Afeganistão: NATO não pode falhar a sua missão de paz - Hoop Scheffer Madrid, 03 Fev (Lusa) - O Afeganistão corre o risco de transformar-se e m país "exportador de terroristas" se a NATO fracassar ali na sua missão de paz, advertiu hoje em declarações ao diário espanhol El Mundo o secretário-geral da Aliança Atlântica, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. O responsável da Aliança Atlântica reafirmou igualmente a necessidade d e uma "resposta global, mais civil do que militar" no Afeganistão, em vésperas d e uma reunião em Sevilha dos ministros da Defesa da NATO que deverá abordar a qu estão dos reforços militares neste país. Cerca de 33.000 soldados de 37 países na Força Internacional de Assistê ncia à Segurança (ISAF) e 10.000 outros da coligação internacional liderada pelo s Estados Unidos estão a ser confrontados com uma insegurança crescente no Afega nistão, onde os talibãs multiplicaram os ataques em 2006. "Se fracassarmos no Afeganistão, o país transformar-se-á num Estado fra gilizado que exportará terroristas para o Ocidente", considerou Hoop Scheffer na entrevista. "Estamos no Afeganistão para lutar contra esta ameaça sem rosto (o terr orismo) que pretende destruir a nossa sociedade", precisou o líder da NATO. "Se em Sevilha concluirmos que há necessidade de reforços, o nosso apel o será dirigido a todos os aliados, incluindo à Espanha", que acaba de anunciar a sua intenção de não aumentar o seu contingente de cerca de 500 homens no Afega nistão, sublinhou. "O ano passado foi duro, mas os Estados Unidos e o Reino Unido já anunc iaram aumentos fundamentais dos seus efectivos, enquanto que outros países estão a ampliar a sua contribuição", referiu Hoop Scheffer. Sublinhou, contudo, que "a resposta final para o Afeganistão não é mili tar, mas civil", num quadro "global" de estabilização deste país, em que a NATO está a contribuir a pedido das Nações Unidas. Os ministros dos Negócios Estrangeiros Aliança, reunidos na semana pass ada em Bruxelas, concluíram pela necessidade de reforçar a sua acção no Afeganis tão, onde uma localidade do sul do país, Musa Qala, se encontra desde hoje nas m ãos dos talibãs, segundo anunciaram as autoridades afegãs.
Afeganistão: Grã-Bretanha entrega comando das forças da NATO aos EUA Cabul, 04 Fev (Lusa) - O general britânico David Richards entregou hoje o comando das forças da NATO no Afeganistão ao norte-americano Dan McNeil, que passa a chefiar os cerca de 33.000 militares que integram a Força Internacional de Assistência à Segurança (ISAF). A passagem de cargo foi oficializada numa cerimónia em Cabul com a qual David Richards pôs termo aos seus nove meses de mandato, durante os quais o Afe ganistão viveu a maior vaga de violência desde a invasão conduzida pelos Estados Unidos, em 2001. Em 2006, as confrontações e os ataques no Afeganistão ceifaram a vida a cerca de 4.000 pessoas, um milhar delas civis, de acordo com dados do governo a fegão e da organização para os direitos humanos Human Rights Watch. O general norte-americano McNeil enfrenta agora a ameaça de um recrudes cimento dos ataques rebeldes na Primavera, segundo advertem as forças internacio nais. No entanto, o porta-voz da Aliança no Afeganistão, o cabo Richard Nugee , excluiu na quarta-feira que os rebeldes estejam suficientemente aprovisionados para isso e assegurou que os talibãs começam este ano em "condições piores" que no ano passado. Apesar disso, os talibãs ocuparam de novo na quinta-feira a localidade de Musa Qala, na província meridional de Helmand, de onde as tropas britânicas d a NATO foram retiradas em Outubro na sequência de um polémico acordo com as trib os locais. O governo de Cabul anunciou sábado que os talibãs circulam "livremente" pelo centro de Musa Qala e asseguraram que as forças governamentais se preparam para lançar uma ofensiva, com o apoio da ISAF, para recuperar o controlo da cid ade.
Afeganistão: UE dá luz verde a envio de missão policial Bruxelas, 12 Fev (Lusa) - Os ministros dos Negócios Estrangeiros europeus aprovaram hoje o princípio do envio de cerca de 160 polícias europeus para o Afeganistão, tendo por missão principal ajudar a formar a polícia afegã. Os 27 consideraram que o acordo de princípio com esta missão policial demonstra que a UE está "empenhada resolutamente e a longo prazo em relação ao Afeganistão", como os líderes europeus afirmaram na sua cimeira de Dezembro. A missão, cujo "conceito" foi aprovado pelos 27, deve permitir instalar "uma força de polícia afegã, assumida pelos afegãos, que respeite os direitos humanos e funcione no quadro do Estado de direito", sublinha um texto aprovado hoje pelos 27. Cerca de 160 polícias europeus, auxiliados por 50 a 70 especialistas, deverão "resolver as questões relacionadas com a reforma da polícia a nível central, regional e provincial", acrescenta o documento. Até ao momento, a formação da polícia afegã incumbia apenas à Alemanha, tendo cerca de 40 especialistas formado já 2.500 polícias no país, enquanto a Itália se ocupa da reforma do sistema judicial do país. A missão europeia que vai ocupar este espaço será maior e deverá levar "um valor acrescentado", de acordo com os ministros europeus. Os polícias europeus deverão chegar ao terreno até Maio ou Junho próximos, referira sexta-feira uma fonte da UE. A União Europeia estuda há vários meses o envio desta missão de polícia ao Afeganistão, devido nomeadamente a pressões da NATO, que lhe solicitou um maior empenhamento.
