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USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« on: January 16, 2008, 07:27:11 »
Shared in accordance with the "fair dealing" provisions, Section 29, of the Copyright Act.

Gates faults NATO force in southern Afghanistan
The U.S. Defense secretary says he thinks the soldiers from Canada, Britain and the Netherlands do not know how to fight a guerrilla insurgency.

Peter Spiegel, Los Angeles Times, 16 Jan 08
Article link - .pdf permalink

WASHINGTON — In an unusual public criticism, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he believes NATO forces currently deployed in southern Afghanistan do not know how to combat a guerrilla insurgency, a deficiency that could be contributing to the rising violence in the fight against the Taliban.

"I'm worried we're deploying [military advisors] that are not properly trained and I'm worried we have some military forces that don't know how to do counterinsurgency operations," Gates said in an interview.

Gates' criticism comes as the Bush administration has decided to send 3,200 U.S. Marines to southern Afghanistan on a temporary mission to help quell the rising number of attacks. It also comes amid growing friction among allied commanders over the Afghan security situation.

But coming from an administration castigated for its conduct of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, such U.S. criticism of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is controversial. Many NATO officials blame inadequate U.S. troop numbers earlier in the war in part for a Taliban resurgence.

"It's been very, very difficult to apply the classic counterinsurgency doctrine because you've had to stabilize the situation sufficiently to start even applying it," said one European NATO official, who discussed the issue on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the alliance. "Even in the classic counterinsurgency doctrine, you've still got to get the fighting down to a level where you can apply the rest of the doctrine."

Gates' views, however, reflect those expressed recently by senior U.S. military officials with responsibility for Afghanistan. Some have said that an overreliance on heavy weaponry, including airstrikes, by NATO forces in the south may unwittingly be contributing to rising violence there.

"Execution of tasks, in my view, has not been appropriate," said one top U.S. officer directly involved in the Afghan campaign who discussed internal assessments on condition of anonymity. "It's not the way to do business, in my opinion. We've got to wean them of this. If they won't change then we're going to have another solution."

Gates has publicly criticized European allies in the past for failing to send adequate numbers of troops and helicopters to the Afghan mission. But concerns about strategy and tactics are usually contained within military and diplomatic channels.

In the interview, Gates compared the troubled experience of the NATO forces in the south -- primarily troops from the closest U.S. allies, Britain and Canada, as well as the Netherlands -- with progress made by American troops in the eastern part of Afghanistan. He traced the failing in part to a Cold War orientation.

"Most of the European forces, NATO forces, are not trained in counterinsurgency; they were trained for the Fulda Gap," Gates said, referring to the German region where a Soviet invasion of Western Europe was deemed most likely.

Gates said he raised his concerns last month in Scotland at a meeting of NATO countries with troops in southern Afghanistan and suggested additional training.

But he added that his concerns did not appear to be shared by the NATO allies. "No one at the table stood up and said: 'I agree with that.' "

The NATO forces are led by a U.S. commander, Army Gen. Dan McNeill, who has called for greater contributions by NATO countries. Some member nations are reluctant to deepen their involvement.

NATO officials bristled at suggestions that non-U.S. forces have been ineffective in implementing a counterinsurgency campaign. They argued that the south, home to Afghanistan's Pashtun tribal heartland that produced the Taliban movement, has long been the most militarily contested region of the country.

The European NATO official, who is directly involved in Afghan planning, angrily denounced the American claims, saying much of the violence is a result of the small number of U.S. troops who had patrolled the region before NATO's takeover in mid-2006, a strategy that allowed the Taliban to reconstitute in the region.

"The reason there is more fighting now is because we've uncovered a very big rock and lots of things are scurrying out," the NATO official said.

Pentagon concerns have risen as violence in the south has steadily increased, even as other parts of Afghanistan have begun to stabilize.

Last year was the deadliest for both U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion, according to the website icasualties.org.

But both U.S. and NATO officials have expressed optimism that eastern Afghanistan, which is under the control of U.S. forces led by Army Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez, has substantially improved in recent months.

Rodriguez implemented a campaign that incorporated many of the same tactics being used in Iraq by Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Baghdad who co-wrote the military's new counterinsurgency field manual.

