Obama WH falsely downplaying risks of retreat in Afghanistan: Military, intel sources

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

by Ed Morrissey

Sources within both the intelligence and military communities tell McClatchy that Barack Obama’s White House has not been honest about the risks of moving away from a robust strategy of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.  Obama and his advisers have begun publicly discussing the Taliban as a moderate alternative to al-Qaeda in terms of enemies, but the latest intelligence shows just the opposite.  Taliban leadership and AQ have integrated even more tightly than ever since 9/11 and act in concert on strategy and tactics:

As the Obama administration reconsiders its Afghanistan policy, White House officials are minimizing warnings from the intelligence community, the military and the State Department about the risks of adopting a limited strategy focused on al Qaida, U.S. intelligence, diplomatic and military officials told McClatchy.

Recent U.S. intelligence assessments have found that the Taliban and other Pakistan-based groups that are fighting U.S.-led forces have much closer ties to al Qaida now than they did before 9/11, would allow the terrorist network to re-establish bases in Afghanistan and would help Osama bin Laden export his radical brand of Islam to Afghanistan’s neighbors and beyond, the officials said.

McClatchy interviewed more than 15 senior and mid-level U.S. intelligence, military and diplomatic officials, all of whom said they concurred with the assessments. All of them requested anonymity because the assessments are classified and the officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Bob Kerrey openly wonders why the White House has begun to tread the ground of retreat, in an op-ed for today’s Wall Street Journal:

Yet despite these setbacks, our leaders must remain focused on the fact that success in Afghanistan bolsters our national security and yes, our moral reputation. This war is not Vietnam. The Taliban are not popular and have very little support other than what they secure through terror.

Afghanistan is also not Iraq. No serious leader in Kabul is asking us to leave. Instead we are being asked to withdraw by American leaders who begin their analysis with the presumption that victory is not possible. They seem to want to ensure defeat by leaving at the very moment when our military leader on the ground has laid out a coherent and compelling strategy for victory.

When it comes to foreign policy, almost nothing matters more then your friends and your enemies knowing you will keep your word and follow through on your commitments. This is the real test of presidential leadership. I hope that President Obama—soon to be a Nobel laureate—passes with flying colors

Read the rest at HotAir.com

 

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Senators Escalate Call for Obama to Send More Troops to Afghanistan

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , |

The Obama administration is deep in deliberations over whether to build on its counterinsurgency strategy with thousands more troops in Afghanistan or focus more on taking out top Al Qaeda targets, particularly in Pakistan. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is joining Senate Republicans in calling for the president to approve the request for more troops. 

Top Republican senators escalated their call Sunday for President Obama to grant Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for more troops in Afghanistan, and one prominent Democrat warned that a failure to do so could jeopardize U.S. forces. 

The Obama administration is deep in deliberations over whether to build on its counterinsurgency strategy with thousands more troops in Afghanistan or focus more on taking out top Al Qaeda targets, particularly in Pakistan. The bloody clash this weekend at the Pakistan army headquarters, where commandos freed dozens of hostages early Sunday after militants attacked the facility, underscored the instability in the region. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the attack emphasized the “danger of the Taliban not only in Afghanistan but in Pakistan as well.” 

But he said any attempt by the administration to scale back the fight against the Taliban in favor of a tactical battle against Al Qaeda would damage security. 

“They are different. But they are inter-connected,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” 

He said Republicans would “almost overwhelmingly support” the president if he opts to grant McChrystal’s request for more troops, estimated to be for about 40,000. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said the counterinsurgency strategy pursued by McChrystal is “really critical.” She said the American people don’t have the stomach to stay in Afghanistan for another 10 years, but that the mission there is in “serious jeopardy” and Obama has an obligation to follow his commander’s advice. 

“I don’t know how you put somebody in who was as crackerjack as General McChrystal, who gives the president very solid recommendations, and not take those recommendations if you’re not going to pull out,” Feinstein said on ABC’s “This Week.” 

