View Full Version : Blair Urges NATO to Send More Troops to Afghanistan

14 Sep 06,, 16:17
Blair Urges NATO to Send More Troops to Afghanistan (Update2)

By Reed V. Landberg and Ed Johnson

Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Tony Blair stepped up pressure on North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations to send more troops to Afghanistan as British forces suffer casualties in the fight against the Taliban.

``NATO is looking at what further requirements there are,'' Blair told a press conference in London today. ``NATO and NATO countries have got a duty to respond to that. British forces are making a contribution. They are inflicting real damage on the Taliban and on al-Qaeda. It is important the whole of NATO regards this as their responsibility.''

At a meeting in Mons, Belgium today, NATO commanders sought 2,000 extra troops to reinforce the 19,000 soldiers already in Afghanistan after attacks by Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters proved more intense than expected. The talks produced no formal offers, NATO spokesman James Appathurai told Agence France-Presse.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that Afghanistan will ``come back to haunt us'' unless it becomes a stable democracy, warning that the international community will pay if it allows the country to become a failed state where Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network operates unhindered.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said yesterday in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. that some NATO members are ``carrying more of a burden than others'' and appealed for solidarity.

``The military advice is that we need extra forces,'' he said. ``These are political decisions and it is up to the politicians in the capitals to do what they promised to do.''

New York Meeting

Foreign ministers from the alliance's 26 member nations will meet in New York next week to discuss NATO's operation in Afghanistan, de Hoop Scheffer added.

NATO took over operations in Afghanistan's six southern provinces from the U.S.-led military coalition on July 31 and is trying to bring stability and aid reconstruction. In Britain, the opposition Conservative Party has started to make a political issue of the nation's contribution to the Afghan force.

``NATO is facing a crisis of resolve,'' Liam Fox, the Conservative lawmaker in charge of defense, said in a statement in London. ``Those NATO countries who are genuinely concerned about security and human rights need to understand that now is the time to act. NATO's reputation is on the line.''

Rebels loyal to the Taliban regime, which was ousted by a U.S.-led military coalition in 2001, are waging a guerrilla war against the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, the U.S.-led coalition and Afghan forces.

Rebels Killed

ISAF says it has killed more than 500 Taliban rebels since it began an offensive in southern Kandahar province, codenamed ``Operation Medusa,'' on Sept. 2. Five Canadian soldiers and a member of the U.S. military embedded with Afghan forces have been killed in 11 days of fighting.

NATO's offensive against the Taliban is critical and the most ``challenging mission'' in its history, Rice said during a visit to Canada yesterday.

``It was the Taliban and their support for al-Qaeda that allowed al-Qaeda to flourish, to become the organization that it did, to plot and to plan and then to launch the attacks of September 11th,'' she said. ``An Afghanistan that does not complete its democratic evolution and become a stable terrorist- fighting state is going to come back to haunt us.''

The Taliban have overtaken al-Qaeda as the region's biggest threat, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said in an address to the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee yesterday.


``We have to check Talibanization,'' said Musharraf, who has deployed almost 90,000 soldiers on his country's border with Afghanistan to tackle insurgents.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, after meeting with Blair in London today, told a news conference that Afghanistan needs a ``democratic, independent and strong'' government that unites all ethnic communities.

Thirty-seven countries have contributed troops to the ISAF mission. The U.K. has 4,900 soldiers in the country, 3,600 of them deployed in the south, mainly in Helmand and Kandahar, and will deploy an extra 900 soldiers later this year, the Defense Ministry said. Canada has deployed about 2,000 soldiers, most of them based in Kandahar.

The German Cabinet today extended the country's 2,900-troop contribution by one year to Oct. 2007, deputy government spokesman Thomas Steg told a news conference in Berlin. Most of the troops are based in the north of the country.

Latvian Contribution

Only Latvia has answered NATO's call for reinforcements, offering to increase its presence in Afghanistan from 36 to 56 soldiers, the London-based Times newspaper reported yesterday, citing unidentified military officials in the Afghan capital, Kabul, and unidentified NATO officials.

Taliban operations in southern Afghanistan are being funded by money generated from a bumper crop of opium in the region, NATO and UN officials said.

A record 165,000 hectares (407,700 acres) of land were under opium cultivation in Afghanistan in 2006, a 59 percent gain over 2005, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said earlier this month. In the southern province of Helmand, cultivation rose 162 percent.

NATO forces must ``destroy the heroin labs, disband the open opium bazaars, attack the opium convoys and bring to justice the big traders'' Antonio Maria Costa, the head of UNODC said at a news conference in Brussels yesterday, according to the UN.

The counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics efforts must reinforce each other ``so as to stop the vicious circle of drugs funding terrorists and terrorists protecting drug traffickers,'' Costa said.

De Hoop Scheffer rejected Costa's appeal. ``NATO does not have a leading role and does not seek to play one in that fight, important though it is,'' Agence France-Presse cited him as saying yesterday in Brussels.

Narcotics are going to be ``an albatross around our necks and the Achilles heel in the recovery of Afghanistan'' unless the problem is tackled, U.S. Marine General James Jones, NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, said Sept. 7.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ed Johnson in Sydney at ejohnson28@bloomberg.net .
Last Updated: September 13, 2006 11:15 EDT

Why has there to be an appeal?

There should be a Mission Analysis and the force level decided. Having done so, the requisite quantum of troops and equipment should be made available.

It appears that the effort in Afghanistan is mere poodlefaking and none are seriously applying themselves.

If this is what the NATO would have done against USSR, it is a good thing that Russia folded up and NATO was not tested!

And here we have Blair playing Oliver Twist!

14 Sep 06,, 17:01
The Army needs 10,000 more men

By Allan Mallinson
(Filed: 14/09/2006)

The Army had a modest but welcome morale boost last week: the new Chief of the General Staff spoke out. Our troops are stretched to the limit, said General Sir Richard Dannatt; we need a national debate on the value of our Armed Forces, and what resources they should have.

While social services take 29 per cent of public spending and defence a mere five per cent, it is not difficult to see his point. With Nato nations declining to commit boots to Afghanistan, the debate is even more urgent. I therefore propose a motion: we have forgotten the old dictum "the man is the first weapon of war".

There are simply not enough of him. Especially infantrymen. Four battalions have been cut this year alone. The MoD says there will be no change in the number available for operations. This is disingenuous: fewer battalions mean fewer men to rotate through the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Almost as bad is their undermanning, which is not just a case of poor retention and too few recruits but of underestablishment – not enough men allocated to the regiment in the first place. Undermanning begets more undermanning as soldiers are diverted for recruiting, recruit-training and to fill unestablished but essential posts.

Infantry battalions are routinely short of a company – a quarter of their bayonet strength – for an operational tour. To compensate, men from other regiments are drafted in. The knock-on effect of robbing Peter to pay Paul is uncertainty, dislocation and waste; and at worst inefficiency and low morale. Soldiers resent it; their families even more so. And, fed up with going from one operation to another without proper training and recuperation in between, they vote with their feet. Finding and training replacements is an ironic as well as a vicious circle.

The trouble is that the Army's habit of success, and the willingness to deploy, however weak, has become a two-edged weapon: the Treasury believes there must be spare capacity. When the IRA declared its ceasefire, the Chancellor demanded a "peace dividend". After a less-than-bloody rearguard action by the chiefs of staff, the Chancellor got his dividend: a cut of 2,000 men.

The problem began with the last Conservative government and another vain peace dividend – Tom King's disastrous Options for Change, scavenged from the rubble of the Berlin Wall. The crippling redundancies and wholesale disbanding of regiments have left the Army out of balance and with few reserves. New Labour's "Strategic Defence Review", a spending review under the guise of strategic thinking, merely tinkered with the structure and equipment programme, failing to grasp the fundamental imbalance between the Services.

The subsequent squeeze has forced the Army to abandon its "Force Readiness Cycle" by which regiments were trained and rested between operations. Instead, it is now "expeditionary". This amounts to a gamble that there will be no more than a brigade on protracted operations such as Iraq, with long-running smaller-scale deployments such as the Balkans, periodic ventures in brigade strength like that to Sierra Leone four years ago, and a "major operation" – war – every five to 10 years.

No wonder the new CGS says the army is at full stretch: it is deployed beyond its defined capacity to do so. The Army Board's policy is that a regiment's tour interval between operations is 24 months to allow for recuperation and retraining, but this is simply not being met (ask the field army). My regiment, the Light Dragoons, came back from Iraq in November: a squadron is now on its way to Afghanistan, the rest to follow in the spring. They are keen to go, but there is a price; it could be a high one.

For years the Army has bought equipment at the expense of soldiers, drawing its manning-belt ever tighter. It perceived it had no choice. Ironically, many of these cuckoo-in-the-nest equipment projects have been cut because of cash shortages, cost overruns and changing needs.

To ignore the old dictum that the man, rather than hardware, is the first weapon of war was understandable, perhaps, a dozen years ago when the Soviet tank armies had only recently quit East Germany. But not today. The Balkans, Iraq and now Afghanistan are testimony to that eternal military truth.

