The War on Terror Should Know No Borders

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 4 months ago

Following up on the recommendation we have made here at The Captain’s Journal to deploy Marines to the counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan, the Pentagon is preparing to bring a recommendation to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to send up to 3000 Marines to Afghanistan.

The Pentagon is preparing to send at least 3,000 Marines to Afghanistan in April to bolster efforts to hold off another expected Taliban offensive in the spring, military officials.

The move Wednesday represents a shift in Pentagon thinking that has been slowly developing after months of repeated insistence that the U.S. was not inclined to fill the need for as many as 7,500 more troops that commanders have asked for there. Instead, Defense Secretary Robert Gates pressed NATO allies to contribute the extra forces.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Wednesday that a proposal will go before Gates on Friday that would send a ground and air Marine contingent as well as a Marine battalion — together totaling more than 3,000 forces — to southern Afghanistan for a “one-time, seven-month deployment.”

Gates, he said, will want to review the request, and is not likely to make a final decision on Friday.

“He will take it and consider it thoroughly before approving it,” said Morrell. “I just want to get people away from the idea that this is going to be imminently approved by the secretary.”

He said Gates “has some more thinking to do on this matter because it’s a serious allocation of forces.”

Morrell added that Gates’ thinking on the issue has “progressed a bit” over time as it became clear that it was politically untenable for many of the NATO nations to contribute more combat troops to the fight.

“The commanders need more forces there. Our allies are not in the position to provide them. So we are now looking at perhaps carrying a bit of that additional load,” the spokesman said.

Morrell said the move, first reported Wednesday by ABC News, was aimed at beating back “another Taliban offensive” that is expected this spring — as has occurred in previous years.

When Gates was in Afghanistan last month, commanders made it clear they needed the additional forces.

The Marines would likely come out of Camp LeJeune.

Sources said the Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit — scheduled to deploy in mid-February — went into high gear this week, laying plans for an accelerated deployment schedule that could have the unit departing for Afghanistan on Feb. 1 and staying out past its traditional 180-day rotation. However, unit officials would not confirm that the group is planning to leave early.

The themes of force size and force projection are well known in our previous articles, and the campaign has languished in Afghanistan due to inadequate forces.  However, there is a hint in this report of the remaining paucity of vision that afflicts the strategic planning at the Pentagon.  It is found in the words “one time .. deployment.”  The stated goal of this small addition is to forestall or prevent a spring offensive by the Taliban.  The Pentagon still doesn’t see Aghanistan as the key to Pakistan as we have previously recommended.

The Afghans understand.  They welcome the addition of troops.  But they see more clearly than to refer to a mere temporary addition of troops.  Afghan officials believe that the war on terror should know no borders.

Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders operate “outside the country.”  The war on terror “should know no borders.”

Afghan officials’ are hinting that Afghanistan would be more than happy for US forces to attack Taliban and Al Qaeda safe havens in Pakistan.

Some analysts say the US and NATO won’t make lasting progress in Afghanistan unless the militants’ ability to command and control the insurgency from across the border is tackled.

“Terrorism is like a spring. It is better to go to the main source than to fight the water’s flow,” said Defence Ministry Spokesman Gen Muhammad Zahir Azim.

Afghanistan’s Intelligence Service Chief Amrullah Saleh said recently “We believe the war on terror should know no borders.”

President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman Humayun Hamidzada said on Tuesday “I’m not going to comment about the specifics about operations inside Pakistan. All I’m going to say is that we should address the sources, the root causes of terrorism wherever they are,” Hamidzada said, hinting heavily that Afghanistan believes that to be in Pakistan.

We have pointed out that counterinsurgency inside Pakistan proper, with U.S. troops actually deployed en masse in the country, would be impossible.  Yet the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan is amorphous, ripe territory for kinetic operations to capture and kill Taliban.  The U.S. has a once in a generation opportunity in being allowed to traffic freely along the border region of the country from which the enemy springs forth.  The key to dealing with the Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan is still the border region.  Force projection is required.  And there is still paucity of vision at the highest levels of leadership.

Prior:

Musa Qala: The Argument for Force Projection

Clarifying Expectations in Afghanistan

Review and Analysis of Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Campaign

Gates Sets Pretext for Review of Afghanistan Campaign

British in Negotiations with Taliban

Fates of Afghanistan and Pakistan Inextricably Tied

The British-American War Continues: MI-6 Agents Expelled from Afghanistan

Commitment to Iraq and Recommitment to Afghanistan

Taliban Now Govern Musa Qala

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You are currently reading "The War on Terror Should Know No Borders", entry #890 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Force Projection,Marine Corps and was published January 11th, 2008 by Herschel Smith.

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