“If you don’t want to take the recommendations, then you put your people in such jeopardy.” 

She suggested some elements of the Taliban could be won over, but warned that the Taliban in Afghanistan will have a “dramatic impact” on Pakistan if allowed to flourish. 

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the Taliban and Al Qaeda will become “inextricably tied.” 

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the president is right to take his time and deliberate but that a failure to accept the advice of his military commanders would be “an error of historic proportions.” 

But many Democrats are pushing back on a call for more U.S. troops, questioning whether a larger U.S. military footprint will help change the course of the war. 

Read the rest of the story at FoxNews.com

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Illusions of Insignificance –Weinstein

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Rachel Maddow: Every member of every country that was in the finals sent a head of government or a head of state…

Mike Murphy: But there’s a difference, Rachel. The president of the United States is a special category of one, and you don’t put a president in that position…

Rachel Maddow: Sure. And tell a Spaniard that King Carlos is second rate…

Mike Murphy: King Carlos knows deep down he’s second rate to the president of the United States…

– Discussion (edited for clarity and brevity) on President Barack Obama’s trip to Copenhagen, Meet the Press, October 4, 2009

It is unlikely that one would have to convince Spanish King Juan Carlos that he is not as significant an international figure as any American president. Unlike MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow, the Spanish King surely is fully aware of this reality. Indeed, with the possible exception of megalomaniac dictators and French presidents, most world leaders understand this implicitly.

To be sure, there are some who see things changing in the international arena; others who would like things to change; and a few who are acting to make such a change a reality. Still, as of now, the United States is the world’s only superpower. Why would Maddow, an American, be more deluded then the rest of world’s leaders as to the significance of the American president?

Perhaps it’s because she is consumed by a mania that infects left-wing “intellectuals.” Many leftists refuse to see America as an exceptional nation. To them, the notion is egotistical, inconsistent with the multiculturist worldview with which they were indoctrinated in college. To these global citizens, America is just another country in the world. If it is exceptional in anything, it is exceptionally imperialistic or exceptionally racist or exceptionally (insert a pejorative).

On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Maddow’s point was indirectly echoed by The Nation magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel. Vanden Heuvel declared that “America is no longer a superpower.” She didn’t put it out there for debate. She just stated it as if it was an inarguable, uncontroversial fact.

Of course, the statement is false, even if vanden Heuvel, like Maddow, relishes the idea that America is just one country of many. But it is not hard to find commentators these days gleefully predicting the demise of Pax Americana. While the United States unquestionably remains the world’s strongest country both militarily and economically, long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have led some to suggest America is overstretched. With the financial collapse, some countries have argued that America’s economic leadership has come to an end. At the same time, some see China’s rapid rise as a forthcoming threat to America’s dominance in the world. Combine all this, some say, and the American epoch is over, or if not over yet, rapidly coming to a conclusion.

Whatever the merit of these arguments, the fact is that America remains the top dog in the world. And we shouldn’t be resigned to losing that position. After all, such songs of America’s demise have been sung before only to be proven premature. There are certainly great obstacles and challenges that confront the United States, but these can be overcome. There is no reason the 21st century cannot be another “American Century.”

Read the rest at FrontPage Magazine

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Krauthammer:Young Hamlet’s Agony

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , |

 
by Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON — The genius of democracy is the rotation of power, which forces the opposition to be serious — particularly about things like war, about which until Jan. 20 of this year Democrats were decidedly unserious.

When the Iraq War (which a majority of Senate Democrats voted for) ran into trouble and casualties began to mount, Democrats followed the shifting winds of public opinion and turned decidedly anti-war. But needing political cover because of their post-Vietnam reputation for weakness on national defense, they adopted Afghanistan as their pet war.