"If you believe all the things you hear about Afghanistan, this ought to be real hot," Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, commander of U.S. troops in the Middle East and Central Asia, said of eastern Afghanistan. "More than half the border is Pakistan, it's a rough area, historically it's been a hotbed of insurgent activity. It's remarkable in its improvement."

At the same time, violence has continued to rise in the south, which is controlled by a 11,700-soldier NATO force largely made up of the British, Canadian and Dutch forces. Britain saw 42 soldiers killed last year, almost all in southern Afghanistan, its highest annual fatality count of the war; Canada lost 31, close to the 36 from that country killed in 2006. American forces lost 117 troops in 2007, up from 98 in 2006, but U.S. forces are spread more widely across Afghanistan.

"Our guys in the east, under Gen. Rodriguez, are doing a terrific job. They've got the [counterinsurgency] thing down pat," Gates said. "But I think our allies over there, this is not something they have any experience with."


Some U.S. counterinsurgency experts have argued that the backsliding is not the fault of NATO forces alone.

Some have argued that an effective counterinsurgency campaign implemented by Army Lt. Gen. David W. Barno and Zalmay Khalilzad, who were the U.S. commander in and ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005, was largely abandoned by officials who came later.

Barno retired from the military and heads the Near East South Asia Center at the National Defense University. In an article in the influential Army journal Military Review last fall, he blamed both NATO and U.S. commanders for moving away from the counterinsurgency plan since 2006.

Barno accused NATO and U.S. forces of ignoring the cornerstone of a counterinsurgency campaign -- protecting the local population -- and said they instead focused on killing enemy forces.

"We had a fundamentally well-structured, integrated U.S. Embassy and U.S. military unified counterinsurgency campaign plan which we put in place in late '03 that took us all the way through about the middle of 2005," Barno said in an interview. "And then it was really, in many ways, changed very dramatically."

Currently serving American officers, however, have singled out non-U.S. NATO forces for the bulk of their criticism. Among the concerns is that NATO forces do not actively include Afghan troops in military operations.

As a result, local forces in the south are now less capable than those in the east, which operate very closely with their American counterparts.

"Every time you see our guys in the field, you don't have to look very far and you'll see them," said the senior U.S. officer involved in the Afghan campaign. "Getting the Brits to do this and the others is a little more of a problem."

In addition, U.S. military officials said NATO forces in the south are too quick to rely on high-caliber firepower, such as airstrikes, a practice which alienates the local population.

"The wide view there, which I hear from Americans, is that the NATO military forces are taking on a Soviet mentality," said one senior U.S. military veteran of Afghanistan. "They're staying in their bases in the south, they're doing very little patrolling, they're trying to avoid casualties, and they're using air power as a substitute for ground infantry operations, because they have so little ground infantry."

The European NATO official said, however, that alliance data show that all countries, including the U.S., use air power in similar amounts when their troops come in contact with enemy forces.

"Everyone is grateful for the Americans . . . but this kind of constant denigration of what other people are doing isn't helpful," the official said. "It also makes the situation look worse than it is."

peter.spiegel@latimes.com
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Offline cameron

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2008, 08:45:17 »
I'm no military expert but it seems to me that the situation in Afghanistan took a turn for the worse after the US diverted its resources to an adventure in Iraq.  Gates is just trying to pass the buck.
"All men dream: but not equally.  Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act out their dream with open eyes, to make it possible."

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Offline Old Sweat

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2008, 09:10:25 »
Let us all step back, take a deep breath and then take another one before even contemplating posting on this subject.

Offline Kilo_302

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2008, 09:28:30 »
I remember stating that the US had hurt the situation in Afghanistan by diverting troops to Iraq on a thread 2 years ago, and was met with a lot of disagreement. Now there are many factors at play here, but the vacuum left by the US has undoubtedly contributed to the current problems. I fully support criticism offered by the United States directed at those NATO countries who are not contributing, but to publicly suggest that the Canadians, Dutch and Brits (of all people!) are stuck in a "Cold War mentality" and do not know how to fight COIN operations is over the line. If Gates feels this way, let him tell the appropriate officials in these nations. In fact, having these forces in Afghanistan frees up American forces to conduct the successful COIN ops we have been seeing in Iraq for the past 4 years.  ::)

Unfortunately, all these comments will achieve is a chorus  of "I told you so's" from the those who think Canada should get out of Afghanistan. Gates has really given the opposition to Afghanistan in all the NATO nations some great ammo. I'm sure he's already regretting these comments.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2008, 09:42:04 by Kilo_302 »