What is needed now are more regiments and more robust structures, so that a unit does not to have to borrow men (and women) from others equally stretched every time it deploys. The soldier has got to be decently paid (including generous allowances to make sure his family are looked after and properly educated in his frequent absences). He must be suitably equipped, trained hard, and supported by timely logistics. He must be properly rested. Above all, there must be plenty of him. The Army needs at least another 10,000 men.

It is no good the Treasury's pointing to poor recruiting: the Army, especially the TA, has been cut so savagely this past decade it is not surprising that recruiting and retention have suffered.

Not long ago the Army was so short of money that it could not afford to enlist willing recruits. Personnel costs must cease being dirty words to MoD and Treasury officials.

We need, too, a thorough rebalancing of resources between the Services: there are just too many equipment projects left over from the Cold War, of which the Eurofighter is the most spectacular example. What is the point safeguarding the skies from a non-existent threat if there aren't enough utility helicopters to fly the Army about a growing number of battlefields?

A century ago, pondering the uncertainties of the late-Victorian world, the great historian of the Army, Sir John Fortescue, remarked on a sentimental public tendency: "The popular admiration was not very intelligent, nor was it very helpfully guided by the press.

Neither the one nor the other, pardonably enough, knew anything of the history of the army." Given the events of late, a sentimental, parsimonious tendency is not pardonable today. The habit of success is relatively new, and failure is a possibility. That should be the starting point for the debate the new CGS wants.

Allan Mallinson was a professional soldier for 35 years. His novels of Army life are published by Bantam

Comment on this story

News: Nato nations refuse to commit more troops
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml;jsessionid=NQ3101VECWTPZQFIQMGCFF4AVCBQ UIV0?xml=/opinion/2006/09/14/do1402.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2006/09/14/ixopinion.html

Reminds me of the nursery rhyme

Half a pound of tuppenny rice
Half a pound of treacle
That's the way the money goes
Pop goes the weasel!

14 Sep 06,, 17:04
Nato nations refuse to commit more troops

By David Rennie in Brussels and George Jones, Political Editor
(Filed: 14/09/2006)

Nato member states have refused to send any reinforcements for the mission in Afghanistan despite appeals from the organisation's leaders for 2,500 extra troops to fight Taliban insurgents.

The delay will be seen as a further sign that most countries are reluctant to commit troops to the south of Afghanistan, where pitched battles between militants and British and Canadian forces have resulted in the deaths of more than 30 British troops.

Tony Blair said yesterday that Nato countries had a "duty" to respond to the call by the alliance's secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, for more forces.

Germany, France, Spain and Turkey have been mentioned as countries that could do more.

The Prime Minister said British forces were fighting "in difficult circumstances and fighting brilliantly". He said the September 11 terror attacks came out of Afghanistan.

"The Taliban and al-Qa'eda training camps were the reason we went there and it is of fundamental importance to the security of this country, never mind the world, that we make sure the job is done properly," he said.

The plight of British troops, who are taking the brunt of Taliban attacks in Helmand province, was underlined by Kim Howells, the Foreign Office minister, who told the Commons foreign affairs committee that he had spoken to the commander of the Nato forces in Afghanistan, Lt Gen David Richards, and it was clear back-up was needed.

"We need Nato to be pulling its weight. They need to put more resources in there," Mr Howells said.

Condoleezza Rice, the American secretary of state, said Afghanistan could "come back to haunt us" if the West once again allowed it to become a failed state. Referring to a US decision to give the country a lower foreign policy priority after the withdrawal of the Soviet Union in 1989, Miss Rice said, "We all came to pay for that."

A Nato spokesman said there were "positive indications" that some allies might consider providing additional forces but it could take until a meeting of Nato defence ministers in a fortnight in Slovenia to finalise offers.

Nato's American military commander, Gen James Jones, has expressed concern that delays in reinforcements would allow insurgents to slip back to regroup.

Although Nato officers maintain that the 13-day-old Operation Medusa, led by the Canadians in one section of Kandahar province, is close to achieving its military objectives, Taliban attacks in Kandahar and Helmand have surprised Nato troops and dragged the alliance into its first major land battles since it was founded in 1949 to defend Europe from Soviet attack.

Gen Jones last week made a very public demand for up to 2,500 new troops, shortly after returning from what officials said was a sobering inspection visit to Afghanistan.

There are 20,000 troops in the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and another 15,000 US troops conducting Operation Enduring Freedom, launched to free Afghanistan from Taliban rule after September 11.

