. We have to make choices. Obama paid lip service to that point, but the only sacrifice he cited in the entire speech was addressed to his audience at West Point, not the general public — the burden borne by the military and military families. While the president didn’t tell American civilians to revel in tax cuts and go shopping, as his predecessor did after 9/11, that may be a distinction without a difference. Obama’s promises to accomplish his ambitious plans for nation building at home while pursuing an expanded war sounded just as empty.

In this, he’s like most of the war’s supporters, regardless of party. On Fox News last Sunday, two senators, the Republican Jon Kyl and the Democrat Evan Bayh, found rare common ground in agreeing that an expanded Afghanistan effort should never require new taxes. It’s this bipartisan mantra that more war must be fought without more sacrifice — rather than Obama’s tentative withdrawal timeline — that most loudly signals to the world the shallowness of the American public’s support for any Afghanistan escalation. This helps explain why, as Fred Kaplan pointed out in Slate, the American share of allied troops in Afghanistan is rising (to 70 percent from under 50 percent at the time George Bush left office) despite Obama’s boast of an enthusiastic new coalition of the willing.

To his credit, Obama’s speech did eschew Bush-Cheneyism at its worst. He conceded some counterarguments to his policy: that the Afghanistan government is corrupt, mired in drugs and in “no imminent threat” of being overthrown. He framed his goals in modest and realistic terms, rather than trying to whip up the audience with fear-mongering, triumphalist sloganeering and jingoistic bravado. He talked of “success,” not “victory.”

But the president’s own method for rallying public support — a plea to “summon that unity” of 9/11 again — fell flat. There are several reasons why. First, 9/11 has been cheapened by the countless politicians who have exploited it, culminating with Rudy Giuliani. The sole achievement of America’s Former Mayor’s farcical presidential campaign was to render the evil of 9/11 banal. Second, 9/11 is eight years in the past. Looking at the youthful faces of the cadets in Obama’s audience on Tuesday, you realized that they were literally children on that horrific day, and that the connection between 9/11/01 and the newest iteration of the war they must fight in a new decade is something of an abstraction.

Finally, the notion that we are still fighting in Afghanistan because the 9/11 attacks originated there is based on the fallacy that our terrorist enemies are so stupid they have remained frozen in place since 2001. Most Americans know that they are no more static than we are. Obama acknowledged as much in citing such other Qaeda havens as Somalia (the site of a devastating insurgent suicide bombing on Thursday) and Yemen.

Americans want our country to be secure. Most want Obama to succeed. And so we hope that we won’t get bogged down in Afghanistan while our adversaries regroup elsewhere, that the casualties and costs can be contained, that the small, primitive Afghan Army (ravaged by opium, illiteracy, incompetence and a 25 percent attrition rate) will miraculously stand up so we can stand down. We want to believe that Obama’s marvelous powers of reason can check a ruthless enemy and reverse decades of tragic history in one of the world’s most treacherous backwaters.

That’s the bet Obama made. As long as our wars remain sacrifice-free, safely buried in the back pages behind Tiger Woods and reality television stunts, he’ll be able to pursue it. But I keep returning to the crashers at the gates, who have no respect for our president’s orderliness of mind and action. All it takes is a few of them at the wrong time and wrong place, whether in Afghanistan or Pakistan or America or sites unknown, and all bets will be off.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #551 on: December 06, 2009, 10:11:03 AM »

Another post by someone I rarely post.  I think TF makes some very good points here.

May It All Come True
       
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: December 5, 2009

President Obama certainly showed leadership mettle in going against his own party’s base and ordering a troop surge into Afghanistan. He is going to have to be even more tough-minded, though, to make sure his policy is properly executed.

I’ve already explained why I oppose this escalation. But since the decision has been made — and I do not want my country to fail or the Obama presidency to sink in Afghanistan — here are some thoughts on how to reduce the chances that this ends badly. Let’s start by recalling an insight that President John F. Kennedy shared in a Sept. 2, 1963, interview with Walter Cronkite:

Cronkite: “Mr. President, the only hot war we’ve got running at the moment is, of course, the one in Vietnam, and we have our difficulties there.”

Kennedy: “I don’t think that unless a greater effort is made by the [Vietnamese] government to win popular support that the war can be won out there. In the final analysis, it is their war. They are the ones who have to win it or lose it. We can help them; we can give them equipment; we can send our men out there as advisers. But they have to win it, the people of Vietnam, against the Communists. We are prepared to continue to assist them, but I don’t think that the war can be won unless the people support the effort and, in my opinion, in the last two months, the [Vietnamese] government has gotten out of touch with the people. ...”

Cronkite: “Do you think this government still has time to regain the support of the people?”

Kennedy: “I do. With changes in policy and perhaps with personnel I think it can. If it doesn’t make those changes, the chances of winning it would not be very good.”

What J.F.K. understood, what L.B.J. lost sight of, and what B.H.O. can’t afford to forget, is that in the end it’s not about how many troops we send or deadlines we set. It is all about our Afghan partners. Afghanistan has gone into a tailspin largely because President Hamid Karzai’s government became dysfunctional and massively corrupt — focused more on extracting revenues for private gain than on governing. That is why too many Afghans who cheered Karzai’s arrival in 2001 have now actually welcomed Taliban security and justice.

“In 2001, most Afghan people looked to the United States not only as a potential mentor but as a model for successful democracy,” Pashtoon Atif, a former aid worker from Kandahar, recently wrote in The Los Angeles Times. “What we got instead was a free-for-all in which our leaders profited outrageously and unapologetically from a wealth of foreign aid coupled with a dearth of regulations.”

Therefore, our primary goal has to be to build — with Karzai — an Afghan government that is “decent enough” to earn the loyalty of the Afghan people, so a critical mass of them will feel “ownership” of it and therefore be ready to fight to protect it. Because only then will there be a “self-sustaining” Afghan Army and state so we can begin to get out by the president’s July 2011 deadline — without leaving behind a bloodbath.

Focus on those key words: “decent enough,” “ownership” and “self-sustaining.” Without minimally decent government, Afghans will not take ownership. If they don’t take ownership, they won’t fight for it. And if they won’t fight for it on their own, whatever progress we make will not be self-sustaining. It will just collapse when we leave.

But here is what worries me: The president’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said flatly: “This can’t be nation-building.” And the president told a columnists’ lunch on Tuesday that he wants to avoid “mission creep” that takes on “nation-building in Afghanistan.”

I am sorry: This is only nation-building. You can’t train an Afghan Army and police force to replace our troops if you have no basic state they feel is worth fighting for. But that will require a transformation by Karzai, starting with the dismissal of his most corrupt aides and installing officials Afghans can trust.

This surge also depends, the president indicated, on Pakistan ending its obsession with India. That obsession has led Pakistan to support the Taliban to control Afghanistan as part of its “strategic depth” vis-à-vis India. Pakistan fights the Taliban who attack it, but nurtures the Taliban who want to control Afghanistan. So we now need this fragile Pakistan to stop looking for strategic depth against India in Afghanistan and to start building strategic depth at home, by reviving its economy and school system and preventing jihadists from taking over there.

That is why Mr. Obama is going to have to make sure, every day, that Karzai doesn’t weasel out of reform or Pakistan wiggle out of shutting down Taliban sanctuaries or the allies wimp out on helping us. To put it succinctly: This only has a chance to work if Karzai becomes a new man, if Pakistan becomes a new country and if we actually succeed at something the president says we won’t be doing at all: nation-building in Afghanistan. Yikes!

For America’s sake, may it all come true.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #552 on: December 06, 2009, 10:36:33 AM »

WASHINGTON - On the afternoon he held the eighth meeting of his Afghanistan
review, President Obama arrived in the White House Situation Room ruminating
about war. He had come from Arlington National Cemetery, where he had
wandered among the chalky white tombstones of those who had fallen in the
rugged mountains of Central Asia.

How much their sacrifice weighed on him that Veterans Day last month, he did
not say. But his advisers say he was haunted by the human toll as he
wrestled with what to do about the eight-year-old war. Just a month earlier,
he had mentioned to them his visits to wounded soldiers at the Army hospital
in Washington. "I don't want to be going to Walter Reed for another eight
years," he said then.

The economic cost was troubling him as well after he received a private
budget memo estimating that an expanded presence would cost $1 trillion over
10 years, roughly the same as his health care plan.

Now as his top military adviser ran through a slide show of options, Mr.
Obama expressed frustration. He held up a chart showing how reinforcements
would flow into Afghanistan over 18 months and eventually begin to pull out,
a bell curve that meant American forces would be there for years to come.

"I want this pushed to the left," he told advisers, pointing to the bell
curve. In other words, the troops should be in sooner, then out sooner.

When the history of the Obama presidency is written, that day with the chart
may prove to be a turning point, the moment a young commander in chief set
in motion a high-stakes gamble to turn around a losing war. By moving the
bell curve to the left, Mr. Obama decided to send 30,000 troops mostly in
the next six months and then begin pulling them out a year after that,
betting that a quick jolt of extra forces could knock the enemy back on its
heels enough for the Afghans to take over the fight.

The three-month review that led to the escalate-then-exit strategy is a case
study in decision making in the Obama White House - intense, methodical,
rigorous, earnest and at times deeply frustrating for nearly all involved.
It was a virtual seminar in Afghanistan and Pakistan, led by a president
described by one participant as something "between a college professor and a
gentle cross-examiner."

Mr. Obama peppered advisers with questions and showed an insatiable demand
for information, taxing analysts who prepared three dozen intelligence
reports for him and Pentagon staff members who churned out thousands of
pages of documents.

This account of how the president reached his decision is based on dozens of
interviews with participants as well as a review of notes some of them took
during Mr. Obama's 10 meetings with his national security team. Most of
those interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal
deliberations, but their accounts have been matched against those of other
participants wherever possible.

Mr. Obama devoted so much time to the Afghan issue - nearly 11 hours on the
day after Thanksgiving alone - that he joked, "I've got more deeply in the
weeds than a president should, and now you guys need to solve this." He
invited competing voices to debate in front of him, while guarding his own
thoughts. Even David Axelrod, arguably his closest adviser, did not know
where Mr. Obama would come out until just before Thanksgiving.

With the result uncertain, the outsize personalities on his team vied for
his favor, sometimes sharply disagreeing as they made their arguments. The
White House suspected the military of leaking details of the review to put
pressure on the president. The military and the State Department suspected
the White House of leaking to undercut the case for more troops. The
president erupted at the leaks with an anger advisers had rarely seen, but
he did little to shut down the public clash within his own government.

"The president welcomed a full range of opinions and invited contrary points
of view," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in an interview
last month. "And I thought it was a very healthy experience because people
took him up on it. And one thing we didn't want - to have a decision made
and then have somebody say, 'Oh, by the way.' No, come forward now or
forever hold your peace."

The decision represents a complicated evolution in Mr. Obama's thinking. He
began the process clearly skeptical of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's request
for 40,000 more troops, but the more he learned about the consequences of
failure, and the more he narrowed the mission, the more he gravitated toward
a robust if temporary buildup, guided in particular by Defense Secretary
Robert M. Gates.

Yet even now, he appears ambivalent about what some call "Obama's war." Just
two weeks before General McChrystal warned of failure at the end of August,
Mr. Obama described Afghanistan as a "war of necessity." When he announced
his new strategy last week, those words were nowhere to be found. Instead,
while recommitting to the war on Al Qaeda, he made clear that the larger
struggle for Afghanistan had to be balanced against the cost in blood and
treasure and brought to an end.

Aides, though, said the arduous review gave Mr. Obama comfort that he had
found the best course he could. "The process was exhaustive, but any time
you get the president of the United States to devote 25 hours, anytime you
get that kind of commitment, you know it was serious business," said Gen.
James L. Jones, the president's national security adviser. "From the very
first meeting, everyone started with set opinions. And no opinion was the
same by the end of the process."

Taking Control of a War

Mr. Obama ran for president supportive of the so-called good war in
Afghanistan and vowing to send more troops, but he talked about it primarily
as a way of attacking Republicans for diverting resources to Iraq, which he
described as a war of choice. Only after taking office, as casualties
mounted and the Taliban gained momentum, did Mr. Obama really begin to
confront what to do.

========

Page 2 of 6)



Even before completing a review of the war, he ordered the military to send
21,000 more troops there, bringing the force to 68,000. But tension between
the White House and the military soon emerged when General Jones, a retired
Marine four-star general, traveled to Afghanistan in the summer and was
surprised to hear officers already talking about more troops. He made it
clear that no more troops were in the offing.


With the approach of Afghanistan's presidential election in August, Mr.
Obama's two new envoys - Richard C. Holbrooke, the president's special
representative to the region, and Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, a retired
commander of troops in Afghanistan now serving as ambassador - warned of
trouble, including the possibility of angry Afghans marching on the American
Embassy or outright civil war.

"There are 10 ways this can turn out," one administration official said,
summing up the envoys' presentation, "and 9 of them are messy."

The worst did not happen, but widespread fraud tainted the election and
shocked some in the White House as they realized that their partner in
Kabul, President Hamid Karzai, was hopelessly compromised in terms of public
credibility.

At the same time, the Taliban kept making gains. The Central Intelligence
Agency drew up detailed maps in August charting the steady progression of
the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, maps that would later be used
extensively during the president's review. General McChrystal submitted his
own dire assessment of the situation, warning of "mission failure" without a
fresh infusion of troops.

While General McChrystal did not submit a specific troop request at that
point, the White House knew it was coming and set out to figure out what to
do. General Jones organized a series of meetings that he envisioned lasting
a few weeks. Before each one, he convened a rehearsal session to impose
discipline - "get rid of the chaff," one official put it - that included
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Gates and other
cabinet-level officials. Mr. Biden made a practice of writing a separate
private memo to Mr. Obama before each meeting, outlining his thoughts.

The first meeting with the president took place on Sept. 13, a Sunday, and
was not disclosed to the public that day. For hours, Mr. Obama and his top
advisers pored through intelligence reports.

Unsatisfied, the president posed a series of questions: Does America need to
defeat the Taliban to defeat Al Qaeda? Can a counterinsurgency strategy work
in Afghanistan given the problems with its government? If the Taliban
regained control of Afghanistan, would nuclear-armed Pakistan be next?

The deep skepticism he expressed at that opening session was reinforced by
Mr. Biden, who rushed back overnight from a California trip to participate.
Just as he had done in the spring, Mr. Biden expressed opposition to an
expansive strategy requiring a big troop influx. Instead, he put an
alternative on the table - rather than focus on nation building and
population protection, do more to disrupt the Taliban, improve the quality
of the training of Afghan forces and expand reconciliation efforts to peel
off some Taliban fighters.

Mr. Biden quickly became the most outspoken critic of the expected
McChrystal troop request, arguing that Pakistan was the bigger priority,
since that is where Al Qaeda is mainly based. "He was the bull in the china
shop," said one admiring administration official.

But others were nodding their heads at some of what he was saying, too,
including General Jones and Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff.

A Review Becomes News

The quiet review burst into public view when General McChrystal's secret
report was leaked to Bob Woodward of The Washington Post a week after the
first meeting. The general's grim assessment jolted Washington and lent
urgency to the question of what to do to avoid defeat in Afghanistan.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. David
H. Petraeus, the regional commander, secretly flew to an American air base
in Germany for a four-hour meeting with General McChrystal on Sept. 25. He
handed them his troop request on paper - there were no electronic versions
and barely 20 copies in all.

The request outlined three options for different missions: sending 80,000
more troops to conduct a robust counterinsurgency campaign throughout the
country; 40,000 troops to reinforce the southern and eastern areas where the
Taliban are strongest; or 10,000 to 15,000 troops mainly to train Afghan
forces.

General Petraeus took one copy, while Admiral Mullen took two back to
Washington and dropped one off at Mr. Gates's home next to his in a small
military compound in Washington. But no one sent the document to the White
House, intending to process it through the Pentagon review first.

Mr. Obama was focused on another report. At 10 p.m. on Sept. 29, he called
over from the White House residence to the West Wing to ask for a copy of
the first Afghanistan strategy he approved in March to ramp up the fight
against Al Qaeda and the Taliban while increasing civilian assistance. A
deputy national security adviser, Denis McDonough, brought him a copy to
reread overnight. When his national security team met the next day, Mr.
Obama complained that elements of that plan had never been enacted.

==========

Page 3 of 6)



The group went over the McChrystal assessment and drilled in on what the
core goal should be. Some thought that General McChrystal interpreted the
March strategy more ambitiously than it was intended to be. Mr. Biden asked
tough questions about whether there was any intelligence showing that the
Taliban posed a threat to American territory. But Mr. Obama also firmly
closed the door on any withdrawal. "I just want to say right now, I want to
take off the table that we're leaving Afghanistan," he told his advisers.


Tension with the military had been simmering since the leak of the
McChrystal report, which some in the White House took as an attempt to box
in the president. The friction intensified on Oct. 1 when the general was
asked after a speech in London whether a narrower mission, like the one Mr.
Biden proposed, would succeed. "The short answer is no," he said.

White House officials were furious, and Mr. Gates publicly scolded advisers
who did not keep their advice to the president private. The furor rattled
General McChrystal, who, unlike General Petraeus, was not a savvy Washington
operator. And it stunned others in the military, who were at first
"bewildered by how over the top the reaction was from the White House," as
one military official put it.

It also proved to be what one review participant called a "head-snapping"
moment of revelation for the military. The president, they suddenly
realized, was not simply updating his previous strategy but essentially
starting over from scratch.

The episode underscored the uneasy relationship between the military and a
new president who, aides said, was determined not to be as deferential as he
believed his predecessor, George W. Bush, was for years in Iraq. And the
military needed to adjust to a less experienced but more skeptical commander
in chief. "We'd been chugging along for eight years under an administration
that had become very adept at managing war in a certain way," said another
military official.

Moreover, Mr. Obama had read "Lessons in Disaster," Gordon M. Goldstein's
book on the Vietnam War. The book had become a must read in the West Wing
after Mr. Emanuel had dinner over the summer at the house of another deputy
national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, and wandered into his library
to ask what he should be reading.

Among the conclusions that Mr. Donilon and the White House team drew from
the book was that both President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B.
Johnson failed to question the underlying assumption about monolithic
Communism and the domino theory - clearly driving the Obama advisers to
rethink the nature of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The Pakistan Question

While public attention focused on Afghanistan, some of the most intensive
discussion focused on the country where Mr. Obama could send no troops -
Pakistan. Pushed in particular by Mrs. Clinton, the president's team
explored the links between the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban and Al
Qaeda, and Mr. Obama told aides that it did not matter how many troops were
sent to Afghanistan if Pakistan remained a haven.

Many of the intelligence reports ordered by the White House during the
review dealt with Pakistan's stability and whether its military and
intelligence services were now committed to the fight or secretly still
supporting Taliban factions. According to two officials, there was a study
of the potential vulnerability of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, posing
questions about potential insider threats and control of the warheads if the
Pakistani government fell.

Mr. Obama and his advisers also considered options for stepping up the
pursuit of extremists in Pakistan's border areas. He eventually approved a
C.I.A. request to expand the areas where remotely piloted aircraft could
strike, and other covert action. The trick would be getting Pakistani
consent, which still has not been granted.

On Oct. 9, Mr. Obama and his team reviewed General McChrystal's troop
proposals for the first time. Some in the White House were surprised by the
numbers, assuming there would be a middle ground between 10,000 and 40,000.