I was part of the 2004 Kerry campaign, which elevated the idea of Afghanistan as ‘the right war’ to conventional Democratic wisdom,” wrote Democratic consultant Bob Shrum shortly after President Obama was elected. “This was accurate as criticism of the Bush administration, but it was also reflexive and perhaps by now even misleading as policy.”

Which is a clever way to say that championing victory in Afghanistan was a contrived and disingenuous policy in which Democrats never seriously believed, a convenient two-by-four with which to bash George Bush over Iraq — while still appearing warlike enough to fend off the soft-on-defense stereotype.

Brilliantly crafted and perfectly cynical, the “Iraq War bad, Afghan War good” posture worked. Democrats first won Congress, then the White House. But now, unfortunately, they must govern. No more games. No more pretense.

So what does their commander in chief do now with the war he once declared had to be won but had been almost criminally under-resourced by Bush?

Perhaps provide the resources to win it?

You would think so. And that’s exactly what Obama’s handpicked commander requested on Aug. 30 — a surge of 30,000 to 40,000 troops to stabilize a downward spiral and save Afghanistan the way a similar surge saved Iraq.

That was more than five weeks ago. Still no response. Obama agonizes publicly as the world watches. Why? Because, explains national security adviser James Jones, you don’t commit troops before you decide on a strategy.

No strategy? On March 27, flanked by his secretaries of defense and state, the president said this: “Today I’m announcing a comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.” He then outlined a civilian-military counterinsurgency campaign to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.

And to emphasize his seriousness, the president made clear that he had not arrived casually at this decision. The new strategy, he declared, “marks the conclusion of a careful policy review.”
Read the rest on Page 2- Townhall.com

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It Looks Like GIs Are on Their Own

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , |

It Looks Like GIs Are on Their Own

By JENNIFER LOVEN

WASHINGTON — President Obama appears unlikely to accept his top Afghanistan commander’s recommendation for a surge of 40,000 troops, and is inclined to send only as many more forces as needed to keep al Qaeda at bay, a senior administration official said yesterday.The sharpened focus by Obama’s team on fighting al Qaeda above all other goals, while downgrading the emphasis on the Taliban, comes in the midst of an intensely debated administration review of the increasingly unpopular eight-year war.Though aides stress that the president’s final decision on any changes is still at least two weeks away, the emerging thinking suggests that he would be very unlikely to favor a large military increase of the kind being advocated by the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

McChrystal’s troop request is said to include a range of options, from adding as few as 10,000 combat troops to — the general’s strong preference — as many as 40,000.

Obama’s developing strategy on the Taliban will “not tolerate their return to power,” the senior official said in an interview with The Associated Press.

But the United States would fight only to keep the Taliban from retaking control of Afghanistan’s central government — something it is now far from being capable of — and from giving renewed sanctuary in Afghanistan to al Qaeda, the official said.

Obama has conferred nearly every day this week on the war, and was continuing that yesterday with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

On Wednesday, the eighth anniversary of the war launched by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Obama and more than a dozen officials in his war council met for three hours to focus on Afghanistan’s neighbor, Pakistan.

Read the rest of the story at New York Post

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Dem: House GOP is “80 percent male, 100 percent white”

Posted on October 7, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

By Glenn Thrush

The National Republican Congressional Committee is urging Gen. Stanley McChrystal to put House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “in her place” for weighing in on Afghanistan — prompting one female Pelosi ally to  blast the House GOP as “80 percent male,” “100 percent white” — and completely out of touch.

On Monday night, Pelosi told Charlie Rose “should go up the line of command” instead of publicly opining on strategy — prompting a swift, sneering reaction from the GOP committee.

Mocking the first female speaker as “General Pelosi,” an NRCC spokesman wrote, “If Nancy Pelosi’s failed economic policies are any indicator of the effect she may have on Afghanistan, taxpayers can only hope McChrystal is able to put her in her place.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who is close to Pelosi, could barely contain her anger.

“I think the place for a woman is at the top of the House of Representatives,” said Wasserman Schultz.

