Topic: War on Terror
Now, I've heard that ISAF along with their Afghan partners in the Afghan National Army were able to completely rout the Taliban in Kandahar province and kill 500 of them, while at the same time only killing 17 civilians, but there's an article in the Inquirer today that makes me somewhat skeptical about all this happy news.
The Inquirer quotes Army Capt. Robert Stanton, who works with ANA units who says of them, "The ANA has no concept that it's their country and their job to defend it. Some units are good. But most are crap."
"There's not a whole lot we can do about it," says Sgt. Clay Groves, after finding out that Aghan troops were caught by his men smoking hashish at an observation post. "Just stand behind them when they shoot. Or stand where they're aiming - it's probably the safest spot," he said. At least they weren't shooting heroin. (They only grow it and sell it, they don't use it.)
So, this is the great force we're training in Afghanistan to stand up so we can stand down? These guys took a break from selling all thier equipment and gasoline to somehow kill 500 Taliban? Yeah, right.
Meanwhile, Hamid Karzai is blaming Pakistan for all his troubles again. At the UN yessterday he said, "terrorism does not emanate from within Afghanistan," but it's Aghanistan's "worst enemy." "We must destroy terrorist sanctuaries beyond Afghanistan, dismantle the elaborate networks in the region. We must ensure that political currents and entities in the region are not allowed to use extremism as an instrument of policy."
Hmmm... I wonder who he could be talking about? I wonder too if this has anything to do with Musharraf making a deal with al-Qaeda in North Waziristan?
In an interview in the NYT yesterday, John Abizaid said he didn't view the Taliban as a threat to Karzai's government, but he said he'd hoped at this point we'd be doing more building and less fighting. They're always very hopeful at the Pentagon.
On the subject of Musharraf's deal he said: "I’m very, very skeptical about this notion that people who have been harbored in the tribal areas are no longer going to be harbored. I’ll believe that when I see it." On the other hand, though, Gen. James L. Jones Jr., testified in Congress today "that the border with Pakistan ''should be a lot quieter'' if Taliban-linked militants observe a truce with Pakistan in which they agreed to stop crossing into Afghanistan to launch ambushes.'" [AP] Sucker!
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has announced that -- even though there is no serious problem in the south -- US troop levels would remain the same until at least February. Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry told reporters today that "Our expectation is that our troop levels in Afghanistan will remain about steady through the point." The numbers they're talking about are 20,000, but the AP reported back in May that levels went from 20,000 to 23,000.
But, what's a few thousand troops here or there between friends. We sure could use them in Baghdad, though. AP reports:
"Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. forces throughout the Middle East, told reporters Tuesday that the military probably would maintain - and possibly even increase - force levels of more than 140,000 troops in Iraq through next spring. The current total is 145,000, up about 20,000 since June."
Sound familiar? He'd better hope they can draw troops out of Baghdad by then, because the Taliban will be coming out of their mountain hideouts for another go at ISAF about then.