"Why wasn't there a 25 number?" one senior administration official asked in
an interview. He then answered his own question: "It would have been too
tempting."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #553 on: December 06, 2009, 10:37:49 AM »

part 2 of third post of morning:


Page 4 of 6)

Mr. Gates and others talked about the limits of the American ability to
actually defeat the Taliban; they were an indigenous force in Afghan
society, part of the political fabric. This was a view shared by others
around the table, including Leon E. Panetta, the director of the C.I.A., who
argued that the Taliban could not be defeated as such and so the goal should
be to drive wedges between those who could be reconciled with the Afghan
government and those who could not be.


With Mr. Biden leading the skeptics, Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Gates and Admiral
Mullen increasingly aligned behind a more robust force. Mrs. Clinton wanted
to make sure she was a formidable player in the process. "She was determined
that her briefing books would be just as thick and just as meticulous as
those of the Pentagon," said one senior adviser. She asked hard questions
about Afghan troop training, unafraid of wading into Pentagon territory.

After a meeting where the Pentagon made a presentation with impressive
color-coded maps, Mrs. Clinton returned to the State Department and told her
aides, "We need maps," as one recalled. She was overseas during the next
meeting on Oct. 14, when aides used her new maps to show civilian efforts
but she participated with headphones on from her government plane flying
back from Russia.

Mr. Gates was a seasoned hand at such reviews, having served eight
presidents and cycled in and out of the Situation Room since the days when
it was served by a battery of fax machines. Like Mrs. Clinton, he was
sympathetic to General McChrystal's request, having resolved his initial
concern that a buildup would fuel resentment the way the disastrous Soviet
occupation of Afghanistan did in the 1980s.

But Mr. Gates's low-wattage exterior masks a wily inside player, and he knew
enough to keep his counsel early in the process to let it play out more
first. "When to speak is important to him; when to signal is important to
him," said a senior Defense Department official.

On Oct. 22, the National Security Council produced what one official called
a "consensus memo," much of which originated out of the defense secretary's
office, concluding that the United States should focus on diminishing the
Taliban insurgency but not destroying it; building up certain critical
ministries; and transferring authority to Afghan security forces.

There was no consensus yet on troop numbers, however, so Mr. Obama called a
smaller group of advisers together on Oct. 26 to finally press Mrs. Clinton
and Mr. Gates. Mrs. Clinton made it clear that she was comfortable with
General McChrystal's request for 40,000 troops or something close to it; Mr.
Gates also favored a big force.

Mr. Obama was leery. He had received a memo the day before from the Office
of Management and Budget projecting that General McChrystal's full
40,000-troop request on top of the existing deployment and reconstruction
efforts would cost $1 trillion from 2010 to 2020, an adviser said. The
president seemed in sticker shock, watching his domestic agenda vanishing in
front of him. "This is a 10-year, trillion-dollar effort and does not match
up with our interests," he said.

Still, for the first time, he made it clear that he was ready to send more
troops if a strategy could be found to ensure that it was not an endless
war. He indicated that the Taliban had to be beaten back. "What do we need
to break their momentum?" he asked.

Four days later, at a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Oct. 30, he
emphasized the need for speed. "Why can't I get the troops in faster?" he
asked. If they were going to do this, he concluded, it only made sense to do
this quickly, to have impact and keep the war from dragging on forever.
"This is America's war," he said. "But I don't want to make an open-ended
commitment."

Bridging the Differences

Now that he had a sense of where Mr. Obama was heading, Mr. Gates began
shaping a plan that would bridge the differences. He developed a
30,000-troop option that would give General McChrystal the bulk of his
request, reasoning that NATO could make up most of the difference.

"If people are having trouble swallowing 40, let's see if we can make this
smaller and easier to swallow and still give the commander what he needs," a
senior Defense official said, summarizing the secretary's thinking.

The plan, called Option 2A, was presented to the president on Nov. 11. Mr.
Obama complained that the bell curve would take 18 months to get all the
troops in place.

He turned to General Petraeus and asked him how long it took to get the
so-called surge troops he commanded in Iraq in 2007. That was six months.

"What I'm looking for is a surge," Mr. Obama said. "This has to be a surge."

============

Page 5 of 6)



That represented a contrast from when Mr. Obama, as a presidential
candidate, staunchly opposed President Bush's buildup in Iraq. But unlike
Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama wanted from the start to speed up a withdrawal as well.
The military was told to come up with a plan to send troops quickly and then
begin bringing them home quickly.


And in another twist, Mr. Obama, who campaigned as an apostle of
transparency and had been announcing each Situation Room meeting publicly
and even releasing pictures, was livid that details of the discussions were
leaking out.

"What I'm not going to tolerate is you talking to the press outside of this
room," he scolded his advisers. "It's a disservice to the process, to the
country and to the men and women of the military."

His advisers sat in uncomfortable silence. That very afternoon, someone
leaked word of a cable sent by Ambassador Eikenberry from Kabul expressing
reservations about a large buildup of forces as long as the Karzai
government remained unreformed. At one of their meetings, General Petraeus
had told Mr. Obama to think of elements of the Karzai government like "a
crime syndicate." Ambassador Eikenberry was suggesting, in effect, that
America could not get in bed with the mob.

The leak of Ambassador Eikenberry's Nov. 6 cable stirred another storm
within the administration because the cable had been requested by the White
House. The National Security Council had told the ambassador to put his
views in writing. But someone else then passed word of the cable to
reporters in what some in the process took to be a calculated attempt to
head off a big troop buildup.

The cable stunned some in the military. The reaction at the Pentagon, said
one official, was "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" - military slang for an expression
of shock. Among the officers caught off guard were General McChrystal and
his staff, for whom the cable was "a complete surprise," said another
official, even though the commander and the ambassador meet three times a
week.

A Presidential Order

By this point, the idea of some sort of time frame was taking on momentum.
Mrs. Clinton talked to Mr. Karzai before the Afghan leader's inauguration to
a second term. She suggested that he use his speech to outline a schedule
for taking over security of the country.

Mr. Karzai did just that, declaring that Afghan forces directed by Kabul
would take charge of securing population centers in three years and the
whole country in five. His pronouncement, orchestrated partly by Mrs.
Clinton and diplomats in Kabul, provided a predicate for Mr. Obama to set
out his own time frame.

The president gathered his team in the Situation Room at 8:15 p.m. on Nov.
23, the unusual nighttime hour adding to what one participant called a
momentous wartime feeling. The room was strewn with coffee cups and soda
cans.

Mr. Obama presented a revised version of Option 2A, this one titled "Max
Leverage," pushing 30,000 troops into Afghanistan by mid-2010 and beginning
to pull them out by July 2011. Admiral Mullen came up with the date at the
direction of Mr. Obama, despite some misgivings from the Pentagon about
setting a time frame for a withdrawal. The date was two years from the
arrival of the first reinforcements Mr. Obama sent shortly after taking
office. Mr. Biden had written a memo before the meeting talking about the
need for "proof of concept" - in other words, two years ought to be enough
for extra troops to demonstrate whether a buildup would work.

The president went around the room asking for opinions. Mr. Biden again
expressed skepticism, even at this late hour when the tide had turned
against him in terms of the troop number. But he had succeeded in narrowing
the scope of the mission to protect population centers and setting the date
to begin withdrawal. Others around the table concurred with the plan. Mr.
Obama spoke last, but still somewhat elliptically. Some advisers said they
walked out into the night after 10 p.m., uncertain whether the president had
actually endorsed the Max Leverage option or was just testing for reaction.

===========

Page 6 of 6)



Two days later, Mr. Obama met with Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker and a
critic of the Afghan war. The president outlined his plans for the buildup
without disclosing specific numbers. Ms. Pelosi was unenthusiastic and
pointedly told the president that he could not rely on Democrats alone to
pass financing for the war.


The White House had spent little time courting Congress to this point. Even
though it would need Republican support, the White House had made no
overtures to the party leaders.
But there was back-channel contact. Mr. Emanuel was talking with Senator
Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who urged him to settle on a
troop number "that began with 3" to win Republican support. "I said as long
as the generals are O.K. and there is a meaningful number, you will be
 O.K.," Mr. Graham recalled.

The day after Thanksgiving, Mr. Obama huddled with aides from 10:30 a.m. to
9:15 p.m. refining parameters for the plan and mapping out his announcement.
He told his speechwriter, Ben Rhodes, that he wanted to directly rebut the
comparison with Vietnam.

On the following Sunday, Nov. 29, he summoned his national security team to
the Oval Office. He had made his decision. He would send 30,000 troops as
quickly as possible, then begin the withdrawal in July 2011. In deference to
Mr. Gates's concerns, the pace and endpoint of the withdrawal would be
determined by conditions at the time.

"I'm not asking you to change what you believe," the president told his
advisers. "But if you do not agree with me, say so now." There was a pause
and no one said anything.

"Tell me now," he repeated.

Mr. Biden asked only if this constituted a presidential order. Mr. Gates and
others signaled agreement.

"Fully support, sir," Admiral Mullen said.

"Ditto," General Petraeus said.

Mr. Obama then went to the Situation Room to call General McChrystal and
Ambassador Eikenberry. The president made it clear that in the next
assessment in December 2010 he would not contemplate more troops. "It will
only be about the flexibility in how we draw down, not if we draw down," he
said.

Two days later, Mr. Obama flew to West Point to give his speech. After three
months of agonizing review, he seemed surprisingly serene. "He was," said
one adviser, "totally at peace."
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« Reply #554 on: December 09, 2009, 09:06:19 AM »

http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=514693
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« Reply #555 on: December 09, 2009, 10:31:57 AM »

Stratfor

Summary

Pakistan’s premier intelligence service was once again a Taliban target, this time in an attack Dec. 8 in the city of Multan in southern Punjab province. This latest attack comes on the heels of several others in Pakistan’s heartland, highlighting an intensification of the jihadist insurgency in the Punjab core. Unless the state is able to achieve a major breakthrough in its counterinsurgency, such attacks could spread even further south to the urban areas of Sindh province.

Analysis
Yet another multi-man assault team of the Taliban rebel group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) struck a facility of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate Dec. 8, killing 12 people and wounding 47 others in the city of Multan, in the southern part of Punjab province. In keeping with TTP’s hybrid tactic of combining suicide bombings with small arms fire, as many as four militants reached a security post and fired rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles at the ISI facility, then got close enough to detonate a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, which badly damaged the building.

This is the third attack against an ISI facility in the last six months — all intended to show the vulnerability of the country’s most powerful security agency, which is expected to be the front line of defense against internal and external enemies of the state. On Nov. 12, a suicide bomber in a vehicle blew himself up near ISI’s provincial headquarters in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) in Peshawar, destroying a large part of the building. The most brazen attack against the ISI occurred on May 27, when the Taliban struck the directorate’s much larger Punjab provincial headquarters in Lahore, killing a number of ISI officials.

The Dec. 8 attack is the first Taliban assault in Multan, which is the farthest south that the insurgents have been able to strike to date. Thus far, Taliban attacks have been limited to the northern half of Punjab. By attacking Multan, the Taliban are demonstrating their expanding geographical reach and their ability to intensify their strikes in Punjab — the core of Pakistan. The Multan attack also follows several attacks in the last week in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore — the three most strategic cities in Punjab province — and in the NWFP capital of Peshawar. On Oct. 17, when the army launched its ground offensive in the TTP heartland and Mehsud tribal areas of South Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the expectation was that the ability of the TTP to strike in urban areas in Punjab would be reduced. This has not been the case.

Instead the number of attacks has actually increased. Since the beginning of the ground offensive, which has allowed Pakistani troops to take control of significant chunks of TTP territory and cut off remaining militant areas from the outside world, there have been two waves of Taliban attacks separated by a lull in early November.
A key reason for the TTP’s ability to continue to project power into Punjab and increase the number of attacks is the group’s command and control structure, which relocated northward in the tribal belt long before the army began its offensive. While the Mehsud tribal area in South Waziristan was the group’s home base, the TTP and its Pakistani and transnational allies maintain infrastructure throughout FATA and the Pashtun areas of NWFP (and to a lesser degree in Punjab). Being able to push southward has been facilitated by a pre-existing social support network in southern Punjab that until now had remained dormant. The FATA-based TTP’s Punjabi allies had been facilitating the reach of the Pashtun jihadists into the northern part of the province.

Hitting Multan also has symbolic value. Both the country’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, and its foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, are from the area. Multan is also the headquarters of the army’s II Corps, one of six in the province, and the southern-most major town before the province of Sindh, which thus far has not seen attacks by Taliban rebels, though there is ample evidence of their presence there.

By being able to hit a sensitive facility in Multan, the Taliban want to not only show that all of Punjab is within their reach but that they could expand into Sindh as well. A key concern has been the threat of attacks in Karachi, which is Pakistan’s largest urban center and hub of economic and financial activity, its major port city, and the country’s primary access point for the outside world. An attack there could have huge repercussions for the country’s economy.

Further complicating this scenario are ethnic tensions between the city’s Muhajir and Pashtun communities that the jihadists would like to exploit in their efforts to expand unrest to Karachi, which could facilitate their efforts to overwhelm an already weak state. The city’s ruling Mutahiddah Qaumi Movement is already extremely nervous about Taliban accessibility to the city via the several million Pashtuns that reside in Karachi. At a time when the state is dealing with a growing list of security, economic and political problems, violence in Karachi — whether jihadist or ethnic — is the last thing the state wants to see.

Still, the war maintains a kind of painful balance. While the jihadists are indeed trying to overwhelm the state, they know they are nowhere close to being in a position to overthrow the government. And it is also true that the state has not been able to make a decisive dent in jihadists’ war-making capabilities. The bar is much higher for the state, which has to impose its writ all across the country, thereby denying the militants space to operate. In sharp contrast, all the jihadists have to do is pull off attacks periodically in a variety of areas to show that the state’s writ is weakening. By widening the scope of their operations, the Taliban are trying to get the state to expand its counter-insurgency so as to stretch its resources and widen the battlefield. But by expanding its target set, the TTP has increased its attacks on soft targets, which will alienate the population.

The TTP and its allies are thus in a race against time. They want to be able to exploit political and ethnic differences, an incoherent counterinsurgency strategy and deep financial problems to create sufficient anarchy before the state can gain an advantage in the war against jihadism. Meanwhile, as they strategically allocate their limited resources, the jihadists will continue their periodic attacks across the country, hitting targets hard and soft.
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« Reply #556 on: December 10, 2009, 10:50:40 AM »

December 10, 2009

Recruits Pour In After Afghan Army Offers a Raise

By ELISABETH BUMILLER
KABUL, Afghanistan


The American commander in charge of training the Afghan security forces said Wednesday that there had been a recent wave of recruits for the Afghan Army, most likely because of a pay increase that he said put salaries close to those of Taliban fighters.

The commander, Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, said that an Afghan soldier in a high-combat area like Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan would now make a starting salary of $240 a month, up from $180. General Caldwell said that the Taliban often paid insurgents $250 to $300 a month.

The Afghan Army pay increase was announced 10 days ago, General Caldwell said. In the first seven days of December, more than 2,600 Afghans signed up — a striking change, he said, from September, when there were 831 Afghans recruits for the entire month, or November, when there were 4,303 recruits.

General Caldwell was at Camp Eggers in Kabul, the headquarters of the American effort to train the Afghans. He was speaking to reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who was on his second day of a trip to Afghanistan focusing in part on Afghan training.

General Caldwell acknowledged the serious difficulties ahead in training the Afghan security forces, which the United States hopes to increase in size — from nearly 192,000 to as high as 282,000 — as well as in efficiency before President Obama’s goal of beginning to withdraw American troops in July 2011. The obstacles were outlined in a recent series of internal administration reviews that describe the Afghan Army and police as largely illiterate, often corrupt and poorly led.

However, other responsibilities will linger: on Tuesday, President Hamid Karzai said Afghanistan would not be able to pay for its own security until at least 2024.

General Caldwell expressed cautious optimism over the new recruiting.

“Seven days doesn’t prove anything yet, but it’s a positive step,” he said, adding, “I would never make the leap to say, ‘Therefore we’re going to fix this.’ ” Later, he said that success in Afghanistan would require far more than military might, and that “we’ll never kill our way to victory.” ....... "

The article continues with current rehash etc

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/10/wo...ef=global-home

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« Reply #557 on: December 13, 2009, 10:14:59 AM »

Any comments?
======================
To Beat Al Qaeda, Look to the East

By SCOTT ATRAN
Published: December 12, 2009

IN testimony last week before Congress, the American ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, insisted that President Obama’s revised war strategy will “build support for the Afghan government,” while Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top American commander there, vowed that it will “absolutely” succeed in disrupting and degrading the Taliban.

Confidence is important, but we also have to recognize that the decision to commit 30,000 more troops to a counterinsurgency effort against a good segment of the Afghan population, with the focus on converting a deeply unpopular and corrupt regime into a unified, centralized state for the first time in that country’s history, is far from a slam dunk. In the worst case, the surge may push General McChrystal’s “core goal of defeating Al Qaeda” further away.

Al Qaeda is already on the ropes globally, with ever-dwindling financial and popular support, and a drastically diminished ability to work with other extremists worldwide, much less command them in major operations. Its lethal agents are being systematically hunted down, while those Muslims whose souls it seeks to save are increasingly revolted by its methods.

Unfortunately, this weakening viral movement may have a new lease on life in Afghanistan and Pakistan because we are pushing the Taliban into its arms. By overestimating the threat from Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, we are making it a greater threat to Pakistan and the world. Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan are unlike Iraq, the ancient birthplace of central government, or 1960s Vietnam, where a strong state was backing the Communist insurgents. Afghanistan and Pakistan must be dealt with on their own terms.

We’re winning against Al Qaeda and its kin in places where antiterrorism efforts are local and built on an understanding that the ties binding terrorist networks today are more cultural and familial than political. Consider recent events in Southeast Asia.

In September, Indonesian security forces killed Noordin Muhammad Top, then on the F.B.I.’s most-wanted terrorist list. Implicated in the region’s worst suicide bombings — including the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton bombings in Jakarta last July 17 — Noordin Top headed a splinter group of the extremist religious organization Jemaah Islamiyah (he called it Al Qaeda for the Malaysian Archipelago). Research by my colleagues and me, supported by the National Science Foundation and the Defense Department, reveals three critical factors in such groups inspired by Al Qaeda, all of which local security forces implicitly grasp but American counterintelligence workers seem to underestimate.

What binds these groups together? First is friendship forged through fighting: the Indonesian volunteers who fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan styled themselves the Afghan Alumni, and many kept in contact when they returned home after the war. The second is school ties and discipleship: many leading operatives in Southeast Asia come from a handful of religious schools affiliated with Jemaah Islamiyah. Out of some 30,000 religious schools in Indonesia, only about 50 have a deadly legacy of producing violent extremists. Third is family ties; as anyone who has watched the opening scene from “The Godfather” knows, weddings can be terrific opportunities for networking and plotting.

Understanding these three aspects of terrorist networking has given law enforcement a leg up on the jihadists. Gen. Tito Karnavian, the leader of the strike team that tracked down Noordin Top, told me that “knowledge of the interconnected networks of Afghan Alumni, kinship and marriage groups was very crucial to uncovering the inner circle of Noordin.”

Consider Noordin Top’s third marriage, which cemented ties to key suspects in the lead-up to the recent hotel bombings. His father-in-law, who founded a Jemaah Islamiyah-related boarding school, stashed explosives in his garden with the aid of another teacher at the school. Using electronic intercepts and tracing family, school and alumni ties, police officers found the cache in late June 2009. That discovery may have prompted Noordin Top to initiate the hotel attacks ahead of a planned simultaneous attack on the residence of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

--------

Scott Atran, an anthropologist at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, John Jay College and the University of Michigan, is the author of the forthcoming “Listen to the Devil"

================

Page 2 of 3)



In addition, an Afghan Alumnus and nephew of Noordin Top’s father-in-law was being pursued by the police for his role in a failed plot to blow up a tourist cafe on Sumatra. Unfortunately, Noordin Top struck the hotels before the Indonesian police could penetrate the entire network, in part because another family group was still operating under the police radar. This group included a florist who smuggled the bombs into the hotels and a man whose eventual arrest led to discovery of the plot against the president. Both terrorists were married to sisters of a Yemeni-trained imam who recruited the hotel suicide bombers, and of another brother who had infiltrated Indonesia’s national airline.

