US to review Afghan mission

Reviews come amid increased Taliban attacks and shortfalls in Nato-led forces.

Afghanistan is suffering its bloodiest year since the US-led invasion in 2001 [EPA]
Afghanistan is suffering its bloodiest year since the US-led invasion in 2001 [EPA]
Deadliest year
The US administration has become increasingly concerned about shortfalls in the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) and more sophisticated tactics by the Taliban, making 2007 the deadliest year since the Taliban was forced from power in 2001.
The reviews will be designed to better co-ordinate efforts to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda, counter the opium trade that reportedly funds the groups and bolster the position of the Kabul government, the Times said.
“It’s an assessment of our current strategy and how we are doing,” a senior military officer reportedly said.
“It’s looking at whether we’ve done enough or need to do more in terms of expanding governance and economic development, as well as wrestling with the difficult security issues that we have been dealing with in Afghanistan.”
The White House also favours appointing an international co-ordinator or “super envoy” to oversee the entire international effort in Afghanistan, the newspaper said, citing US officials.
Conflicting assessments
The US state department and Pentagon would not immediately confirm the reports, but if true, they would come amid conflicting assessments about the situation in Afghanistan.

More sophisticated Taliban tactics and shortfalls
in the Nato-led force are of concern [EPA]

Australia’s new government has warned that Nato and its allies would lose the war unless they urgently change tactics.

Joel Fitzgibbon, the defence minister, issued the stark warning at a meeting in Edinburgh last week of eight nations engaged in the conflict, The Australian newspaper said on Monday.
His comments to the closed-door gathering were based on classified intelligence assessments prepared for the previous Australian government of John Howard which painted a bleak picture of the Afghan conflict.
“The previous government would have us believe that good progress is being made in Afghanistan. The reality is quite a different one,” Fitzgibbon told The Australian after returning from the meeting.
“We are winning the battles and not the war, in my view. We have been very successful in clearing areas of the Taliban but it’s having no real strategic effect,” he said.
That assessment contrasted sharply with a senior American general who said attacks along the Afghan-Pakistani border had dropped more than 40 per cent since July and the US and its allies were making progress in the fight against the Taliban.
Brigadier-General Joseph Votel, the deputy commanding general of US troops in Afghanistan, said the decrease in attacks along the border could be attributed to the onset of winter, a rise in attacks in Pakistan and an increase in communication and co-ordination among Nato, Afghan and Pakistani forces.
“I don’t agree that we’re moving in a negative direction,” Votel told journalists on Sunday at Bagram, the main US base. “I think we are making progress. This is a long-term proposition and there is a long way to go in security and development and other aspects here, but we are making progress and moving forward.”
Reconstruction needed
Nabi Misdaq, author of Afghanistan: Political Frailty and External Interference, told Al Jazeera that the United States and Afghan government had not been able to address the main issues in the country.
“The country has been at war for 30 years, people are very much tired, they want to see some reconstruction and rebuilding done,” he said.
“Although this has been done in the cities, the countryside – especially the Pashtun areas in the southeast and southwest – has been completely neglected.”
Britain, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark, Romania, Estonia and the United States have troops with Isaf’s 11,000-strong command in southern Afghanistan.
But Nato has so far failed to provide three promised infantry battalions, about 3,000 trainers and 20 transport and attack helicopters.
Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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