It’s not NATO’s fight

And there’s no fight in NATO

You hear about leaked diplomatic memos, resigned assessments by British field commanders and complaints by pundits—but it is when you read reports like this one, about German commandos twiddling their thumbs for three years (yes, three years) sitting in their camps, that you know why the Taliban are getting so powerful. (linkthanks Pragmatic)

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the foreign minister, admitted they had not been deployed “a single time” in the last three years, despite a desperate shortage of Special Forces units in the country.

Last year it emerged that Norwegian troops, fighting alongside their German allies, were forced to abandon a battle at tea-time because German pilots refused to fly emergency medical helicopters in the dark. [The Scotsman]

NATO’s military presence in Afghanistan is hobbled by a spaghetti bowl of “caveats” placing various types of restrictions on the where troops from individual countries can be deployed and their rules of engagement. For an organisation whose purpose was to standardise equipment and procedures and ensure interoperability,this state of affairs is as ironic as it is shameful.

Perhaps they should just pack up and leave.

6 thoughts on “It’s not NATO’s fight”

  1. The Germans have lost 30 troops in three years despite not fighting. But last week Berlin agreed a re-inforcement. The best you can say is that at least they ‘hold’ part of the country allowing those doing the fighting to concentrate elsewhere. I spoke to NATO’s commander yesterday, he wants to curb the caveats and get some more money from non fighting nations.


  2. Tim,

    Is there any information on how 30 died without actually fighting?

    I do not imply that the NATO troops aren’t doing anything. They probably are. Just that the troop levels, rules of engagement & political commitment are way inconsistent with the requirements of fighting an insurgency. Even holding territory may require more troops and fewer caveats in the days to come, if not already.

  3. @Tim/ Nitin:

    To look it at the NATO’s mission in Afghanistan in terms of either money or soldiers from its members is fallacious. It has to be money and the military machine with the soldiers for each one of them. A rather simplistic explanation would paint the real big military contributors as mercenaries. Why not seek some big military contractors like BW or TC or Dyncorp instead of the British or French soldiers then?

    Afghanistan ought to be as important to Europe as it is to the US. For one 9-11, there have been multiple attacks in Europe — London, Madrid et al. Somehow the political leadership in many European nations is smug in their belief that the US will not abandon its fight in Afghanistan. If the economic crisis worsens and Pakistan nearly implodes (and it certainly can) forcing a US sidestep in the region, the incendiary flotsams of jehadi terrorism will hit the mainland Europe before they hit the US.

  4. 30 soldiers killed in 7 years!! Some fighting – even UN peacekeepers die in larger numbers!! One wonders which bunkers Germans are hiding in…

    “Afghanistan ought to be as important to Europe as it is to the US. ”

    Pragmatic, those days have long passed. Europe doesn’t care about Afghan – not UK, not Germany.

    We already heard about UK generals speaking of cut-and-run.

    Here is what’s going in Germany with regards to keeping troops in Afghanistan. It’s extremely unpopular in Germany…

    The second trans-Atlantic alienation factor is Afghanistan. To put the dilemma briefly: Pressure from the U.S. and NATO to bring about a decisive outcome in the battle against the Taliban through more troops and greater military engagement is increasing, while the willingness of Germans to get involved there at all is steadily decreasing. Matters won’t be helped by yesterday’s suicide bombing in northern Afghanistan, which reportedly killed two German soldiers and wounded two others. It is true that the deployment of up to 4,500 Bundeswehr soldiers was just extended by the Bundestag. But the extension was for 14 months instead of the usual 12 months so that the issue would not come up in the heat of the campaign and possibly even decide the election. The government fell back on a trick out of fear of the voters.

    As a concession to the popular mood, elite German soldiers will no longer take part in the antiterror mission “Operation Enduring Freedom.” Germany wants to make peace without weapons, even as it’s become more dangerous for U.S. troops in Afghanistan than in Iraq. The same cry once heard about Iraq is now being raised ever more loudly about Afghanistan, from Flensburg to Lake Constance: Get out, that’s America’s war!

  5. Perhaps they should just pack up and leave.

    Now, that would be a good idea. May be the ‘alliance’ is busy thinking up other adventures, such as propping up puppets to prove a point to the Russians. And where are the good barbarians (our SOBs), the Uzbeks and other such friendly groups? God, how messed up is this whole thing? All in the name of freedom and liberation…who cares anyway?

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