Had the police pulled harder on the pieces of social yarn they had in hand, they might have unraveled the hotel plot earlier. Still, their work thwarted attacks planned for the future, including that on the president.
Similarly, security officials in the Philippines have combined intelligence from American and Australian sources with similar tracking efforts to crack down on their terrorist networks, and as a result most extremist groups are either seeking reconciliation with the government — including the deadly Moro Islamic Liberation Front on the island of Mindanao — or have devolved into kidnapping-and-extortion gangs with no ideological focus. The separatist Abu Sayyaf Group, once the most feared force in the region, now has no overall spiritual or military leaders, few weapons and only a hundred or so fighters.

So, how does this relate to a strategy against Al Qaeda in the West and in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Al Qaeda’s main focus is harming the United States and Europe, but there hasn’t been a successful attack in these places directly commanded by Osama bin Laden and company since 9/11. The American invasion of Afghanistan devastated Al Qaeda’s core of top personnel and its training camps. In a recent briefing to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Marc Sageman, a former C.I.A. case officer, said that recent history “refutes claims by some heads of the intelligence community that all Islamist plots in the West can be traced back to the Afghan-Pakistani border.” The real threat is homegrown youths who gain inspiration from Osama bin Laden but little else beyond an occasional self-financed spell at a degraded Qaeda-linked training facility.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq encouraged many of these local plots, including the train bombings in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005. In their aftermaths, European law and security forces stopped plots from coming to fruition by stepping up coordination and tracking links among local extremists, their friends and friends of friends, while also improving relations with young Muslim immigrants through community outreach. Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have taken similar steps.

Now we need to bring this perspective to Afghanistan and Pakistan — one that is smart about cultures, customs and connections. The present policy of focusing on troop strength and drones, and trying to win over people by improving their lives with Western-style aid programs, only continues a long history of foreign involvement and failure. Reading a thousand years of Arab and Muslim history would show little in the way of patterns that would have helped to predict 9/11, but our predicament in Afghanistan rhymes with the past like a limerick.

A key factor helping the Taliban is the moral outrage of the Pashtun tribes against those who deny them autonomy, including a right to bear arms to defend their tribal code, known as Pashtunwali. Its sacred tenets include protecting women’s purity (namus), the right to personal revenge (badal), the sanctity of the guest (melmastia) and sanctuary (nanawateh). Among all Pashtun tribes, inheritance, wealth, social prestige and political status accrue through the father’s line.

This social structure means that there can be no suspicion that the male pedigree (often traceable in lineages spanning centuries) is “corrupted” by doubtful paternity. Thus, revenge for sexual misbehavior (rape, adultery, abduction) warrants killing seven members of the offending group and often the “offending” woman. Yet hospitality trumps vengeance: if a group accepts a guest, all must honor him, even if prior grounds justify revenge. That’s one reason American offers of millions for betraying Osama bin Laden fail.

Afghan hill societies have withstood centuries of would-be conquests by keeping order with Pashtunwali in the absence of central authority. When seemingly intractable conflicts arise, rival parties convene councils, or jirgas, of elders and third parties to seek solutions through consensus.

=========

Page 3 of 3)



After 9/11, the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, assembled a council of clerics to judge his claim that Mr. bin Laden was the country’s guest and could not be surrendered. The clerics countered that because a guest should not cause his host problems, Mr. bin Laden should leave. But instead of keeping pressure on the Taliban to resolve the issue in ways they could live with, the United States ridiculed their deliberation and bombed them into a closer alliance with Al Qaeda. Pakistani Pashtuns then offered to help out their Afghan brethren.

American-sponsored “reconciliation” efforts between the Afghan government and the Taliban may be fatally flawed if they include demands that Pashtun hill tribes give up their arms and support a Constitution that values Western-inspired rights and judicial institutions over traditions that have sustained the tribes against all enemies.

THE secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and the special envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke, suggest that victory in Afghanistan is possible if the Taliban who pursue self-interest rather than ideology can be co-opted with material incentives. But as the veteran war reporter Jason Burke of The Observer of London told me: “Today, the logical thing for the Pashtun conservatives is to stop fighting and get rich through narcotics or Western aid, the latter being much lower risk. But many won’t sell out.”

Why? In part because outsiders who ignore local group dynamics tend to ride roughshod over values they don’t grasp. My research with colleagues on group conflict in India, Indonesia, Iran, Morocco, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories found that helping to improve lives materially does little to reduce support for violence, and can even increase it if people feel such help compromises their most cherished values.

The original alliance between the Taliban and Al Qaeda was largely one of convenience between a poverty-stricken national movement and a transnational cause that brought it material help. American pressure on Pakistan to attack the Taliban and Al Qaeda in their sanctuary gave birth to the Pakistani Taliban, who forged their own ties to Al Qaeda to fight the Pakistani state.

While some Taliban groups use the rhetoric of global jihad to inspire ranks or enlist foreign fighters, the Pakistani Taliban show no inclination to go after Western interests abroad. Their attacks, which have included at least three assaults near nuclear facilities, warrant concerted action — but in Pakistan, not in Afghanistan. As Mr. Sageman, the former C.I.A. officer, puts it: “There’s no Qaeda in Afghanistan and no Afghans in Qaeda.”

Pakistan has long preferred a policy of “respect for the independence and sentiment of the tribes” that was advised in 1908 by Lord Curzon, the British viceroy of India who established the North-West Frontier Province as a buffer zone to “conciliate and contain” the Pashtun hill tribes. In 1948, Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, removed all troops from brigade level up in Waziristan and other tribal areas in a plan aptly called Operation Curzon.

The problem today is that Al Qaeda is prodding the Pakistani Taliban to hit state institutions in the hopes of provoking a full-scale invasion of the tribal areas by the Pakistani Army; the idea is that such an assault would rally the tribes to Al Qaeda’s cause and threaten the state. The United States has been pushing for exactly that sort of potentially disastrous action by Islamabad. But holding to Curzon’s line may still be Pakistan’s best bet. The key in the Afghan-Pakistani area, as in Southeast Asia, is to use local customs and networks to our advantage. Of course, counterterrorism measures are only as effective as local governments that execute them. Afghanistan’s government is corrupt, unpopular and inept.

Besides, there’s really no Taliban central authority to talk to. To be Taliban today means little more than to be a Pashtun tribesman who believes that his fundamental beliefs and customary way of life are threatened. Although most Taliban claim loyalty to Afghanistan’s Mullah Omar, this allegiance varies greatly. Many Pakistani Taliban leaders — including Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed by an American drone in August, and his successor, Hakimullah Mehsud — rejected Mullah Omar’s call to forgo suicide bombings against Pakistani civilians.

In fact, it is the United States that holds today’s Taliban together. Without us, their deeply divided coalition could well fragment. Taliban resurgence depends on support from those notoriously unruly hill tribes in Pakistan’s border regions, who are unsympathetic to the original Taliban program of homogenizing tribal custom and politics under one rule.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the Taliban were to sever ties to Mr. bin Laden if he became a bigger headache to them than America. Al Qaeda may have close relations to the network of Jalaluddin Haqqani, an Afghan Taliban leader living in Pakistan, and the Shabi Khel branch of the Mehsud tribe in Waziristan, but it isn’t wildly popular with many other Taliban factions and forces.

Unlike Al Qaeda, the Taliban are interested in their homeland, not ours. Things are different now than before 9/11. The Taliban know how costly Osama bin Laden’s friendship can be. There’s a good chance that enough factions in the loose Taliban coalition would opt to disinvite their troublesome guest if we forget about trying to subdue them or hold their territory. This would unwind the Taliban coalition into a lot of straggling, loosely networked groups that could be eliminated or contained using the lessons learned in Indonesia and elsewhere. This means tracking down family and tribal networks, gaining a better understanding of family ties and intervening only when we see actions by Taliban and other groups to aid Al Qaeda or act outside their region.

To defeat violent extremism in Afghanistan, less may be more — just as it has been elsewhere in Asia.
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« Reply #558 on: December 13, 2009, 05:20:42 PM »

I rarely read, still less often quote from Pravda Newspeak, yet this article seems thoughtful.
=================
Learning From the Soviets
By Owen Matthews and Anna Nemtsova | NEWSWEEK
Published Dec 11, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Dec 21, 2009
Talk to Russian veterans of Afghanistan and it's hard not to think that they're rooting for the U.S. to lose. For these proud men, seeing NATO succeed at a job they botched would deepen the humiliation of defeat. Easier to affirm that if the Soviets couldn't win there, no one can. "We did not succeed and you will not either," says Gen. Victor Yermakov, who commanded Soviet forces in Afghanistan from 1982 to 1983. "They didn't trust us. They won't trust you." Ambassador Zamir Kabulov, who served in Afghanistan under the occupation and has just completed a four-year term as Russia's envoy in the country, is no more optimistic. "We tried to impose communism. You are trying to impose democracy," he says. "There is no mistake made by the Soviet Union that the international community has not repeated."


Such unrelenting bearishness is hardly encouraging, and there are undeniably echoes of the Soviet experience in President Barack Obama's new Afghan surge. Obama is doubling down on his attempt to do what no foreign power ever has: defeat an Afghan insurgency and leave behind a stable and legitimate local regime. The Soviets' misadventures in Afghanistan—begun 30 years ago this Christmas Eve—faced many similar challenges: managing tribal politics, stemming support for insurgents from over the border in Pakistan, creating a credible government in Kabul and viable local security forces, and containing civilian casualties. Yet the differences are equally profound, and they suggest that America may just manage to succeed where Russia failed—in part by learning from its own and the Soviets' mistakes.




Moscow's troubles in Afghanistan started nearly the moment the war began, with a deluge of international condemnation far stronger than the Soviet leaders ever expected. The U.S. imposed trade sanctions and boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Obama today finds himself in a very different position. The NATO campaign enjoys wide international support—including from Russia, in spirit at least.
But the most important difference between then and now is that the Taliban isn't backed by a superpower supplying it with money and deadly weapons. That makes it a far less formidable enemy than the mujahedin of the 1980s, who were enthusiastically supported and armed by the U.S. and Pakistan. Washington suspects, with reason, that many of the old insurgents still fighting today—notably Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani—are getting covert support from elements in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency. But even if that's true, the ISI's current involvement is nothing like that of the old days, not least because Pakistan's civilian government officially opposes the Taliban and had even made sporadic attempts to fight it. A generation ago, Stinger missiles, supplied to the rebels in large numbers after 1986 thanks to a campaign by U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson, effectively robbed the Soviets of their air superiority. Today's Taliban has no such technological advantage, and few friends. As a result, "the Americans are in a much better position than we ever were," says Yuri Krupnov, director of Russia's Institute of Regional Development, which promotes Russian-Afghan ties. "This will not be a second Vietnam."
Another reason he's probably right is that NATO is proving better at learning from Moscow's mistakes than the Soviets were. Take civilian casualties. Initial military victory came almost effortlessly for both the Soviets and NATO. But both powers soon stepped on the same rake: losing hearts and minds by accidentally hitting civilian targets. Yermakov recalls ordering his troops to mine the irrigation channels around the town of Gardez in 1983. Many dushmany (a pejorative local term for the mujahedin) were blown up, but so were channels essential for local farmers. "At one point our aviation destroyed half of Kandahar because somebody did not get the right instructions," says Alexander Shkirando, a fluent Pashto and Farsi speaker who spent 10 years in Afghanistan in the 1980s as a political and military adviser. NATO has made similar blunders—notably two bombings of wedding parties in Kunduz and Uruzgan—but on nothing like the same scale. The exact number of Afghan civilian casualties during the Soviet campaign is hard to come by, but estimates range from 700,000 to more than a million. According to the United Nations, combined civilian deaths directly and indirectly caused by the latest war range from 12,000 to 30,000.
The Americans have been careful to avoid the wanton brutality of the Soviets not only on the battlefield but in their treatment of prisoners too. Even before U.S. commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal commissioned a review earlier this year, the Abu Ghraib scandal of 2004 led to an improvement in the treatment of detainees at the U.S. interrogation camp at Bagram. And as dire as conditions at Bagram may have been, they were nothing compared with the abuse committed by the Soviets' proxy force of Afghan secret police, who murdered at least 27,000 political prisoners at their notorious detention center at Pul-e-Charkhi. Russians like to compare the Soviet and U.S. occupations: Krupnov asks, "Who is more imperialist, the Soviets or the Americans?" In reality, however, there's a world of difference in the two armies' behavior.
The Soviets tried a surge of their own in 1984–85, boosting troop levels to 118,000 to clear rebel areas like the lower Panjshir Valley and the strategic road to Khost. But it didn't work. The mujahedin would "melt away like mist," recalls Paulius Purickis, an ethnic Lithuanian draftee who served as a sergeant. "We were never able to engage them in a head-on battle," he says. General McChrystal hopes to avoid that problem with the extra troops being made available to him, which will allow him to "clear and hold" whole provinces, with small forward posts used to befriend and gather intelligence from locals.
The Soviets also tried to win hearts and minds, of course. But they left that job to the KGB, with dismal results. Today, rather than run a network of secret torture centers as the Soviets' proxy Mohammad Najibullah did, President Hamid Karzai has set himself up as a defender of the rights of Afghans detained in U.S.-run prisons, something that plays well with the population.
The Soviets also bungled the process of building relations with tribal leaders. Vasily Kravtsov spent 12 years in Afghanistan, rising to become the ranking KGB officer in Kandahar responsible for establishing an Afghan security and intelligence service in the area. Pashtun tribal politics were Kravtsov's specialty, and the bane of his life. The problem was, in part, a communist agenda to enlighten the Afghans by replacing religious schools with secular ones and to undermine the authority of local mullahs. "We made stupid ideological mistakes," says Gen. Ruslan Aushev, one of the most decorated Russian commanders of the Afghan war. "We told the Muslim people that religion was the opium of the masses!" U.S. officials have tried to be more culturally sensitive: as McChrystal put it in a recently leaked report, the American military is shifting away from "an excessively defensive posture to enable the troops to engage with the Afghan people."
Perhaps the closest parallel—and the area with the most lessons for Washington today—is in how to shore up the local government. And here again there is reason for optimism. Moscow's puppet Najibullah was weak and unpopular and ended up hanging from a lamppost soon after his patrons went home. Karzai is also little loved. But for all his troubles, he's in a far better position than his predecessor, for despite electoral gerrymandering and allegations of corruption, Karzai is still more popular than any other politician in the country.
That's a huge asset, for getting local government right is probably the ultimate key to success or failure. To do that, Washington should probably make a point of ignoring the Russians' advice. Today Russian veterans insist that the main reason for their failure was their attempt to impose a foreign mindset on an age-old system of tribal alliances: "Forget your ideas of bringing democracy there," says Yermakov. But communism wasn't the real problem, and neither is democracy. Indeed, democracy may be the solution. Najibullah's government fell not because it was secular and socialist but because it disintegrated under the twin evils of tribalism and corruption. Moscow grafted a veneer of communism onto a narrow, repressive, and widely hated Pashtun tribal clique that was no match for the mujahedin. This suggests that the key today is to support a government that's as inclusive, democratic, and accountable as possible. That means doing everything in Washington's power to get Karzai to clean up his act. The United States, with its rapid adaptation, has already shown it is in better shape than any previous invader to win the Afghan war on the ground. The challenge now is to also avoid repeating Russia's mistakes on the way out—and to become the first foreign force to leave Afghanistan in better shape than it found it.
Find this article at
http://www.newsweek.com/id/226412
© 2009
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« Reply #559 on: December 14, 2009, 11:17:22 AM »

Pakistan: The Supply Line Dilemma
Stratfor Today » December 14, 2009 | 1310 GMT

Summary

Rumors have been circulating that the Obama administration will approve
unilateral military action deeper into Pakistani territory beyond the tribal
belt. A potential backlash to such a strategy is the disruption of already
vulnerable U.S. and NATO supply lines running through Pakistan.

With U.S. President Barack Obama's revised Afghan strategy now under way,
rumors have been spreading rapidly in both Washington and Islamabad that the
Obama administration will approve drone strikes and other types of
unilateral U.S. military action deeper into Pakistani territory beyond the
tribal belt. These discussions are indeed taking place, but U.S. officials
are also taking a hard look at the potential backlash of such a strategy -
particularly, the threat to already-vulnerable U.S. and NATO supply lines
running through Pakistan.

The primary mission that Obama has assigned to U.S. Central Command is to
neutralize al Qaeda - a mission that encompasses pursuing high-value
jihadist targets in the region, knocking the momentum out of the Taliban
insurgency and training Afghan security forces to help shoulder the
counterterrorism burden. Obama has also articulated a plan to initiate a
drawdown of forces from the region as early as the summer of 2011, depending
on conditions on the ground. That means that the United States needs
results, and has a strategic need to see those results sooner rather than
later.

This is an extremely worrying prospect for Pakistan. To escape pressure from
U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, al Qaeda has shifted its safe-havens to
the tribal areas in Pakistan's rugged northwest periphery with the help of
select Taliban allies. If a large part of the U.S. mission is to defeat al
Qaeda, then the United States can be expected to have very little regard for
the Durand Line that divides the Pashtun lands between Afghanistan and
Pakistan.

The CIA and U.S. Special Forces already have a track record in carrying out
covert, cross-border activity in Pakistan, ranging from human intelligence
operations to unmanned aerial vehicle attacks against high-value targets,
such as Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) leader Baitullah Mehsud. These operations
cause Pakistan extraordinary unease, and to add insult to injury, the drones
fly out of bases in Pakistan itself. In June 2008, a U.S. airstrike targeted
a Pakistani paramilitary checkpoint in Mohmand Agency in the northwestern
tribal area, which the Pakistani military continues to believe was
deliberate targeting by their supposed ally. The United States crossed a
line with Islamabad, however, in September 2008 when it went beyond the
tribal belt and launched its most overt full-scale raid against high-value
Taliban and al Qaeda targets hiding out in a town in South Waziristan. That
attack ended up killing 20 people and sparked a public backlash, as
Pakistani citizens charged the government and military with selling out
Pakistan's national sovereignty to Washington.

Pakistan decided at that point that it would have to resort to the one tool
that gives Islamabad enormous leverage over Washington: control over U.S.
and NATO supply lines. The United States currently depends almost
exclusively on Pakistan to transport mostly non-lethal supplies (such as
food, fuel and building materials) for troops fighting the war in
Afghanistan. This may not be the safest route, but Pakistan does offer the
shortest and most logistically viable supply lines into landlocked
Afghanistan. The Pakistani supply lines originate in Karachi and then split
into two separate routes. The longer and more commonly-used northern route
passes through Sindh, Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Khyber Pass to the
Torkham border crossing into central and northern Afghanistan. The shorter,
southern route passes through Sindh to the Balochistan-Chaman border
crossing into southern Afghanistan.