“It’s evidence they long for the days when a woman’s place was in the kitchen. Now a woman is third in line for the presidency… But it’s not surprising, coming from a party that’s 80 percent male and 100 percent white,” she added, referring to the composition of the House GOP conference.

NRCC Spokesman Ken Spain was unrepentant, telling POLITICO that Pelosi is “playing out of her league,” and questioned the reluctance of Democrats to call for McChrystal to testify in a hearing on the war.

Spain: “Spare us the lectures and mock-outrage. The Speaker of the House is taking on a highly decorated general who has outlined a strategy in Afghanistan that she once claimed to advocate… [S]he’s playing out of her league and she knows it.”

Read more Politico.com

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Dems Gang Up on McChrystal

Posted on October 6, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , |

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: With members of Congress set to huddle at the White House this afternoon to discuss Afghanistan strategy with President Obama, leading Democrats are ratcheting up criticism of Gen. Stanley McChrystal for publicly discussing his recommendations to the president as part of the strategic review.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last night told Charlie Rose that McChrystal should be making his arguments only in private.

“Let me say this about Gen. McChrystal, with all due respect: His recommendations to the president should go up the line of command. They shouldn’t be in press conferences,” said Pelosi, D-Calif.

Pelosi also had praise for Vice President Joe Biden’s view — that al Qaeda should be dealt with in Afghanistan through the use of more drone strikes and special forces, not additional troops.

“Let me say this: The vice president’s views are ones that widely shared,” Pelosi said.

This morning, Sen. Jim Webb, a former Navy secretary and a veteran, said it was “pretty odd” that McChrystal gave an interview to “60 Minutes” and spoke to a London think-tank about his recommendations, even as President Obama deliberates on the best way forward.

“At a time when people were meeting in the White House discussing Afghanistan, he was giving a speech in London,” Webb, D-Va., told MSNBC. “I thought that was pretty odd.”

At a forum last night, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates said decisions regarding troop strength should not be made as part of a public debate.

But Gates said his comments were “absolutely not” aimed at McChrystal, and he voiced his support for the general’s leadership in Afghanistan.

McChrystal’s grave assessment of the situation in Iraq was leaked to The Washington Post last month. The Obama administration has resisted calls from members of Congress to have McChrystal testify in front of Congress on his recommendations before the president makes up his mind.

visit ABCNews BLOG

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A war of necessity turns out not so necessary

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: military | Tags: , , , , |

by Michael Barone

“This is not a war of choice,” Barack Obama told the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Aug. 17. “This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people.”

But that was nearly seven weeks ago. Now it appears that Obama is about to ignore the advice of Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, whom he installed as commander in Afghanistan in May, after relieving his predecessor ahead of schedule. McChrystal, who came up as a Special Forces officer, is an expert in counterinsurgency. Not surprisingly, in his Aug. 30 report to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, he recommended a course that seems certain to require a substantial number of additional troops.

During the first three weeks of September, Obama held one meeting on the “war of necessity.” Then on Sept. 20, Obama appeared on five talk shows to push his health plan. The next day, Bob Woodward published a story in The Washington Post based on a copy of McChrystal’s report, which the newspaper later posted in redacted form. Woodward made it clear that McChrystal would request more troops. When questioners pressed him about the war, he said he was rethinking his Afghanistan strategy.

Snow Report

via A war of necessity turns out not so necessary | Washington Examiner .

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Afghan battle probe a reminder of war’s challenges

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

As President Barack Obama grapples with the way ahead in Afghanistan, a decision to launch a new investigation into a deadly firefight is a painful reminder of the challenges the U.S. faces in a country known as the graveyard of empires.

Fought in the small village of Wanat near the Pakistan border, the battle claimed the lives of nine American soldiers and wounded 27 others after their platoon-sized unit was attacked by as many as 200 insurgents during the early hours of July 13, 2008. Accounts of the battle indicate senior commanders may have made serious mistakes, leaving the soldiers short-handed and without critical support needed to blunt such an intense raid.

