Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Forgotten Forgotten War

If Iraq is the forgotten war, then Afghanistan is the forgotten forgotten war.

Well not any more. In the month of June, there were 28 American soldiers killed in Afghanistan. That's one less than in Iraq. The only thing is that the American force in Afghanistan is one-quarter the size of the force in Iraq. It means Afghanistan is extremely deadly to American forces right now. Most likely it will be for some time to come.

The Taliban is on the move. It kept it's head down for a few years and regrouped and is now at it again. Of course they were able to do this because the US was all caught up in the fight in Iraq. It now seems the military wants to send more troops to Afghanistan but can't because of Iraq.

This from a story in the Post:

"I don't have troops I can reach for, brigades I can reach, to send into Afghanistan until I have a reduced requirement in Iraq. Afghanistan has been and remains an economy-of-force campaign, which by definition means we need more forces there."
This statement comes from no less than Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

It says to me we are in trouble. The idea is that, as things improve in Iraq and there's a draw down there, we send those forces to Afghanistan. Some experts think it might take a couple of years to accomplish that. My question is do we have a couple of years to wait. The Taliban certainly won't be waiting a couple of years.

One of the short term ways to solve this problem is to extend the tours of duty of soldiers. See the story here.

The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is doing combat operations in the volatile south, will stay an extra 30 days and come home in early November rather than October, Marine Col. David Lapan confirmed Thursday.

There are assurances from the Pentagon that there will not be an extension beyond those 30 days. But then again in early May no less than Secretary Gates said "no one has suggested even the possibility of extending that rotation." So this recent assurance should be taken with a grain of salt.

President Bush has stated that there will be a increase in troops sent to Afghanistan in 2009. Of course the details on how that will be accomplished are few.

Once again the lack of proper planning on Iraq is directly impacting our ability to defeat the Taliban, al-Qaida and other militants in Afghanistan. Chalk another one up for the Bush administration.

The idea of moving the troops from Iraq (once things are stable in Iraq) to Afghanistan posses a couple of questions. At what point does the equipment start to give out? How many tours of duty are these soldiers supposed to go through before they get a break? Or our leaders just going to keep using them until they are ground into the dust?

They deserve to be treated better. Most of all they deserve not to be forgotten which unfortunately has happened with the was in Afghanistan.

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