February 26, 2007 MEMORANDUM FOR: Colonel Michael Meese Professor and Head Dept of Social Sciences CC: Colonel Cindy Jebb Professor and Deputy Head Dept of Social Sciences SUBJECT: After Action Report—General Barry R McCaffrey USA (Ret)VISIT AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN 16-23 February 2007 1. PURPOSE: This memo provides feedback on strategic and operational assessment of security operations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan in support of US Central Command. Be glad to provide Faculty Seminar and Cadet Class AAR on this report during this Semester or at your convenience. 2. SOURCES: A. Afghanistan: 1.) US Ambassador Ron Neumann. DCM Richard B. Norland: Lunch/two hour discussion. 2.) Gen Dan McNeill, CG NATO ISAF: One-on-one Office Call. 3.) Gen Bismullah Khan. Chief Afghan Army: Two Sessions. 4.) MG Bob Durbin USA and BG Bill Chambers USAF: Two Sessions -- CSTC-A. 5.) MG Dave Rodriguez. CG RC-EAST. (JTF-76) (CG 82nd Abn Div): Office Call and Battle Staff Briefings. 6.) MG Steve Layfield USA. NATO ISAF. DCOM Security: Office Call. 7.) DR Zalmay Rassoul, Afghan Director of National Security Council (and Staff): Visit/Briefings 8.) CG KMTC Training Center: BG Amin Wardak. BG Doug Pritt, CG Task Force Phoenix: Visit/Briefings Kabul Military Training Center --KMTC. 9.) Afghan Commanding General: Afghan National Military Command Center. BG Mike Harrison USA and Mentor Team: Visit/Briefings. 10.) US Embassy – Country Team Briefing -- DCM, Political Officer, Economic Counselor, Political-Military Affairs Officer, US AID Director and Deputy, INL Director and Deputy. 11.) Senior General Officer USSOCOM and C/S. Special Operations: Briefing. 12.) INL Director Elizabeth Richard and Mr. Gene Trammell Deputy Program Manager, Afghan Eradication Force: Meeting/Briefings 13.) Senior Intelligence Official: One-on-one Meeting. 14.) DEA Country Attaché: Mr. Vince Balboa and Assistant Attaché Mr. Kirk Meyer: Meeting. 15.) MG Durbin, BG Mike Harrison, BG Bill Chambers USAF, BG Greg Young (Canada), BG Tad Buk (Poland), Mr. Tim Muchmore SES: General Officer-- Dinner/Discussion. CSTC-A. 16.) Col Jack McCracken --Director and LTC Andrew Duff Canada—Chief of Analysis: Border Brief. (Joint Intelligence Operations center-Afghanistan). 17.) Mr. Michael Metrinko. US Embassy. Senior Advisor for Afghan Parliament: Dinner/Discussions. 18.) Mr. David Dobrotka and LTC Steven King: Breakfast Meeting. CSTC-A Police Reform Directorate. 19.) Col. William E. Bulen and Staff -- US Army Engineer District Afghanistan: Briefing. 20.) Col. Michael Norton. Defense Attaché: Briefing. 21.) Col. John Nicholson. 10th Mountain Division and Battle Staff: Visit. FOB Salerno. Brigade Commander. 22.) Col. Martin Schweitzer. 82nd Abn Division and Battle Staff: Visit. FOB Salerno. Brigade Commander. 23.) Mr. Edward M. Smith, Chief of Staff. LTC Tom Burgess: Briefing Afghan Reconstruction Group. Border Initiative. B. Pakistan: 1.) DCM Peter Bodde. (Ambassador in US for Senate Confirmation.): Office Call. 2.) US Embassy – Country Team Briefings. Economic Counselor. Political Counselor. DAO. 3.) MG Ron Helmley. ODRP: Office Call/Briefings. 4.) Senior Intelligence Officials: Separate Briefings. 5.) Pakistan Army Vice Chief Gen Hassan Hyat. (Accompanied by MG Helmley.): Office Call/Briefing. 6.) Pakistan Director General ISI and Senior Staff. (Accompanied by MG Helmley and Senior US Intelligence Official.): Office call/Briefings. 7.) MG Achmed Pasha -- Pakistan Army Director Military Operations and Staff: Office Call/Briefing. 8.) Pakistan Air Vice Marshall and two Pakistan Legislators. (Accompanied by MG Helmley): Dinner/seminar. 9.) US Delegation and Senior Pakistani Officials: Reception -- DCM Residence. 10.) Commander Special Task Force: Briefing. 11.) Gave OPD on GWOT to Officers/NCOs/Civilians ODRP and DAO. 3. GENERAL: The War in Afghanistan has been shamefully under-resourced by DOD throughout the entire intervention in terms of inter-agency involvement, US combat forces, political will, and nation-building resources. The situation is now turning rapidly for the better: • We have an expectation of billions of US Congressional dollars for Afghan Reconstruction (26 PRT’s now operating effectively—although only the 13 US PRT’s have the flexible $161 million CERP funds available) • There is a continued crash development of the ANA by the dedicated soldiers and Marines of Task Force Phoenix. • We expect the arrival this year of thousands of new military and civilian personnel for ANP Police Reform and Mentoring. • We have the beginnings of a serious drug eradication effort spurred by State Dept INL and reluctantly supported initially by DOD. • JTF-76 now has an additional US combat brigade (the courageous soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division whose last minute extension gave us the needed immediate edge of combat power). • The assumption of command of ISAF by US General Dan McNeil, and the transfer of full battle responsibility for the AOR to NATO is a huge boost to our capabilities. • Finally, US Air Force, Navy, and Army Air Power have kept us afloat for the last year of bitter fighting. We are now in a race against time. We must deal with: the Taliban (700% increase in IED’s---140 suicide bombers last year); the criminals who control much of the ground level governance of the largest narco-state operation in the world; foreign fighters who now plot terrorism against both the Afghan Government and the US ---from sanctuaries in Pakistan’s uncontrolled border region as well as the southern and eastern regions of Afghanistan; and finally from the growing disaffection of the suffering people of Afghanistan who lack police, roads, electricity, security, jobs, and belief in their government. We can, without question, achieve our US national objective of a functioning law-based state -- with a performing, non-drug economy--- which rejects sanctuary for terrorism. This is the cross-over year. The execution of our plan in the coming 24 months will decide the outcome in the country. 90% of the Afghan people (to include the Pashtuns) reject the extremist ideology of the Taliban. They strongly abhor the continuing violence. They are working frantically throughout the country to re-build. They admire and trust their new Army. They are incredibly eager to absorb new lessons, new opportunities. They trust, admire, and protect their Embedded US Trainers. They will support security and progress while remaining a deeply Islamic state. In addition, the Pakistanis are strongly supportive of our goal of a strong, stabilized state. Rhetoric and political will cannot achieve our goals. Afghanistan needs strong US inter-agency and Congressional support to provide the dollars, equipment, combat soldiers, ANA and ANP mentors, and vigorous NATO and Afghan leadership to pull this mission from the fire. 4. THE ANP and the ANA: A necessary but not sufficient precondition of US success is the creation of Afghan Security Forces that can shoulder the burden of internal security. At all levels--- the Afghans reiterate that they want their own soldiers carrying the burden of blood and casualties. (ANA unauthorized absence which was 36% is now reduced to 12%) The whole ASF effort has been brilliantly managed by a succession of National Guard units -- and the leadership of the CFC-A and now CSTC-A. (MG Bob Durbin USA has done heroic work.) We are now beginning a crash ANP effort to get the equipment, trainers, dollars, and supervision for the police: $2+ billion consisting of --$1 billion construction--$700 million equipment to include 12,000 vehicles—$440 Million training—3500 US Police mentors …(2500 military and 1000 civilian police mentors). The effort to create the Afghan police is currently grossly under-resourced with 700 US trainers (500 US Police). In Iraq -- we have 7000 US police trainers working on the Iraqi Police. In Kosovo we had 5000 police mentors for 6500 Kosovo Police.We have no real grasp of what actual ANP presence exists at the 355 District level operations. We have trained 60,000 Afghan police—but we have no