Offline cameron

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2008, 09:32:45 »
I remember stating that the US had hurt the situation in Afghanistan by diverting troops to Iraq on a thread 2 years ago, and was met with a lot of disagreement. Now there are many factors at play here, but the vacuum left by the US has undoubtedly contributed to the current problems. I fully support criticism offered by the United States directed at those NATO countries who are not contributing, but to publicly suggest that the Canadians, Dutch and Brits (of all people!) are stuck in a "Cold War mentality" and do not know how to fight COIN operations is over the line. If Gates feels this way, let him tell the appropriate officials in these nations. In fact, having these forces in Afghanistan frees up American forces to conduct the successful COIN ops we have been seeing in Iraq for the past 4 years.  ::)

+1
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Offline KevinB

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2008, 09:41:25 »
Quote
Gates' views, however, reflect those expressed recently by senior U.S. military officials with responsibility for Afghanistan. Some have said that an overreliance on heavy weaponry, including airstrikes, by NATO forces in the south may unwittingly be contributing to rising violence there.

"Execution of tasks, in my view, has not been appropriate," said one top U.S. officer directly involved in the Afghan campaign who discussed internal assessments on condition of anonymity. "It's not the way to do business, in my opinion. We've got to wean them of this. If they won't change then we're going to have another solution."

Firstly I agree wholeheartedly, and I have said repeatedly that I beleive the Canadian Forces are using the wrong methodology.  Part of the problem stems from the problems the lightly armed Brit Para's had when they where all but run out.   The other issue - is 99% of the time it is USAF a/c that are doing these missions...  One USSF LTC I know said if he had his way they would have sent the fast air and Arty out of country when the intialy push was done, that it a little simplistic as even with the sucesses in Iraq of recent - you can still look south and see areas getting pounded by CAS daily - and we still cop incoming IDF.  However by and large the

 I am very well aware that the required LI/SOC troops living with the populace will intially be casualty producing, however when the US Mil went to that method here -- it was the when they started the huge gains.  Additionally a HUGE increase in spending on reconstruction (and REAL as opposed to wasted dollars) is needed to show the Afghan populace there is a better way...

WRT to the statements about the US forces in Iraq have hurt Afghanistan -- well most of the foreign fighters came here to fight as opposed to Afghan, secondly the US still has the most troops of any colation partner in Afghan -- and when you see some US units who are on their 3rd or 4th Combat tour since '02 -- and these are 1 year roto's...  Very Very VEry few Canadians have a year in Afghan let alone 4.  As well we sent troops to OEF with 3VP then ran our lilly liver bellies up to Kabul with I is for Incompentance, ISAF, so look in the mirror before we start casting blame.






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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2008, 09:50:57 »
After reading the article slowly I dont see where Gates said our allies didnt know what they were doing.
Second Gates was addressing the obvious that most of the NATO militaries had very little COIN experience and that NATO had previously trained for a conventional fight in Europe. Even our own COIN experience had to beresurrected and updated from Vietnam.

Gates is very unhappy that we cant get more NATO forces that would be permitted to conduct combat operations. The comments about the US diverting resources to Iraq instead of Afghanistan is pretty ignorant. The Russians put 150,000 troops into Afghanistan and it only served to unite the tribes to drive out the invaders. We were never going to put troops into Afghanistan on that scale. We already are the largest contributor of forces in country even while we are fighting in Iraq with 160,000 troops deployed there. The taliban cannot be destroyed unless we can kill them in their bases in Pakistan. As long as an insurgency has access to a safe haven they cannot be truely defeated.

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2008, 09:56:21 »
The taliban cannot be destroyed unless we can kill them in their bases in Pakistan. As long as an insurgency has access to a safe haven they cannot be truely defeated.

I agree with this statement completely!

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2008, 10:06:16 »
The only problem is that I don't see how public comments like that are going to help anything let alone NATO.  By critisising the "Brits and others" in public, won't that just embolden the enemy to go after them?  We have the the US secretary of defense saying that their allies are not as effective as the Americans.  Maybe he's right but I don't see how this helps.  NATO is already showing a very un-united front.  The morale of Canadian, Dutch and British troops is going to take a hit.  I mean these countries are already dealing with homegrown negative press and opinion.  Now they have to deal with this too.  Bad timing and poor taste in my mind.  Right or wrong.
Optio

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2008, 10:10:34 »
Didnt bother the Brits when they were telling us we were doing it wrong in Iraq. They said do it our way the "soft" approach. They had their hat handed to them in Basra and if they had ever had to operate in Anbar lets say, they couldnt have sustained the losses without their public forcing them out of the war.