(click here for STRATFOR Interactive map on attacks targeting U.S.-NATO
supply lines)

Following the September 2008 U.S. operation in South Waziristan, U.S. and
NATO logistics teams ran into trouble at the port of Karachi. Within several
days of the strike, Pakistani authorities suddenly demanded that the
logistics teams would have to fill out all their paperwork in Urdu, and that
it would be up to Pakistani authorities to determine whether their Urdu was
up to Pakistani standards to allow supplies to pass through. The disruption
lasted a few days. This was essentially Pakistan's way of signaling to the
United States that it was not going to tolerate unilateral U.S. military
action in Pakistan and that the consequences of such action would be a
supply cut-off to U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has since caused sporadic disruptions to the supply lines, usually
by citing security concerns and closing the border crossings at Torkham and
Chaman for days at a time. And though Pakistan has been battling its own
jihadist insurgency for several years now, militant attacks on the supply
lines only picked up at the end of 2008 when U.S.-Pakistani tensions were
running particularly high following the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. This
phenomenon has been discussed among officials in New Delhi and Washington,
though no evidence has been presented to demonstrate a direct link between
the sudden uptick in attacks and an increase of U.S. pressure on Pakistan.
Pakistan-based jihadists have their own incentive to wreak havoc on
U.S./NATO supply lines into Afghanistan, but Pakistan's murky militant
landscape could also provide the Pakistani military and intelligence
services with the means to disrupt the supply lines should the political
need arise.


Now that the United States is pursuing a more aggressive posture in
targeting high-value militants on Pakistani soil, the Pakistani military and
government have an even greater strategic incentive to hold U.S./NATO supply
lines hostage. Pakistan and the United States cannot agree to disagree on
their definitions of "good" versus "bad" Taliban. While Pakistan is serious
about pursuing TTP militants whose main battle is with the Pakistani state,
it does not want to incur the backlash of pursuing those militants and
allies of al Qaeda whose focus is on Afghanistan, most notably the Haqqani
network and Hafiz Gul Bahadir in North Waziristan, Maulvi Nazir in South
Waziristan, and the Mullah Omar-led group of Afghan Taliban in the Pashtun
belt of Balochistan. Pakistan's intelligence services have a delicate
network of alliances to maintain within each of these networks, and from
Islamabad's point of view, strikes by U.S. Hellfire missiles do not
particularly help in this regard.

Pakistan is particularly concerned about the United States going beyond the
tribal areas and pursuing militants closer to the Pakistani core. While the
Pakistani public has become more or less tolerant of drone strikes in FATA,
the idea of a U.S. drone going after Mullah Omar in Balochistan province is
another matter entirely. FATA is an autonomous region, where the writ of the
Pakistani state does not reach very far. Balochistan, in spite of its own
separatist tendencies, is still an integral piece of the Pakistani state.
The public backlash from the September 2008 attack in South Waziristan was
notable - to the point where even the Pakistani army chief gave orders to
Pakistani forces to fire on U.S. drones - but U.S. military operations in
Balochistan would trigger a much more intense and violent response.

And then there is the issue of Punjab - the Pakistani heartland - where the
population, military, industry and agriculture are concentrated. Several TTP
attacks in the past week have taken place in Punjab, with the most recent
suicide attack against an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) facility in
Multan. Though the Pakistani Taliban has nowhere near the support network in
Punjab than it has in the Pashtun-dominated northwestern tribal badlands,
these attacks are spreading fears that the TTP has activated a preexisting
social support network of radical Islamists in southern Punjab. The last
thing the Pakistani military wants is to be drawn into military operations
in the Pakistani core, but the Pakistani military cannot afford to see U.S.
operations expand to Punjab. Such a possibility, though remote, would cause
a major crisis of confidence within an already embattled military, whose
loss of internal coherence would pose a direct threat to the survival of the
state.

The United States is thus caught in a dilemma. On one hand, it's on a tight
timeline to achieve results in defeating al Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan
so that it can move on to other pressing issues beyond South Asia. On the
other hand, the means that the United States would use in defeating al Qaeda
run a good chance of seriously destabilizing Pakistan, a nuclear-armed ally
whose cooperation is essential to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

The United States has begun tackling this dilemma by depriving Pakistan of
at least some of the leverage it holds through the supply lines. Washington
has been in negotiations with Moscow for roughly a year to develop a
supplemental supply line through the former Soviet Union, and is now at a
point where the two are working on the details of an agreement to transport
U.S. and NATO supplies from the Latvian port of Riga through Russia and into
Afghanistan. This is one of several alternate routes, but any route through
the Central Asian states or through Ukraine and Romania would still require
the White House to deal with the Kremlin, a lesson the United States learned
the hard way. The supplemental supply routes through the former Soviet Union
cannot replace the routes through Pakistan, and are resting on an extremely
shaky political foundation. After all, Russia is more than happy to make
Washington more dependent on Moscow for its mission in Afghanistan since the
Kremlin would then have the ability to cut the supply line whenever
U.S.-Russian political negotiations go south.

Even as plans are in the works for a supplemental supply line through the
former Soviet Union, Washington knows there is still no going around
Pakistan. Between a raging jihadist insurgency, an economy in turmoil and a
government on the verge of collapse, Pakistan is already under a great deal
of pressure. An increase in U.S. military operations on Pakistani soil going
beyond the tribal badlands could well be the final straw. The United States
is thus in a quandary: How does it achieve its goals on the western
periphery of Pakistan without creating anarchy in its core? Pakistani
authorities are now tasked with making the United States understand just how
fragile their situation is, and if those appeals don't work, Pakistan's
alternate plan will likely be to hold U.S./NATO supply lines hostage.
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« Reply #560 on: December 15, 2009, 05:30:55 AM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/12/14/report-u-s-may-target-taliban-leadership-in-quetta-with-drone-strikes/

Report: U.S. may target Taliban leadership in Quetta with drone strikes
posted at 8:04 pm on December 14, 2009 by Allahpundit

Consider this an unexpected benefit of The One’s eagerness to get out of Afghanistan. He has every incentive to do as much damage to the enemy as possible as quickly as possible, which may encourage him to make moves even Bush wasn’t daring enough to make. It’s been an open secret, and an international disgrace, for years that the Taliban leadership operates relatively freely in the Pakistani city of Quetta; I’ve written about it before but not until just recently did Pakistan itself admit the obvious. We know they’re in the city. The question is, what are we — and, more importantly, Pakistan — prepared to do about it?
Senior U.S. officials are pushing to expand CIA drone strikes beyond Pakistan’s tribal region and into a major city in an attempt to pressure the Pakistani government to pursue Taliban leaders based in Quetta.
The proposal has opened a contentious new front in the clandestine war. The prospect of Predator aircraft strikes in Quetta, a sprawling city, signals a new U.S. resolve to decapitate the Taliban. But it also risks rupturing Washington’s relationship with Islamabad.
The concern has created tension among Obama administration officials over whether unmanned aircraft strikes in a city of 850,000 are a realistic option. Proponents, including some military leaders, argue that attacking the Taliban in Quetta — or at least threatening to do so — is crucial to the success of the revised war strategy President Obama unveiled last week.
“If we don’t do this — at least have a real discussion of it — Pakistan might not think we are serious,” said a senior U.S. official involved in war planning. “What the Pakistanis have to do is tell the Taliban that there is too much pressure from the U.S.; we can’t allow you to have sanctuary inside Pakistan anymore.”…
Pakistan is working with the CIA to coax certain Taliban lieutenants in Omar’s fold to defect. U.S. officials said contacts have been handled primarily by the Saudi and Pakistani intelligence services. The results of the effort are unclear.
The fear, of course, is that drone strikes in a place as crowded as a city will produce a catastrophic misfire and a similarly catastrophic public backlash. Which is why, I assume, this is mostly a bluff aimed at scaring the Pakistanis into sending people in and taking out the leadership itself. But how likely is that? Via Bill Roggio, a bit of insight into our “friends” in Pakistan’s intel service, the ISI:
Champagne popped open this week as Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) celebrated US President Barack Obama’s announcement that American troops would start withdrawing from Afghanistan in July 2011. Despite the extra 30,000 soldiers and the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) expansion of its unmanned drone operations inside Pakistan’s tribal areas, Islamabad was jubilant. The ISI’s strategy of waiting for the Americans to leave was paying off. Soon, Islamabad would recapture Kabul after eight years of domination by New Delhi…
Clearly, the ISI runs circles around the CIA. The CIA knows it, but can do little except gnash its teeth, because it has no spies among the jihadists. The ISI doesn’t need spies; it created the Taliban.
The Americans ought to demand that the ISI demonstrate sincerity by handing over Mullah Omar, the Taliban chief. The one-eyed Mullah and his cohorts are said to have converted one of Quetta’s suburbs into a kind of mini-Taliban city; it is a place which neither Pakistani police nor journalists dare visit. Houses, shops and mosques have all been purchased by the Taliban (using ISI money, which is basically US military aid; yes, ironic). The ISI is in constant touch with the Taliban hierarchy. And even with expanded CIA drone operations, it will be difficult to get Mullah Omar; the drones have been hitting targets in the countryside and mountains, not in the cities, and even that has swelled anti-American sentiment, according to every Pakistani leader, civilian or military. Imagine what a strike in a crowded urban area would do.
ISI can tell us where they are — and it can also give us bogus information which would cause massive civilian casualties, a resulting PR nightmare, and a very rapid abandonment of the drone-strike strategy in Quetta. Which, I assume, explains why Bush never tried it: It’s likely too hard to get CIA people inside a Taliban citadel so we’re forced to rely on Pakistani intel to hand over their own proxy jihadi army, something they have little incentive to do. In fact, just today there’s a story at the Times about their refusal to crack down on Siraj Haqqani, another creation of ISI who’s been waging war on the U.S. inside Afghanistan from North Waziristan.
The core reason for Pakistan’s imperviousness is its scant faith in the Obama surge, and what Pakistan sees as the need to position itself for a major regional realignment in Afghanistan once American forces begin to leave…
Pakistan is particularly eager to counter the growing influence of its archenemy, India, which is pouring $1.2 billion in aid into Afghanistan. “If American walks away, Pakistan is very worried that it will have India on its eastern border and India on its western border in Afghanistan,” said Tariq Fatemi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States who is pro-American in his views.
For that reason, Mr. Fatemi said, the Pakistani Army was “very reluctant” to jettison Mr. Haqqani, Pakistan’s strong card in Afghanistan. Moreover, the Pakistanis do not want to alienate Mr. Haqqani because they consider him an important player in reconciliation efforts that they would like to see get under way in Afghanistan immediately, the officials said.
It’s a Catch-22: Obama’s eagerness to leave is aimed in part at pressuring Pakistan to help us succeed and get out, but Pakistan has less incentive to help us succeed and get out if it thinks we’re eager to leave. Which brings us back to the main question of how the U.S. can even credibly threaten to hit high-value targets in Quetta without ISI help and, indeed, with the ISI actively trying to thwart them. Presumably there have been defections to our side from inside the city giving us an intelligence presence there, or else there’s some sort of leverage we have over ISI which you and I don’t know about that would cause them to start ratting out big fish like Mullah Omar. Keep an eye out in your news-reading travails for reports of Taliban capos suddenly being arrested. It has, after all, happened before.
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« Reply #561 on: December 17, 2009, 08:50:14 AM »

I posted this in Military Science as well.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126102247889095011.html





DECEMBER 17, 2009
Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones
$26 Software Is Used to Breach Key Weapons in Iraq; Iranian Backing Suspected


By SIOBHAN GORMAN, YOCHI J. DREAZEN and AUGUST COLE

WASHINGTON -- Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.

Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet -- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.

U.S. officials say there is no evidence that militants were able to take control of the drones or otherwise interfere with their flights. Still, the intercepts could give America's enemies battlefield advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it easier for insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance.

The drone intercepts mark the emergence of a shadow cyber war within the U.S.-led conflicts overseas. They also point to a potentially serious vulnerability in Washington's growing network of unmanned drones, which have become the American weapon of choice in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Obama administration has come to rely heavily on the unmanned drones because they allow the U.S. to safely monitor and stalk insurgent targets in areas where sending American troops would be either politically untenable or too risky.

The stolen video feeds also indicate that U.S. adversaries continue to find simple ways of counteracting sophisticated American military technologies.

U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered the problem late last year when they apprehended a Shiite militant whose laptop contained files of intercepted drone video feeds. In July, the U.S. military found pirated drone video feeds on other militant laptops, leading some officials to conclude that militant groups trained and funded by Iran were regularly intercepting feeds.

In the summer 2009 incident, the military found "days and days and hours and hours of proof" that the feeds were being intercepted and shared with multiple extremist groups, the person said. "It is part of their kit now."

A senior defense official said that James Clapper, the Pentagon's intelligence chief, assessed the Iraq intercepts at the direction of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and concluded they represented a shortcoming to the security of the drone network.

"There did appear to be a vulnerability," the defense official said. "There's been no harm done to troops or missions compromised as a result of it, but there's an issue that we can take care of and we're doing so."

Senior military and intelligence officials said the U.S. was working to encrypt all of its drone video feeds from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but said it wasn't yet clear if the problem had been completely resolved.

Some of the most detailed evidence of intercepted feeds has been discovered in Iraq, but adversaries have also intercepted drone video feeds in Afghanistan, according to people briefed on the matter. These intercept techniques could be employed in other locations where the U.S. is using pilotless planes, such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, they said.

The Pentagon is deploying record numbers of drones to Afghanistan as part of the Obama administration's troop surge there. Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who oversees the Air Force's unmanned aviation program, said some of the drones would employ a sophisticated new camera system called "Gorgon Stare," which allows a single aerial vehicle to transmit back at least 10 separate video feeds simultaneously.

Gen. Deptula, speaking to reporters Wednesday, said there were inherent risks to using drones since they are remotely controlled and need to send and receive video and other data over great distances. "Those kinds of things are subject to listening and exploitation," he said, adding the military was trying to solve the problems by better encrypting the drones' feeds.

The potential drone vulnerability lies in an unencrypted downlink between the unmanned craft and ground control. The U.S. government has known about the flaw since the U.S. campaign in Bosnia in the 1990s, current and former officials said. But the Pentagon assumed local adversaries wouldn't know how to exploit it, the officials said.

Last December, U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered copies of Predator drone feeds on a laptop belonging to a Shiite militant, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter. "There was evidence this was not a one-time deal," this person said. The U.S. accuses Iran of providing weapons, money and training to Shiite fighters in Iraq, a charge that Tehran has long denied.

The militants use programs such as SkyGrabber, from Russian company SkySoftware. Andrew Solonikov, one of the software's developers, said he was unaware that his software could be used to intercept drone feeds. "It was developed to intercept music, photos, video, programs and other content that other users download from the Internet -- no military data or other commercial data, only free legal content," he said by email from Russia.

Officials stepped up efforts to prevent insurgents from intercepting video feeds after the July incident. The difficulty, officials said, is that adding encryption to a network that is more than a decade old involves more than placing a new piece of equipment on individual drones. Instead, many components of the network linking the drones to their operators in the U.S., Afghanistan or Pakistan have to be upgraded to handle the changes. Additional concerns remain about the vulnerability of the communications signals to electronic jamming, though there's no evidence that has occurred, said people familiar with reports on the matter.

Predator drones are built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. of San Diego. Some of its communications technology is proprietary, so widely used encryption systems aren't readily compatible, said people familiar with the matter.

In an email, a spokeswoman said that for security reasons, the company couldn't comment on "specific data link capabilities and limitations."

Fixing the security gap would have caused delays, according to current and former military officials. It would have added to the Predator's price. Some officials worried that adding encryption would make it harder to quickly share time-sensitive data within the U.S. military, and with allies.

"There's a balance between pragmatics and sophistication," said Mike Wynne, Air Force Secretary from 2005 to 2008.

The Air Force has staked its future on unmanned aerial vehicles. Drones account for 36% of the planes in the service's proposed 2010 budget.

Today, the Air Force is buying hundreds of Reaper drones, a newer model, whose video feeds could be intercepted in much the same way as with the Predators, according to people familiar with the matter. A Reaper costs between $10 million and $12 million each and is faster and better armed than the Predator. General Atomics expects the Air Force to buy as many as 375 Reapers.

Write to Siobhan Gorman at siobhan.gorman@wsj.com, Yochi J. Dreazen at yochi.dreazen@wsj.com and August Cole at august.cole@dowjones.com

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A1
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« Reply #562 on: December 17, 2009, 06:11:49 PM »

Second post

NOTE the UAV capability upgrades:  "By next spring, a single pod on a UAV could track 13 separate people as they leave a meeting place. The capability will expand to 65 people by 2012 and eventually to perhaps as many as 150 image feeds from a single UAV combat air patrol."



Black UAV Performs In Afghanistan
Dec 11, 2009

David A. Fulghum and Bill Sweetman
The U.S. has been flying a classified, stealthy, remotely piloted aircraft in Afghanistan. That single fact reveals the continued development of low-observable UAVs, hidden aspects of the surveillance buildup in Afghanistan, the footprint of an active “black aircraft world” that stretches to Southwest Asia, and links into the Pentagon’s next-generation recce bomber.

The mystery aircraft—once referred to as the Beast of Kandahar and now identified by the U.S. Air Force as a Lockheed Martin Skunk Works RQ-170 Sentinel—flew from Kandahar’s airport, where it was photographed at least twice in 2007. It shared a hangar with Predator and Reaper UAVs being used in combat operations. On Dec. 4, three days after declassification was requested, Aviation Week revealed the program on its web site. Like Predator and Reaper, the Sentinel is remotely piloted by aircrews—in this case the 30th Reconnaissance Sqdn. (RS) at Tonopah Test Range Airport in the northwest corner of the Nevada Test and Training Range.

The confirmation came the same week as the Air Force’s top intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) officer called for a new, stealth, jet-powered strike-reconnaissance aircraft that can meet the requirements of both irregular and conventional conflicts and strategic, peacetime information-gathering.

The demands of fighting an irregular war do not change the critical operational need for a stealthier, strategic-range, higher-payload, strike-reconnaissance aircraft, says Air Force Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, deputy chief of staff for ISR.

The battle will be to balance the way the military wants to fight in Afghanistan now against how it wants to fight elsewhere in the future. Air Force officials want to keep those two needs from becoming widely divergent points in geography, technology and operational techniques. For the next 18 months, about 150,000 U.S. and allied troops will try to break the offensive capabilities of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghan istan, and new technologies will be brought into play.

“Don’t get enamored with current conditions,” Deptula cautions. “We don’t know what the future will bring.” While operations in Afghanistan will be “more complex than ever,” the future is “not only going to be about irregular warfare.”

Beyond 2011, the Air Force’s first priority and the destination of the next dollar to be spent “if I were king for a day,” Deptula says, “would be for long-range [reconnaissance and] precision strike. That’s the number-one need.

“We cannot move into a future without a platform that allows [us] to project power long distances and to meet advanced threats in a fashion that gives us an advantage that no other nation has,” he notes. “We can’t walk away from that capability.”

A next-generation design would be equally important as a stealthy ISR platform to greatly extend—through speed, endurance and stealth—the capability produced by putting electro-optical and infrared sensor packets on the B-1 and B-52 bombers for precise attacks on fleeting targets in Southwest Asia.

Surveillance aircraft can see a lot more (farther and better) with long-wave infrared if the platform can operate at 50,000 ft. or higher. The RC-135S Cobra Ball, RC-135W Rivet Joint and E-8C Joint Stars are all limited to flying lower than 30,000 ft. Moreover, the multispectral technology to examine the chemical content of rocket plumes has been miniaturized to fit easily on a much smaller aircraft. Other sensors of interest are electronically scanned array radars, low-probability-of-intercept synthetic aperture radars and signals intelligence.

In fact, combat in Afghanistan could have—if well planned—direct benefits for conventional wars. The target set for the new surge campaign includes “cohesive units without chains of command” that the U.S. and its allies need to “dominate and win [against] across the spectrum” of conflict, Deptula says.

That then brings the focus back to what has been going on at Tonopah.