idea where they are. We do know that 50% more Afghan police were KIA last year than ANA soldiers. Probably there are non-uniformed, untrained, and largely criminal elements in many of the District Capitals. There are no real jails-- or prosecutors --or judges -- or squad cars. The 34 Provincial level capitals actually do have a uniformed Police presence with a functioning connection to national Police command authority. The ANP presence in some key areas such as Kabul is inadequate… but functioning. There is a new National Police Command Center. The task of creating 82,000 Afghan Policemen (currently a notional 62,000 force) is a ten year job that we must fully resource. We are now initiating a Police Reform Program which includes assessing the 15,000 officers of the ANP -- and firing half of them. Without effective police -- there cannot be governance. Without effective police -- there cannot be security and counter-insurgency. Without effective police -- there will be no economic reconstruction. The Germans had the lead on this effort. They have done an inadequate job. The German program consists of a few senior German police mentors (40+) of enormous professionalism but few resources. The ANA is much better postured. They have pride, embedded US trainers, a functioning chain-of-command, a superb combat leader (Gen Bismullah Kahn as CHOD), and rudimentary equipment. They will fight. They are in good physical shape. (Like mountain goats). They are the first element of national unity in 100 years in Afghanistan. They have successfully mixed ethnic formations at all levels. They have been able to discount the factional pull on their unity of purpose. They actually look like great soldiers. However, they have no real national logistics or maintenance system. The ANA has for all practical purpose no air power---neither helicopter nor fixed wing. We should in my view have a five year program to equip them with 100+ Blackhawks (some equipped as gun ships), 25+ Chinooks, and two dozen C130’s/AC130’s. They have no high speed, wheeled, light armor. (They should have three battalions of Stryker combat vehicles.) They have junk small arms and should be equipped with US Army modern automatic weapons. They lack body armor. They lack deployable, modern mortars and light artillery. (This has been the absolute key to keeping US Army combat units alive along the eastern frontier.) If we want to be out of Afghanistan in 15 years—we need to spend 10 Billion dollars on ANA and ANP equipment over the next five years ---and equip a capable, dominant battle force and law enforcement capability. 5. NATO: NATO presence in Afghanistan and their current responsibility for all of the national AOR is a political and security triumph. (37 nations and 36,000 troops---15,000 US) The brave Canadians have done well in very stiff combat in Khandahar Province. (We need to get their battalions to the NTC or JRTC for pre-deployment training). The Brit’s are as usual superb and well equipped fighters. The Dutch have left the security of Kabul and are operating in Oruzgan Province. Some other Coalition elements have done excellent service—e.g. the French Special Forces Company, Portuguese Infantry Company, etc. The US should be enormously grateful that NATO legitimacy backs our national strategy. As a general statement, however, the NATO forces are too weak on the ground, lack essential supporting elements (helicopters, engineers, logistics, intelligence), have severely restrictive rules-of-engagement, and may lack the national political will to fight when required. It is possible that the Taliban will try to knock one or more of these NATO nations out of the war. A major blow to the Italians, the Canadians, the Dutch, the Spanish, or the Germans might shatter their weak domestic political support. The greatest value of NATO is their Command and Control presence--- the ISAF Headquarters. In my view, it is essential that the US retain the Commander position. The US will continue to provide the bulk of the useful ground combat power, air power, economic reconstruction, and trainers for the ANA and ANP. There is long NATO tradition of allowing the US to retain command where we provide essential resources. General McNeil is tough, experienced, smart, and can command the respect of the assigned military forces. He now has 19+ NATO Generals ---with more soon to arrive (a Polish three star is expected). All of these senior officers are extremely talented and dedicated officers. The NATO Allies should rotate the Deputy and other positions—not the commander. SACEUR should consider eliminating their intervening level of NATO command supervision. There is little value added. 6. PAKISTAN: The Pakistanis are in a very difficult political and military situation. Their domestic reputation as an Army for professionalism and valor is all that holds together the four nations of Pakistan under one weak state. They have never controlled the FATA areas. The 80,000 troops they put into the FATA have suffered hundreds of killed and wounded. They are still there. They have never controlled Baluchistan outside of the urban areas without concentrated military force. They are a poor country with a very effective Army--- (Partially our military responsibility. We do support them with $100 million a month. However, we need to provide the support needed to actually control their borders and the chaos of their frontier regions). In my view, the Pakistanis are NOT actively supporting the Taliban ---nor do they have a strategic purpose to de-stabilize Afghanistan. There is a history of support for the Taliban among the Pakistani Army. The Taliban are in many respects neither Afghans nor Pakistanis---they are Pashtuns wearing Black turbans and baggy pants—with AK47’s and with an aversion to foreigners (US or Pakistani Army). 27 million Pashtuns live on both sides of the border—60 tribes—80% in desperate poverty, 19% literacy, three million are Afghan refugees in Pakistan living right along the frontier. The Duran Line does not exist as a recognized political division in the view of the many tribes which dominate the frontier regions. The Pakistanis need better US support for COIN operations in South and North Waziristan. We need to sort out a set of strategic tools to help them do better. They immediately require the $395 million they have requested for their Frontier Corps. It will be a disaster for our strategic purpose if we push them to premature military action which destroys them as a unifying and stabilizing force in the region. Pakistan is in many respects our most important ally in the global struggle against terrorism. Their economy is booming, poverty is being reduced, and the economy is trying to diversify. President Musharraf must face an election in 2007. He is the most democratic leader in Pakistan history. The control of the Army has been traditionally the only form of continued legitimate political power in Pakistan. The Army is the only load-bearing institution. The Police are corrupt. The lower courts are intimidated. (The higher court system is very capable). The people trust and admire the Army more than any other institution. The ISI is also essentially an extension of the Army. Some of the national business elite are from the Army. The political parties have been ineffective or dangerous--- (personality not policy based, corrupt, extreme, and incompetent). Politics in Pakistan until Musharaff has been about political families and their struggle for power. The US will miss our brilliant US Ambassador Ryan Crocker during the coming crucial 24 months. We must continue to strongly support democratic reform--- but not to forget the vital US national objectives at stake in Pakistan in the immediate future. 