The US and its NATO allies are planning an unprecedented increase of troops for the war in Afghanistan, even in addition to the 17,000 new US and several thousand NATO forces that have been committed to the war so far this year.
US and NATO commander Stanley McChrystal and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen have demanded of the White House, extra forces ranging from 10,000 to 60,000.
America’s obedient media is preparing domestic US audiences for the possibility of the largest escalation of foreign armed forces in Afghanistan’s history.
Only seven years ago, the US had 5,000 troops in the country, but was scheduled to have 68,000 by December even before reports of new deployments surfaced.
An additional 60,000 troops would bring the US total to 128,000.
There are also 35,000 troops from some 50 other nations serving under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the nation, which would raise combined troop strength under McChrystal’s command to 163,000 if the larger number of demanded increases materialises.
This would represent the largest foreign military presence ever in Afghanistan.
Two weeks ago the Dutch media reported that during a visit to the Netherlands ‘General Stanley McChrystal (said) he is considering the possibility of merging … Operation Enduring Freedom with NATO’s ISAF force.’
That is, not only would he continue to command all US and NATO troops, but the two commands would be melded into one.
The call for up to 60,000 more American troops was first floated in mid-September by US armed forces chief Michael Mullen.
A Pentagon spokesman said on September 19 that ‘General Stanley McChrystal completed the document this week, setting out exactly how many US and NATO troops, Afghan security force members and civilians he thinks he needs.’
The Pentagon spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Tadd Sholtis, said, ‘We’re working with Washington as well as the other NATO participants about how it’s best to submit this,’ refusing to divulge any details.
Two days later the Washington Post published a 66-page ‘redacted’ version of General McChrystal’s Commander’s Initial Assessment which began with this background information:
‘On 26 June, 2009, the United States Secretary of Defense directed Commander, United States Central Command (CDRUSCENTCOM), to provide a multidisciplinary assessment of the situation in Afghanistan.
‘On 02 July, 2009, Commander, NATO International Security Assistance Force (COMISAF)/US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A), received direction from CDRUSCENTCOM to complete the overall review.
‘On 01 July, 2009, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and NATO Secretary General also issued a similar directive.
‘COMISAF (Commander, NATO International Security Assistance Force) subsequently issued an order to the ISAF staff and component commands to conduct a comprehensive review to assess the overall situation, review plans and ongoing efforts, and identify revisions to operational, tactical and strategic guidance.’
The main focus of the report – not surprising given McChrystal’s previous role as head of the Joint Special Operations Command, the Pentagon’s pre-eminent special operations unit, in Iraq – is concentrated and intensified counter-insurgency war.
It includes the demand that ‘NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) requires a new strategy … ‘We must conduct classic counter-insurgency operations in an environment that is uniquely complex … Success demands a comprehensive counter-insurgency (COIN) campaign.’
McChrystal’s evaluation also indicates that the war will not only escalate within Afghanistan but will also be stepped up inside Pakistan and may even target Iran.
‘Afghanistan’s insurgency is clearly supported from Pakistan.
‘Senior leaders of the major Afghan insurgent groups are based in Pakistan, are linked with al Qaeda and other violent extremist groups, and are reportedly aided by some elements of Pakistan’s ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence).
‘Iranian Qods Force (part of the nation’s army) is reportedly training fighters for certain Taleban groups and providing other forms of military assistance to insurgents.
‘Iran’s current policies and actions do not pose a short-term threat to the mission, but Iran has the capability to threaten the mission in the future.’
McChrystal’s claim that Iran is ‘training fighters for certain Taleban groups’ is a provocative fabrication.
Throughout the 1980s, the CIA official in large part tasked to assist the Mujahideen fighting the Soviet-backed government of Afghanistan from 1978-1992 with funds, arms and training was Robert Gates, now US Secretary of Defence.
Pentagon chief Gates’ 27 years in the CIA, including his tenure as director of the agency from 1991-1993, is being brought to bear on the current Afghan war.
Earlier this month reports appeared that the CIA is ‘deploying teams of spies, analysts and paramilitary operatives to Afghanistan’, part of a broad intelligence ‘surge’ that will make its station there among the largest in the agency’s history, according to US officials say.
One U.S. official said the agency already has nearly 700 employees in Afghanistan.
The CIA is also carrying out an escalating campaign of unmanned Predator missile strikes on alleged Al Qaeda and insurgent strongholds in Pakistan.
The number of strikes so far this year, 37, already exceeds the 2008 total, according to data compiled by the Long War Journal website, which tracks Predator strikes in Pakistan.
The dramatic upsurge in CIA deployments in South Asia won’t be limited to Afghanistan. Neighbouring Pakistan will be further overrun by US intelligence operatives also.
On September 12 a petition was filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan contesting the announced expansion of the US embassy in the nation’s capital.
The challenge was organised by Barrister Zafarullah Khan, who said that Saudi Arabia was also trying to get 700,000 acres (283,400 hectares) of land in the country.
Intelligence personnel and special forces are being matched by military equipment in the intensification of the West’s war in South Asia.
A US armed forces publication reported in the middle of September that ‘US hardware is moving out of Iraq by the ton, much of it going straight to the overstretched forces in increasingly volatile Afghanistan’
It added that ‘The US military has already started moving an estimated 1.5 million pieces of equipment – everything from batteries to tanks – by ground, rail and air either to Afghanistan for immediate use …’
Also in the middle of September ‘US military leaders infused Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s ideas of how to win the war in Afghanistan’ by conducting a large-scale counter-insurgency exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany.
‘Dozens of Pashtun speakers joined more than 6,500 U.S. troops and civilians in an exercise for the Afghanistan-bound 173rd Airborne Brigade and Iraq-bound 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. It was the largest such exercise ever held by the U.S. military outside of the United States …’
Meanwhile, Russian ambassador to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, has expressed concerns that ‘Now we have Taleban fighting in the peaceful Kunduz and Baghlan (provinces) with your (NATO’s) 100,000 troops. And if this trend is the rule, if you bring 200,000 soldiers here, all of Afghanistan will be under the Taleban.’
He added that ‘the US and its allies are competing with Russia for influence in the energy-rich region … Afghanistan remains a strategic prize because of its location near the gas and oil fields of Iran, the Caspian Sea, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.’
He also said that ‘Russia has questions about NATO’s intentions in Afghanistan, which … lies outside of the alliance’s “political domain” ’ and ‘Moscow is concerned that NATO is building permanent bases in the region.’
This month’s latest four-yearly report by the Pentagon on security threats ‘put emerging superpower China and former Cold War foe Russia alongside Iran and North Korea on a list of the four main nations challenging American interests.’
At the same time a US military newspaper reported on statements by Pentagon chief Robert Gates: ‘Gates said the roughly $6.5 billion he has proposed to upgrade the (Air Force) fleet assures US domination of the skies for decades.
‘By the time China produces its first, 5th generation, fighter, he said, the US will have more than 1,000 F-22s and F-35s. And while the US conducted 35,000 refueling missions last year, Russia performed about 30.
‘The secretary also highlighted new efforts to support robust space and cyber commands, as well as the new Global Strike Command that oversees the nuclear arsenal.’