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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/2/10

U.S. And NATO Prolong And Expand Greater Afghan War

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U.S. And NATO Prolong And Expand Greater Afghan War
Rick Rozoff

Over 150,000 foreign troops from more than fifty nations will spend another Christmas in Afghanistan. The tenth since the U.S. and Britain invaded the nation on October 7, 2001 and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization activated its Article 5 collective military assistance provision the preceding month.

Western forces have occupied and waged war in the nation for longer than Soviet troops were stationed there, from December 27, 1979 until February 15, 1989. There are approximately a time and a half as many U.S. and NATO troops in the country as there were Soviet ones at their peak.

The duration of the war, also the most protracted in U.S. history, is lengthening and the amount of foreign soldiers in theater is growing, with a rash of recent revelations establishing that the foreign occupation will continue to 2014 and perhaps substantially longer and documenting a steady increase in reinforcements from several NATO nations and the recruitment of new troop contributing nations.

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Christmas Day will find troops from the U.S. and NATO allies also based, billeted and bivouacked in Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as well as other generally unacknowledged outposts in the greater Afghan war, one which in truth ranges from the Strait of Gibraltar on the Atlantic Ocean to the Strait of Malacca in the Pacific. In addition to the Afghan campaign, NATO's invocation of its Article 5 has been employed to support the over nine-year-old Operation Active Endeavor maritime surveillance and interdiction mission throughout the Mediterranean Sea, and U.S. and NATO allies' naval and air deployments in support of the Afghan war overlap with operations off the Horn of Africa in the Gulf of Aden and throughout the Indian Ocean and into the Persian Gulf.

Last week the USS Halsey and USS Shoup destroyers rejoined the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group in the northern Indian Ocean region stretching from Pakistan in the east to Somalia and Yemen in the west. The two new warships linked up with the Abraham Lincoln nuclear aircraft supercarrier and its attached warplanes, the guided missile cruiser USS Cape St. George and destroyers USS Momsen and USS Sterett. 

Indicating the range of the greater Afghan war area of operations, that of the original Operation Enduring Freedom and global war on terror, a U.S. Navy website disclosed that the "Shoup will be initially assigned to counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Red Sea; Momsen will be initially assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 152 in the Arabian Gulf; and Halsey will be initially assigned to CTF 50, supporting Abraham Lincoln Strike Group operations." [1]

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Arabian Gulf is an allusion to what is generally known as the Persian Gulf and its use is an intentional provocation to Iran. Combined Task Force 152, in its own words, "operates in the international waters of the Arabian Gulf and takes part in Operation Enduring Freedom." [2] CTF 50 is presumably Combined Task Force 150, an American-led multinational naval force with logistics facilities at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, where U.S. Africa Command maintains its only full-service military base on the African continent and stations its Combined Joint Task Force --" Horn of Africa whose area of responsibility includes Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Yemen and increasingly Comoros, Mauritius and Madagascar.

The theater of operations for the greater Afghan war stretches across the entire expanse of the Arabian Sea. [3]

After an unscheduled return to home port for repairs, the Charles de Gaulle arrived in the Arabian Sea recently where the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group are currently deployed. The U.S. possesses all eleven of the world's supercarriers and all but one of its twelve nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the Charles de Gaulle being the other. American supercarriers are accompanied by strike groups and regularly prowl the planet's oceans and seas.

In the skies over Afghanistan, the U.S. and its NATO allies delivered 4,615  bombs and missiles to targets in that Asian nation so far this year, already surpassing last year's total of 4,184, with 1,000 bombs and Hellfire missiles used in October alone. Total combat sorties have risen by 20 percent over the same period.

On November 29 the French Defense Ministry announced that a Rafale multirole jet fighter plunged into the Arabian Sea a hundred miles off the Pakistani coast after taking off from the Charles de Gaulle and flying a combat mission over Afghanistan.
The U.S. Defense Department reported to Congress on November 22 that "violence in Afghanistan was at an all-time high since the nine-year-old war started" and "progress made by the NATO-led forces there was limited." [4] Combat incidents in Afghanistan so far this year are up fourfold over 2007 and what the Pentagon refers to as "kinetic events" - direct and indirect fire, surface-to-air fire and exploded, discovered and disabled roadside bombs - increased by nearly 55 percent in this year's third quarter, July-September, from the preceding one.

NATO deaths in Afghanistan during the first eleven months of 2010 are at 700, 30 percent of the total in over nine years of fighting.

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Tony Karon wrote in Time magazine two days before the event that on November 27 the U.S. and NATO "will have been in Afghanistan a day longer than the Soviet Union had been when it completed its 1989 withdrawal.

"What's more, the U.S. announced during last weekend's NATO summit that it intends to spend at least four more years, and possibly longer, in the Hindu Kush. Even then, many Afghans -- perhaps even the president installed by the U.S. invasion -- appear to doubt that the Americans will succeed where their erstwhile Cold War nemesis failed." [5]

Romanian President Traian Basescu was in Afghanistan on November 30, accompanied by his defense minister, Gabriel Oprea, U.S. ambassador to Romania Mark Gitenstein and senior American defense official at the American embassy in Bucharest Colonel Bruce West. The head of state visited some of his nation's 1,663 troops in the country, all but eight of whom are under NATO command, and announced that the number will rise to 1,800 by the end of this month.

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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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