On Saturday, just days after Army Gen. David Petraeus ordered the inquiry, U.S. forces in Afghanistan endured a stark echo of that tragedy: eight U.S. soldiers were killed when several hundred militant fighters struck two American outposts in the same rugged region in northeastern Afghanistan where the earlier assault occurred.

The emerging story of the 2008 battle along with Saturday’s attack adds new weight to calls by Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top officer in Afghanistan, for thousands more American forces to deal with the dicey political, cultural and geographical conditions there.

McChrystal has warned that the Taliban-led insurgency is becoming more potent and that the U.S. is in danger of losing the war unless more troops are sent to turn the tide against a formidable opponent.

But the president’s top national security adviser is downplaying those concerns. Gen. James Jones, a retired Marine Corps general, said Sunday in television interviews that Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling to the Taliban and that al-Qaida’s presence in the country is “very diminished.”

Read more By RICHARD LARDNER on Townhall.com

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Obama’s Adviser: Afghanistan Not In Imminent Danger of Falling to Taliban

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , |

Retired Gen. James Jones made the comments on the same day eight U.S. soldiers were killed near the Pakistan border and as many as seven Afghan forces in one of the fiercest battles of the eight-year war.

Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling to the Taliban, President Obama’s national security adviser said Sunday as he downplayed worries that the insurgency could set up a renewed sanctuary for Al Qaeda.

Retired Gen. James Jones made the comments after eight U.S. soldiers were killed near the Pakistan border and as many as seven Afghan forces in one of the fiercest battles of the eight-year war. On Saturday morning, several hundred militant fighters streamed from an Afghan village and a mosque and attacked a pair of remote outposts. 

Jones said the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai must improve and give hope to the people of Afghanistan. He added that he believes the government has a chance to succeed, with the aid of a strong effort by the U.S. to train the Afghan army and police.

“I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban. Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling,” Jones said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“The Al Qaeda presence is very diminished,” he said. “The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies.”

Jones’ view differs from that of the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal has called for an infusion of thousands more U.S. troops, saying that insurgents are gaining strength in Afghanistan and that the U.S. is in danger of failing if more forces are not sent to the fight.

Senators appearing on “FOX News Sunday” were divided on whether to send more troops.

Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., said he would support a troop increase if it leads to a strong central government and competence Afghan police force.

“But there’s a real question, given the lack of history in that country of a strong central government — it’s riddled by corruption and incompetence today — about whether that ultimate goal is achievable or not,” he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. said no troop increase would guarantee more violence and instability.

“The one thing I can tell you, if we don’t add more troops, you’re going to see more of what happened yesterday,” he said, referring to the battle that left eight U.S. soldiers dead. “The security situation’s going to get worse. And any hope of better governance is lost, and the Taliban will re-emerge.”

From Fox New.com

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Al Qaeda’s Diminished Role Stirs Afghan Troop Debate

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: military | Tags: , , , , |

By MATTHEW ROSENBERG in Islamabad and SIOBHAN GORMAN in Washington

Since first invading Afghanistan nearly a decade ago, America set one primary goal: Eliminate al Qaeda’s safe haven.

Today, intelligence and military officials say they’ve severely constrained al Qaeda’s ability to operate there and in Pakistan — and that’s reshaping the debate over U.S. strategy in the region.

Hunted by U.S. drones, beset by money problems and finding it tougher to lure young Arabs to the bleak mountains of Pakistan, al Qaeda is seeing its role shrink there and in Afghanistan, according to intelligence reports and Pakistani and U.S. officials. Conversations intercepted by the U.S. show al Qaeda fighters complaining of shortages of weapons, clothing and, in some cases, food. The number of foreign fighters in Afghanistan appears to be declining, U.S. military officials say.

