U.S., NATO Poised For Most Massive War In Afghanistan’s History by Rick Rozoff

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by Rick Rozoff
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
September 24, 2009

Over the past week U.S. newspapers and television networks have been abuzz with
reports that Washington and its NATO allies are planning an unprecedented
increase of troops for the war in Afghanistan, even in addition to the 17,000
new American and several thousand NATO forces that have been committed to the
war so far this year.

The number, based on as yet unsubstantiated reports of what U.S. and NATO
commander Stanley McChrystal and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Michael Mullen have demanded of the White House, range from 10,000 to 45,000.

Fox News has cited figures as high as 45,000 more American soldiers and ABC News
as many as 40,000. On September 15 the Christian Science Monitor wrote of
“perhaps as many as 45,000.”

The similarity of the estimates indicate that a number has been agreed upon and
America’s obedient media is preparing domestic audiences for the possibility of
the largest escalation of foreign armed forces in Afghanistan’s history. Only
seven years ago the United States had 5,000 troops in the country, but was
scheduled to have 68,000 by December even before the reports of new deployments

An additional 45,000 troops would bring the U.S. total to 113,000. There are
also 35,000 troops from some 50 other nations serving under NATO’s International
Security Assistance Force in the nation, which would raise combined troop
strength under McChrystal’s command to 148,000 if the larger number of rumored
increases materializes.

As the former Soviet Union withdrew its soldiers from Afghanistan twenty years
ago the New York Times reported “At the height of the Soviet commitment,
according to Western intelligence estimates, there were 115,000 troops
deployed.” [1]

Nearly 150,000 U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan would represent the largest
foreign military presence ever in the land.

Rather than addressing this historic watershed, the American media is full of
innuendos and “privileged” speculation on who has leaked the information and
why, as to commercial news operations the tawdry world of Byzantine intrigues
among and between American politicians, generals and the Fourth Estate is of
more importance that the lengthiest and largest war in the world.

One that has been estimated by the chief of the British armed forces and other
leading Western officials to last decades and that has already been extended
into Pakistan, a nation with a population almost six times that of Afghanistan
and in possession of nuclear weapons.

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.” [2] That is, not
only would he continue to command all U.S. and NATO troops, but the two commands
would be melded into one.

The call for up to 45,000 more American troops was first adumbrated in
mid-September by U.S. armed forces chief Michael Mullen, with the Associated
Press stating “The top U.S. military officer says that winning in Afghanistan
will probably mean sending more troops.” [3]

Four days later, September 19, Reuters reported that “The commander of U.S. and
NATO forces in Afghanistan has drawn up a long-awaited and detailed request for
additional troops but has not yet sent it to Washington, a spokesman said on

“He said General Stanley McChrystal completed the document this week, setting
out exactly how many U.S. and NATO troops, Afghan security force members and
civilians he thinks he needs.” [4]

The Pentagon spokesman mentioned above, 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. [5]

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) / U.S. 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

The main focus of the report, not surprising given McChrystal’s previous role as
head of the Joint Special Operations Command, the Pentagon’s preeminent special
operations unit, in Iraq, is concentrated and intensified counterinsurgency war.

It includes the demand that “NATO’s International Security Assistance Force
(ISAF) requires a new strategy….This new strategy must also be properly
resourced and executed through an integrated civilian-military counterinsurgency
campaign….This is a different kind of fight. We must conduct classic
counterinsurgency operations in an environment that is uniquely
complex….Success demands a comprehensive counterinsurgency (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 Taliban 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

That the ISI has had links to armed extremists is no revelation. The Pentagon
and the CIA worked hand-in-glove with it from 1979 onward to subvert successive
governments in Afghanistan. That Iran is “training fighters for certain Taliban
groups” is a provocational fabrication.

As to who is responsible for the thirty-year disaster that is Afghanistan,
McChrystal’s assessment contains a sentence that may get past most readers. It
is this:

“The major insurgent groups in order of their threat to the mission are: the
Quetta Shura Taliban (05T), the Haqqani Network (HQN), and the Hezb-e Islami
Gulbuddin (HiG).”

The last-named is the guerrilla force of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the largest
recipient of hundreds of millions (perhaps billions) of U.S. dollars provided by
the CIA to the Peshawar Seven Mujahideen bloc fighting the Soviet-backed
government of Afghanistan from 1978-1992.