The 30th RS falls under Air Combat Command’s 432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nev., home of the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 training and remote operations facilities. Tonopah is where classified projects—such as the F-117 fighter—are kept when they are still secret but have grown to a point where they cannot be easily accommodated at the Air Force’s “black” flight-test center at Groom Lake. Its operations are restricted by the need to prevent personnel cleared into any one program from observing other “sight-sensitive” test aircraft. The squadron was activated as part of the 57th Operations Group on Sept. 1, 2005, and a squadron patch was approved on July 17, 2007. The activation—although not the full meaning of the event—was noted among those who watch for signs of activity in the classified world.

The RQ-170 is a tailless flying wing design from Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs. It has a single engine and pronounced compound sweep on the leading and trailing edges. It is difficult to estimate the aircraft’s size, but one report suggests that the wingspan is similar to that of the Reaper at 66 ft. The high degree of blending and center-body depth would suggest a greater takeoff weight and thrust than the RQ-3 DarkStar, Lockheed Martin’s earlier stealth UAV, which was powered by a 1,900-lb.-thrust Williams FJ44 engine and weighed 8,500 lb.

A number of features suggest that the RQ-170 is a moderately stealthy design, without the DarkStar’s or Northrop Grumman X-47B’s extreme emphasis on low radar cross section (RCS). The leading edges do not appear to be sharp—normally considered essential for avoiding strong RCS glints—and it appears that the main landing gear door’s front and rear edges are squared off rather than being notched or aligned with the wing edges.

In addition, the exhaust is not shielded by the wing, and the wing is curved rather than angular. That suggests the Sentinel has been designed to avoid the use of highly sensitive technologies. As a single-engine UAV, vehicle losses are a statistical certainty. Ultra-stealthy UAVs—such as the never-completed Lockheed-Boeing Quartz for which DarkStar was originally a demonstrator—were criticized on the grounds they were “pearls too precious to wear”—because their use would be too restricted by the risk of compromising technology in the event of a loss.

The medium-gray color, similar to the Reaper’s, is a clue to performance. At extreme altitudes (above 60,000 ft.), very dark tones provide the best concealment even in daylight because there is little lighting behind the vehicle while it is illuminated by light scattered from moisture and particles in the air below it. The RQ-170 is therefore a mid-altitude platform, unlikely to operate much above 50,000 ft. This altitude also would have simplified the use of an off-the-shelf engine. General Electric has been working on a classified variant of its TF34 engine that appears to fit the thrust range of the RQ-170.

The overwing housings for sensors or antennas are also significant. One could accommodate a satcom antenna; but if both housed sensors, they would cover the entire hemisphere above the aircraft.

An Air Force official tells Aviation Week that the service has been “developing a stealthy, unmanned aircraft system [UAS] to provide reconnaissance and surveillance support to forward-deployed combat forces.

“The fielding of the RQ-170 aligns with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’s request for increased . . . ISR support to the Combatant Commanders and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz’s vision for an increased USAF reliance on unmanned aircraft,” says the memorandum prepared for Aviation Week by the Air Force.

The RQ-170 designation is a correct prefix but numerically out of sequence to avoid obvious guesses of the program’s existence. Technically, “RQ” denotes an unarmed aircraft rather than the MQ prefix applied to the armed Predator and Reaper. A phrase in the memorandum, “support to forward-deployed combat forces,” when combined with visible details that suggest a moderate degree of stealth (including a blunt leading edge, simple nozzle and overwing sensor pods), suggests that the Sentinel is a tactical, operations-oriented platform and not a strategic intelligence-gathering design.

With its moderately low-observable design, the aircraft would be useful for flying along the borders of Iran and peering into China, India and Pakistan to gather useful information about missile tests and telemetry, as well as garnering signals and multispectral intelligence.

The RQ-170 has links to earlier Skunk Works designs such as the experimental DarkStar and Polecat. “DarkStar didn’t die when Lockheed Martin [retired the airframe],” said a former company executive last week. “It just got classified.”

Following the landing of a damaged Navy EP-3E in China in early 2001, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called a classified, all-day session of those with responsibilities for “sensitive reconnaissance operations” (AW&ST June 4, 2001, p. 30). They discussed how to avoid embarrassing and damaging losses of classified equipment, documents or aircrews without losing the ability to monitor the military forces and capabilities of important nations such as China. Their leading option was to start a new stealthy, unmanned reconnaissance program that would field 12-24 aircraft. Air Combat Command, which was then led by Gen. John Jumper, wanted a very-low-observable, high-altitude UAV that could penetrate air defense, fly 1,000 nm. to a target, loiter for 8 hr. and return to base.

During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a UAV described as a derivative of DarkStar was being prepared and was said by several officials to have been used operationally in prototype form (AW&ST Mar. 15, 2004, p. 35; July 7, 2003, p. 20).

“It’s the same concept as DarkStar; it’s stealthy and it uses the same apertures and data links,” said an Air Force official at the time. “Only it’s bigger,” said a Navy official. “It’s still far from a production aircraft, but the Air Force wanted to go ahead and get it out there.” The classified UAV’s operation caused consternation among U-2 pilots who noticed high-flying aircraft operating within several miles of their routes over Iraq. Flights of the mysterious aircraft were not coordinated with those of other manned and unmanned surveillance units.

There is great interest in how the U.S. now leverages its black- and white-world UAVs and remotely piloted aircraft to maintain a watch over the vast and rugged areas of Afghanistan that NATO’s force of about 100,000 troops will be unable to patrol. The revitalized conflict in Afghanistan will be largely a ground war with airpower serving as flying artillery and as a wide-ranging reconnaissance force.

Emphasis will be attached to manned MC-12W and unmanned surveillance and light-attack aircraft. New technologies such as the Gorgon Stare ISR pod will address ground commanders’ insatiable desire for full-motion video. By next spring, a single pod on a UAV could track 13 separate people as they leave a meeting place. The capability will expand to 65 people by 2012 and eventually to perhaps as many as 150 image feeds from a single UAV combat air patrol.

Along with its new ISR products, the U.S. will be providing close air support and helicopter airlift to its allies.

“I don’t know exactly when the NATO forces or non-U.S. forces will be flowing,” says Gates. “We do have some private commitments. There will be some additional announcements, I expect, [after the] London conference in January on Afghanistan.”

The rough plan so far is to divide operational responsibilities between the allies in the north and west and the U.S. in the east and south. The allies are expected to total “a brigade or two” comprising about 3,500-4,000 troops each, says Gates. Training of the Afghan troops will focus on partnering in combat with international personnel, rather than on basic training.

With Guy Norris in Los Angeles.

Illustration by Gregory Lewis/AW&ST
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« Reply #563 on: December 24, 2009, 01:52:53 PM »

No matter how many troops President Obama orders to Afghanistan, victory will also require a surge across the Pakistan border that the Taliban and al Qaeda—but not American GIs—cross easily. The President knows this, but he hasn't made Pakistan's help any easier to obtain by signalling his intention to draw down a mere year after his surge troops arrive in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has slowly expanded its cooperation this year as its public and military have awakened to the threat from their own Islamist militants after a spate of terrorist attacks, including on the military headquarters in Rawalpindi. Long portrayed as noble bearded mountain fighters in Pakistan's press, the Islamists are at last seen as an existential threat to Islamabad and Lahore. And this year the military has pushed the Pakistani Taliban from the Swat Valley and South Waziristan and, in contrast with past offensives, hasn't for now ceded back the ground in a misconceived truce. This is progress.

But so far the generals have refused to take on other Islamists they don't view as a danger and have long cultivated as strategic assets—that is, the Afghan Taliban. This means the Taliban government in exile in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, and Afghan insurgents loyal to the ailing Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Siraj based in North Waziristan. The so-called Quetta shura is led by deposed Taliban leader and Osama bin Laden ally, Mullah Omar, who fled in 2001 and now directs the fighting in southern Afghanistan from Quetta. The Haqqani network is the largest insurgent group in eastern Afghanistan.

We're told that Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, in a private letter to Mr. Obama earlier this month, promised to take the fight to North Waziristan and Baluchistan. Merely to have a Pakistani politician acknowledge the existence of the Quetta shura counts as progress. The Pakistanis are reluctant to arrest their longtime proxies, Haqqani or Omar, but they could at least disrupt their headquarters and make it harder to operate from Pakistan.

As ever, the final decision rests with the Pakistan military led by General Ashfaq Kayani. According to a story in the New York Times, he has resisted the entreaties and told the U.S. that his troops have their hands too full with their own Pakistani Taliban to expand their operations.

The head of the U.S. Central Command, General David Petraeus, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen visited Pakistan last week to nudge some more. Perhaps they used the opportunity to express U.S. frustration about official Pakistani complicity in the deaths of American troops in Afghanistan. Such messages need to be sent, though the best way is in private.

If Pakistan truly has given up on its old double game of claiming to back America while allowing a Taliban sanctuary within its borders, now would be a good time to show it's serious. If not, the U.S. has leverage with Islamabad through foreign aid, as well as various military options. U.S. drone strikes can be expanded, including for the first time to Baluchistan, and special forces might be deployed across the porous border.

Both carry diplomatic risks. Though drone strikes have killed about two dozen civilians according to one Pakistani government estimate, the country's press loves to exaggerate the toll to embarrass the government and stoke anti-Americanism. The presence of U.S. troops in Pakistan, if publicized, could also undermine a Zardari government that's taken brave risks to help Washington.

This is where Mr. Obama's decision to announce a July 2011 deadline for beginning to withdraw from Afghanistan has been damaging. Various Administration officials have tried to walk back that deadline, but it has played inside Pakistan as further evidence that the Americans will eventually bug out of the region. Pakistan's military and intelligence services have long hedged their bets by supporting Mullah Omar and the Afghan Taliban in case the U.S. leaves and for fear that India will try to fill any power vacuum in Kabul. Now they have another excuse not to change.

The reality is that the gravest threat to Pakistan comes from Islamic radicals, especially if they are able to survive the U.S. and NATO surge. Their next targets will be Islamabad and Rawalpindi as much as Kabul, London or New York. The U.S. and Pakistan share a common enemy, and Mr. Obama will have to assure the Pakistanis that the American commitment won't end with some arbitrary withdrawal deadline made to appease the U.S. antiwar left.
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« Reply #564 on: December 26, 2009, 04:23:45 PM »

December 27, 2009

Elite U.S. Force Expanding Hunt in Afghanistan

By ERIC SCHMITT
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan


Secretive branches of the military’s Special Operations forces have increased counterterrorism missions against some of the most lethal groups in Afghanistan and, because of their success, plan an even bigger expansion next year, according to American commanders.

The commandos, from the Army’s Delta Force and the Navy’s classified Seals units, have had success weakening the network of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the strongest Taliban warrior in eastern Afghanistan, the officers said. Mr. Haqqani’s group has used its bases in neighboring Pakistan to carry out deadly strikes in and around Kabul, the Afghan capital.

Guided by intercepted cellphone communications, the American commandos have also killed some important Taliban operatives in Marja, the most fearsome Taliban stronghold in Helmand Province in the south, the officers said. Marine commanders say they believe that there are some 1,000 fighters holed up in the town.

Although President Obama and his top aides have not publicly discussed these highly classified missions as part of the administration’s revamped strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the counterterrorism operations are expected to increase, along with the deployment of 30,000 more American forces in the next year.

The increased counterterrorism operations over the past three or four months reflect growth in every part of the Afghanistan campaign, including conventional forces securing the population, other troops training and partnering with Afghan security forces, and more civilians to complement and capitalize on security gains.

American commanders in Afghanistan rely on the commando units to carry out some of the most complicated operations against militant leaders, and the missions are never publicly acknowledged. The commandos are the same elite forces that have been pursuing Osama bin Laden, captured Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003 and led the hunt that ended in 2006 in the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader in Iraq of the insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

In recent interviews here, commanders explained that the special-mission units from the Joint Special Operations Command were playing a pivotal role in degrading some of the toughest militant groups, and buying some time before American reinforcements arrived and more Afghan security forces could be trained.

“They are extremely effective in the areas where we are focused,” said one American general in Afghanistan about the commandos, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the classified status of the missions.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, who is in charge of the military’s Central Command, mentioned the increased focus on counterterrorism operations in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Dec. 9. But he spoke more obliquely about the teams actually conducting attacks against hard-core Taliban extremists, particularly those in rural areas outside the reach of population centers that conventional forces will focus on.

“We actually will be increasing our counterterrorist component of the overall strategy,” General Petraeus told lawmakers. “There’s no question you’ve got to kill or capture those bad guys that are not reconcilable. And we are intending to do that, and we will have additional national mission force elements to do that when the spring rolls around.”

Senior military officials say it is not surprising that the commandos are playing such an important role in the fight, particularly because Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the senior American and NATO officer in Afghanistan, led the Joint Special Operations Command for five years.

In addition to the classified American commando missions, military officials say that other NATO special operations forces have teamed up with Afghan counterparts to attack Taliban bomb-making networks and other militant cells.

About six weeks ago, allied and Afghan special operations forces killed about 150 Taliban fighters in several villages near Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan, a senior NATO military official said.

Some missions have killed Taliban fighters while searching for Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, who was reported missing on June 30 in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban in July posted a video on jihadist Web sites in which the soldier identified himself and said that he had been captured when he lagged behind on a patrol. A second video was released on Friday.

“We’ve been hitting them hard, but I want to be careful not to overstate our progress,” said the NATO official, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to describe the operations in detail. “It has not yet been decisive.”

In Helmand, more than 10,000 Marines, as well as Afghan and British forces, are gearing up for a major confrontation in Marja early next year. Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, the senior Marine commander in the south, said in a recent interview, “The overt message we’re putting out is, Marja is next.”

General Nicholson said there were both “kinetic and nonkinetic shaping operations” under way. In military parlance that means covert operations, including stealthy commando raids against specific targets, as well as an overt propaganda campaign intended to persuade some Taliban fighters to defect.

Military officials say the commandos are mindful of General McChrystal’s directive earlier this year to take additional steps to prevent civilian casualties.

In February, before General McChrystal was named to his current position, the head of the Joint Special Operations Command, Vice Adm. William H. McRaven, ordered a halt to most commando missions in Afghanistan, reflecting a growing concern that civilian deaths caused by American firepower were jeopardizing broader goals there.

The halt, which lasted about two weeks, came after a series of nighttime raids by Special Operations troops killed women and children, and after months of mounting outrage in Afghanistan about civilians killed in air and ground attacks. The order covered all commando missions except those against the top leaders of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, military officials said.

Across the border in Pakistan, where American commandos are not permitted to operate, the Central Intelligence Agency has stepped up its missile strikes by Predator and Reaper drones on groups like the Haqqani network.

But an official with Pakistan’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or I.S.I., said there had also been more than 60 joint operations involving the I.S.I. and the C.I.A. in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Baluchistan in the past year.

The official said the missions included “snatch and grabs” — the abduction of important militants — as well as efforts to kill leaders. These operations were based on intelligence provided by either the United States or Pakistan to be used against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the official said.

“We can expect to see more U.S. action against Haqqani,” a senior American diplomat in Pakistan said in a recent interview.

The increasing tempo of commando operations in Afghanistan has caused some strains with other American commanders. Many of the top Special Operations forces, as well as intelligence analysts and surveillance aircraft, are being moved to Afghanistan from Iraq, as the Iraq war begins to wind down.

“It’s caused some tensions over resources,” said Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., the second-ranking commander in Iraq.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/27/wo...gewanted=print
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« Reply #565 on: December 27, 2009, 08:57:29 PM »

lite U.S. Force Expanding Hunt in Afghanistan
 
Kevin Frayer/Associated Press
American and Afghan troops in Helmand Province. Special Operations units are stepping up attacks on insurgents, officers say.


 
By ERIC SCHMITT
Published: December 26, 2009
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan — Secretive branches of the military’s Special Operations forces have increased counterterrorism missions against some of the most lethal groups in Afghanistan and, because of their success, plan an even bigger expansion next year, according to American commanders.

Skip to next paragraph
 
The New York Times
Officers at Bagram Air Base expect a major fight in Marja.

The commandos, from the Army’s Delta Force and the Navy’s classified Seals units, have had success weakening the network of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the strongest Taliban warrior in eastern Afghanistan, the officers said. Mr. Haqqani’s group has used its bases in neighboring Pakistan to carry out deadly strikes in and around Kabul, the Afghan capital.

Guided by intercepted cellphone communications,(WTF?!?  Why does the NYTimes/Pravda on the Hudson insist on putting this sort of intel out there?!?) the American commandos have also killed some important Taliban operatives in Marja, the most fearsome Taliban stronghold in Helmand Province in the south, the officers said. Marine commanders say they believe that there are some 1,000 fighters holed up in the town.

Although President Obama and his top aides have not publicly discussed these highly classified missions as part of the administration’s revamped strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the counterterrorism operations are expected to increase, along with the deployment of 30,000 more American forces in the next year.

The increased counterterrorism operations over the past three or four months reflect growth in every part of the Afghanistan campaign, including conventional forces securing the population, other troops training and partnering with Afghan security forces, and more civilians to complement and capitalize on security gains.

American commanders in Afghanistan rely on the commando units to carry out some of the most complicated operations against militant leaders, and the missions are never publicly acknowledged.

The commandos are the same elite forces that have been pursuing Osama bin Laden, captured Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003 and led the hunt that ended in 2006 in the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader in Iraq of the insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

In recent interviews here, commanders explained that the special-mission units from the Joint Special Operations Command were playing a pivotal role in hurting some of the toughest militant groups, and buying some time before American reinforcements arrived and more Afghan security forces could be trained.

“They are extremely effective in the areas where we are focused,” said one American general in Afghanistan about the commandos, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the classified status of the missions.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, who is in charge of the military’s Central Command, mentioned the increased focus on counterterrorism operations in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Dec. 9. But he spoke more obliquely about the teams actually conducting attacks against hard-core Taliban extremists, particularly those in rural areas outside the reach of population centers that conventional forces will focus on.

“We actually will be increasing our counterterrorist component of the overall strategy,” General Petraeus told lawmakers. “There’s no question you’ve got to kill or capture those bad guys that are not reconcilable. And we are intending to do that, and we will have additional national mission force elements to do that when the spring rolls around.”

Senior military officials say it is not surprising that the commandos are playing such an important role in the fight, particularly because Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the senior American and NATO officer in Afghanistan, led the Joint Special Operations Command for five years.

In addition to the classified American commando missions, military officials say that other NATO special operations forces have teamed up with Afghan counterparts to attack Taliban bomb-making networks and other militant cells.

About six weeks ago, allied and Afghan special operations forces killed about 150 Taliban fighters in several villages near Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan, a senior NATO military official said.

Some missions have killed Taliban fighters while searching for Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, who was reported missing on June 30 in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban in July posted a video on jihadist Web sites in which the soldier identified himself and said that he had been captured when he lagged behind on a patrol. A second video was released on Friday.

“We’ve been hitting them hard, but I want to be careful not to overstate our progress,” said the NATO official, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to describe the operations in detail. “It has not yet been decisive.”

In Helmand, more than 10,000 Marines, as well as Afghan and British forces, are gearing up for a major confrontation in Marja early next year. Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, the senior Marine commander in the south, said in a recent interview, “The overt message we’re putting out is, Marja is next.”

General Nicholson said there were both “kinetic and nonkinetic shaping operations” under way. In military parlance that means covert operations, including stealthy commando raids against specific targets, as well as an overt propaganda campaign intended to persuade some Taliban fighters to defect.

Military officials say the commandos are mindful of General McChrystal’s directive earlier this year to take additional steps to prevent civilian casualties.

In February, before General McChrystal was named to his current position, the head of the Joint Special Operations Command, Vice Adm. William H. McRaven, ordered a halt to most commando missions in Afghanistan, reflecting a growing concern that civilian deaths caused by American firepower were jeopardizing broader goals there.

The halt, which lasted about two weeks, came after a series of nighttime raids by Special Operations troops killed women and children, and after months of mounting outrage in Afghanistan about civilians killed in air and ground attacks. The order covered all commando missions except those against the top leaders of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, military officials said.

Across the border in Pakistan, where American commandos are not permitted to operate, the Central Intelligence Agency has stepped up its missile strikes by Predator and Reaper drones on groups like the Haqqani network.

But an official with Pakistan’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or I.S.I., said there had also been more than 60 joint operations involving the I.S.I. and the C.I.A. in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Baluchistan in the past year.

The official said the missions included “snatch and grabs” — the abduction of important militants — as well as efforts to kill leaders. These operations were based on intelligence provided by either the United States or Pakistan to be used against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the official said.

“We can expect to see more U.S. action against Haqqani,” a senior American diplomat in Pakistan said in a recent interview.

The increasing tempo of commando operations in Afghanistan has caused some strains with other American commanders. Many of the top Special Operations forces, as well as intelligence analysts and surveillance aircraft, are being moved to Afghanistan from Iraq, as the Iraq war begins to wind down.

“It’s caused some tensions over resources,” said Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., the second-ranking commander in Iraq.

Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributed reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan.
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ISI
« Reply #566 on: December 28, 2009, 09:36:35 AM »

A page of interesting articles on the ISI by the NYT/POTH.  Yes, yes, I know the source, so caveat emptor:

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/i/interservices_intelligence/index.html?inline=nyt-org
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« Reply #567 on: December 31, 2009, 12:36:53 PM »

Army History Finds Early Missteps in Afghanistan

 
By JAMES DAO
Published: December 30, 2009
In the fall of 2003, the new commander of American forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, decided on a new strategy. Known as counterinsurgency, the approach required coalition forces to work closely with Afghan leaders to stabilize entire regions, rather than simply attacking insurgent cells.


An American B-52 headed back to continue a bombing run at Tora Bora, a crucial battle in Afghanistan, in December 2001.


But there was a major drawback, a new unpublished Army history of the war concludes. Because the Pentagon insisted on maintaining a “small footprint” in Afghanistan and because Iraq was drawing away resources, General Barno commanded fewer than 20,000 troops.
As a result, battalions with 800 soldiers were trying to secure provinces the size of Vermont. “Coalition forces remained thinly spread across Afghanistan,” the historians write. “Much of the country remained vulnerable to enemy forces increasingly willing to reassert their power.”

That early and undermanned effort to use counterinsurgency is one of several examples of how American forces, hamstrung by inadequate resources, missed opportunities to stabilize Afghanistan during the early years of the war, according to the history, “A Different Kind of War.”

This year, a resurgent Taliban prompted the current American commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, to warn that the war would be lost without an infusion of additional troops and a more aggressive approach to counterinsurgency. President Obama agreed, ordering the deployment of 30,000 more troops, which will bring the total American force to 100,000.

But as early as late 2003, the Army historians assert, “it should have become increasingly clear to officials at Centcom and D.O.D. that the coalition presence in Afghanistan did not provide enough resources” for proper counterinsurgency, the historians write, referring to the United States Central Command and the Department of Defense.

“A Different Kind of War,” which covers the period from October 2001 until September 2005, represents the first installment of the Army’s official history of the conflict. Written by a team of seven historians at the Army’s Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and based on open source material, it is scheduled to be published by spring.

The New York Times obtained a copy of the manuscript, which is still under review by current and former military officials.

Though other histories, including “In the Graveyard of Empires” by Seth G. Jones and “Descent Into Chaos” by Ahmed Rashid, cover similar territory, the manuscript of “A Different Kind of War” offers new details and is notable for carrying the imprimatur of the Army itself, which will use the history to train a new generation of officers.

The history, which has more than 400 pages, praises several innovations by the Pentagon, particularly the pairing of small Special Operations Forces teams with Afghan militias, which, backed by laser-guided weapons, drove the Taliban from power.

But, once the Taliban fell, the Pentagon often seemed ill-prepared and slow-footed in shifting from a purely military mission to a largely peacekeeping and nation-building one, fresh details in the history indicate.

“Even after the capture of Kabul and Kandahar,” the historians write, “there was no major planning initiated to create long-term political, social and economic stability in Afghanistan. In fact, the message from senior D.O.D officials in Washington was for the U.S. military to avoid such efforts.”

In one telling anecdote from 2004, the history describes how soldiers under General Barno had so little experience in counterinsurgency that one lieutenant colonel bought books about the strategy over the Internet and distributed them to his company commanders and platoon leaders.

In another case, a civil affairs commander in charge of small-scale reconstruction projects told the historians that he had been given $1 million in cash to house and equip his soldiers but that bureaucratic obstacles prevented him from spending a penny on projects. It took months to reduce the red tape, the historians say.

The historians also say that such anecdotes underscore the resourcefulness of commanders faced with unclear guidance and inadequate resources. But limited manpower still had an impact on operations, the history indicates.

When the Taliban was on the run in the spring of 2002, Lt. Gen. Dan K. McNeill, the incoming commander of American forces, traveled to Washington seeking guidance. The message conveyed by the Army’s vice chief of staff, Gen. Jack Keane, was, “Don’t you do anything that looks like permanence,” General McNeill recalled. “We are in and out of there in a hurry.”

Largely as a result of that mandate, General McNeill took only half of his headquarters command from the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C. But as the conflict became more complicated, requiring diplomatic and political operations as well as military ones, General McNeill lacked enough planning personnel, the history suggests. He was replaced in 2003 by an even smaller headquarters unit, the history says.

The lack of resources was also apparent in the training of Afghan security forces, the history shows.

Early in the war, the training program was hampered by poor equipment, low pay, high attrition and not enough trainers. Living conditions for the Afghan army were so poor that Maj. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry likened them to Valley Forge when he took command of the training operation in October 2002.

“The mandate was clear and it was a central task, but it is also fair to say that up until that time there had been few resources committed,” Mr. Eikenberry, now the ambassador to Afghanistan, told the historians, referring to the army training program.

The historians say resistance to providing more robust resources to Afghanistan had three sources in the White House and the Pentagon.

First, President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had criticized using the military for peacekeeping and reconstruction in the Balkans during the 1990s. As a result, “nation building” carried a derogatory connotation for many senior military officials, even though American forces were being asked to fill gaping voids in the Afghan government after the Taliban’s fall.

Second, military planners were concerned about Afghanistan’s long history of resisting foreign invaders and wanted to avoid the appearance of being occupiers. But the historians argue that this concern was based partly on an “incomplete” understanding of the Soviet experience in Afghanistan.

Third, the invasion of Iraq was siphoning away resources. After the invasion started in March 2003, the history says, the United States clearly “had a very limited ability to increase its forces” in Afghanistan.

The history provides a detailed retelling of the battle of Tora Bora, the cave-riddled insurgent redoubt on the Pakistan border where American forces thought they had trapped Osama bin Laden in December 2001. But Mr. bin Laden apparently escaped into Pakistan along with hundreds of Qaeda fighters.

The historians call Tora Bora “a lost opportunity” to capture or kill Mr. bin Laden. But they concluded that even with more troops, the American and Afghan forces probably could not have sealed the rugged border. And they deemed the battle a partial success because it “dealt a severe blow to those Taliban and Al Qaeda elements that remained active in Afghanistan.”

The history also recounts well-known battles like Operation Anaconda, in eastern Afghanistan in spring 2002. The history ends in the fall of 2005, when many American officials still felt optimistic about Afghanistan’s future. Postponed parliamentary elections were held that fall, but Taliban attacks were also on the rise.

“It was clear that the struggle to secure a stable and prosperous future for Afghanistan was not yet won,” the history concludes.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #568 on: January 01, 2010, 10:45:40 AM »

Fascinating and wide ranging piece, a bit long to post.
http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15173037
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #569 on: January 02, 2010, 10:31:10 AM »

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Taliban militants underscored their determination on Friday to prevent Pakistani citizens from forming armed militias to keep them at bay, as a suicide bomber rammed a truck loaded with hundreds of pounds of explosives into families and children crowded on a playground in the northwest.


Local authorities said they had little doubt that the village, Shah Hassan Khel, was chosen because residents were forming a pro-government militia. The village sits at the edge of the tribal area of South Waziristan, where the military opened an offensive to break up Taliban strongholds in October.

The bombing killed at least 89 people and wounded scores more, making it one of the deadliest in a string of suicide attacks that have killed more than 500 Pakistanis since October. The blast was so powerful that it left a number of victims buried under rubble, and the authorities were uncertain exactly how many had died.

The strike was all the more devastating, as the bomber did not choose the most obvious target: a meeting under way of local leaders of the new militia. Instead, he drove his double-cabin pickup truck into the middle of a nearby playing field where teams were playing volleyball. The explosion collapsed homes surrounding the field.

“When we came out, there was a plume of smoke and dust,” said Gul Janan, a member of the pro-government militia, who, along with its other dazed members, had been bruised but not seriously wounded when the roof collapsed on the mosque where they were meeting. They emerged to find their village ravaged.

“Nothing was visible,” Mr. Janan said in a telephone interview. “It was a huge bombing.”

The attack was the latest retaliation for the Pakistani military’s offensive in nearby South Waziristan that had driven the Taliban out of their longstanding sanctuary and into other parts of the Pashtun-dominated northwest.

Militants have intensified their attacks since the offensive began in October, with suicide bombing in major cities, including the military garrison city of Rawalpindi; the capital, Islamabad; the nation’s financial center, Karachi; and Peshawar, the hub of the northwest frontier.

The Pakistani military has also expanded its operations the past year, with offensives in Swat, Buner, South Waziristan and other parts of the northwest. But they have found it impossible to contain militants.

The Taliban fighters have spread far afield and pushed farther into the settled areas of the country, where they carry out attacks with ease, including regions bordering the tribal areas, like the village hit Friday. In those areas, they routinely fight government forces and citizen militias for supremacy.

Militia leaders increasingly have become principal targets, as the Taliban aim to undercut a vulnerable but critical component of the government’s strategy to supplement badly outgunned and underfinanced police forces with the citizen posses.

Two anti-Taliban militia leaders have been killed in the past week in Bajaur — one kidnapped and beheaded and the other killed by a roadside bomb — as Taliban forces have regained strength in the northernmost part of the country’s tribal areas.

“The terrorists are losing the battle and that’s why they have turned to terrorizing the civilians,” said the information minister for North-West Frontier Province, Mian Iftikhar Hussain.

The attack on Friday was clearly also, in the view of local officials, specific retribution for the villagers’ willingness to throw their lot in with the government and organize an anti-Taliban militia.

Mr. Janan said militants were angry with the residents of Shah Hassan Khel for forming what the local people called a “peace committee” to fend off the insurgents.

“They are thugs who claim to be Taliban,” he said of the militants. “They kidnap people for ransom.”

He said that when the attack occurred, the peace committee “was in session to devise a strategy on how to deal with the militants.” Then the blast caved in the roof at the mosque where they were meeting. “Luckily, save for minor bruises, none of us were seriously wounded,” he said.

But he said the bomber drove into a vulnerable crowd of hundreds. “There were a lot of people there watching a match between two local teams,” Mr. Janan said.

The peace committee members and officials in the larger district that includes the village, Lakki Marwat, had been marked men for weeks. They received calls from militants in North Waziristan demanding that they abandon the peace committee, or they would be killed.

Two weeks ago, militants sent a suicide bomber to kill the political leader in Lakki Marwat as he received guests at home. The bomber got close, and many people could have been killed, but the bomber tripped before he could reach his target, setting off part of the bomb and killing only himself.

The United States has stepped up pressure on Pakistan to go after militants based in North Waziristan, including the Taliban network run by Sirajuddin Haqqani, who uses the area to stage his insurgency against American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Americans commanders consider eliminating sanctuaries in North Waziristan to be critical to the success of President Obama’s troop escalation.

So far the demand has been rebuffed by the Pakistani military, which, along with the intelligence services, has long regarded the Haqqanis as assets to exert influence in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani military says it has its hands full already with its operation in South Waziristan. But many of the militants it was fighting there have simply moved and are now being sheltered by groups in North Waziristan.

Mr. Hussain, the provincial information minister, suggested that they, too, should now be targets. He called for limited operations to flush out militants from their remaining strongholds in the tribal areas.

“The military has done well in South Waziristan,” he said, “but it’s time to go after the militants who have taken shelter in other places.”

Ismail Khan reported from Peshawar, and Richard A. Oppel Jr. from Islamabad, Pakistan. Pir Zubair Shah contributed reporting from Islamabad.
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G M
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« Reply #570 on: January 02, 2010, 03:11:48 PM »

The double agent homicide bomber appears to have gutted the CIA's Af-Pak operations. I smell the ISI, or at least a jihadist element within.
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« Reply #571 on: January 02, 2010, 03:28:44 PM »

http://abcnews.go.com/WN/cia-attacker-driven-pakistan/story?id=9463880

Sophisticated.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #572 on: January 02, 2010, 05:56:29 PM »

I forget exactly when I posted it, but Stratfor had what I thought to be a profound insight:  The ANA and the ANP WILL be inflitrated by the enemy.  The question is whether we can infiltrate the enemy?  With President Obama having declared that we will begin leaving in 18 months, the apparent answer is "no". cry angry
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #573 on: January 03, 2010, 08:13:54 AM »

From time to time I receive thoughtful reads from a friend in India.  India tends to have a lot more and a lot deeper knowledge of the players involved and the history of how things came to be.  IMHO this piece deserves serious consideration.
====================
Some fresh perspectives on the Fak-Ap problem..


http://intellibriefs.blogspot.com/2010/01/will-obama-administration-occupy.html
 
SOURCE: http://cinemarasik.com/2009/04/25/will-the-obama-administration-occupy-pashtunistan-or-all-of-paksitan.aspx

This week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the US Congress that the situation in Pakistan “poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world.”. These are strong words. A “mortal threat” to the security of America, we would think, would require a serious military and strategic response.


That is why we titled our article as we did. Frankly, we were not impressed with Clinton's outburst and neither were Pakistan's Panjabi Generals.

Then Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that relations with the United States will be threatened unless Islamabad combats the rise of the Taleban. This was serious. After all, Pakistan's Panjabi Army survives on American aid and so the Pakistani generals pretended to comply.

They told their friends in the Taleban leadership to withdraw from their new foray into the Buner province (70 miles from Pakistan's capital) and the Taleban made a public show of its "withdrawal". But, this was only for media consumption.

The American Newspapers and TV shows covered the new Taleban foray extensively and superficially. This coverage showed the total lack of understanding or insight into the Af-Pak problem and the type of urgent solutions needed. This prompted us to write this detailed article and propose the only solution that we think will work.

This position paper features the following sections:



I. The Genesis of the Af-Pak problem
II. Misconceptions, Ignorance and Denial in Pakistan and America
III. An Immediate, Legal, Globally Acceptable, Cost-Effective and Simple Solution to the Af-Pak Problem
IV. Is this Solution rapidly becoming obsolete?
V. Final Choice that might be forced upon the Obama Administration

I. The Genesis of the Af-Pak Problem
The Af-Pak situation began in 1893 when the British-led Indian Army conquered South Afghanistan (the part of Afghanistan below the Khyber Pass) and forced the partition of Afghanistan into North and South. Under the 1893 Treaty, the Afghan King was forced to accede to annexation of South Afghanistan by British-India. Today's border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is still called the "Durand Line" after Mortimer Durand, the Foreign Secretary of British India (see map below left).

When the British left India in 1947, Pakistan inherited the possession of South Afghanistan and the Af-Pak problem was created.

In 1949, Afghanistan declared the 1893 Treaty as ex parte and therefore invalid. Today, Afghanistan does NOT recognize the Durand Line as the legal border and claims all of South Afghanistan (or Pashtunistan as it is popularly called) as an integral part of Afghanistan.


(Pink - Baluch, Green - Pashtuns, Grey - Panjabis, Yellow-Sindhi)


(Durand's Partition of Afghanistan)




The map on the right above shows the ethnic composition of the territory controlled by today's Pakistan. The area in green is the real Pashtun-i-stan or the land of the Pashtuns. This is today the home of the Pashtun Taleban and virtually all of it is under Taleban control. In this article, we refer to the section in green when we refer to Pashtunistan.

From 1947 to 1979, Pashtunistan remained quiet. Actually in 1947, a popular non-violence movement spread through Pashtunistan under the leadership of Badshah Gaffar Khan, popularly called "Sarhad-Gandhi" or "Gandhi-on-the-border". Gaffar Khan wanted his province to become a part of India in 1947 but Nehru, in another act of utter, arrogant stupidity, refused.

So, Pakistan took over Pashtunistan and began the transformation of the non-violent movement into a movement subordinated to the interests of Pakistani Panjabis.

Then, in 1979, America entered the province and flooded it with weapons. Brezinsky toured the province and exhorted the Pashtuns to fight a holy war against the Russian Army that had occupied North Afghanistan. Under American leadership and with American encouragement, angry young men poured into Pashtunistan from all over the Muslim Middle East to fight the Russians. The rest, as they say, is history.

II. Misconceptions, Ignorance and Denial in Pakistan and America

From what we read or hear on TV, the American Media and the American Establishment lack the basic understanding of the nature of the Taleban and remain in total denial about the real problem. Virtually all American commentators are European-American and their frame of reference is the British frame of reference. Notable Pakistani journalists like Ahmad Rashid use this ignorance to sway opinion towards Pakistani interests and notable South Asian journalists like Fareed Zakaria continue to pander to the European-American line of thinking.

II.a - The Taleban Fight movement is a Racial conflict and NOT a Religious Conflict
Look at the ethnic map of Pakistan (above right). The fight in Pakistan is a war between the Green and the Grey; between the Pashtuns of Pashtunistan (or NWFP as Pakistan calls it) and the Panjabis of Pakistani Panjab. These are distinct ethnic groups that have fought wars for more than 2,000 years. Pakistani Panjabis are an Indian ethnic people while the Pashtuns are a mixed breed of Indian, Iranian, Tajik, Uzbek and even Greek blood (going back to post-Alexander days).

Both ethnic groups are Sunni Muslims and so the Pashtun-Panjabi struggle is not a religious struggle but a racial struggle. Panjabis dominate Pakistan, its Government and its all-controlling Army. They have deep contempt for the uneducated Pashtun mountain people.

The main aim of the Pashtun Taleban used to be to reconquer North Afghanistan and unite all of Afghanistan under Pashtun rule. The American presence in North Afghanistan and the determination of the Obama Administration have convinced the Taleban that America will not leave Kabul.

So the Pashtun Taleban have decided move south towards the plains of Pakistani Panjab, a much richer prize than impoverished Afghanistan. They now believe that control of Pakistani Panjab is possible and they have a game plan to win this prize.

The Taleban now controls virtually all of the green area of Pashtunistan. They began this control in the mountain regions called FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas - see map below left), consolidated this control, made peace deals with the Pakistani Panjabi Army and then slowly but surely began the same game further south into the NWFP or the more urban parts of Pashtunistan (see map below left).

Last week, they entered the border province of Buner, 70 miles from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan in Panjab, setting off the alarms in the Obama Administration. Control of Buner would enable the Pashtun Taleban to cut off the road link between Islamabad and Peshawar, the capital of NWFP.


II.b - Why doesn't the Pakistani Army fight the Taleban? - Good Reasons

In 1947, Pakistan was created to comprise of West Pakistan (today's Pakistan) and East Pakistan (today's Bangladesh), separated by over a 1,000 miles of Indian territory. The Pakistani Panjabis had racial contempt for the more eastern Pakistani Bengalis. This racial superiority led to draconian rule by the Panjabis over Bengalis and fostered a deep anger in the Pakistani Bengalis.