For Arab youths who are al Qaeda’s primary recruits, “it’s not romantic to be cold and hungry and hiding,” said a senior U.S. official in South Asia.

In Washington, the question of Al Qaeda’s strength is at the heart of the debate over whether to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan. On Saturday, eight American troops and two Afghan soldiers were killed fighting Taliban forces — one of the worst single-day battlefield losses for U.S. forces since the war began.

Opponents of sending more troops prefer a narrower campaign consisting of missile strikes and covert action inside Pakistan, rather than a broader war against the Taliban, the radical Islamist movement that ruled Afghanistan for years and provided a haven to al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden. Their reasoning: The larger threat to America remains al Qaeda, not the Taliban; so, best not to get embroiled in a local war that history suggests may be unwinnable.

Military commanders pressing for extra troops counter that sending more forces could help translate the gains against al Qaeda into a political settlement with less ideologically committed elements of the Taliban. And, they argue, that would improve the odds of stabilizing Afghanistan for the long run.

A key point of contention in President Barack Obama’s review of war strategy is the ability of al Qaeda to reconstitute in Afghanistan. Some officials, including aides to Richard Holbrooke, the U.S.’s special representative to the region, have argued that the Taliban wouldn’t allow al Qaeda to regain its footing inside Afghanistan, since it was the alliance between the two that cost the Taliban their control of the country after Sept. 11.

More in The Wall Street JOurnal

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The deadly siege at Kamdeysh

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Michelle Malkin

This Sunday, keep these troops — and all our men and women serving in uniform — in your thoughts and prayers (via the Washington Post):

Firing rockets and rifles, Taliban militiamen attacked American and Afghan military outposts in a daylong siege on Saturday that killed eight U.S. soldiers and two Afghan security forces in one of the deadliest battles in months, according to U.S. and Afghan officials.

The fighting began early Saturday morning and raged throughout the day in a remote region of eastern Afghanistan in Nurestan province, which borders Pakistan. Staging their attack from steep mountainsides that overlook the outposts in the valley below, on a morning when weather made visibility poor, the Taliban fighters attacked the small American and Afghan bases using rifles, machine guns, grenades and rockets, according to U.S. military officials.

By Sunday morning, when the U.S. military made the attack public in a statement, the area was “largely secure but I do think there is still some activity,” said Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, a U.S. military spokeswoman.

In addition to the eight soldiers killed, several others were injured, Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, but he did not specify the number. The American soldiers called in ground reinforcements, along with attack helicopter, airplanes and surveillance drones during the fighting. U.S. forces eventually repelled the attack while inflicting “a significant amount of casualties” on insurgents, Smith said.

Due to the “very challenging terrain,” the insurgents had “pretty effective firing positions,” Smith said. “It was obviously a very, very difficult day.”

…The U.S. military said it was not immediately clear how many insurgents were involved in the fighting. The attack involved Taliban fighters and appeared to be led by a local commander of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin insurgent group, which is run by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former mujaheddin leader during the Soviet war in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

The attack took place in a sparsely populated area of forested mountains near the town of Kamdeysh. The deputy police chief of Nurestan province, Mohammad Farouq, said the insurgents intended to seize control of the Kamdeysh area and that hundreds took part in the fighting. He said more than 20 Afghan soldiers and police have gone missing since the fighting began and may have been taken hostage.

***

Thanks to all of you who gave generously to Lt. Daniel Cnossen’s support fund last week. Lt. Cnossen lost both legs while on a mission in Kandahar and is recovering at NNMC Bethesda — where he recently received both the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for Valor. I heard from LT Brian Ray, his best friend and website administrator, who e-mailed that “directly through your link we were able to raise enough money to move Dan’s mom and sister into an apartment to be near him during his recovery.”

