Posted tagged ‘NATO’

US To Increase Troop Presence In Afghanistan

December 20, 2008
U.S. Army Soldiers from Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment provide security during a meeting with the district subgovernor at the district center in Sabari, Afghanistan, March 6, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Holley)

U.S. Army Soldiers from Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment provide security during a meeting with the district subgovernor at the district center in Sabari, Afghanistan, March 6, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Holley)

(New York) – In Kabul Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen announced a planned increase in the number of American troops in Afghanistan.

“Some 20 to 30,000 is the window of overall increase from where we are right now. I don’t have an exact number,” He was quoted as saying.

This would double the amount of American troops in the country. Currently there are 31,000 US troops in the country. NATO is contributing 51,000 soldiers to the mission in Afghanistan under the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). However included in that number are 14,000 American soldiers.

General David McKiernan who is in charge of the ISAF has continually requested more troops to help combat a resurgent Taliban. Admiral Mullen said the American troops would be sent to Southern Afghanistan to assist Canadian and Dutch troops which have shouldered most of the burden in fighting the Taliban.

Secretary of State Gates recently announced the deployment of another brigade to arrive early next year. The annoucment of troops while not unexpected comes on the heels of an announcement from the British government stating their intentions to send more troops to Afghanistan.

It seems the plan would be to help build infrastructure and increase security on the local level while the Taliban is held at bay by the new forces.

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Russia expands blitz, Ukraine drawn in.

August 11, 2008
Map of Georgian Conflict Zones

Map of Georgian Conflict Zones

As expected Russian forces opened up a new front line in the province of Abkhazia invading the internationally recognized sovereign territory of Georgia. The Georgian Government has stated that 4,000 Russian soldiers have been sent to this region. This is on top of the troops pushing forward in South Ossetia. The province of Abkhazia has been a de-facto republic and autonomous region of Georgia living quite peacefully until recently. The assault from Abkhazia has been backed by both separatists in the region and the Russian Navy. Here is where Ukraine gets involved.

The Russian Naval Fleet is based in Ukraine, much to the dismay of Ukraine. Ukraine however has said it will bar Russian ships which took part in the offensive from returning to their base. You can bet your money on it that the Russians will not be happy. (more…)

Russia Invades Georgia

August 8, 2008

Tbilisi, Georgia today Russia invaded the small caucus state of Georgia. Tanks have rolled in and aerial bombing of the region of South Ossetia has begun.

Russian tanks rolling into Georgia

Russian tanks rolling into Georgia

South Ossetia is a Georgian province which has been claimed by Russia as their own. Recent violence in the region has prompted the Georgian military to crack down on the rebels and Russia responded in kind. Believing that this was their land the Russians moved to “defend” their land.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said “Georgia will not yield its territory or renounce its freedom.”

Shota Utiashvili, a spokesman for the Georgian Ministry of the Interior said “Around 10 a.m. Friday, Georgia said Russian military aircraft violated Georgian airspace and dropped two bombs on Kareli, a part of Georgia that is about 50 miles northwest of the capital, Tblisi, and is not in the conflict zone” (more…)

Afghanistan… the forgotten war

June 6, 2008

For those of you who forgot, we are still at war in Afghanistan. Now in its 6th year 443 brave Americans have lost their lives in this war according to the latest AP figures.

Lately U.S. Marines have been fighting an upsurge in violence from the Taliban. They entered the Helmand province for the first time in years. Now the Marines aren’t alone in their fight, they’re joined by the ISA. 53,000 troops from different countries make up the ISAF or International Security Assistance Force which is in charge of Afghanistan. The ISAF has 1/3 the number of foreign troops in Iraq, yet Afghanistan is 50 percent larger and has 4 million more people.

Just to give you an idea of what these men and women have to go through. Some of these Marines are in the 4th week of what was supposed to be a 3 to 5 day campaign. These men are living off the land with no running water or no electricity as they fight Taliban soldiers who are reinforced and replaced as they cross over from Pakistan.

These are the same soldiers who when they come home are at times denied medical treatment. Soldiers who give everything to their country and get very little in return.

It’s not just American soldiers who are short changed. Recently UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been under fire from his own Generals. In an article from the London Times General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the Army compared the payment of his soldiers to traffic police in London.

It turns out that the traffic police or police constables have a starting salary of £21,009. Which at the current exchange rate comes out to $10,500 a year. The average soldier makes £16,227 which comes out to about $8,000 a year. Now considering the job, you have to realize that these brave soldiers are underpaid.

Do you really think someone who is handing out tickets in London should get paid more than someone who is fighting Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan for this 30th day in a row without running water and electricity? Now I know the police constables probably do a heck of a job, but lets be realistic.

Gordon Brown replied “We will do everything in our power in the years to come to recognize the great individual contribution that is made by all the members of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.”

Now American troops in Afghanistan have been ignored as much as British troops. Both Barack Obama and John McCain have nothing in their websites about Afghanistan. I believe it truly has been forgotten, for all of the talk he does about Iraq he is eerily silent about Afghanistan and NATO. I do commend Barack Obama for saying that he will withdraw troops from Iraq and place some of those troops in Afghanistan in order to relieve the soldiers who have fought much longer than they were expecting to.

Today I just ask you that when you hear people arguing about Iraq and what to do, just say “Hey what about Afghanistan?” Don’t forget the brave soldiers there, don’t forget their sacrifice, don’t’ forget the war.

Chris Puntarelli, reporting for St. John’s College Democrats.