In 1971, the Bengalis of Pakistan began a struggle for greater political rights and autonomy. The Pakistani Panjabi Army retaliated with a brutal campaign that backfired. The struggle for autonomy morphed into a struggle for independence and eventually dragged India into a war with Pakistan. This war created the independent state of Bangladesh and split up Pakistan.

The Pakistani Panjabi Army recognizes the parallels between today's Pashtun movement and the 1971 Bengali movement. They also understand the racial element of this struggle and are trying to tone it down.

This is why Pakistan only deploys the pre-dominantly Pashtun para-military force (called the Frontier Corps) against the Taleban. In other words, Pakistani Army is using its Pashtun regiments to fight the Pashtun Taleban. Unfortunately, the Frontier Corps is a poor cousin of the Pakistani Army, poorly trained and poorly armed. The soldiers of the Frontier Corps come from the same villages that the Pashtun Taleban come from. So, their sympathies are with the Pashtun Taleban, their brothers and not with their Panjabi masters.

The Pakistani Generals have NOT deployed its core Panjabi Divisions against the Taleban, despite the major advances made by the Taleban recently. They know fully well that if they do, they risk a full-scale Pashtun-Panjabi civil war, like the 1971 Bengali-Panjabi civil war. We are sympathetic to their point of view.

This is why the Pakistani Panjabi Army prefers to appease the Pashtun Taleban by signing peace deals with them and by ceding huge tracts of Pashtun territory to Taleban's control.
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« Reply #574 on: January 03, 2010, 08:14:45 AM »


II.c - Why doesn't the Pakistani Army fight the Taleban? - Bad Reasons

The Panjabi Generals of the Pakistani Army remember 1971 vividly. They carry deep emotional scars from that humiliating surrender to the Indian Army and the split of Pakistan. They have sworn to not let that happen again. They also began a campaign to pay back India by trying to separate Kashmir from India.

They got their chance in 1979 when America poured its resources into Pakistan to create a Pashtun force to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. The Pakistanis used American money, American weapons, American expertise to train the Pashtuns into a fighting force. When the Russians left Afghanistan, Pakistan, in a few years, moved the Pashtun Taleban into Afghanistan. This made Afghanistan a Pakistani vassal and gave Pakistan its much desired strategic depth against India.

Since that period, the Pakistani Generals have viewed the Pashtun Taleban as a critical ally and a weapon to be used against India without exposing the Pakistani Panjabi Army to India's retaliation. This role makes the Pashtun Taleban a strategic asset of Pakistan's Panjabi Army and such strategic assets are not given up regardless of whatever pressure America decides to use.

Besides, due to its deeply ingrained anti-India mindset, the Pakistani Army will not even consider moving its core Panjabi divisions from the Indian border. That would signal utter defeat of their dreams and of their strategy of the past 38 years.

Remember that the Panjabi Generals created the Pashtun Taleban, fed it and built it to its current state. They simply refuse to believe that their child would turn on them. They also refuse to believe that they would not be able to squash the Taleban if they really chose to do so.

The Pakistani Panjabis have deep racial contempt for the Pashtuns. They consider the Pashtuns to be illiterate, uneducated, mountain hilly-billies who are way beneath the cultured Panjabis with their literary traditions. Pakistani Panjabis, beginning with their founder Jinnah, used Islam as a banner to unite the poor but never believed in it themselves. The Pakistani Panjabi Generals claim their heritage from the British Army and still carry on the scotch-drinking, non-religious traditions of the British Generals.

Unfortunately, America relies on these Pakistani Panjabi Generals for support as well as knowledge and insight. Admiral Mullen, America's highest military officer, says that he trusts Pakistan's General Kiyani totally and implicitly.

Both America and Pakistan seem to have forgotten the lessons of Iran. America trusted the Shah of Iran implicitly and totally. America believed that the Shah, with his large, American supplied army, would be able quell any rebellion in Iran. The Shah of Iran remained supremely confident until he found out that his army would not fire on his people. Then, one day, he left Iran forever.

We fear the same in Pakistan. The racial contempt of the Pakistani Panjabi Generals is making them blind to the realities on the ground. The Pashtun Taleban are getting Panjabi recruits and building a Panjabi Taleban sub-movement. This combination is rapidly making inroads into rural Panjab and seems poised to take over some semi-urban areas in Panjab.

When they succeed, the Pakistani Panjabi Generals will find that their soldiers are not willing to fire on their rural Panjabi brothers. Then, the Panjabi Generals will leave Pakistan to go to their estates outside Pakistan. Nawab Sharif, Panjab's civilian landlord leader, will run back to Saudi Arabia and Asif Zardari, the Sindhi President, will return to London. America will then exit Pakistan as it exited Iran 30 years ago.

II.D. - America's conception of Taleban a murderous, fanatical Islamic organization

You have to admit that the behavior of the Taleban fits the murderous and fanatical label. Their actions against women have revolted people in Pakistan and around the world. Special Envoy Holbrooke described the Taleban as "murderous" in a CNN interview last week.

But labels can blind people and countries to the underlying reality. The Taleban are not stupid, illiterate crazies as the Pakistani Panjabis and Americans think. The Taleban leaders are extraordinarily intelligent men who understand tactics and strategy. Their game plan combines military tactics with social, religious and media tactics to win hearts & minds besides winning on the ground.

They use their brand of Islam as a way of influencing society, winning recruits and keeping them loyal. They understand that love of land and love of customs is a powerful force. They use Islam as a cry against the secular civil society of Pakistan. This is similar to the "anti secular-progressive culture-warrior" cry of right-wing American opinionators like Bill O'Reilly.

The Taleban are smart. They retreat very quickly when they realize they have made a mistake. The Taleban leaders realized that they made a big mistake when their followers flogged a woman in public. Their media spokesman immediately clarified that this bad behavior was triggered by the presence of "western white women who have entered Pakistan to fight". The New York Times might scoff at this explanation but it does make sense in conservative Pashtun territory. This is sort of like liberal Europeans scoffing at the "American crudity" of Bill O'Reilly.

II.e - The return of Aurnagzeb's model

The Mughal dynasty of Delhi faced the problem of governing a predominantly Hindu population. One extreme model was the "respect for all religions" model of Akbar, called by history as the Greatest Mughal. The other extreme model was that of was his grandson, Aurangzeb.

Every reader of this blog has heard of the Taj Mahal, the greatest monument to love in the world. A few readers might know the name of Shah Jahan, the ruler who built the Taj Mahal. But, very few readers are likely to have heard of his son, Aurangzeb.

Aurangzeb revolted against his father Shah Jahan and his elder brother Dara ShuKoh, the Crown Prince. He won the battle, imprisoned Shah Jahan and killed Dara ShuKoh as well as all his other brothers. Then, Aurangzeb created his model for ruling India.

He was a practicing Muslim but not a fanatic. But his actions seemed fanatical. Like all right-wingers, he ruled to gain the abiding loyalty of his base, the right wing Islamists. He even imposed a tax on non-Muslims called the "Jeeziya", simply for being non-Muslims in his kingdom. He tried to destroy temples but stopped when he realized he was going too far.

The Taleban approach is based on the Aurangzeb model. It has a deep and historical resonance in the entire Indian Subcontinent, let alone Pashtunistan. It evokes memories of the days when the Pashtuns dominated India. A couple of weeks ago, we read a story that the Taleban have imposed the Jeeziya tax of Aurangzeb on the Sikh community in Pashtunistan, a tax for simply being Sikh in Taleban country. Aurangzeb's model worked for him in North India. Who is to say that his model would not work for the Taleban in Pakistan?

So, when America and Pakistan feel racial and cultural contempt for the Taleban, they should watch out. Decisions based on racial and cultural superiority often exact a steep price in war.

Recall that the French despised Ho-Chi-Minh and the Vietnamese racially and culturally. They expressed disdain for this savage "who would teach military strategy to the country of Napoleon". Unless our history is wrong, Ho-Chi-Minh defeated the French Army in the decisive battle of Dien-Bien-Phu. The French left Vietnam in disgrace and America entered Vietnam to inherit French racism and the French outcome.


III. An Immediate, Legal, Globally Acceptable, Cost-Effective and Simple Solution to the Af-Pak Problem

To solve a problem, we often need to go to its genesis. The Af-Pak problem originated in 1893 with the partition of Afghanistan. The solution begins there.

III.a - A Legal, Globally Acceptable, Political Solution

Afghanistan is a protectorate and an ally of America. Nato is involved in Afghanistan and the UN backs this effort. It is time for the United States to back the legal stand of Afghanistan that the 1893 Treaty between British India and Afghanistan is ex parte (because British India does not exist any more) and hence invalid.

America can then push for the reunification of North and South Afghanistan. This will enable America to take the war to the Taleban strongholds in South Afghanistan or Pashtunistan.

America is the ethnic, spiritual, economic and military successor to England. America is ideally placed to invalidate the 1893 British treaty.

England and Continental Europe will support this solution. This solution is in Russia's interests and after some face-saying gestures, Russia will support it. Saudi Arabia, which is getting increasingly worried about the Taleban, will support this solution and so will the Emirates, Kuwait and other Middle Eastern states.

This solution benefits Iran strategically and Iran would support this solution. Iran would get a greater influence in a moderate united Afghanistan than in a virulently anti-Shia Taleban-controlled Afghanistan.

The only obstacle could be China. This solution would possibly cut off China's land access to the Persian Gulf through Pakistan. But, given the global stakes involved, China would abstain from opposing this solution.

It is not generally known that the majority of the Pashtuns in Pashtunistan do not support Islamic fundamentalism. Recall that in the last election, the Pashtuns voted for secular, non-religious parties in Pashtunistan and not for the Islamic parties. Unification of Pashtunistan with Afghanistan and the consequent unification of the Pashtun society on both sides of the Durand Line would be a dream come true for the Pashtuns.

This support of the Pashtuns would be the greatest strength of this legal solution. It will help the Obama Administration finally solve the Af-Pak problem by winning the hearts and minds of the Pashtun people.

The UN ratification of the unification of Afghanistan would be a legal globally acceptable political solution to the Af-Pak problem.

III.b - A Cost-Effective, Quick, Decisive Military Solution

Special Envoy Holbrooke said last week on CNN that the Frontier Corps of Pakistan was originally created by the British. He is correct.

The British created the Pashtun Frontier Corps when they gained legal control of Pashtunistan from the 1893 Durand Treaty. The Frontier Force kept control and peace in Pashtunistan and served as a military liaison between the British Indian Army and the tribal elders of Pashtunistan. This military-administrative-social structure continued until the Pashtun Taleban destroyed it recently. They did so by killing many of the tribal elders, waging attacks on the Frontier Corps and by scaring the administrators into obeying the Taleban.

The American Military and Nato should, after the above legal deal, take immediate control of the Frontier Corps. US Special Forces and US Military Advisors should then guide and train the Frontier Corps. The American Air Force and its Airborne Predators should fly over Pashtunistan legally, take out Taleban strongholds and kill Taleban leaders on sight.

This is the model that allowed America to destroy the Taleban regime in Afghanistan without putting American boots on the ground. In that war, the boots on the ground were those of the Afghan National Alliance. They were advised by US Special Forces and supported by American precision air power. In Pashtunistan, the Frontier Corp would play the role played by the Northern Alliance in North Afghanistan.

The support of the local Pashtuns would provide ample local intelligence just as the support of the north Afghani people provided intelligence during the 2001 war against the Taleban in Afghanistan.

The 2001 war in North Afghanistan was quick, decisive and highly cost-effective. We are convinced that a 2009 war in Pashtunistan would be just as quick, decisive and cost-effective.

Once America and Nato seize military control of Pashtunistan, the Taleban insurgency would be encircled like in Iraq. Then, the David Petraeus strategy can be put into effect in Pashtunistan with the support and participation of the Pashtun tribal elders. Pashtunistan can then be made peaceful as was done in Iraq.

III.c - What About Pakistan?

The political leaders of Pakistan would be in tacit support of this solution. Nawab Sharif's economic interests and political base are in Pakistani Panjab. He stands to lose it all if the Taleban take control of rural Panjab.

Asif Zardari is a Sindhi. He is also a wealthy businessman. He has no interest in maintaining control of Pashtunistan. He would be a big supporter, at least in private, of this solution.

The silent majority in Pakistan would probably oppose an imposed American solution but would accept a globally backed UN solution supported by the Middle Eastern countries. We believe that the average Pakistani Panjabi is angry at the Pashtun Taleban, holds them in racial contempt and is petrified at the thought of being governed by them. So, we believe that the silent majority of Pakistani Panjabis and the Sindhis would support a globally backed unification of Afghanistan.

This leaves the Generals of Pakistan. This solution would end their dreams of strategic depth against India and would create a fear of Indian encirclement via a partnership between a United Afghanistan and India.

But, we are convinced that the Pakistani Panjabi Generals would not oppose a global solution backed by America, Saudi Arabia and the UN. They would not survive if they did so. After all, this solution would leave their empire in Pakistani heartland unchanged and undamaged.

America, Europe and Saudi Arabia can promise substantial civil aid to Pakistan's Panjab and Sindh provinces for their support of the globally acceptable solution. As a result, this solution might finally bring both peace and prosperity to this troubled land.

IV. Is this Solution rapidly becoming obsolete?

As we have said before, the Taleban leaders are not dumb. They remember how their rule in North Afghanistan came to an abrupt end in 2001.

The solution we have proposed may be new to the American Establishment but it will not come as a surprise to the Taleban leaders. They know such a solution would work and work quickly. So, they are rapidly moving to make this solution obsolete.

How? By using a variation of the Donald Rumsfeld dictum. The Taleban are rapidly making the problem bigger, much much bigger.

They are doing so by moving their soldiers and supporters into urban provinces like Buner that border Pakistani Panjab and into Panjab itself. By gaining sanctuary and support in Pakistani Panjab, the Taleban are making the problem so big that it might remain unsolvable.

The Pakistani people might support the cessation of Pashtunistan and the resultant occupation of Pashtunistan by American Military. But, they will not support any occupation of Pakistani Panjab, the society's heartland. The Taleban know this and that is why they are rapidly moving into Pakistani Panjab. The Pakistani Panjabi Generals know this and that is why they allow the Taleban to encroach into Panjab.

V. Final Choice that might be forced upon the Obama Administration

"Speed Kills" is a favorite line of John Madden (the great NFL coach and TV Sports Analyst). The Obama Administration is moving ahead with slow, deliberate planning in their Af-Pak analysis, while the Taleban is moving with great speed to implement its plan. So far, the Taleban speed is killing the chances of success of the Obama Initiatives.

Soon, we fear, the Obama Administration would be faced with two alternatives:

Leave Af-Pak to its own misery and take the risk of being attacked in the American homeland OR
Get into a military confrontation with the Taleban inside Pakistan and with the Pakistani Military.
The first choice would be far worse than Vietnam and the second choice would be far worse than Iraq.

Send your feedback to editor@macroviewpoints.com.
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« Reply #575 on: January 04, 2010, 11:43:17 AM »

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34687312/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/

NBC: Jordanian double-agent killed CIA officers
Officials: Perpetrator of Afghan attack was supposed to infiltrate al-Qaida
By Robert Windrem and Richard Engel, NBC News
updated 9:23 a.m. MT, Mon., Jan. 4, 2010
The suicide bombing on a CIA base in Afghanistan last week was carried out by a Jordanian doctor who was an al-Qaida double agent, Western intelligence officials told NBC News.

Initial reports said that the attack, which killed seven CIA officers, was carried out by a member of the Afghan National Army.

According to Western intelligence officials, the perpetrator was Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, 36, an al-Qaida sympathizer from the town of Zarqa, which is also the hometown of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant Islamist responsible for several devastating attacks in Iraq.
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« Reply #576 on: January 04, 2010, 12:06:01 PM »

Again we see underlined the Stratfor point which seems so pivotal to me:

There is no way around the fact that the ANA and the ANP will be riddled with enemy agents; therefore it is doubly key that we infiltrate the enemy!!!  That mission did not seem to succeed here.  Can we have any hope in succeeding at this mission when both potential friends and the enemy have heard our President say we will begin leaving in 18 months?
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« Reply #577 on: January 04, 2010, 12:09:36 PM »

We are pretty much fcuked.
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« Reply #578 on: January 04, 2010, 12:18:08 PM »

Woof,
 Well, we have been hurting them with the drone attacks and someone has been giving us target locations, so I would say that we do have some infiltration, how beit old contacts from the Bush era that have been in place for awhile.
                      P.C.
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« Reply #579 on: January 04, 2010, 03:50:50 PM »

Bomber Who Killed C.I.A. Staff Worked With Jordanian Intelligence

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- The suicide bomber who killed seven
C.I.A. officers and one Jordanian intelligence officer last
week in southeastern Afghanistan was an asset of the
Jordanian intelligence service who had been brought to
Afghanistan to help hunt down top members of the Qaeda
network, according to a Western official briefed on the
matter.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com?emc=na
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G M
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« Reply #580 on: January 06, 2010, 08:43:47 AM »

http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=9486017

How a Double Agent Lured Seven CIA Operatives to Their Deaths
Suicide Bomber Al-Balawi Convinced Americans He Was the 'Golden Goose'
By BRIAN ROSS, NICK SCHIFRIN, NASSER ATTA and LEE FERRAN
Jan. 5, 2010 —


As the CIA mourns its dead from a devastating suicide bombing in Afghanistan, the questions grow about how professional spies could have been so taken in, failing to spot a double agent and letting a bomber into their midst.

Some 13 CIA operatives, including private contractors from the company once known as Blackwater, had gathered to hear the informant's report when the bomb went off. Among the nine people killed were seven CIA operatives, the informant, and a Jordanian intelligence officer, a cousin of Jordan's King Abdullah, who had been the liaison between the informant and the CIA.

The suicide bomber, who killed some of the CIA's top al Qaeda hunters, lured the agents to the meeting by claiming he had just met with Ayman al-Zawahiri, this country's most wanted terrorist after Osama bin Laden, sources told ABC News.
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« Reply #581 on: January 06, 2010, 10:55:56 PM »

The double agent homicide bomber appears to have gutted the CIA's Af-Pak operations. I smell the ISI, or at least a jihadist element within.

http://hotair.com/archives/2010/01/06/scarborough-scoop-how-the-talibans-double-agent-bomber-ambushed-the-cia/

Even more so, now.
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« Reply #582 on: January 07, 2010, 06:52:13 AM »

Jordan?  Why should they be involved in any way?  Their BAATH Party and Iraq's  were real close relatives if not siamese twins.  Too much risk of score settling there from any agent who had an axe to grind.  <throw hands up in disgust>  No internal measures for 'leak proofing' either.  No "working cells" to fire wall possible penetrations by double agents?  13 members on a team is not a good cell.

They totally forgot tradecraft, and got what they earned, much to the detriment of the overall mission.
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« Reply #583 on: January 07, 2010, 11:01:50 AM »

Forgive me, but I think upon reflection you may wish to reconsider you "got what they earned" language.  We know little about the details here and I one for am loathe to criticize men who were in the thick of the worst and most dangerous area of a badly led war.
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« Reply #584 on: January 08, 2010, 07:40:40 AM »

The double agent homicide bomber appears to have gutted the CIA's Af-Pak operations. I smell the ISI, or at least a jihadist element within.

http://hotair.com/archives/2010/01/06/scarborough-scoop-how-the-talibans-double-agent-bomber-ambushed-the-cia/

Even more so, now.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-01-07/did-pakistani-spies-help-cia-bomber/full/

Did Pakistani Spies Help CIA Bomber?
by Gerald Posner

 Afghan spy officials tell The Daily Beast’s Gerald Posner that the chemical fingerprint of the bomb that killed seven CIA agents matches the kind produced by Pakistani intelligence.

