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New Year To Mark Intensification Of West's War In Afghanistan And Pakistan

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New Year To Mark Intensification Of West's War In Afghanistan And Pakistan
Rick Rozoff

No stranger to armed conflicts over the past 70 years, the United States has completed its first decade of continuous warfare: 2001-2010.

On January 1 the U.S. and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will enter not only a new year but a second decade of war in Afghanistan.

The air and cruise missile attacks that commenced on October 7, 2001 and the insertion of U.S. and British ground troops that followed have been succeeded by a 48-nation, 152,000-troop occupation and counterinsurgency campaign that is also conducting almost daily deadly drone missile strikes and helicopter gunship raids into neighboring Pakistan.

The U.S. Defense Department announced that on September 1 American troop strength in Iraq was decreased to under 50,000 as the occupation was transitioned to so-called Operation New Dawn. Troops from approximately 40 other nations assigned to Multi-National Force -" Iraq, most of them new NATO members and NATO candidates from Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, were withdrawn from 2006-2008. Rather not withdrawn, but transferred to Afghanistan, leaving behind only the remnants of a once 160,000-strong American contingent and the NATO Training Mission - Iraq.

There are now over three times as many foreign troops in Afghanistan as there are in Iraq, from 48 official NATO Troop Contributing Nations. Also deployed in theater or pledged for that purpose are troops from several other countries in Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East, among them Bahrain, Colombia, Egypt and Kazakhstan.

The microcosm of a U.S. and NATO rapidly deployable, interoperable global expeditionary military force melded in combat. Killing and dying together on a common battlefield, the blood of thirty nations spilled in one country.

711 foreign troops were killed in Afghanistan in 2010, a forty percent increase over 2009. By comparison, 60 foreign soldiers were killed in Iraq in 2010, all of them American. Almost 500 U.S. and 213 non-U.S. troops lost their lives in Afghanistan in 2010.

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Over 800 Afghan government soldiers were killed in the same period and 2,400 civilians were killed in the first ten months of the year.

A Pentagon official in the Afghan capital estimated that 18,000 attacks were conducted against U.S. and NATO forces in 2010, twice as many as in the preceding year. [1]

Far from any prospect of a decrease in the death toll in the war-ravaged country during the new year, the spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, Germany's Brigadier General Josef Blotz, this week stated that the Afghan war will only intensify in 2011, that "There is no end to the fighting season; we need to keep pressure on the Taliban all over the country." [2]

As though to confirm Blotz's claim, on December 30 two rockets landed in the main U.S. military base at the Bagram Airfield.

Fighting has increased in the north of Afghanistan where the bulk of 5,000 German troops assigned to NATO are stationed, an area hitherto comparatively peaceful. Bundeswehr forces are engaged in ground combat operations for the first time since the Second World War. Berlin has lost 46 soldiers in the conflict.

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Germany recently ordered the latest of 473 Eagle reconnaissance vehicles under a $165 million contract with the U.S. military contractor General Dynamics. The first armored vehicles were delivered to the German armed forces in 2009 and deployed to Afghanistan.

On the day before Christmas NATO troops raided the compound of a private security firm in Kabul, killing two Afghan nationals. Afterward, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary announced his government has determined that "NATO is in violation of a security agreement in Kabul and is suspending an Afghan police general who helped the U.S.-led coalition carry out a raid in the capital that killed two private security guards." [3]

On the same day New Zealand special forces serving under NATO launched a night raid in a factory in Kabul and slew two more security guards.

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/

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