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South Asia, Latin America: Pentagon's 21st Century Counterinsurgency Wars

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More than half a year after the departure of the George W. Bush administration the United States is embroiled in its largest combat operation since the second attack on Fallujah in November of 2004 and the most extensive and lengthy offensive in its nearly eight-year-old war in Afghanistan.

It has also announced plans to intensify its involvement in the 45-year counterinsurgency war in Colombia with deployments of 1,400 additional soldiers and contractors to five more military bases there.

The qualitative escalations of counterinsurgency wars in Afghanistan and Colombia are, first of all, integrally related and, second, both part of far broader regional strategies. The current Obama administration has continued and accelerated the expansion of the Afghan war into neighboring Pakistan, with almost six times the population of its neighbor and nuclear weapons; and its enhanced role in Colombia, a nation that launched a military assault into Ecuador in March of last year and has been installing bases and deploying troops on its border with Venezuela, can also drag the entire Andean region into the vortex of armed confrontation and eventual war.

Two recent appointments have signaled that cross-border counterinsurgency wars in Asia and South America will be the dubious "peace dividend" following withdrawal of troops - far slower and less extensive than promised - from Iraq.

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On June 10th of this year the US Senate approved former chief of the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command, Stanley McChrystal, to replace General David McKiernan, previously sacked, as commander of the U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), putting him in charge of over 90,000 US, NATO and NATO partner troops in Afghanistan.

The Joint Special Operations Command was created in December of 1980 after the disastrous Operation Eagle Claw operation in Iran. A 2006 book by The Times of London journalist Michael Smith on the Command is titled Killer Elite: The Inside Story of America's Most Secret Special Operations Team.

During McChrystal's tenure as its commander he oversaw counterinsurgency operations, acknowledged and clandestine, in Iraq from the invasion in 2003 to last year.

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A report called "US shifts focus to counterinsurgency in Afghanistan" synopsized the current situation by mentioning that "With the US pulling out from major Iraqi cities, many believe Washington is switching its focus to Afghanistan....By the end of this year, 68 thousand US troops will be in Afghanistan, more than double the number at the end of 2008. General Stanley McChrystal is the top commander of the US and NATO troops." [1]

Afghanistan: US Shifts Troops From Iraq, NATO Provides 10,000 More

Entire US military units have been transported directly from Iraq to Afghanistan or had deployments slated for the first switched to the second in recent months, including 4,500 airborne troops. The US escalation has been supplemented by boosts in the number of soldiers, armor, attack helicopters and warplanes deployed or scheduled for deployment by NATO allies. Germany is soon to have the 4,500-troop maximum currently allowed by parliamentary restrictions, along with Tornado warplanes, Marder tanks and AWACS; Italy is sending more troops, helicopters and drones; Turkey may dispatch an additional 1,000 soldiers; Romania has been tapped for over 1,000 troops; Britain, which has lost 191 soldiers, its highest combat fatalities since the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas War, recently revealed it was deploying yet more troops, Chinook and Merlin helicopters and Predator drones.

In mid-June outgoing NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer pledged between 8,000 and 10,000 troops for the war, adding to nearly 65,000 already under NATO command in Afghanistan.

US and NATO drones, planes and helicopters now routinely violate the airspace of neighboring Pakistan, usually with deadly consequences.

On July 27 NATO and the Pentagon activated a new global Strategic Airlift Capability in Papa, Hungary - described in the local press as "the biggest NATO project in 40 years" [2]

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For the occasion the first C-17 Globemaster III transport plane, "used for rapid strategic airlift of troops and cargo to main operating bases or forward operating base anywhere in the world," [3] arrived at the base where "Soldiers, combat vehicles...will be flown on the heavy transport planes, primarily to remote countries, even amid warlike conditions." [4] Afgahnistan will be their chief destination.

Troops, arms and equipment are pouring into Afghanistan from all parts of the world. US ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder has just recruited more New Zealand special forces; Armenia announced that it may send its first troops under NATO Partnership for Peace obligations to join those from its Caucasus neighbors Georgia and Azerbaijan; South Korea has been pressured to return military forces withdrawn in 2007 as part of a hostage release deal; Japanese government officials have recently spoken of deploying soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan even while armed hostilities rage, a violation of the nation's constitution; the army of Mongolia, wedged between Russia and China, "which has not seen major combat since assisting the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in 1945" will soon deploy troops as part of its "third neighbor" policy "to reach out to allies other than China and Russia" and "cement its alliance with the United States and secure grants and
aid....Mongolia's deployment will mark its largest military presence in Afghanistan since the age of Genghis Khan...." [5]

On July 28 the world's newest nation, diminutive Montenegro (population 650,000), announced that it was assigning an initial 40 troops to NATO for the war. On the same day it was reported that fellow Balkan nation Albania, inducted into NATO in March, will double its contingent and CBS News reported that US Green Beret-trained Colombian commandos were headed to Afghanistan to apply their brutal counterinsurgency methods in South Asia.

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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:

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