7. US COMBAT UNITS: The most important single factor in Afghanistan--without which nothing else is possible-- is the reality of the enormous courage, aggressiveness, discipline, and flexibility of US combat forces. No one inside the Washington Beltway actually understands the gravity of this finding. It is assumed to be what happens when you reach for the military tool. This is no accident. It is a function of NCO and Officer leadership--- and the decade long exposure to combat and stability operations of the Joint Forces team in the Balkans, Desert Storm, Iraq II, Afghanistan, and the many other theaters in which US air, sea, and land power operate. These troops are the best combat force we have ever fielded. They are physically and mentally tough. Their OPSEC is unbelievable (one of the major historical weaknesses of the US Army). Many are now on their third or even fourth combat tour. They know their business cold. They know each other from repeated deployments in the same units. They have solved the Joint interoperability problems with air power, artillery, and logistics at a tactical level. The commanders are incredibly experienced at company, battalion, and brigade. The generals grew up together in combat and trust each other. (The current Afghan deployed US Army force is the paratrooper--light infantry cult. They are self-actualizing). The Joint Force fundamental combat skills are awesome. I don't think they understand how good they are. The primary reason that US casualties number in the hundreds killed and maimed -- instead of the thousands -- is the enormous tactical skill of these battle forces. The can employ all elements of combat power in a synergistic manner. The enormously responsive and massively shaky logistics system actually works that operates thru the Port of Karachi and with the dedicated support of US contractors. US Air Force and Naval air power is the monster combat multiplier. We have employed three times the tonnage of ordnance in Afghanistan as in Iraq. Small diameter bombs and GPS guidance have revolutionized the effectiveness of Close Air Support. B1 bombers have become a strategic tool with tactical application. C130's give us enormous operational mobility in-country. C17's bring US logistics to the end-of-the-earth in near real time. Air drop now puts heavy drop re-supply into infantry platoon positions at 5000 feet mountain locations with 50 meter accuracy ---from drop altitudes out of ground fire vulnerability. (4 ½ million lbs dropped last year). UAV brings persistent eyes on the extended battlefield -- and instant death without warning to small elements of the Taliban or al-Qaeda. Satellite communications are central to command and control. The superb in-country medical treatment is backed up by instant, medically supported air evac to Germany for definitive care. Army aviation is central to every function of ground combat. This is the worst flying weather and environment on the face of the earth. Air power is the key to tactical success in this operational environment. 8. THE SOCOM STRATEGIC CAPABILITY: The special operations forces (both regular and black SOF) are a strategic tool of enormous value. By themselves they cannot win the nation's wars. With them -- we can fight an entirely different campaign which is targeted, relatively lower cost, and with relatively lower casualty rate. However, we are busting up these strategic assets at a very high rate with killed, wounded, and injured. Most importantly--these Air-ground-sea special operations forces can locate and kill or capture terrorist groups operating in a covert manner in both urban and rural terrain while minimizing impact on innocent populations. These are the most dangerous people on the face of the earth. These SOCOM forces are very difficult to recruit, train, and optimize for a given operational area. We need to significantly expand this strategic tool. The SOCOM air power elements are incredibly costly to create and train. The development of Special Forces ground operators are similar to the time and cost of a program to develop high performance aircraft. We need to take a revolutionary look at the methods of creating these “Tier One” forces. It will require a separately funded recruiting program similar to WWII OSS programs to identify college graduates, with superb athletic skills, who will volunteer for a 24 month training program (to include total immersion language training in Arabic or Dari) ---followed by a four year employment tour. The financial recruiting incentives of this program would have to reflect the strategic value of the effort to national security. We cannot continue to just find these kinds of operators in the general Army population. The Rangers are already running a separate program that is working reasonably well. 9. ROADS AND NATIONAL RECONSTRUCTION: The central key to winning the war in Afghanistan is economic reconstruction and employment. This requires roads to each Provincial capital, roads to each District capital, cross-border economic transportation roads and rail, electrical power, clean water, a simple but workable educational system, a rudimentary health care system (preventive health and health education), and agricultural reform. 7 The current system has been badly organized, marked by US governmental turf battles, badly resourced, and has poor oversight. The allies provide inadequate help. (The Saudis and Japanese are an exception). The Indian and Iranian help is viewed as a strategic threat rather than an incorporated value added. We do not exploit for IO purposes the effective work that we have completed. (Total of $1.97 billion of US Army Engineer work---$4.50 billion total work). Fortunately -- help is on the way. If Congress acts ---we should see $10.6 billion in economic and military aid approved for the Afghans. (The EU has pledged $780 million in aid for Afghanistan over the next four years.) We must lose the “Expeditionary” mindset. Reconstruction in this destroyed nation is going to take 25 years. We should consolidate all reconstruction activity (State, DOD, USAID, PRT) under a US Army Engineer Major General with an adequate staff and contractor support. This is a turf issue of enormous sensitivity—but only the Army Engineer Corps can marshal the management expertise to work in a dangerous security environment such as Afghanistan. 10. THE DRUG ISSUE: Afghanistan is now a narco-state. The opium/heroin take is $3.1 billion -- which is 1/3 of the GNP. The British have the lead for the program and are not adequately resourced for the effort. There is no single unifying leadership for the US nor international effort. President Karzai gets no unified support from the international community—many urge him to ignore the drug eradication program. Ambassador Ann Patterson at State Department is trying valiantly to organize our governmental effort with grudging support from other departments. We have a superb INL Director on the ground in Afghanistan. (Ms Elizabeth Richard). There is a very small but capable DEA presence (7 Agents with intermittent support from six month deployed FAST teams.) There is a battalion-sized Afghan Eradication Force which operates with rudimentary equipment and funding—under frequent fire and with continuing casualties. In my view, we must support the counter-drug effort as a key to achieving stable government in Afghanistan. This should be a 10,000 man ANP program ---supported by a $250 million INL program---with an in-country presence of 200+ DEA agents with primary training and operational responsibility for all law enforcement operations. If we do not get a serious and sustained effort on counter-drug operations—in my view we will fail to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan. 11. SUMMARY: The Afghan economy is booming at 12% growth rate a year. $14 billion has been spent on aid since 2001. Six TV channels and a hundred free/uncensored publications are available to the people. Literacy is increasing rapidly. The ring road is now 2/3 complete. The 40,000 soldiers of the ANA are growing rapidly in numbers and capability. There are 45,000 NATO and US troops in-country. There is a functioning democracy with an elected Parliament ---and a serious, dedicated Afghan President in office. Afghanistan can be a strategic victory in the struggle against terrorism. We are now on the right path. Barry R. McCaffrey General USA (Ret) Adjunct Professor of International Affairs USMA, West Point, NY.