A reminder that you can contribute right here. Michele Malkin

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The Biden Plan

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: military | Tags: , , , , , |

The Biden Plan

NYT:

WASHINGTON — President Obama is exploring alternatives to a major troop increase in Afghanistan, including a plan advocated by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to scale back American forces and focus more on rooting out Al Qaeda there and in Pakistan, officials said Tuesday

Among the alternatives being presented to Mr. Obama is Mr. Biden’s suggestion to revamp the strategy altogether. Instead of increasing troops, officials said, Mr. Biden proposed scaling back the overall American military presence. Rather than trying to protect the Afghan population from the Taliban, American forces would concentrate on strikes against Qaeda cells, primarily in Pakistan, using special forces, Predator missile attacks and other surgical tactics.

The Americans would accelerate training of Afghan forces and provide support as they took the lead against the Taliban. But the emphasis would shift to Pakistan. Mr. Biden has often said that the United States spends something like $30 in Afghanistan for every $1 in Pakistan, even though in his view the main threat to American national security interests is in Pakistan.

Mr. Obama rejected Mr. Biden’s approach in March, and it is not clear that it has more traction this time. But the fact that it is on the table again speaks to the breadth of the administration’s review and the evolving views inside the White House of what has worked in the region and what has not. In recent days, officials have expressed satisfaction with the results of their cooperation with Pakistan in hunting down Qaeda figures in the unforgiving border lands.

A shift from a counterinsurgency strategy to a focus on counterterrorism would turn the administration’s current theory on its head. The strategy Mr. Obama adopted in March concluded that to defeat Al Qaeda, the United States needed to keep the Taliban from returning to power in Afghanistan and making it a haven once again for Osama bin Laden’s network. Mr. Biden’s position questions that assumption.

Mrs. Clinton, who opposed Mr. Biden in March, appeared to refer to this debate in an interview on Monday night on PBS. “Some people say, ‘Well, Al Qaeda’s no longer in Afghanistan,’ ” she said. “If Afghanistan were taken over by the Taliban, I can’t tell you how fast Al Qaeda would be back in Afghanistan.”

Read the rest @www.JulesCrittenden.com  Forward Movement-

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Obama Can’t Outsource Afghanistan

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

By KARL ROVE

So our top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he has spoken with President Barack Obama only once since June.

This is a troubling revelation. Right now, our commander in chief is preparing to make one of the most important decisions of his presidency—whether to commit additional troops to win the war in Afghanistan. Being detached or incurious about what our commanders are experiencing makes it hard to craft a winning strategy.

Mr. Obama’s predecessor faced a similar situation: a war that was grinding on, pressure to withdraw troops, and conflicting advice—including from some who saw the war as unwinnable. But George W. Bush talked to generals on the ground every week or two, which gave him a window into what was happening and insights into how his commanders thought. That helped him judge their recommendations on strategy.

Mr. Obama’s hands-off approach to the war seems to fit his governing style. Over the past year, he outsourced writing the stimulus package to House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, washed his hands of Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to reinvestigate CIA interrogators, and hasn’t offered a detailed health-care plan.

Mr. Obama’s aloofness on the war will be a problem if the recent airing of Joe Biden’s views on Afghanistan is a tipoff that Mr. Obama will rely on his vice president’s guidance. According to reports in the New York Times and other publications, Mr. Biden supports reducing troop levels in favor of surgical attacks—mostly launched from offshore—and missile strikes against al Qaeda, especially in Pakistan.

Such an approach would almost certainly lose the war. Actionable intelligence—key to defeating an insurgency—would dry up. Tribal chieftains would cut deals with the Taliban and al Qaeda. The Afghan government would probably collapse, and the Afghan people would have little choice but to swing their support to the Taliban. Pakistan would likely come to see us as a fair-weather friend and increasingly resist U.S. attacks against al Qaeda on its soil. American credibility would be shattered. And militant Islamists would gain a victory.