While hosting Hekmatyar and his allies at the White House in 1985 then President
Ronald Reagan referred to his guests as “the moral equivalents of America’s
founding fathers.”

Throughout the 1980s the CIA official in large part tasked to assist the
Mujahideen with funds, arms and training was Robert Gates, now U.S. Secretary of

Last December BBC News reported:

“In his book, From the Shadows, published in 1996, Mr Gates defended the role of
the CIA in undertaking covert action which, he argued, helped to win the Cold

“In a speech in 1999, Mr Gates said that its most important role was in

“‘CIA had important successes in covert action. Perhaps the most consequential
of all was Afghanistan where CIA, with its management, funnelled billions of
dollars in supplies and weapons to the mujahideen, and the resistance was thus
able to fight the vaunted Soviet army to a standoff and eventually force a
political decision to withdraw,’ he said.” [6]

Now according to McChrystal the same Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who was cultivated and
sponsored by McChrystal’s current boss, Gates, is in charge of one of the three
groups the Pentagon and NATO are waging ever-escalating counterinsurgency
operations in South Asia against.

To make matters even more intriguing, former British foreign secretary Robin
Cook – as loyal a pro-American Atlanticist as exists – conceded in the Guardian
on July 8, 2005 that “Bin Laden was…a product of a monumental miscalculation
by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and
funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of
Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally ‘the database’, was originally the computer
file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help
from the CIA to defeat the Russians.”

Russian analyst and vice president of the Center for Political Technologies
Sergey Mikheev was quoted in early September as contending that “Afghanistan is
a stage in the division of the world after the bipolar system failed. They [U.S.
and NATO] wanted to consolidate their grip on Eurasia…and deployed a lot of
troops there. The Taliban card was played, although nobody had been interested
in the Taliban before.” [7]

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 Afghan war according
to the Los Angeles Times of September 19, 2009, which revealed 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, U.S. officials say.

“When complete, the CIA’s presence in the country is expected to rival the size
of its massive stations in Iraq and Vietnam at the height of those wars. Precise
numbers are classified, but one U.S. official said the agency already has nearly
700 employees in Afghanistan.

“The intelligence expansion goes beyond the CIA to involve every major spy
service, officials said, including the National Security Agency, which
intercepts calls and e-mails, as well as the Defense Intelligence Agency, which
tracks military threats.”

U.S. and NATO Commander McChrystal will put the CIA to immediate use in his
plans for an all-out counterinsurgency campaign. The Los Angeles Times article

“McChrystal is expected to expand the use of teams that combine CIA operatives
with special operations soldiers. In Iraq, where he oversaw the special
operations forces from 2003 to 2008, McChrystal used such teams to speed up the
cycle of gathering intelligence and carrying out raids aimed at killing or
capturing insurgents.

“The CIA is also carrying out an escalating campaign of unmanned Predator
missile strikes on 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

Indeed, on September 13 it was reported that “Two NATO fighter jets reportedly
flew inside Pakistan’s airspace for nearly two hours on Saturday.

“The airspace violation took place in different parts of the Khyber Agency
bordering the Afghan border.” [8]

Two days later “NATO fighter jets in Afghanistan…violated Pakistani airspace
and dropped bombs on the country’s northwest region.

“NATO warplanes bombed the South Waziristan tribal region….Moreover, CIA
operated spy drone planes continued low-altitude flights in several towns of the
Waziristan region.” [9]

The dramatic upsurge in CIA deployments in South Asia won’t be limited to
Afghanistan. Neighboring Pakistan will be further overrun by U.S. intelligence
operatives also.

On September 12 a petition was filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan contesting
the announced expansion of the U.S. embassy in the nation’s capital.

“Pakistani media have been reporting that the United States plans to deploy a
large number of marines with the plan to expand its embassy in Islamabad.” [10]

The challenge was organized by Barrister Zafarullah Khan, who “said that Saudi
Arabia was also trying to get 700,000 acres (283,400 hectares) of land in the

He was quoted on the day of the presentation of the petition as warning “Giving
away Pakistani land to U.S. and Arab countries in this fashion is a threat for
the stability and sovereignty of the country” and “further added that the
purpose of giving the land to U.S. embassy was to establish an American military

“He maintained that such a big land was enough even to construct a military
airport.” [11]

Intelligence personnel and special forces are being matched by military
equipment in the intensification of the West’s war in South Asia.