Bomb kills 6 Canadian soldiers in AfghanistanLast Updated: Sunday, April 8, 2007 | 3:49 PM ETCBC NewsA roadside bomb killed six soldiers and injured two others in an armoured vehicle west of Kandahar City on Sunday, resulting in the worst single-day loss of life for Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, military officials said. The LAV III hit an "improvised explosive device" around 1:30 p.m. local time, Col. Mike Cessford, deputy commander of Task Force Afghanistan, told reporters at Kandahar air base.Earlier, Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed the deaths as he spoke to a shocked crowd of dignitaries and veterans in Lille, France, where he was attending a dinner to mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge."Sadly today has been a difficult day in Afghanistan," Harper said. "We've learned that an incident has claimed the lives of six Canadian soldiers and injured a number of others.""Our hearts ache for them and their families, and I know as we gather here on Easter Sunday our thoughts and prayers are with them," said the prime minister.Harper's announcement was met with an audible gasp from the crowd.The troops were serving with NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Helmand province, where the multinational force recently launched a major offensive against the Taliban.No names or hometowns of the soldiers involved have been released.One soldier in serious conditionCessford said 10 soldiers were riding in the vehicle when it struck the explosive. Four Canadian soldiers were flown to the hospital at Kandahar air base.One is listed in serious condition with non-life-threatening injuries and will likely be taken to the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, Cessford said. A second soldier suffered minor injuries and the other two were not hurt."We lost six of our best, and really, we are thinking of the families as much as anyone," Cessford said.Despite the worst single-day toll for the Canadian contingent, the soldiers stationed at Kandahar remain committed to the mission, he added."We are focused on rebuilding Afghanistan and doing the right thing by those kids who wave at us every day," Cessford said.Maj.-Gen. Ton van Loon, the ISAF chief of Regional Command South, said "the hearts of his soldiers" go out to the victims' families and their country.Since 2002, 51 Canadian soldiers and a diplomat have been killed in Afghanistan, where Canada has more than 2,000 troops, with the majority in the southern province of Kandahar.The main thrust of the offensive in Helmand province is being handled by British and American troops, with Canadian soldiers offering backup and security. About 5,000 soldiers in all are engaging the Taliban, including elements of Afghanistan's army.In February, the Taliban said it has 6,000 fighters ready for a spring offensive and could dramatically increase that number if necessary.Al-Jazeera reported at the time that Taliban leader Mullah Dadallah had recruited 500 suicide bombers for the campaign.
"O regresso progressivo dos 'talibãs' ao Afeganistão, com ofensivas cada vez mais vigorosas na primavera, e uma presença desestabilizadora em mais de metade do pais 'pachtun' é um sinal de alerta muito forte ao poder afegão e a coligação militar da NATO, conduzida pelos EUA.O Sul do Afeganistao tornou-se num teatro de batalha incessante e os paises ocidentais começam a exprimir sérias duvidas sobre as possibilidades de vitória.Os 'estudantes de religião' 'pachtounes', alimentados pelos serviços secretos e 'madrassas'(escolas islamicas) do Paquistão, apoiados pelo movimento 'jihadista' Al-Qaida, vão ganhando terreno não só no interior do pais como na 'cabeça' dos afegãos.Sem duvida este aumento de poder, cinco anos e meio depois da queda do Emirado islâmico 'talibã' acaba por constituir uma derrota importante para a NATO.A operação ocidental no Afeganistão sofre de vários males.No plano militar, onde seria suposto 'caçar' Ben Laden e garantir a segurança num pais exangue, a missão da NATO prosseguiu num caminho de guerra, em que os seus soldados são vistos como ocupantes arrogantes e pouco respeitadores dos costumes locais, com bombardeamentos que acabam por não poupar civis, além da incapacidade para intimidar os 'senhores da guerra' que pretendem continuar a manter as suas prerrogativas de poder e milicias proprias.No plano económico as perdas são enormes; metade do dinheiro acaba por ser gasto em funcionamento dos próprios 'doadores' e a outra parte desaparece nos meandros de uma administração corrompida.No plano politico os resultados também não são mais positivos, o presidente Hamid Karzai pouco mais controla que a capital, Cabul.O resultado destes insucessos é que os paises presentes no Afeganistão pôem a partir de agora condições drásticas no seu envolvimento, recusando o envio de forças para combate para certas zonas ou províncias, e isto quando não decidem pura e simplesmente a retirada das suas tropas.Tal como no Iraque, as operações enfrentam um dilema quase insoluvel; ficar pode ser o risco de entrar numa guerra ampla e talvez sujeita a falhanço; partir é reconhecer uma derrota frente a um movimento islamista e totalitario, que pratica o terrorismo, deixando abandonados a sua sorte os afegãos que apostaram na intervenção ocidental e na democracia.Se a América de George Bush não parece de momento capaz de se questionar sobre as suas operações militares afegãs e iraquianas, a Europa tem de, urgentemente, repensar a natureza da sua intervenção.Pela sua credibilidade, da NATO e especialmente a sua futura capacidade de intervenção em conflitos fora das suas fronteiras.
Combat Season 2007: The Taliban's Metamorphosis By Fred BurtonA number of alleged "collaborators" have been executed in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province recently, and the string of killings continued this week as the bodies of two local tribesmen -- both of whom reportedly had been shot to death -- were found in different parts of North Waziristan agency. Notes pinned to the victims' bodies, warning that "American spies will face the same fate," left little doubt as to which side the killers support in the U.S.-jihadist war.Executions of this sort have been occurring regularly since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, and there is little that is particularly noteworthy about the recent uptick in violence -- if considered in a vacuum, that is. Five years into the war, patterns of behavior by both sides have become largely predictable: The annual spring thaw marks the beginning of the traditional combat season in the Hindu Kush, and the combat season always is preceded by an "intelligence surge." In other words, in late winter, Western intelligence agents start stepping up their activities to determine what the jihadists' military plans will be, and the jihadists move to counter the intelligence efforts. Therefore, the violent deaths of alleged "spies" -- real or imagined -- also tend to tick upward at times, in keeping with the other seasonal cycles.But if considered in tandem with other regional trends -- particularly a recent shift in the frequency and means of communication used by Taliban leaders -- these seasonal executions begin to tell a new story.The last few months have brought a notable difference in the way the Taliban, the largest jihadist force in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, conduct the war. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the mullahs have "gone Hollywood." As before, suspected espionage agents are being killed; but in a new twist, the Taliban have begun recording videos of the executions and posting them on the Internet.What's more, this tactic -- apparently borrowed directly from the al Qaeda playbook -- is merely the most striking of several other shifts in the way the Taliban communicate with friends and enemies alike. Since late December, some Taliban leaders seem to have embarked on a virtual media blitz, with one of them -- Mullah Dadullah -- even appearing recently in a TV interview with Britain's Channel Four. This behavior is significant, coming from the commander of a fundamentalist group that traditionally has avoided "image-making" technology as sinful.To steal an old advertising phrase from General Motors: This is not your father's Taliban.The Spring OffensiveTo fully understand events in the region, one must consider both the traditional and emerging trends in the Afghanistan war.First, this conflict is as much an intelligence war as a military effort. Since the attacks of 9/11, the United States and its allies (including Pakistan) have exerted constant efforts to gather intelligence about the jihadist forces arrayed along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, with particular emphasis on locating high-value targets (HVTs) such as Osama bin laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. The Americans and others quickly realized that signals intelligence (SIGINT) and other technical methods would never be sufficient. Given the way the jihadists operate, intelligence from human sources (or HUMINT) would have to be emphasized if they were going to get in close enough to capture or kill al Qaeda leaders.Viewed from the opposite angle, jihadists typically find sanctuary in a cocoon of social relations -- a system that relies on shared religious convictions; cultural, tribal and religious obligations; ties of friendship and intermarriage; and, not insignificantly, fear. Traitors and collaborators are killed.The "badlands" on Pakistan's side of the border are now a key region for intelligence operations, since that is where the jihadists regrouped after their flight from Afghanistan. Recognizing that military operations against