Christmas 2009: U.S., NATO To Expand New Millennium's Longest War
Assuming as there is every reason to that the majority of new U.S. troops will be assigned to ISAF, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will field a 100,000-troop, 50-nation army in the heart of Asia.
In his report of three months ago the commander of all U.S. and NATO occupation forces in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, recommended increasing the size of the Afghan National Army from what he claimed is currently 92,000 troops to 240,000, as his counterinsurgency strategy requires nearly 400,000 troops in all. McChrystal, former head of the Joint Special Operations Command, was appointed to his current dual role because of his counterinsurgency background.
However, efforts to build a national Afghan army with numbers in the six figures have been announced since shortly after the invasion of the nation in 2001 and that threshold has never been crossed. Nor is it ever likely to be. Afghans are in no rush to join a colonial adjunct force to assist in the subjugation of their country and its people by North American and European invaders.
At a joint press conference with visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on November 24, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke of the war in Afghanistan that is now in its ninth year and pledged, "After eight years - some of those years in which we did not have, I think, either the resources or the strategy to get the job done - it is my intention to finish the job."
The comments came after the previous evening's war council as it was described in the American media, the tenth (ninth by some counts) such meeting and the culmination of a three-month strategic review process following top U.S. and NATO military commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal's 66-page Commander's Initial Assessment of August 30.
The latter spoke of the "criticality of time" and unequivocally emphasized a counterinsurgency rather than a counter-terrorism approach for the war's next and deadliest stage. That is, war against all ethnic Pushtun fighters (on both side of the Afghan-Pakistani border) subsumed under the rubric of Taliban rather than a narrower campaign against alleged al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan.
In fact McChrystal identified only three insurgent groups to be targeted in the upcoming round of the Pentagon's and NATO's South Asian war: The Quetta Shura Taliban, the Haqqani Network and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin. The third is the fighting force of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the U.S.'s main ally during the first phase of the 30-year-old Afghan war from 1978-1992.
The so-called Quetta Shura Taliban are accused of being based, as the name would suggest, in the capital of the Pakistani province of Balochistan - Quetta - and that it is on the top of McChrystal's list indicates that the war's focus is larger than just Afghanistan.
With all the objectivity, sophistication and subtle delicacy of phrase the American press prides itself on, the nation's newspaper of record, the New York Times, offered this choice specimen early this February:
"From Quetta, Taliban leaders including Mullah Muhammad Omar, a reclusive, one-eyed cleric, guide commanders in southern Afghanistan, raise money from wealthy Persian Gulf donors and deliver guns and fresh fighters to the battlefield, according to Obama administration and military officials." 
Another sterling pillar of the American free press, the Christian Science Monitor, characterized the Haqqani Network as "a shadowy outfit that many officials consider to be the biggest threat to the American presence in the country."  It is not part of Taliban, however that term is defined. The source also situates that group's headquarters in Pakistan.
Its founder and leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, has a resume not dissimilar to that of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. "Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, who worked closely with the anti-Soviet insurgency (inspiring the 2007 Tom Hanks film 'Charlie Wilson's War'), once called Haqqani 'goodness personified.'
"In the 1980s, Haqqani quickly established himself as one of the preeminent field commanders. 'He could kill Russians like you wouldn't believe,' says one US intelligence officer who knew him at the time. The Central Intelligence Agency forged close links with him, and through the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency funneled large amounts of weapons and cash his way." 
Two of McChrystals' enemies, then, are old friends and beneficiaries of current U.S. Pentagon chief Robert Gates, who as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency armed and trained them in the 1980s.
Gates and McChrystal both participated in Obama's war council on the evening of November 23 and were joined by, on the civilian side:
-Vice President Joseph Biden
-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
-Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg
-National Security Adviser and former European Command and NATO top military commander James Jones
-Deputy National Security Advisor Tom Donilon
-Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy
-U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke
-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice
-Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan
-U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, previously U.S. Army Lieutenant General, Commander of the Combined Forces Command in Afghanistan, and immediately before becoming a "diplomat" Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
-U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson