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Old 12-27-2008, 05:01 AM
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Default US officials 'despair' at Nato allies' failings in Afghanistan

American officials are in a state of near despair about the failure of Britain's European allies to do more to beef up Nato combat power in Afghanistan.
A Pentagon adviser told The Telegraph that US commanders wish they had never agreed to Nato taking charge of major combat operations against the Taliban in the lawless south of the country.
They believe that different military rules of engagement and different approaches to reconstruction have made it impossible to devise a unified strategy for fighting and nation building, leaving the way open for the resurgence of the Taliban.
There is still a division of responsibility in Afghanistan between forces operating under Nato's International Security Assistance Force and those that are part of the US's Operation Enduring Freedom, the original US military operation in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon consultant pointed to the different national rules which mean that troops from several Nato allies like Germany are banned from conducting offensive military operations, or conducting patrols at night.
The adviser said: "There's frustration, there's irritation. The mood veers between acceptance and despair that nothing is changing. We ask for more troops and they're not forthcoming in the numbers we need.
"The mistake was handing it over to Nato in the first place. For many countries being inAfghanistan seems to be about keeping up appearances, rather than actually fighting a war that needs to be won.
"Was that necessary diplomatically? Probably. Is it desirable militarily? I don't think so and nor do most others who are involved with Afghanistan," he said.
The consultant, who advises the Pentagon on security coordination with the Afghan military, said American ire is not directed at the British, who are "doing what they can".
Ali Jalali, the Afghan interior minister between 2003 and 2005 endorsed that view that the Taliban can only be defeated and marginalised from Afghan life if there is a new strategy and a unified military command.

In an interview he said: "In the absence of an overall counterinsurgency strategy, what the international community and the Afghan government are doing is not designed to win the war, rather not to lose.
"That is a major problem. There's no campaign plan. We need a unified command of all forces that can do three things: fighting, stabilising and peacekeeping. Unless you speak with one voice it is not going to work. We need more troops to stabilise the country."
Mr Jalali, who now has a post at the US National Defence University and is an influential voice on the conflict in Washington, warned that unless the allies adopt a new strategy "the Taliban could establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan" as well as across the border in Pakistan, where they already train for action back home.
And he warned that instead of building up the Afghan armed forces, the Afghan government is so worried about the need to placate local warlords ahead of elections later this year that they are "tolerating those who are not interested in stability".
He cited a damning report published last week by the US Government Accountability Office which detailed how even after $16bn of investment, just two out of 105 Afghan army units are ready to fight and not one single police unit is fit for purpose.
Mr Jalali says the nation building efforts are also shackled by a lack of international cooperation, with different governments doing different things in different parts of the country.
He said: "That creates a lot of problems. You have four countries, one builds a clinic, one supplies ambulances, another medical equipment and another training but they do it in four different provinces. They need to coordinate. Someone has to own it."
In an appearance with senior members of his foreign policy team last week, the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama admitted that many European nations are "resistant" to helping more in Afghanistan because they lack confidence "in our overarching strategy".
But even among countries like Britain, the US, Canada and the Netherlands who are bearing the brunt of the fighting, there are stark differences over tactics and strategy for engaging with the Taliban.
So sensitive are the British government to the charge that they are talking to the Taliban when they should be killing them, that a delegation of around 10 British military officers recently travelled to Washington to meet members of conservative think tanks, many of whom advise the Pentagon and White House on Middle Eastern affairs. The effort to reach out does not appear to have worked perfectly.
One of those present said: "They made the case strongly that there is no military solution and that you don't win a counterinsurgency just by killing the enemy. They were highly sensitive to any criticism. They seemed keen to blame the Afghan government for things that are going wrong."
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