coalition forces were being planned and launched from new bases in Pakistan, the United States and its allies expanded their intelligence collection requirements there to include information about those military operations. These collection efforts, like those concerning HVTs, are HUMINT-intensive; but unlike the HVT collection effort, the military intelligence campaigns tend to be more seasonal than constant.The jihadists are not unaware of Western intelligence strategies and -- judging from recent events -- are concerned by them.The routine executions of "spies" like the Pakistani tribesmen, of course, serves two obvious purposes: By killing anyone who excites suspicion, the Taliban can protect against hostile intelligence agents who actually might have penetrated the organization, while also dissuading any would-be informants from going turncoat. These executions often are read as a sign that the jihadists are asserting their power in the border region, but they are, in fact, a marker of the jihadists' insecurity. There is always a possibility that someone in their social or operational network could sell them out or set them up as targets for an airstrike like that targeting al-Zawahiri at Damadola.At that level, the paranoia is a constant. However, reports also emerged this week that the Taliban have seized an Italian journalist and a German citizen in the region, and a British reporter working for Al Jazeera was abducted in February. It is possible there are heightened feelings of insecurity in connection with this spring's intelligence offensive, particularly in the wake of the recent arrest of Mullah Obaidullah Akhund. Obaidullah served as the Taliban's defense minister prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. The fear, of course, is that Obaidullah could provide a windfall of intelligence if he were interrogated by his Pakistani captors (provided that information is shared with the Americans).The recent abductions could be one means by which the Taliban are seeking leverage in their battle against Western coalition forces.Be that as it may, the routine execution of anyone who can be labeled a "spy" is highly useful -- whether for the Taliban or even as a tool in local tribal politics. Insofar as the Afghanistan conflict is concerned, these executions certainly have made it much more dangerous for anyone who might consider providing information to the United States and its allies -- and they have consequently upped the ante for U.S. case officers attempting to recruit new human sources.The Video OffensiveThe "fear factor" now is taking on new dimensions, however, with the Taliban expanding their communications to include video and the Internet -- something not widely seen in this particular war.In this respect, the Taliban are beginning to look and act more like al Qaeda.Though Osama bin Laden frequently gave interviews to journalists in the late 1990s, his direct communication with the outside world ceased after 9/11, when he became the target of a global manhunt. At that point, al Qaeda began to produce its own statements and disseminated them to media outlets like Al Jazeera. This communication model provided better security for the al Qaeda leadership, but it still left much to be desired: Outside media sources still were able to exercise considerable editorial control over the messages, and frequently did not air them in full. Moreover, there was still a possibility that the movements and contacts of couriers carrying the tapes to media networks could be traced.In 2005, al Qaeda's media arm, As-Sahab, began to post messages directly to the Internet instead. This greatly reduced the risks for physical security, and neatly solved the problem of editorial control as well. In other words, using the Internet allowed al Qaeda to say everything it wanted without censorship, cuts or commentary.Al Qaeda's regional branches in Saudi Arabia and Iraq -- and, more recently, in the Maghreb -- also have embraced the Internet. In fact, the Saudi and Iraqi nodes led the way in this realm by regularly posting their own statements and videos to the Web, before As-Sahab was formed in Pakistan. Enterprising jihadists clearly understood the value of the medium. It was his use of the Internet and decapitation videos that made Abu Musab al-Zarqawi a household name and allowed him to all but eclipse bin Laden as the world's most notorious terrorist. As-Sahab and the al Qaeda-linked Labik Productions also have made use of videos showing rocket and vehicular-bombing attacks in Afghanistan, as well as video statements from al Qaeda leaders such as Abu Yahya al-Libi.The Taliban and its leadership, however, have maintained a much lower media profile. Of course, Mullah Omar always has been reclusive and camera-shy -- and, having gone into hiding, it is not surprising that he would decline opportunities to provide the United States or its allies with a confirmed and recent image.The Taliban's absence from the airwaves and cyberspace also could be explained in part by the group's fundamentalist ideology -- or at least that appeared to be the case until recently.From a religious standpoint, the Taliban authorities frowned on depictions of the human form as evil -- and while in control of Afghanistan, the regime outlawed movies, television, photographs and painted portraits of people on these grounds. Even so, some Taliban leaders on rare occasions allowed themselves to be shown on film during interviews with important secular media outlets.But in recent months, the Taliban's prominence in the media has increased markedly. For example, a video called "Pyre for the Americans in the Land of Kharasan" was released by As-Sahab on Feb. 15, showing the Taliban planning and carrying out an operation to capture a purported American base in Zabul province. In other recent videos, Taliban members were shown executing dozens of alleged informants, some of whom were beheaded with swords.The Taliban leader who has been most in the public eye for some time is Mullah Dadullah, who previously was granting about one interview a year to major media. Since December, however, Dadullah apparently has been on a media blitz: He has appeared in As-Sahab videos and granted high-profile interviews to Al Jazeera and Britain's Channel 4. In fact, his name now appears almost daily in the international news. Dadullah could be emerging as Afghanistan's equivalent of Iraq's al-Zarqawi. And, with bravado similar to that of al-Zarqawi, he has been quite vocal in threatening the largest-ever Taliban offensive this spring: He claims to have hundreds of suicide bombers waiting to be used against NATO forces and the government in Kabul.Dadullah is not the only Taliban figure being featured in this new media campaign: Others, including Ghul Agha Akhund and Mullah Hayatullah Khan, also have granted interviews to Western media.Analytically speaking, it is reasonable to question whether the media blitz is being driven by a conscious, strategic decision or by some shift in the Taliban leadership's locale. After all, in the early years of the war, most Taliban members did not have regular access to electricity, let alone to the Internet. However, they were able to communicate with satellite phones, the occasional printed statement from Mullah Omar and some Web sites maintained by sympathizers. Moreover, leaders could videotape statements from the wilds of Afghanistan using battery-powered equipment.Also, we note with interest that al Qaeda's As-Sahab media arm -- which, like Labik Productions, has been posting material to the Internet for years -- has been involved in releasing some of the new Taliban videos (which also are reportedly sold as DVDs in Pakistani market stalls). The association with al Qaeda is not new, nor is the technological capability; therefore, the media blitz seems to be part of a strategic decision by the Taliban.Jihadist Cross-CurrentsIn this sense, and in working with As-Sahab, the Taliban clearly are taking a page from the al Qaeda manual. It is not the first time they have done so: During the course of the five-year conflict, the Taliban have adopted tactics such as using the same kinds of roadside IEDs and suicide bombers employed by al Qaeda nodes in other theaters.Culturally, however, the trends are moving in the opposite direction. In the Pakistani border regions, the Taliban have banned the playing of music and even have banned shaving -- showing an allegiance to the group's traditional religious doctrine. This is a further indication that the media offensive, with its use of modern technology, is a tactical move being made for battlefield advantage.Put another way, we are witnessing both the "Talibanization" of Pakistan's Pashtun-dominated regions and a concurrent "al Qaedaization" of the way the Taliban are fighting.And that brings up new questions about whether to read the Taliban's statements as jihadist bombast or meaningful threats.Among other things, Taliban leaders have claimed in the recent media offensive that they are preparing to stage attacks outside Afghanistan -- a threat that was given little credence at the time. However, it will be recalled that al-Zarqawi's jihadist node in Iraq was able to stage attacks in Jordan at one point.Clearly, the Taliban have chosen to emulate al Qaeda's battle tactics, using roadside IEDs and suicide bombers in attempts to force a NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Taliban today have moved toward the fourth-generation asymmetrical model of warfare now being waged by al Qaeda in other theaters. Whether they will find it in their interests -- or their means -- to carry out attacks beyond the Pakistan-Afghanistan region remains to be seen, but the idea is not, on its face, implausible.
