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| The War in Afghanistan Essay

Afghanistan in the past three years has witnessed a spike in insurgent attacks. Taliban and Al Qaeda forces have evolved their tactics to use asymmetric strategies that strike at the weaknesses of conventional military forces. NATO is a vital member of the allied forces that are engaged in combat operations against Taliban forces. This report calls for enhancing the role of the military alliance in the region. NATO must use innovative military tactics through an assessment of the military situation. It should win the hearts and minds of the local population that is terrorized or coerced into supporting the Taliban. This means deploying a permanent presence in areas that have been cleared of insurgents. Additionally troop levels and resources for NATO troops must be upgraded for securing victory. Good governance is another objective in which NATO forces must seek to create high levels of transparency and accountability in the government. Another recommendation is upgrading intelligence networks to meet the evolving threat of subversive organizations. A decentralized command and control structure is emphasized with the creation of small and agile military forces to combat insurgents. Finally NATO must train and sponsor local security forces to provide justice to local inhabitants.

The war in Afghanistan has been dragging on for the past eight years without a decisive victory. The United States has outlined a new strategy to defeat and contain Taliban insurgents. Further it seeks to reverse the resurgence of such networks in the year 2007. Taliban insurgents have shifted their tactics to the use of roadside bombs and suicide attacks in order to negate the military superiority of their opponents. NATO has been deployed as part of ISAF forces in Afghanistan. An effective strategy for winning the way in Afghanistan is based upon enhancing the role and function of NATO. This can be achieved only through systematic assessment and evaluation of current problems. It requires the application of innovative and creative strategies that would help to stem the tide against Taliban resurgence. Further a stable and viable Afghan state would not pose a threat to its neighbors and other countries. The security objectives of NATO member states could be met through the development of a viable and sustainable military strategy. Enhancing the role of NATO in Afghanistan is a cumbersome task but it can be achieved through proper planning and preparation. This report seeks to provide a number of recommendations that will enhance the role of NATO in Afghanistan. This strategy is based upon assessment of new political developments like the additional deployment of US troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan army offensives against Taliban insurgents in its NWFP province.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in the late 1940s as a means of countering the military threat posed by the Soviet Union and its allies. During the cold war, NATO was a military alliance of several European states that were trained, supported, and armed by the United States. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 created important questions about the viability of NATO in the post communist geopolitical environment. The Washington NATO Summit conducted in 1999 called for developing a new security paradigm that enabled the military alliance to respond to new forms of military threats like terrorism, failed states, and weapons of mass destruction. Allied states advocated the creation of a flexible and agile military force that could function outside Europe (Giustozzi, 2008). This assessment was reached through a consensus that the threats of the future would be asymmetric in nature. Given the overwhelming military superiority of Western powers, an adversary or hostile state would commit military suicide while attempting to fight a conventional war. In such situations, the adversary would resort to asymmetric tactics like sabotage, political mobilization, ballistic missiles, and terrorism to achieve its military and political objectives. The twenty first century gave rise to the threat posed by secretive cells composed of highly trained and highly motivated terrorists. NATO’s first combat mission outside the European theatre involved military and stabilization operations in Afghanistan. ISAF was the military force that comprised of NATO member states. A UN Security Council resolution in September 2008 extended the mandate of NATO into several areas. These included assistance in counter insurgency operations, reconstruction efforts, facilitation of local military and law enforcement agencies, development of democracy, and eradication of drugs. Twenty eight NATO states have provided troops to the ISAF force (Giustozzi, 2008). NATO’s mission in Afghanistan is fraught with difficulties and obstacles. Afghanistan remains a weak and fragile state that is wrecked by drugs, terrorism, and warlords. President Hamid Karzai’s government remains dependent upon Western assistance for security and protection. Taliban and Al Qaeda forces have staged a spectacular resurgence through the evolution of military tactics that seek to negate the military superiority of NATO. This has represented a remarkable shift from previous tactics that involved large formations of Taliban/Al Qaeda fighters attempting to attack and ambush ISAF forces. Normally the outcome in such situations was that ISAF forces would call in air strikes that decimated large Taliban/Al Qaeda formations (Giustozzi, 2008). Taliban violence in 2008 and 2009 has taken a heavy toll on NATO forces, Afghan civilians, and Afghan military forces. President Barrack Obama called for an Iraq style “surge” with the deployment of 21,000 extra American troops in Afghanistan. Another important development has been the Pakistan army offensives against Taliban insurgents in Bajaur, SwatValley, and South Waziristan. These developments cannot be ignored by NATO and there is an urgent need to enhance the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the military alliance. The goal to winning the war in Afghanistan also involves enhancing the role of NATO in the theatre.

US military strategy in 2009 with regards to Afghanistan underwent a strategic shift due to inherent problems and obstacles. Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001 was a swift and proactive military mission that ousted the Taliban regime, eradicated Al Qaeda sanctuaries, and disrupted the latter’s logistics network (Ahmad, 2009). However eight years on the war has transformed into a quagmire. US and NATO efforts to suppress insurgents have been frustrated while the goal to create a viable Afghan society has become a remote dream. The new strategy outlined by the Obama administration is to interdict the resurgent terrorist networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Shaw, 2009). It seeks to reduce or mitigate their ability to sponsor, mastermind, and perpetrate international terrorist attacks. Finally it desires to create an effective central government in Afghanistan that is responsive to the needs and requirements of the Afghan people. The strategy seeks to modify the ability of Afghan military and law enforcement forces to handle their security needs. An important element of this strategy is to restructure and revitalize NATO forces in order to safeguard mutual security interests. NATO members need to boost troop levels in order to prevent large swathes of Afghan territory to be overrun by Taliban insurgents. Further NATO should be augmented to develop infrastructure, democracy, and train local security forces (Ahmad, 2009).

The mission should involve the application of smart procedures to eradicate the threats posed by drugs, terrorism, and fundamentalism. The new US strategy must be aligned with NATO efforts to win the war in Afghanistan. This is based upon multilateralism and represents a remarkable shift from the Bush doctrine that focused on unilateral military engagements in order to accomplish US objectives (Ahmad, 2009). A stable Afghanistan and Pakistan are the keys to achieving the security objectives of many countries. The current security paradigm of the US and NATO will only lead to the creation of a bloody quagmire (Rothstein, 2006). It would increase public pressure to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. An ad hoc and ill planned retreat from Afghanistan would transform it into a rogue state. Islamic terrorist groups would create a safe haven in the state to export their revolutionary ideologies to neighboring states. Further it also leads to the increase in international terrorist attacks against the US and NATO member states. Such a nightmare scenario cannot be allowed to happen because it would jeopardize the efforts made in Afghanistan for the past eight years by the international community.

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