Read more in The Wall Street Journal

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Afghan Attack Kills Eight U.S. Soldiers

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , |

By ANAND GOPAL

KABUL — Eight American troops and two Afghan soldiers were killed during a firefight in a remote part of Afghanistan Saturday, one of the worst single-day battlefield losses for U.S. forces since the war began. The deaths come at a time the U.S. is studying the possibility of closing remote outposts and shifting troops to more populated areas.

A tribal militia attacked two U.S. outposts in the northeastern province of Nuristan early Saturday, resulting in a prolonged firefight, a U.S. military spokeswoman said. The militia launched its attack from a mosque and a village near the Afghan-Pakistani border, said Muhammad Farouq, the provincial security chief. U.S. military officials declined to release further details of the incident until an investigation was completed. The Associated Press reported that as many as seven Afghan troops died in the attack.

“This was a complex attack in a difficult area. Both the U.S. and Afghan soldiers fought bravely together,” Col. Randy George, a commander of forces in the region, said in a statement.

It is unclear if the tribal militia has a relationship with the insurgents. However, insurgents in the area enjoy the support of locals, Afghan government and U.S. military officials said. “It’s very hard to separate the population from the insurgency there,” said Lt. Ryan Keogh, who previously was stationed in an area near the region where the firefight took place. “The population backs the insurgents and often act in conjunction with them.”

The U.S. is considering closing small, remote outposts such as those that were attacked Saturday. The shift is part of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s proposed strategy to place forces near population centers and away from isolated areas. “There’s no strategic value to having outposts in places where there aren’t a lot of Afghans,” one U.S. military official based in northeastern Afghanistan said.

Nuristan, a rugged, mountainous province that borders Pakistan, has been the scene of similar attacks. In July 2008, a group of 200 insurgents overran an isolated U.S. combat outpost, killing nine soldiers and wounding 27 in what remains the single biggest U.S. battlefield loss in the war. American forces subsequently withdrew from the area and it has now been overtaken by insurgents, according to local residents.

Read more in The Wall Street Journal

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Chasing Olympic Gold

Posted on October 3, 2009. Filed under: military | Tags: , , , , , |

Chasing Olympic Gold

By Oliver North

WASHINGTON — At the conclusion of the 1939 movie “Gone With the Wind,” Vivien Leigh, playing Scarlett O’Hara, defers decision on what to do about the major crisis in her life with this sentence: “After all, tomorrow is another day.” Unfortunately, the Obama White House seems to have adopted Scarlett’s decision-making process for the war in Afghanistan. Note to the O-Team: Kabul isn’t Tara — and Americans are dying while the commander in chief dithers.

On Wednesday, Sept. 30, a full month after Gen. Stanley McChrystal submitted his “assessment” of the situation in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama convened a three-hour meeting of his “national security team” in the White House Situation Room to “discuss next moves.” According to information subsequently provided by the White House press office, Gen. McChrystal “participated in the meeting” via an encrypted video link, and no decisions were made.

Less than 24 hours later, the commander in chief boarded Air Force One and headed — not to meet with his commander on the field of battle — to Copenhagen to meet with the International Olympic Committee.
His mission: persuade the IOC to select Chicago as the site for the 2016 Summer Games. Apparently, winning Olympic gold for Chicago is more important than winning a war.

Read More From Oliver North on Real Clear Politics

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43 Troops Have Died Since McChrystal Asked Obama for Reinforcements

Posted on October 1, 2009. Filed under: military | Tags: , , , , |

43 Troops Have Died Since McChrystal Asked Obama for Reinforcements

Another American died in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the final day of September–and exactly one month after the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan sent a confidential war assessment to the Obama administration, warning that more forces are needed–soon.
 
The as-yet-unnamed American serviceman who died on Wednesday was caught in a suicide attack in Khost Province, in eastern Afghanistan, press reports said.
 
On August 30, Gen. Stanley McChrystal sent Defense Secretary Robert Gates a war assessment in which he said more U.S. troops–and a new U.S. strategy–are needed if the U.S. is to defeat the insurgents in Afghanistan.

More @ FoxNation.com

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