By Paul Ames - The Associated PressPosted : Monday May 14, 2007 15:05:09 EDTBRUSSELS, Belgium — U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan need to change tactics to limit civilian casualties and prevent a backlash from locals, Germany’s defense minister said Monday, reflecting European unease about reports of high death tolls in incidents involving American units.“We have to make sure that in the future, operations do not take place in this way,” Franz Josef Jung told reporters at a meeting of EU defense ministers. “We don’t want the population against us. We have to prevent that.”NATO governments are concerned that recent reports of civilian casualties could undermine public support for the international security mission in Afghanistan, both among the local people and with public opinion in Europe.Airstrikes called in by U.S. Special Forces fighting some 200 Taliban militants near Sangin in southern Afghanistan killed 21 civilians last week, Afghan government officials said, while villagers said nearly 40 civilians were killed.The U.S.-led coalition — which operates outside NATO’s force of 36,000 troops — confirmed that the battle caused civilian casualties, killing at least one child, and that a joint Afghan-U.S. team would investigate.In March, Marines’ Special Forces fired on civilians after a suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan, killing 19 civilians and wounding 50. Fighting late last month killed some 50 civilians in the western province of Herat, Afghan and U.N. officials say.Jung made a distinction between the work of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and the U.S.-led counterterrorism mission, which was known until recently as Operation Enduring Freedom.“It’s not the way of going about it,” he said. “I’m not talking about ISAF, I’m talking about OEF.”Jung said he had raised the issue of civilian casualties with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and added that NATO’s top commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Gen. Dan McNeill, was “looking into the issue.”The German minister spoke after chairing the meeting of EU defense ministers, which approved plans to send about 160 experts on a mission to train Afghan police starting next month under the command of Brig. Gen. Friedrich Eichele of the German police.NATO has long pressed for the EU to step up training for Afghan police, saying effective local security forces are essential to support international security efforts. Jung said building effective Afghan forces was an essential element of any eventual exit strategy for international troops.European officials at NATO headquarters have expressed concern in recent days at the reports of civilian casualties, but they have refrained from publicly criticizing tactics of the American Special Forces who make up the bulk of the U.S.-led counterterrorism mission. They have, however, highlighted the need to improve coordination between NATO troops and the U.S.-led force of over 13,000.Jung stressed the role of NATO troops in pushing through development projects such as irrigation networks, roads and schools. “We’ve got to win over the hearts and minds,” he said.NATO’s troops were originally deployed to Kabul, the capital and the relatively peaceful northern and western regions to provide security and support for civilian reconstruction efforts. But the expansion of the allied mission into the volatile south and east last year has seen NATO troops also engaged in heavy fighting against supporters of the ousted Taliban regime.However although the U.S. is the biggest contributor to the NATO force with 15,000 troops, mostly in the south and east, Washington has also maintained its separate special forces mission to hunt down Taliban and al-Qaida militants.Several European nations — including Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Turkey — have refused to send their troops to NATO southern front lines except to provide emergency assistance to other allied units. Wary of unease back home, they prefer to focus on the reconstruction and development side of the mission.
A Report from the Field: Gauging the Impact of Taliban Suicide Bombing06/01/2007 - By Brian Glyn Williams (from Terrorism Monitor, May 24) - In the aftermath of the toppling of the Taliban, Kabul, which has tremendous significance as a symbol of authority for those who aspire to rule Afghanistan, was the primary target of the Taliban's suicide bombing campaign. The initial sporadic attacks—which included an attack on a German International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) convoy and foreigners in an antique-selling street known as "Chicken Street" that is popular with Afghanistan's rare "tourists"—rattled foreigners living in Afghanistan and presaged things to come. The United Nations, for example, subsequently forbade its workers from visiting Chicken Street. ISAF and U.S. convoys appeared to be on edge as they moved through the streets as early as 2003, long before the real suicide bombing campaign began. The initial wave of bombings from 2002-2005 was the Taliban's way of "throwing down the gauntlet" and demonstrating that the Hamid Karzai government could not uphold its promise of security to the people in the capital. Nevertheless, for most Kabulis who have a much higher threshold for violence than Westerners who have not lived through two-and-a-half decades of war, life went on. Kabul's population skyrocketed; restaurants and modern steel and glass buildings sprang up; "Roshan" cell phones began to appear in the hands of young women who wore head scarves instead of burqas; traffic jams materialized; and Kabulis threw themselves into taking advantage of the new climate of security to rebuild their lives. Between 2003 and 2005, Afghans, including General Rashid Dostum who was the target of one such bombing, unanimously dismissed the suicide bombings as being the work of "die hards," "foreigners," "Arabs" and, most importantly, "Pakistanis" . Many claimed that the Afghan Taliban, for all its faults, would not engage in suicide attacks and President Karzai himself proclaimed that the "Sons of Afghanistan" would never carry out such "un-Islamic" actions.Today, however, there is a perceptible shift in opinion in Kabul that stems from the fact that Kabul has been the target of more than two dozen suicide attacks since 2005. Nevertheless, progress in the capital, which in and of itself is a bubble removed from the provinces, especially those in the south, has continued apace despite the fact that these random attacks are clearly beginning to take their toll. Among the many stoic Kabulis, there is a palpable sense of fear and acceptance of the fact that fellow Afghans are increasingly responsible for the carnage that takes its toll primarily on civilians. A driver in Kabul, for example, had the disconcerting habit of pointing out to his passenger the spots where suicide bombings had taken place in recent months . He seemed to be consumed by the fear of becoming a victim himself.His fear is shared by many Kabulis, especially those who work for Western companies that appeared to be benefiting the most from post-Taliban development . Some Westernized Afghans make a point of consciously mixing up their schedules so as not to have predictable travel patterns that could be picked up by Taliban spies. It is rumored that Afghan governor Abdul Hakim Taniwal was sent pictures of his movements by the Taliban before he was killed by a suicide bomber in Gardez in September 2006 . Urban myths of suicide bombers are not surprisingly widespread. One such story describes a taxi driver who picked up a passenger for a journey from Kabul to an outlying city only to find out that his passenger was a suicide bomber wearing an explosives-filled vest. Luckily for the taxi driver, his passenger failed to see any ISAF targets on their journey.Foreigners also seem to have reacted to real or perceived threats by adopting a heightened sense of awareness and many have adopted robust