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2008, 10:14:46 »
If the reporter's quoting is to be trusted, this quote....

Quote
..... "I'm worried we're deploying [military advisors] that are not properly trained and I'm worried we have some military forces that don't know how to do counterinsurgency operations," Gates said in an interview....

taken with this quote...

Quote
"Our guys in the east, under Gen. Rodriguez, are doing a terrific job. They've got the [counterinsurgency] thing down pat," Gates said. "But I think our allies over there, this is not something they have any experience with."

would suggest Sec Def Gates is saying, "they don't know what they're doing".  However, it would be interesting to see what question SecDef was answering when he said the first quote, and whether it was a DIFFERENT question than one eliciting the second quote.


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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2008, 10:21:53 »
I was looking for a transcript to verify the article but couldnt find one.IMO the problem in Kandahar is the lack of enough troops. In Helmand it depended on the battle group commander on how aggressive he wanted to be.McNeill wasnt happy though and so he moved US troops into the AO.From the taliban side Musa Qala was strategic and we finally have the town in hand. I think the taliban will lie low or maybe divert its effort to Pakistan.At least in Pakistan they have a fair shot at winning.

Online Remius

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2008, 10:24:20 »
Didnt bother the Brits when they were telling us we were doing it wrong in Iraq. They said do it our way the "soft" approach. They had their hat handed to them in Basra and if they had ever had to operate in Anbar lets say, they couldnt have sustained the losses without their public forcing them out of the war.

The problem is that it's going to bother the other two allies that might not be around after 2009.  Comments like those are not going to help public opinion.  The fact the Brits did it in Iraq doesn't make it right or relevant.
Optio

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2008, 11:21:36 »
I was looking for a transcript to verify the article but couldnt find one.

I'm still looking, too - will share if I can find something...
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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2008, 11:57:02 »
First of all, I do not read the Secretary of Defence as criticising the fighting abilities of the soldiers, sailors and airmen and air women.  I do agree that we, the CF are so new to COIN that we couldn't even spell it, let alone explain what it meant back in 2006.  I believe that Mr. Gates is addressing his comments at the leadership, and I fear that there is some element of truth.  He does seem to ignore, however, the fact that many of those CAS missoins are being carried out by the USAF.

There is also this statement that I think no longer applies to CF missions:

Quote
Currently serving American officers, however, have singled out non-U.S. NATO forces for the bulk of their criticism. Among the concerns is that NATO forces do not actively include Afghan troops in military operations.  As a result, local forces in the south are now less capable than those in the east, which operate very closely with their American counterparts.

From what I can tell in the MSM, Afghan forces operate alongside canadians on a regular basis.  OMLT seems to be a priority as well.  Also, witness the operation by the Taliban to take over the Arghandab district centre last year.  That was almost entirely ANA lead (quite successfully) with some NATO assistance.  That, my friends, is a vast improvement.

Overall, I don't think that Mr. Gates comments are completely well founded; however, there is some truth in his statements.  The pill may taste bitter, but as Mr. Buckley says, "It tastes awful, but it works".

One final point: I just want to emphasise that the courage, fighting ability and tenacity of the Canadian Soldier is NOT at all in question.  If there is fault, it lies in the leadership.
So, there I was....

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2008, 12:34:55 »
Now, for a bit more info, from the SecDef's spokesperson, from a Reuters (UK wire service) account....

Quote
....  Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Gates was concerned that his remarks were being interpreted as criticism of individual countries, like Britain, Canada and the Netherlands which have forces in Afghanistan's southern region.

Instead he was saying that NATO as a whole was not structured to handle insurgencies, Morrell said.

"The secretary of defense has read the article and is disturbed by what he read," he said. "The totality of the piece leaves the impression that the secretary is disturbed with the performance of individual countries in Afghanistan. He is not," he said.

