Friday, May 13, 2011

Thoughts on Afghanistan: The International Coalition

Forty-seven countries comprise the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which is the international coalition created to secure Afghanistan from the Taliban, al Qaeda, and other insurgent groups.  The difference between various ISAF militaries is night and day.  Some countries like the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada are fierce fighters; other countries like the Czech Republic and Romania do not have the might to defeat the Taliban on their own but certainly do their best; and other countries like Poland and Germany's unwillingness to do combat duties have made these countries' mere presence more harm than good.

"Why Would Anyone Do That?"

Every Polish soldier who dies in Afghanistan dies in vain.  Yes, I know that sounds incredibly callous but it is the truth.  Certain countries like Poland have implemented complicated rules of engagement which prevent their militiaries from taking any significant actions to combat the Taliban and other insurgent groups.  Also, commanders of various military forces have decided to avoid combat by limiting operations to the main roads.  This, while avoiding direct combat, surrenders the most of the country to Afghanistan.  The ever growing in power Taliban thus not win without a fight in most of the country but then go on to attack and kill international partners on the road patrols.  Thus soldiers are sent out on pointless patrols and periodically killed off.

Meanwhile potential Afghan allies lose hope as they realize these countries have not come to fight the Taliban but merely deploy to Afghanistan and then redeploy to their home country.  I have talked to various Afghans who do not understand why these ISAF militaries came "half the way around the world" only to not only be passive but to surrender most of the country to the Taliban.

Thank You

I wish to thank the various foreign partners who have personally helped me and those I was in Afghanistan with during my recent time there.  I am grateful for the Polish priest who gave me spiritual comfort, I am grateful to the Czech pilots who were willing to fly during the fog, and I am grateful to the British officer who went above and beyond to ensure the safety of American marines who he never met.  Thank you.

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