security procedures. The few Western-style restaurants and clubs in the city are protected by sand-bagged entrances and guarded by soldiers with metal detectors. Foreigners rarely utilize taxis or walk the streets. While a few travel freely around Kabul on foot or by taxi, many foreigners working for NGOs are forbidden from doing so.The greatest obstacle facing Western researchers in Kabul is getting out of the city to the south of the country along the newly paved Kabul-Kandahar highway. Traveling the highway by car is an open invitation for becoming a target of a Taliban suicide bombing or kidnapping . Astoundingly, foreigners traveling between the capital and Afghanistan's second largest city have to rely on air transport due to the insecurity on this vital section of the Afghan "ring road" (a road that, ironically enough, was rebuilt with Western aid money). Average Afghans consider it foolhardy to travel to such "hot zones" as Gardez and villages around Jalalabad without any protection. Coalition convoys traveling on these provincial roads are increasingly wary of road-side pedestrians using cell phones when they pass for fear that they are passing on their itineraries to militants. Coalition troops have even found that children using remote-controlled toy cars on the road are doing so to test the strength of their electronic counter-measures designed to scramble bomb wiring and IED transmission signals.Signs of HopeWhile there is little that someone on foot or driving in a "soft-skinned" vehicle can do to save themselves from a determined suicide bomber, the Karzai government and its coalition supporters have made some headway in defeating them. Coalition troops and the National Directorate of Security have, for example, broken up numerous suicide cells (usually a trainer, bomb-maker, spotter and the bomber himself). Additionally, average Afghans have prevented suicide bombings on numerous occasions by apprehending bombers themselves .The following account recorded by the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) of Afghans proactively preventing a suicide bombing is certainly heartening: "On March 4, Zabul Province, Qalat District, at approximately 1520 hours local, shopkeepers in the bazaar area identified, arrested and subsequently severely beat a man carrying a BBIED [Body-Borne Improvised Explosive Device]. After being handed over to the ANP [Afghan National Police] and receiving treatment at the hospital, the man claimed to be part of a three-man suicide team that had entered Qalat City" . A reliable source that chose to remain anonymous told the most harrowing story of a suicide bomber who pulled up to a gas station driving a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. When the gas station attendant saw the suspicious wiring in the car, he and another worker jumped the bomber, fought with him to prevent him from detonating his device in a gas station filled with civilians and eventually subdued him.While the Karzai administration can be faulted for often failing to provide security for those who stand up to the Taliban, many clearly continue to do so regardless of the cost. For example, in the Pashtun areas of the southeast, a fatwa-decree written by 30 ulema/religious scholars in Khost proclaimed that "suicide is strongly prohibited by Islam. Nobody is allowed to assassinate himself by any means. Allah says 'don't kill yourselves.' Abi Horrira says that the Prophet, peace be upon him, says 'The one who jumps down from a mountain and kills himself will be put in hell forever'" .Civilians are not the only ones who remain vigilant. The ANP has saturated the capital with thousands of heavily armed policemen. Entry to the capital has now been channeled through police checkpoints and ANP members have set up road blocks throughout the city where they carry out random searches of vehicles. As the front-line defense in the war against suicide bombers, the ANP, who man dangerously exposed positions, have suffered the brunt of the Taliban's attacks. They often sustain more casualties than the Afghan National Army.There are other signs of hope which distinguish the campaign in Afghanistan from that of Iraq—most notably, the reluctance of Afghan insurgents to target the United Nations. The United Nations, which has a long history of neutrality in Afghanistan, stemming from its period of relief work during the Afghan Civil War and the Taliban period, is perhaps one of the most exposed organizations in Afghanistan. There are arguably more white UN vehicles on the road on any given day than coalition military vehicles. Unlike Iraq, however, where the United Nations has been deliberately targeted, the Taliban appear to have recognized the UN's neutrality. They appear to accept its positive role as a mediator and source of assistance in improving the lives of average Afghans (even the Taliban's). For this reason, it appears that they avoid targeting its vehicles and bases with suicide attacks .The ethnic-sectarian strain to the suicide bombing campaign in Iraq, which often supersedes the targeting of foreign troops, is also completely absent in Afghanistan. While the Taliban and al-Qaeda have been involved in anti-Shiite suicide bombings in the North-West Frontier Province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan, this trend has not appeared in Afghanistan. Even though the ANP presence in the Shiite Hazara regions around Bamiyan (not to mention the Panjshir Valley, and the plains of Turkistan) was minimal, traveling appears safe . Although there have been suicide bombings in areas with pro-Taliban Pashtun pockets in the north and west, such as the recent bombings in Kunduz and Herat, there have been no deliberate attacks on the Shiite Hazara areas to date. For both logistical and strategic reasons, the Taliban appear to have largely focused its suicide terrorism operations on the Pashtun belt and the symbolically important capital despite their history of oppression against Hazaras and, to a lesser extent, minorities of the north.The Taliban's much-hyped campaign to employ "hundreds" if not "thousands" of suicide bombers against Afghanistan this spring has not come to pass. Furthermore, with the death of Mullah Dadullah, the operational Taliban commander who has made the most use of suicide bombing, there is cause for hope even though many people continue to live their lives under the shadow of this new and unpredictable threat.* The above analysis is based on field research carried out in the summers of 2003, 2005 and the spring of 2007 in 15 Afghan provinces including: Paktia, Nangarhar (Jalalabad), Panjshir, Balkh (Mazar-i-Sharif), Takhar, Bamiyan, Kabul and Herat. Specific assistance was granted by the United Nations, the U.S. military, Hekmat Karzai’s Center for Afghan Peace Studies as well as numerous NGO members and average Afghans who chose to remain anonymous.Dr. Brian Glyn Williams is assistant professor of Islamic History at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.Notes1. Author interviews with Afghan citizens and with General Rashid Dostum, Kabul, Afghanistan, 2003 and 2005.2. Author interview with driver, Kabul, Afghanistan, April-May 2007.3. Author interviews with Afghan citizens, Kabul, Afghanistan, April-May 2007.4. Author interview, Kabul, Afghanistan, April-May 2007.5. Author's personal experience in attempting to travel by car to Kandahar, Afghanistan.6. The media widely reported the case of one Afghan who heroically subdued a suicide bomber attempting to enter a U.S. base in January 2007. See USA Today, March 8, 2007.7. UNAMA Field Report, March 4, 2007.8. "Sentence Judgment (Fitwa) of the Religious Scholars of Khost Province," November 21, 2006.9. The recent case where a UN vehicle carrying Nepalese soldiers was hit by an IED was said to be related to drug cartels in the region and not to the Taliban.10. Author's personal evaluation from traveling in the Shiite Hazara regions around Bamiyan, the Panjshir Valley and the plains of Turkistan. Posted By: Jamestown