On September 10 Reuters revealed in an article titled “U.S. eyes military
equipment in Iraq for Pakistan” that “The Pentagon has proposed transferring
U.S. military equipment from Iraq to Pakistani security forces to help Islamabad
step up its offensive against the Taliban….”

A U.S. armed forces publication a few days afterward wrote that “U.S. hardware
is moving out of Iraq by the ton, much of it going straight to the overstretched
forces in increasingly volatile Afghanistan” and “The U.S. 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….” [12]

In the middle of this month “U.S. military leaders infused Gen. Stanley
McChrystal’s ideas of how to win the war in Afghanistan” by conducting a
large-scale counterinsurgency 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….” [13]

The Pentagon and NATO have their work cut out for them.

“A security map by the London-based International Council on Security and
Development (ICOS) showed a deepening security crisis with substantial Taliban
activity in at least 97 percent of the war-ravaged country.

“The Council added that the militants now have a permanent presence in 80
percent of the country.” [14]

The United States is not alone in sinking deeper into the Afghan morass.

On September 14 U.S. ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder, in celebrating the
“resilience and deep-seated support from our allies for what is happening in
Afghanistan,” was equally enthusiastic in proclaiming “Over 40 percent of the
body bags that leave Afghanistan do not go to the U.S. They go to other
countries….” [15]

Daalder also gave the lie to earlier claims that NATO troop increases leading up
to last month’s presidential election were temporary in nature by acknowledging
that “Many of the extra troops that NATO countries sent to Afghanistan for the
August presidential elections would stay on.” [16]

Leading up to the Washington Post’s publication of the McChrystal assessment,
NATO’s Military Committee held a two-day conference in Lisbon, Portugal which
was attended by McChrystal and NATO’s two Strategic Commanders, Admiral
Stavridis (Supreme Allied Commander, Operations) and General Abrial (Supreme
Allied Commander, Transformation) which “focused mainly on the operation in
Afghanistan and on the New Strategic Concept.” [17]

The 28 NATO defense chiefs present laid a wreath to the Alliance’s first war
dead, those killed in Afghanistan.

Earlier this month the Washington Post reported that “The U.S. military and NATO
are launching a major overhaul of the way they recruit, train and equip
Afghanistan’s security forces,” an announcement that came “in advance of
expected recommendations by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.” [18]

The article quoted Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services

“We’re going to need many more trainers, hopefully including a much larger
number of NATO trainers. We’re going to need a surge of equipment that is coming
out of Iraq and, instead of coming home, a great deal of it should be going to
Afghanistan instead.” [19]

According to the same report, this month NATO will “will establish a new command
led by a three-star military officer to oversee recruiting and generating Afghan

“The goal is to ‘bring more coherence’ to uncoordinated efforts by NATO
contingents in Afghanistan while underscoring that the mission ‘is not just
America’s challenge’…” [20]

Contributing to its quota of body bags, NATO has experienced losses in
Afghanistan that have reached record levels. “According to the icasualties
website, 363 foreign soldiers have died in Afghanistan so far this year,
compared to 294 for all of 2008.” [21]

This month Britain lost its 216th soldier in the nearly eight-year war. Canada
lost its 131st. Denmark its 25th. Italy its 20th. Poland, where a recent poll
showed 81 percent support for immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, its 12th.

Russian ambassador to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, who had been in the nation in
the 1980s, was cited by Associated Press on September 12 as reflecting that in
2002 the U.S. had 5,000 troops in the nation and “Taliban controlled just a
small corner of the country’s southeast.”

“Now we have Taliban 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 Taliban.”

Associated Press also cited Kabulov’s concern that “the U.S. 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 “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.”

The concerns are legitimate in light of this month’s latest quadrennial report
by the Pentagon on security threats which “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.” [22]

At the same time a U.S. 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 U.S. domination of the skies for decades.

“By the time China produces its first – 5th generation – fighter, he said, the
U.S. will have more than 1,000 F-22s and F-35s. And while the U.S. 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.” [23]

To add to Russian and Chinese apprehensions about NATO’s role in South and
Central Asia, ten days ago the U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan, which borders
Russia and China, “offered to Kazakhstan to take part in the peacekeeping
mission in Afghanistan.”

