The International Council on Security and Development has issued a new report alleging that the Taliban are now active in three quarters of Afghanistan, up from half the country a year ago. They say that three of four major roads in and out of the capital, Kabul, are now insecure. Their criterion is that there be an attack in a place at least once a week. A NATO spokesman dismissed the report as an exaggeration.
The report is here in pdf form.
The report calls for doubling the (the non-US) NATO forces or ISAF from 40,000 troops to 80,000. But it also urges greater attention to non-military intervention, as with improving the economy.
Its key military recommendations for Afghanistan are:
Increase numbers of troops/lift Caveats Make decreasing civilian casualties a priority Secure Development Areas (SDAs) to be established NATO countries not committed to military combat should provide development and aid support NATO must benefit from increased representation from Muslim states Troops should deliver aid where this is not possible by the development community Military should provide mobile field hospitals for civilian casualties Use troops for election security Help the Afghan Government establish Neighborhood Security Groups’
And for Pakistan the report says:
Provide support to Pakistan in missions against radical Islamists Encourage the building of relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan Send international Special Forces into Pakistan to enable the international community and the Afghan government to develop a more assertive strategy to tackle the problem of insurgent safe heavens in Pakistan Provide troops to secure Afghanistan-Pakistan border points ‘
ICSD used to be called the Senlis Group, and have done excellent reports on Afghanistan. It is also my experience that Western military personnel are in denial about how badly Afghanistan’s security is deteriorating.
Kai Eide, the United Nations special representative for Afghanistan, said on Monday that
that unless Afghanistan’s international partners conducted their military operations with more care and cultural sensitivity, redoubled their work to minimize civilian casualties and accelerated their reconstruction programs, they risked jeopardizing their efforts to stabilize and rebuild the country.”
The US military appears to think that Kabul is in danger from the new insurgency, since most of the new US troops to be sent to Afghanistan will be stationed around Kabul, especially to its south. That plan tells us that the capital is being menaced from the Pushtun areas to its south and needs defending, ans the ICSD said.
Gen. David McKiernan said recently that US troops needed to be increased from 33,000 to 60,000. He estimates that the Afghanistan army is three to four years away from being able to handle security in the country itself. At the moment, there are 78,000 troops in the Afghan army, but it is expanding with the aim of growing to 133,000. (It is not clear how Afghanistan will be able to pay for a standing army of that size).
Mullah Omar, the leader of the “old Taliban” based in Quetta in Pakistan, said Monday that the Taliban would respond to further Western troops by escalating violence.
Afghans are commemorating the Eid al-Adha or Feast of Sacrifice despite poverty, unemployment and soaring food prices, according to Aljazeera English. The hardest hit are the internally displace: