Kommentar

Den vanlige oppfatning er at Afghanistan er en mye mindre utfordring enn Irak, men det er kanskje å lure seg selv. Afghanistan er 50 % større i utstrekning og har flere folk, skriver anerkjente Anthony Cordesman.

Nato’s current forces would be inadequate even if all Nato countries were fully in the fight. There are roughly 30,000 Nato troops in Afghanistan, plus some 12,000 remaining US troops that still operate independently. Compare this to the total of 162,000 coalition troops in Iraq. Yet Afghanistan, in many ways, poses as big a challenge. It has a population of more than 31m, compared with some 27m in Iraq, its territory is 50 per cent larger and its transportation and communications infrastructure is far more primitive. The enemy in Iraq has no major sanctuary outside the country; al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network and Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin all use sanctuaries in Waziristan in eastern Pakistan.

Cordesman sier det er en helt uholdbar situasjon at ikke alle ISAF-land deltar som fullt stridende, der hvor det trengs. Denne kritikken rammer Norge.

To make matters worse, only US, Canadian, British, Danish, Estonian and Dutch forces are really in the fight. Important Nato partners such as France, Germany, Spain, Turkey and Italy do not provide troops, except for French special forces.

Moreover, studies by the International Security Force, the Nato command in Afghanistan, indicate that the Nato force needs six more battalions – especially another battalion in the south; a rapid expansion of military trainers for the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police; and extra troops and specialists in other areas.

Nato needs integrated operations with common rules of engagement. It needs a truly integrated command with continuity of service and adequate tour lengths. Countries need to provide adequate armour, artillery, tactical mobility and air support. More effort is needed to integrate US advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets into Nato and Afghan operations. Nato also needs an integrated structure for using advanced US air and IS&R assets in the Combined Air Operation Center in Qatar, and a comprehensive, workable strategy for dealing with battlefield detainees.

Det er vanskelig å skjønne hvordan Norge skal kunne vri seg unna et engasjement i sør. Jonas Gahr Støres gjorde en god gjerning da han tok med seg en afghansk jente hjem til Norge for operasjon. Men det kunne også minne litt om den britiske statsminister John Major som under Bosnia-krigen fikk arrangerte lignende humanitære gester for å avlede oppmerksomheten.

Cordesman sier at Afghanistan blir en langvarig og tøff oppgave. Det går ikke an å jukse, eller vri seg unna. Hvis Norge virkelig mener at forsvar idag betyr deltakelse i internasjonale operasjoner, må man godta betingelsene som de er i Afghanistan. At det finnes et 30-tall reservasjoner på styrkebruken, er en skam og helt uholdbart. Noen setter livet inn, mens andre sitter trygt. At deltakerlandene selv får definere sine rules of engagement undergraver moralen og virker ødeleggende på effektiviteten.

It is time to stop denying how serious the threat has become, stop issuing empty political assurances and stop saying that far too little is enough. Nato needs realistic and honest assessments, it needs urgent short-term reinforcements. All of its forces must be in the fight all over the country. It needs to make immediate increases in aid and to create a fully resourced long-term plan to fight a long war.

Stop denying seriousness of Afghan threat
By Anthony Cordesman

Published: January 22 2007