Afghanistan round-up

Ken Dilanian & David S. Cloud, “Intelligence study glum on Afghan war, at odds with DOD portrayal,” Stars & Stripes, 12 January 2012:

The U.S. intelligence community says in a secret new assessment that the war in Afghanistan is mired in stalemate, and warns that security gains from an increase in American troops have been undercut by pervasive corruption, incompetent governance and Taliban fighters operating from neighboring Pakistan, according to U.S. officials.

The sobering judgments, laid out in a classified National Intelligence Estimate completed last month and delivered to the White House, appeared at odds with recent optimistic statements by Pentagon officials and have deepened divisions between U.S. intelligence agencies and American military commanders about progress in the decade-old war.

Matthew Rosenberg, “Afghanistan’s Soldiers Step Up Killings of Allied Forces,” New York Times, 20 January 2012:

American and other coalition forces here are being killed in increasing numbers by the very Afghan soldiers they fight alongside and train, in attacks motivated by deep-seated animosity between the supposedly allied forces, according to American and Afghan officers and a classified coalition report.

A decade into the war in Afghanistan, the report makes clear that these killings have become the most visible symptom of a far deeper ailment plaguing the war effort: the contempt each side holds for the other, never mind the Taliban. The ill will and mistrust run deep among civilians and militaries on both sides, raising questions about what future role the United States and its allies can expect to play in Afghanistan.

Elisabeth Bumiller, “Panetta Says U.S. to End Afghan Combat Role as Soon as 2013,” New York Times, 1 February 2012:

In a major milestone toward ending a decade of war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Wednesday that American forces would step back from a combat role there as early as mid-2013, more than a year before all American troops are scheduled to come home.

Mr. Panetta cast the decision as an orderly step in a withdrawal process long planned by the United States and its allies, but his comments were the first time that the United States had put a date on stepping back from its central role in the war. The defense secretary’s words reflected the Obama administration’s eagerness to bring to a close the second of two grinding ground wars it inherited from the Bush administration. …

The defense secretary offered the withdrawal of the United States from Iraq as a model. American troops there eventually pulled back to large bases and left the bulk of the fighting to the Iraqis.

At the same time, Mr. Panetta said the NATO discussions would also focus on a potential downsizing of Afghan security forces from 350,000 troops, largely because of the expense of maintaining such a large army. The United States and other NATO countries support those forces at a cost of around $6 billion a year, but financial crises in Europe are causing countries to balk at the bill.

Rob Taylor & Amie Ferris-Rotman, “Taliban ‘poised to retake Afghanistan’ after NATO pullout: report,” Globe and Mail, 1 February 2012:

The U.S. military said in a secret report the Taliban, backed by Pakistan, are set to retake control of Afghanistan after NATO-led forces withdraw from the country, raising the prospect of a major failure of western policy after a costly war.

Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, confirmed the existence of the document, reported by Britain’s Times newspaper and the BBC. But he said it was not a strategic study.

“The classified document in question is a compilation of Taliban detainee opinions,” he said. “It’s not an analysis, nor is it meant to be considered an analysis.”

Nevertheless, it could be interpreted as a damning assessment of the war, now dragging into its eleventh year and aimed at blocking a Taliban return to power.

DND Statistics List More than 2,000 Injured During Afghanistan Mission: 2009 Was the Bloodiest Year for Canadian Forces in that Country,” Defence Watch, Ottawa Citizen blog, 1 February 2012:

Defence department figures released Wednesday have put the final, official tally on the number of Canadian soldiers wounded during the 10-year Afghanistan combat mission at more than 2,000.

Twenty soldiers were wounded in action in 2011, the lowest number since Canada took over responsibility of Kandahar in 2005. A further 168 received what were classified as “non-battle injuries.”

That brings the total number of Canadian soldiers wounded in action from the start of the mission in April 2002 to the end this past December at 635, with another 1,412 having suffered non-battle injuries.

Four Canadian soldiers were killed in 2011, bringing the total to 158.

DND photo

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