Early evidence in the December 30 bombing that killed seven CIA agents suggests a link to Pakistan, two senior Afghan sources, including an official at their spy agency, told The Daily Beast. The pair said that U.S. has already taken a chemical fingerprint of the bomb used by a Jordanian double agent in the attack, and that it matches an explosive type used by their Pakistan equivalents, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI.

The bomb’s provenance was an immediate concern after the attack, which took place in a remote base in eastern Afghanistan called Camp Chapman, because of its compact power. Most suicide attacks involve a bulky vest or belt. “It is not possible that the Jordanian double agent received that type of explosive without the help of ISI,” a senior government aide to President Hamid Karzai told me. “The problem is that CIA trusted a Jordanian but not the Afghan operatives we offer to them. If the U.S. forces recruit, they must recruit Afghans who do not have family members in Pakistan.”

“The CIA has a policy usually not to trust anyone,” says Mahmoud Karzai, the president’s brother. “But when they do they trust someone, it is often the enemy, as obvious from the case of the CIA deaths.”
The CIA declined comment on the accusation of a possible ISI role. The U.S. embassy in Pakistan had no comment. Multiple attempts over two days to obtain a comment from Pakistani officials were unsuccessful.
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« Reply #585 on: January 08, 2010, 12:08:36 PM »

Well, that is as unsettling as it is unsurprising.

============

Worth reading because of the authors...
 
Don't discount Europe's commitment to Afghanistan

By Carl Bildt and Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Friday, January 8, 2010; A19


For decades, Europeans have heard an enduring message from the United States: Do more. Carry your weight. Don't make America do all the heavy lifting. And this message has been delivered, loud and clear, once again, on Afghanistan.
 
An honest assessment would conclude that over the years these complaints have occasionally had some foundation. The United States has played a central role in defending the values and the security of the Euro-Atlantic community -- something for which Europeans are grateful.
But that honest assessment would also conclude that Europe can pull its weight. That Europe can deliver and can be a real partner for the United States. That is what is happening now in the global mission in Afghanistan. It is important that America recognize its partners' actions at this critical time, because if it becomes the conventional wisdom in the United States to talk down the European contribution, no matter what Europe does, then it will become impossible to sustain our commitment.
 
In just the past few months, the European Union has taken important steps to strengthen its common action in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the surrounding region. For the first time, the European Union has adopted a common action plan for the efforts of its 27 member states and the European Commission. The focus is on building strong state institutions because the best way to defeat the insurgency is to help Afghanistan build a government in which its citizens trust and believe.
 
With the aim of increasing Afghan responsibilities, and in accordance with the priorities set by the government in Kabul, the European Union will concentrate its immediate assistance in six areas: building civilian capacity; strengthening sub-national, or provincial, governance; election review and reform; mechanisms to support the reintegration of former insurgents into society; economic development; and strengthened assistance in building a civilian police force through the E.U. Police Mission in Afghanistan.
 
On the military side, U.S. allies and partners in the NATO-led military operation have responded clearly to President Obama's decision to significantly increase American troop levels in the mission. In early December, the other members of the mission pledged an additional 7,000 troops, on top of the almost 40,000 non-U.S. troops already on the ground. More contributions are possible this year. Non-U.S. forces will eventually be about 40 percent of the total; they already endure about 40 percent of the casualties. There should be no more doubt in the United States on whether America can count on its allies; we are proving that in blood and treasure every day in Afghanistan.
But creating stability in Afghanistan requires more than a military and civilian surge from the United States, the European Union, Canada and our partners. It requires a responsive and responsible Afghan government, coordination among the international community and a regional approach in which Afghanistan's neighbors play a prominent role.
 
The international community needs to develop a renewed partnership with Afghanistan, whereby in return for continued political, civilian and military assistance, we see clear commitments from the government in Kabul and delivery and responsibility on those pledges. In line with the goals stated in President Hamid Karzai's inauguration speech, the international community is looking for improved governance through the reinvigoration of cabinet ministries by reform-oriented appointments, and for efforts to actively fight corruption even at the highest levels. Other key priorities include improving human rights (perhaps by setting up a separate ministry) as well as enhancing national reconciliation where possible.
 
International meetings to be held in London and Kabul this spring are key to creating fresh momentum for our support to Afghanistan. There is a new recognition that we all need to do more and do better on civilian as well as military issues. Everyone understands that one will not work without the other. We need a civilian-military partnership in Afghanistan and the surrounding region as much as we need a partnership across the Atlantic. There is much work ahead in all these respects.
 
As we enter 2010, three things are clear about this mission. First, it is as necessary as ever, for the security of all nations, that the international community succeed in helping Afghanistan become an inhospitable environment for terrorism. Second, that despite all the difficulties -- and they are many -- this mission can succeed, first and foremost because the Afghan people want to stand on their own feet and defeat extremism themselves. Third, that the United States cannot do this alone, and will not have to; Europe, and Canada, will continue to be America's allies, partners and brothers in arms.
 
Carl Bildt is the foreign minister of Sweden. Anders Fogh Rasmussen is secretary general of NATO.

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Rarick
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« Reply #586 on: January 09, 2010, 05:40:34 AM »

Substitute Pakistan everytime you see Afghanistan in that europeon policy article, and I would agree.  Afghanistan is a crazy quilt of Valley-States and the people in the next valley over are either the equivalent of Canadians, or Venezuelans for all practical purposes.  I think stabilizing Pakistan should be far more important since they are 1/2 of a nuclear fuse equation with India.
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« Reply #587 on: January 09, 2010, 08:36:21 AM »

What do you think of my two-part entry of January 3?  I always find the Indian perspective worth considering.
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Rarick
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« Reply #588 on: January 09, 2010, 09:09:50 AM »

Well our work against the Taliban in afghanistan probably makes the Pakistani Taleban units less reliable, but I am mainly concerned about Pakistan becomeing a 3rd rogue nuke country with something less than a "common good" outlook. 

India won't jump unless given a reason to, (some of that reason could be a weakened Pakistani border) they have trade links with a lot of the west they do not want to risk.  That money flowing to them is making a genuine difference, since it is coming as real trade. Pakistan also has similar influences operating, but that may change significantly given our economy.

I will admit I have not looked real hard at India, while it has nukes, it is not a world threat aside from trouble with its neighbors.  If world leaders keep their heads, they can hopefully keep from making the WW1 mistake of interlocking treatys dragging the whole world in.  (wishful thinking?)
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« Reply #589 on: January 09, 2010, 09:20:47 AM »

Did you read the article, and if so, what did you think of its analysis?
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« Reply #590 on: January 10, 2010, 10:53:45 AM »

"What do you think of my two-part entry of January 3?  I always find the Indian perspective worth considering."

I went back to read it more closely.  Found it to be rich with background, insight and perspective, well worth reading.  They offer what they consider to be a simple solution to world peace / regional peace.  Have the global community chop up the borders of their arch enemy Pakistan and downsize it.  What they call North Afghanistan is what we call Aghanistan.  They want it reunited with what he calls South Afghanistan which I assume is western Pakistan.  Then America and NATO could more aggressively take on its enemy without invading Pak.  I'm confused in my map reading because I thought the mountainous autonomous tribal regions in question were in the north and I'm not confident of our ability to permanently stabilize an enlarged Afghan much less what we face now.  I doubt Pakistan is prepared to give up land without war.  But who knows.

The closing is worth repeating:

"...The Obama Administration is moving ahead with slow, deliberate planning in their Af-Pak analysis, while the Taleban is moving with great speed to implement its plan. So far, the Taleban speed is killing the chances of success of the Obama Initiatives.

Soon, we fear, the Obama Administration would be faced with two alternatives:

Leave Af-Pak to its own misery and take the risk of being attacked in the American homeland OR
Get into a military confrontation with the Taleban inside Pakistan and with the Pakistani Military.
The first choice would be far worse than Vietnam and the second choice would be far worse than Iraq. "
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« Reply #591 on: January 10, 2010, 07:54:38 PM »

"Well worth the reading"

NOW I know you've read it  smiley
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« Reply #592 on: January 11, 2010, 02:45:20 AM »

Read it, did some poking around on Wikipedia. It may work, but you would have to make deals with at least 3 or 4 major ethnic groups to settle new borders and that would bring up a whole can full of issues, wouldn't it?

Pashtuni, indian, the northern alliance, and a couple others are in the mix.  Heck the Pashtun tribes look like the scottish clans and federations, how long did it take england to settle the highlands into civility?
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« Reply #593 on: January 11, 2010, 07:23:14 AM »

Didn't say it would be easy  cheesy  Nor do I even say it is the right course of action.   Only that it should be considered.
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« Reply #594 on: January 11, 2010, 03:16:13 PM »

I remember a criticism of our efforts during the Viet Nam war is that we rotated officer through so fast that they had just started to get a feel for their operation environment when they were being sent home. Looks like history is doing so repeating.

The Meaning of al Qaeda's Double Agent
The jihadists are showing impressive counterintelligence ability that the CIA seems to have underestimated.
By REUEL MARC GERECHT

The recent death in Afghanistan of seven American counterterrorist officers, one Jordanian intelligence operative, and one exploding al Qaeda double agent ought to give us cause to reflect on the real capabilities of the Central Intelligence Agency and al Qaeda.

The report card isn't good. America's systemic intelligence problems were partially on display in the bombing at the CIA's Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province. Worse, al Qaeda showed skill that had been lacking in many of its operations. In response, President Barack Obama will likely be obliged to adopt counterterrorist methods that could make his administration as tough as his predecessor's.

Professionally, one has to admire the skill of suicide bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi's handlers. This operation could well have been months—if not longer—in the making, and neither the Jordanian intelligence service (GID), which supplied the double agent to the CIA, nor Langley apparently had any serious suspicion that al-Balawi still had the soul and will of a jihadist.

That is an impressive feat. The Hashemite monarchy imprisons lots of Islamic militants, and the GID has the responsibility to interrogate them. The dead Jordanian official, Sharif Ali bin Zeid, reportedly a member of the royal family, may not have been a down-and-dirty case officer with considerable hands-on contact with militants, but al-Balawi surely passed through some kind of intensive screening process with the GID. Yet the GID and the CIA got played, and al Qaeda has revealed that it is capable of running sophisticated clandestine operations with sustained deception.

Indeed, al Qaeda did to us exactly what we intended to do to them: use a mole for a lethal strike against high-value targets. In the case of al-Balawi, it appears the target was Ayman al Zawahiri, Osama bin Ladin's top deputy. During the Cold War, the CIA completely dropped its guard in the pursuit of much-desired Cuban and East German agents. The result? Most of our assets were plants given to us by Cuban and East German intelligence. With al-Balawi supposedly providing "good" information about al Zawahiri and al Qaeda's terrorist planning, a salivating CIA and the GID proved inattentive to counterintelligence concerns.

Whereas al Qaeda is showing increasing proficiency, the same cannot be said for the CIA. Competent case officers can get duped by a good double. And the GID, whose skill has been exaggerated in fiction and film and by Hashemite-stroked American case officers, isn't a global service. Take it far from its tribal society, where it operates with admirable efficiency, and it is nothing to write home about.

The CIA uses the GID so often not because the Jordanians are brilliant but because the Americans are so often, at best, mediocre. The GID's large cadre of English-speaking officers makes liaison work easy with Langley, which has never been blessed with a large number of Arabic-speaking officers, particularly within the senior ranks.

Language issues aside, the now-deceased chief of Base Chapman should have kept most of her personnel away from al-Balawi, and should never have allowed seven officers to get that close to him at one time. Traditional operational compartmentation clearly broke down.

It is also highly likely that all of the CIA officers at Chapman—and especially the chief of base, who was a mother of three—were on short-term assignments. According to active-duty CIA officers, the vast majority of Langley's officers are on temporary-duty assignments in Afghanistan, which usually means they depart in under one year. (The same is true for the State Department.) Many CIA officers are married with children and they do not care for long tours of duty in unpleasant spots—the type of service that would give officers a chance of gaining some country expertise, if not linguistic accomplishment.

Moreover, security concerns usually trap these officers into a limited range of contacts. Truth be told, even the most elemental CIA activity—meeting recruited agents or "developmentals" outside of well-guarded compounds—often cannot be done without contractor-supplied security. Without Blackwater, now renamed Xe, which handles security for Langley in Afghanistan, CIA case officers would likely be paralyzed.

The officers at Chapman were probably young. This isn't necessarily bad. As a general rule, younger case officers do better intelligence-collection work than older colleagues, whose zeal for Third World field work declines precipitously as their knowledge and expertise in CIA bureaucratic politics increases. But experience does breed cynicism, which doesn't appear to have been in abundance at the CIA base.

All of this reinforces the common U.S. military criticism of the Agency in Afghanistan and Iraq: It does not often supply the hard tactical and intimate personal and tribal portraits that military officers need to do their work. Army officers are generally among the natives vastly more than their CIA counterparts.

What does this all mean for President Obama? He did not come into office pledging to reform the CIA, only restrain it from aggressively interrogating al Qaeda terrorists. There is near zero chance that the president will attempt to improve the Agency operationally in the field. His counterterrorist adviser, John Brennan, is as institutional a case officer as Langley has ever produced. If Attorney General Eric Holder is so unwise as to bring any charges against a CIA officer for the rough interrogation of an al Qaeda detainee during the Bush administration, the president will likely find himself deluged with damaging CIA-authored leaks. Mr. Obama would be a fool to confront the CIA on two fronts.

But the president is likely to compensate for systemic weakness in American intelligence in substantial, effective ways. Mr. Obama has been much more aggressive than President George W. Bush was in the use of drone attacks and risky paramilitary operations. One can easily envision him expanding such attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. Visa issuances, airport security, and perhaps even FBI surveillance of American Muslim militants are likely to become much tougher under Mr. Obama than under Mr. Bush. President Obama will, no doubt, continue to say empirically bizarre things about Guantanamo's imprisonment system creating jihadists, but his administration will now likely find another location to jail militants indefinitely. Too many of President Bush's released detainees have returned to terrorism.

National Security Adviser James Jones has already described the 21st century as the liaison century, where intelligence and security services cooperate energetically. The CIA has often compensated for its internal weaknesses through liaising with foreigners. President Bush and then Central Intelligence Director George Tenet kicked these relationships into hyper-drive after 9/11; President Obama is likely to kick them even further. Mr. Obama may have foreclosed the possibility of the CIA again aggressively questioning jihadists, but he's kept the door wide open for the rendition of terrorists to countries like Jordan, where the GID does not abide by the Marquess of Queensbury rules in its interrogations.

The deadly attack in Fort Hood, Texas, by Maj. Malik Hassan in November, the close call in the air above Detroit on Christmas Day, and now the double-agent suicide bombing in Khost have shocked America's counterterrorist system. Mr. Obama surely knows that one large-scale terrorist strike inside the U.S. could effectively end his presidency. He may at some level still believe that his let's-just-all-be-friends speech in Cairo last June made a big dent in the hatred that many faithful Muslims have for the U.S., but his practices on the ground are likely to be a lot less touchy-feely. This is all for the good. These three jihadist incidents ought to tell us that America's war with Islamic militancy is far—far—from being over.

Mr. Gerecht, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704130904574644132628157104.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
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Rarick
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« Reply #595 on: January 12, 2010, 04:42:35 AM »

Didn't say it would be easy  cheesy  Nor do I even say it is the right course of action.   Only that it should be considered.

Nothing in those parts is easy.  If there way a way to hold a regional referendum to Balkanize Afghanistan like recently happened in the former Czechslovakia region might be the answer.  Hamid Kharzai would hold on to his power base, the various tribal federations would get international acknowledgement of their turf, and a lot of the levers the Talibananas use to recruit would dissappear?
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« Reply #596 on: January 12, 2010, 07:01:07 AM »

I have no idea if such is feasible or not, but I do like that we include thinking outside of the box. 

I am but a beginning student in these things, but the idea that the Durand line is but a fiction to which only we pay attention seems pretty sound to me.  The idea of abanding it and allowing the unification of Pashtunland seems pretty intriguing to me.
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Rarick
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« Reply #597 on: January 13, 2010, 10:04:49 AM »

There is also the access to ports and such that would be an issue, Afghanistan and Pakistan both have accustomed access, but some of the tribal lands cut others off.   There are inland trade routes which also would be an issue, and then the few East/West passes.............

I think it is more like a 55 gallon drum of worms, rather than a can, but going to the moon wasn't easy.........

I am just hoping we have a president with the cocoanuts to try and broker such a deal, and get it to stick.  THAT would be Nobel worthy.
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« Reply #598 on: January 13, 2010, 12:59:02 PM »

Afghan Love
Posted 01/12/2010 06:36 PM ET
 

Liberation: Nearly seven out of 10 Afghans support the U.S. presence in their country, and 61% favor the president's military expansion there. Among congressional Democrats, the results would likely be reversed.

ABC News, the BBC and ARD German TV announced their fifth survey of Afghan citizens since 2005. The national random sample of 1,534 Afghan adults between Dec. 11 and Dec. 23 shows a huge turnaround from last year — a 30% increase in favorability toward the American troop presence.

The Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research in Kabul, part of Vienna, Va.-based D3 Systems Inc., conducted the field research.

The poll also registered a new high in Afghans expecting to live improved lives a year from now: 71%, a 20-percentage-point jump from a year ago. Added to that, 61% think their children will enjoy life quality superior to their own — a 14% increase from last year.

This doesn't fit the paradigm of colonizer oppressing the downtrodden. Afghans just aren't acting like those weird blue pagans on the planet Pandora that the U.S. is stealing minerals from in the movie "Avatar."

Indeed, the Taliban have only 10% support, according to the ABC poll. Some 42% blame them for the violence that plagues Afghanistan, a gain of 27% from the last poll a year ago, while only 17% blame the U.S., NATO, the Karzai government or the Afghan security forces. That's a drop of 36% from last January.

In light of such numbers, the opposition from Democrats in Congress to finishing the job in Afghanistan strikes us as obscene.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., have both tried to impose war taxes, a thinly veiled attempt to fiscally starve the U.S. war effort.

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who tried his best to cut and run in the Iraq War during the Bush administration, is similarly trying to use congressional funding ploys to abandon the struggle against terrorism in Afghanistan.

Such remarkable Afghan public support should be a lesson to policymakers as terrorists contemplate a renewed onslaught against the U.S. and the free world.

No matter what Third World U.N. diplomats may tell you, when Americans and Westerners spend resources and spill blood giving those in other countries — Muslim ones included — the chance for freedom, we can and will be viewed as popular liberators.

The commander of our forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, on Monday linked public opinion there to an ultimate U.S. victory. If Afghans had lost confidence in the coalition forces' military effort, "then I think that I would sense that this would not be possible," McChrystal said. "I don't feel that now."

But the people will only love us if they believe we are willing to win, a U.S. commitment Afghans now seem sure of.
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« Reply #599 on: January 13, 2010, 01:28:48 PM »

Greg Mortenson (author "Three Cups of Tea" - which I have read- and "Stones into Schools") has tremendous right to his opinions. He has lived and put his butt on the line opening schools, including for girls, in Afg and Pak:

I will be watching this show:

Bill Moyers Journal | Peace Through Education
truthout - Bill Moyers - ‎53 minutes ago‎
America has committed billions to escalate military action in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but humanitarian and bestselling author Greg Mortenson argues that ...

Rotary International
Convention speaker to be featured on PBS show
Rotary International - ‎Jan 11, 2010‎
Greg Mortenson, best-selling author and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, will be featured on the Bill Moyers Journal on PBS TV on 15 January. ...
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