Monday, January 08, 2007

Still Screwing up the War on Terror

KABUL, Afghanistan // Radical Islamist Taliban forces, shattered and ejected from Afghanistan by the U.S. military five years ago, are poised for a major offensive against U.S. troops and undermanned NATO forces, prompting American commanders here to issue an urgent appeal for a new Marine Corps battalion to reinforce the American positions.
And how does President Bush plan to deal with the detiorating situation in Afghanistan?

As a last-ditch effort, President Bush is expected to announce this week the dispatch of thousands of additional troops to Iraq as a stopgap measure, an order that Pentagon officials say would strain the Army and Marine Corps as they struggle to man both wars.

Already, a U.S. Army infantry battalion fighting in a critical area of eastern Afghanistan is due to be withdrawn within weeks in order to deploy to Iraq.

According to Army Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata and other senior U.S. commanders here, that will happen just as the Taliban is expected to unleash a major campaign to cut the vital road between Kabul and Kandahar. The official said the Taliban intend to seize Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city and the place where the group was organized in the 1990s.
"This could be a pivotal year" for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, said in an interview after a recent series of briefings here.

Conway said U.S. commanders understand that the Afghan war is an "economy of force" operation, a military term for a mission that is given minimal resources because it is a secondary priority, in this case behind Iraq.

Nevertheless, Conway said, he favored dispatching a Marine battalion here, a decision that must be approved by the new defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, and by the president.

Emphasis added. Hat tip to Mike at Born at the Crest of the Empire


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