ABC Of West's Global Military Network: Afghanistan, Baltics, Caucasus
The century's longest war continues to rage in South Asia with no sign of abating. Instead, the invasion of Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 has exploded into endless armed hostilities that have spread across the length and breadth of the nation, with U.S. and NATO military forces fighting an intensified counterinsurgency conflict in the north, south, east and west of Afghanistan, now paralleled by equally brutal and even larger-scale combat operations in neighboring Pakistan.
With over 100,000 Western troops and rumors of perhaps a doubling of that number in the works, and with Washington spending billions of dollars in expanding bases to accommodate those reinforcements, the Afghanistan-Pakistan campaign under the direction of U.S. and NATO military commander General Stanley McChrystal and Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke portends yet greater violence, bloodshed and imperiling of regional stability.
The U.S. lost 22 personnel on October 26-27, making this month Washington's costliest ever in the deadliest year of a war that is now in its ninth calendar year.
The White House and Pentagon have also extended lethal drone missile attacks inside Pakistan, where they are nearly daily occurrences, and will soon deploy Marines to the nation's capital in a massively revamped U.S. embassy and army trainers to the Iranian border, "the first foreign forces formally stationed in Baluchistan since Pakistan's independence in 1947." 
Several million civilians have been uprooted and displaced by Western and Pakistani air and ground attacks.
In addition to being the lengthiest and biggest war in the world, the U.S. and NATO Afghan campaign is the first armed conflict in this young millennium with an international dimension. In fact its global scope in some aspects is grander than those of the two world wars of the first half of the last century.
This is true in two regards. First, in the historically unprecedented number of nations that have been called upon to supply troops for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for the prosecution of the war. And second, in the repercussions of those troop and military equipment commitments on local and regional conflicts in several parts of the world far removed from Afghanistan.
Last week the defense chiefs of several dozen nations met for a two-day conference in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, to discuss NATO's new Strategic Concept and a host of missions to be subsumed under it, with the war in Afghanistan at the top of the agenda.
The defense ministers and secretaries of all 28 full NATO member states and of 14 partnership (Partnership for Peace, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, Contact Country, Adriatic Charter) nations were officially acknowledged to be in attendance.
Information is not available regarding which exact non-NATO nations were represented, but likely participants would have included Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Macedonia, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates.
The defense ministers of Afghanistan and of Armenia, which has now committed forces for ISAF, were reported to have attended the meeting also.
In recent months reports have either verified or speculated that troop continents from several other nations would be recruited by the United States and NATO for the Afghan war front. These candidates include Colombia, South Korea, Mongolia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Montenegro and Moldova in addition to Armenia.
The combined U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan could then include units from fifty nations in five continents, the Caucasus, the Persian Gulf and Oceania.
No such diverse military force has been gathered for one war in one location at any other time and place in history.
The creation of an integrated, weapons- and warfighting-interoperable global army on the battlefields of Afghanistan has been discussed in a previous article.  The current figure for U.S. and NATO-led foreign forces in the country exceeds 100,000, but with regular troop rotations over an eight-year period the total number deployed is several times that.