CONCERN OVER NATO CAPABILITIES

Morrell said that in the Jan. 7 interview Gates had reiterated concerns over the alliance's capabilities that he had expressed to NATO allies in Scotland in December ....
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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2008, 12:35:21 »
If Mr Gates believs the NATO forces are not trained enough to compentantly perform COIN ops, then it is mostly the US Mil's fault, as the current SME, for not info sharing enough.
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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2008, 12:53:06 »
They offer Longtab courses to people...

  Look at his point -- Canada has very few COIN specific assets, and we ran out to buy new tanks while the M1A2 TUSK stuff here is being mothballed.  Yes its a capable asset - but I'd argue funding and manning JTF, CSOR and the LIB's to a full level and running up a true Canadian SF system (SF as in USSF not SOF connotation) would be 100% more useful in the theatre in the long term strategic vision.
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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2008, 13:05:19 »
Is he commenting on the day-to-day tactical abilities of NATO units, or more at the operational execution of these grand NATO HQ's with a piece of the pie for everybody?

He probably has some merit in commenting on the relative inexperience of other countries.  Let's be frank, Canada's last counterinsurgency effort was the Boer War.  Although our experience (and the fact that most of our Army participated) in the Balkans has given us some institutional foundation for operating in a complex, ethnically/tribal riven, religiously fuelled conflict, I think we can say that we walked into Kandahar without really knowing fully what we were doing.  We sent a mechanized battlegroup that was trained and organized to fight in Europe.  We are fighting an insurgency with tanks and artillery - but whether these are useful or not is debatable; Mr Gates own military seems to delight in using them to smash insurgent strongholds like Fallujah.  We don't have a counterinsurgency doctrine in place, and the draft of the one didn't make it too far before the preface became a political gongshow.  Politically, our government(s) didn't know how to explain this to Canadians, and Canadians didn't know how to process it.

So, sure, maybe he does have merit by saying we're not "structured" or "experienced" like the Americans to prosecute this war.  But that doesn't mean we ain't trying and we ain't learning, and I'll bet my backpay that we are far better off now then we were two years ago when we first went in.

My 2 cents.
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2008, 13:10:42 »
Sounds like Gates was taken out of context.

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2008, 13:24:35 »
Sounds like Gates was taken out of context.
Ditto.

 
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Gates' comments anger NATO allies
« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2008, 13:53:52 »
LINK

Quote
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- Some of America's closest NATO allies reacted with surprise and disbelief Wednesday to reported comments from Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggesting that their troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan are not up to the job.

The Dutch Defense Ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador for an explanation of a Los Angeles Times article that said Gates complained about soldiers from Canada, Britain and the Netherlands not knowing how to fight a guerrilla insurgency.

In Britain, Conservative lawmaker Patrick Mercer said Gates' reported comments were "bloody outrageous."

"I would beg the Americans to understand that we are their closest allies, and our men are bleeding and dying in large numbers," Mercer, a former British infantry officer, told The Associated Press.

"These sorts of things are just not helpful among allied nations."

The United States has regularly criticized Germany, France, Italy and other allies that refuse to allow their troops in Afghanistan to join U.S. forces on the front line against the Taliban in the insurgents' southern strongholds.

According to the LA Times, Gates raised doubts about countries that have sent significant numbers of combat troops to fight in the south, often in the face of widespread opposition at home.

"I'm worried we have some military forces that don't know how to do counterinsurgency operations," the paper quoted him as saying in an interview. "Most of the European forces, NATO forces, are not trained in counterinsurgency."

NATO's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer moved quickly to defend the allied troops.

"All the countries that are in the south do an excellent job. Full stop," he told reporters at NATO headquarters.

Privately, several NATO officials were aghast at Gates' reported comments, fearing they would add to tension within the alliance where Britain, Canada and the Netherlands have generally stood by Washington in urging more reluctant allies to do more in the fight against the Taliban.

A senior military officer from one nation heavily engaged in the southern fighting said Canadians and Europeans had scored major successes against the Taliban. "They have been dealt a severe blow by the very people (Gates) appears to talking about," said the officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

He acknowledged that some of NATO's smaller and newer members lacked counterinsurgency experience, but said that did not apply to the British and Canadians. The Dutch also defended their record combining counterinsurgency with reconstruction in the volatile southern province of Uruzgan.

"Our troops, men and women, are well-prepared for the mission," said Col. Nico Geerts, the Dutch commander in Uruzgan. "Everyone in the south, the British, the Canadians, the Romanians and our other allies, are working hard here. ... I wouldn't know what the secretary of defense of America is basing this on."

Gates reported comments were published the day after President Bush authorized the deployment of 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan in April.

Most will be deployed in the south to strengthen NATO troops there ahead of an expected increase of Taliban activity with the spring snow thaw. U.S. officials expressed frustration that they were forced to send troops -- already stretched in Iraq -- because allies failed to offer reinforcements.

The new deployment will bring the total number of U.S. forces there to around 30,000, the highest level since the 2001 invasion. The U.S. has 14,000 troops with the 42,000-strong NATO-led force, the rest are training Afghan forces and hunting al-Qaida terrorists.

In Washington, Rep. Duncan Hunter, ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, warned that Congress could restrict access to defense contracts for allies who did not pull their weight.

However, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands have a bigger proportion of their armed forces serving with the NATO force in Afghanistan than the United States. Britain with 7,753 troops, has 4 percent of its military, compared with 1.1 percent of U.S. armed forces serving with the NATO force.

British and Dutch officials refused to believe Gates' comment were aimed at them.

"Our people down there are pretty well trained in counterinsurgency," said retired Col. Richard Kemp, who commanded British forces in Afghanistan in 2003. "They have been carrying out some pretty intensive offensive operations against the Taliban, and they have been winning over the community. Counterinsurgency is a combination of those two things."

"We assume this was a misunderstanding," Dutch Defense Minister Eimert van Middelkoop told the Dutch broadcaster NOS. "This is not the Robert Gates we have come to know. It's also not the manner in which you treat each other when you have to cooperate with each other in the south of Afghanistan."
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Offline Old Sweat

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2008, 16:04:19 »
The level of commentary on this story is several levels above what I read a short while ago on the Globe and Mail's site. It won't post a link as reading most of the comments is a waste of oxygen.

Methinks the reporter took a few answers by Secretary Gates to questions, structured them to fit his story and dug into his speed dialer to find some sources to add depth to his analysis. He, in Edward's words, quite ably came up with lots of good stuff to fit in between the adds. I suspect that he successfully could defend his story on the basis that all the statements are quoted accurately and are therefore factual. At the same time, whether he intended to or not, he damaged NATO's solidarity in the south, which also lies along the border with Pakistan and is subject to infiltration.

Whether the comments are factual is another matter; the enemy situation varies widely across unfortunate Afghanistan from area to area and even from week to week. Did we not just have reports that the Taliban are planning another major offensive in the south? If I was one of the mad mullahs, it would make sense to me to raise all sorts of hades as the rotation between 03/07 and 01/08 was underway.

 

Offline uncle-midget-Oddball

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2008, 16:29:30 »
Why must CTV open comment threads in their articles on their webpage?

Some comments from the article about Gates' comments.

Quote
ance
I guess he thinks that in trying to spare at least some civilian lives in our assaults on insurgents we're not being aggressive enough.

"Jethro" (aka Americans) are known for their unbridled assault on anything that moves...

Just look at all the "collateral damage" (aka dead children) and "friendly fire incidents" (aka dead Canadian and other allied soldiers) that they leave in their wake.

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Michele
Ungrateful b.......!

Bring our troops home and let the US tackle their own problems, which are solely because of their foreign policies of the last 75 years; as well as, their imperial aspirations

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Offline Tango2Bravo

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Re: USA Sec Def Disses RC-S Forces COIN Capability?
« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2008, 17:16:27 »
While I agree that there is much to learn and new methods are always welcome, I found the criticisms in the original article a little odd in how they came across painting the US as squared away and the Canadians, Dutch and British as not having it figured out with respect to firepower and ANA.  I also do not think that a straight comparison of RC East with RC South is fair.  While the provinces of RC East were a hotbed during the Afghan-Soviet war and are certainly not safe or easy, RC South is the home of the Taliban and was the site of a relativley conventional Taliban offensive in 2006.  Context in terms of time and place should be accounted for. 

Still, I think that Churchill (or perhaps Ike) said that "The only thing worse in war than having to fight with allies is having to fight without allies."

Criticism between allies can get nasty.  We shouldn't offer ways for our enemies and the opponents of the mission to drive wedges into the alliance.  Whether he meant it or not, we should move on and not get too hot and bothered.

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