Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Cavalry - Just In Time

Or let's hope it'll be just in time. Word that the Afghan mission is in for some badly needed reinforcements - at least one more NATO brigade and more US forces as well.

The NATO brigade is to be made up of troops mainly from the various nations already active in Afghanistan. The Americans are (wisely) extending the tour of their mountain brigade by another four months and possibly sending fresh troops in also.

It's not clear whether the NATO reinforcement troops will be combat-ready and whether their committment will be subject to any of the caveats that have kept some, such as the Germans, from being deployed into the south where the fighting is most intense.

Let's hope the extra troops are enough to bolster NATO forces to meet the anticipated Taliban spring offensive. The trouble is that it's all guesswork as to what is coming. Will it be the Taliban and al-Qaeda or will they, too, show up with reinforcements. There have been rumours that the Taliban have been joined by the northern warlords, various drug lords, mujahadeen and disaffected nationalists, temporarily operating together under an agreement to set aside their differences until the Westerners are driven out and Karzai toppled. That is definitely a worst-case scenario but no one knows what's coming or, if they do, they're not speaking openly about it.

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