Mr de Hoop Scheffer has remarked that some nations in quieter parts of the country should head south, particularly the Germans, and broaden rules of engagement. Behind closed doors, Nato is witnessing fierce debates about why the alliance is not following up military victories on the ground with the swift deployment of teams to dig village wells, or build bridges.

Espen Barth Eide, the Norwegian secretary for defence, said his nation which has 500 troops in Afghanistan was actively considering sending more as the stakes were far too high to allow the international community to fail.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=PZZJXSYEGVUNJQFIQMGCFF4AVCBQ UIV0?xml=/news/2006/09/14/wafghan14.xml

One wonders why there was a need to spout fierce rhetoric when one cannot put the money where the mouth is!

Officer of Engineers
14 Sep 06,, 17:51
Why has there to be an appeal?

Simply, Sir, it's not THEIR war. Even in Canada and the UK where the mission is seen vital enough to commit to combat, it is not viewed as our war, it's the US's war.

There should be a Mission Analysis and the force level decided. Having done so, the requisite quantum of troops and equipment should be made available.

Well, Sir, we screwed up that one. The Mission Analysis was flawed in predicting the ANA would be more than what it is. The bulk of the combat power was supposed to come from the ANA, not NATO. When the ANA came up short, NATO was caught short.

It appears that the effort in Afghanistan is mere poodlefaking and none are seriously applying themselves.

The Brits and Canadians are, Sir. By the end of the month, Canada would have deployed a tank coy. Making it the dominant force in the region.

If this is what the NATO would have done against USSR, it is a good thing that Russia folded up and NATO was not tested!

You and me both Sir because if this was the way we would've fought (and it was not), we would've tossed nukes on the 1st day.

14 Sep 06,, 22:47
I do find it sad that a former staunch ally like France will not give the troops currently in theatre the RoE to even detach a couple of companies to help out in the south.

Both the Brits and Canadians in that area need reinforcing, and as I understand it, desperately need helicopter support also.

The Germans could also do far more to help - no matter what their hangups.
I know, politically, it is not a popular war in either France or Germany. But this could be remedied (and certainly would stand a better chance of being rehabitilitated than Iraq).

I think the current refusal makes the raison d'etre for NATO in the 21st century look shaky. Allies are in need of assistance in a conflict that received very broad international backing at the time. Yet the French and Germans sit on their hands.

14 Sep 06,, 23:05
I do find it sad that a former staunch ally like France

France has never been a staunch ally of ours.


dave angel
14 Sep 06,, 23:37
France has never been a staunch ally of ours.


yup, Suez saw to that.

15 Sep 06,, 00:49
The Germans could also do far more to help - no matter what their hangups.
I know, politically, it is not a popular war in either France or Germany. But this could be remedied (and certainly would stand a better chance of being rehabitilitated than Iraq).

It's never France's problem until Panzers are ringing the Eiffel tower.

So much for "We had global support on A-stan".

That was never more than an illusion either.

15 Sep 06,, 02:28
yup, Suez saw to that.

Nope. They treated us like sh!t in WWI and WWII, ungrateful sons of whores. France is the Frank Burns of nations, and they get exactly what they deserve in terms of distrust and disdain.


15 Sep 06,, 02:34

Dag, Dale called him Ferret Face!

15 Sep 06,, 02:41

Dag, Dale called him Ferret Face!

Doesn't it fit though? ;)


15 Sep 06,, 03:03
Doesn't it fit though? ;)

Whiney, manipulative, by the book when it suits their cause, backstabbing, cowardly, incompetent, yep....sure does. :biggrin:

Officer of Engineers
15 Sep 06,, 04:33
Both the Brits and Canadians in that area need reinforcing, and as I understand it, desperately need helicopter support also.

Two companies. That's what was needed. 200 guys. They could not have shipped 200 guys from 3000.

15 Sep 06,, 08:52
India had offered, but it was not taken up by the US govt because it would have put Pakistan in a tizzy!

My own Garrison Engineer is currently there with his boys constructing roads!

15 Sep 06,, 21:48
Its official now. A squadron of 15 Leopard tanks, an infantry company from Quebec's Royal 22nd Regiment, the Van Doos. And armoured engineering vehicles called Badgers to help with rebuilding projects, will be sent to Afghanistan.

Canada is stepping up to the plate, anyone else in NATO have the gumption to follow suit?

click (http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2006/09/15/tanks-afghanistan.html)

Officer of Engineers
16 Sep 06,, 02:08
Poland is sending 1000. Whether they would enter into combat operations remains to be seen.