At the opening ceremony of the NATO Steppe Eagle-2009 military exercises in that
nation envoy Richard Hoagland said “Kazakhstan may again become part of the
international NATO peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.” [24]

Radio Free Europe reported on September 16 that NATO was to sign new agreements
with Kyrgyzstan, which also borders China, for the use of the Manas Air Base
that as many as 200,000 U.S. and NATO troops have passed through since the
beginning of the Afghan war.

On the same day NATO’ plans for expanding transit routes through the South
Caucasus and the Caspian Sea region were described. “[T]he air corridor through
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan is the most feasible.

“This route will be best suited if ISAF transport planes fly directly to Baku
from Turkey or any other NATO member….Moreover, it [Azerbaijan] is not a CSTO
[Collective Security Treaty Organization] member, which allows Azerbaijan more
freedom for maneuver in the region when dealing with NATO.” [25]

Just as troops serving under NATO command in the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan
now include those from almost fifty countries on five continents, so the
broadening scope of the war is absorbing vaster tracts of Eurasia and the Middle

America’s longest armed conflict since that in Indochina and NATO’s first ground
war threatens to not only remain the world’s most dangerous conflagration but
also one that plunges the 21st Century into a war without end.

1) New York Times, February 16, 1989
2) Radio Netherlands, September 12, 2009
3) Associated Press, September 15, 2009
4) Reuters, September 19, 2009
5) Ibid
6) BBC News, December 1, 2008
7) Russia Today, September 7, 2009
8) Asian News International, September 13, 2009
9) Press TV, September 15, 2009
10) Xinhua News, September 12, 2009
11) Ibid
12) Stars and Stripes, September 19, 2009
13) Stars and Stripes, September 13, 2009
14) Trend News Agency, September 11, 2009
15) Reuters, September 14, 2009
16) Ibid
17) NATO, September 20, 2009
18) Washington Post, September 12, 2009
19) Ibid
20) Ibid
21) Agence France-Presse, September 22, 2009
22) Agence France-Presse, September 15, 2009
23) Stars and Stripes, September 16, 2009
24) Interfax, September 14, 2009
25) Jamestown Foundation, Eurasia Daily Monitor, September 16, 2009



11 thoughts on “U.S., NATO Poised For Most Massive War In Afghanistan’s History by Rick Rozoff

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  8. Is military escalation the best way to handle this deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and win this war?…I doubt that very much, and we tried this approach before, thinking that throwing more soldiers into the war will end it in our favor, and almost every time we were proven wrong and regretted it.

    More soldiers will only mean more people killed, especially innocent civilians, which will only serve to fuel and turn more people against us in that part of the world, not to mention that it will be just the right motivation for many more people to join the Taliban and Al Qaida – who, ironically, aren’t operating any more in Afghanistan.

    By this unwise decision, in my opinion, we are making matters worse for every one involved, except for Al Qaida (our true enemy, and the reason we went there to begin with) who will increase their world-wide recruitment efforts to recruit fresh fighters who would be willing to join them to fight this, what they’ll portray as, a bigger crusade by the US and the West against Muslim people. Most countries fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan don’t have the needed, popular stamina, so to speak, to fight this war to the very end, regardless of the casualties they may suffer along the way, and that includes us.

    Sooner or later, most likely, there will be new terrorist attacks, by Al Qaida, in different parts of the world, targeting those countries who have forces in Afghanistan, to inflict heavy casualties and to instil fear, terror and resentment among the populations of those countries, which will, most likely, lead to them eventually leaving that country for the US to fight that war alone.

    A new, wiser, more realistic approach is needed to handle this quagmire, and unless that is realized and done soon, we, and our allies, are going to regret that we ever took on this crazy campaign that is doomed and hasn’t much chance of success. No matter what we do, we aren’t going to bring democracy to Afghanistan, and we’d be fools to continue thinking that we can do that, and a decisive military victory that ends this war once and for all is unattainable. Thus, the sooner we come to terms with this reality, the better it is for all involved.

  9. no wonder OBAMA takes his time to decide on more troops in Afghanistan, with the detailed knowledge i have just read.

  10. No surprise the following was buried near the end of the article:

    Russian ambassador to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, who had been in the nation in
    the 1980s, was cited by Associated Press ……Kabulov’s concern that “the U.S. 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.”

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