Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Gen Petraeus turns up the heat on Pakistan, Afghanistan

October 16, 2010

pet1

 

It’s not just Pakistan where the United States has stepped up air raids against members of  al Qaeda and the Taliban. Last month,  U.S-led NATO planes in Afghanistan conducted 700 missions, more than twice the number for the same month the previous year. It was also one of the highest single-month totals of the nine-year Afghan War, the military-focused Danger Room blog said, citing U.S. Air Force statistics.

September was also the month when missile strikes by unmanned U.S. drone planes in northwest Pakistan hit the highest level of 20 since America launched its secret war inside Pakistan, widely seen as the main battleground of the Afghan war because of the sanctuary provided to top al Qaeda and Taliban.  And as if that was not enough, NATO helicopters from Afghanistan crossed the border on at least three occasions, triggering a firestorm  of criticism in Pakistan which closed off the supply lines to the foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Is there a pattern to this ? Has America under new commander General David Petraeus turned up the heat on Pakistan and Afghanistan  ahead of  a strategy review in December and before next July’s planned beginning of a troop drawdown ?  While there have been spikes in the past, this looks like part of a creeping rise in the use of air power, which had been eschewed by former commander LieutenantGeneral Stanley McChrystal  because of the risk of  civilian casualties from the raids. NATO planes carried out 500 sorties in August, up from 405 for the same month the previous year.

Some of the rise in the use of air raids can be attributed to the surge itself – with more troops on the ground and in harm’s way, you can expect  them to call in air support more often. More troops means more hard fighting as they go out and engage the enemy where previously they didn’t. They will also go into areas they were earlier too stretched to enter.  All this means greater use of air power.

But its more than just the surge, says Noah Shachtman in that piece for Danger Room.  Since Petraeus took command in June, air strikes have gone up each month, and every increase has been greater than the previous month. Surveillance flights have increased three-fold since last year, reflecting a new, lethal phase of the Afghan war. There had been speculation that the new general would ease some of the restrictions that McChrystal had placed on the use of air power following  a series of raids gone wrong and which fueled Afghan anger.   Shachtman says :

Petraeus’ history in Iraq also suggested a greater willingness to bomb adversaries, despite the concerns about civilian casualties. Lethal, munitions-dropping sorties more-than-quadrupled under Petraeus’ leadership.

U.S. military leaders, however, said earlier this summer, there would not be any major changes to the rules of engagement.  But on the ground, in Pakistan certainly, concerns have grown about a new, more aggressive U.S.  war strategy.  Imtiaz Gul heads the Islamabad-based Centre for Research and Security Studies and has written a book called The Most Dangerous Place, says the Pakistani military is increasingly concerned about Petraeus’s plans for AF-PAK  including imposing a policy of hot pursuit under which foreign forces can enter Pakistani territory in search of militants. Gul writes in Foreign Policy that some Pakistani military officials believe the general ordered the NATO incursions to test the waters ahead of an expanded air war over Waziristan which the U.S. military says is the origin of half the attacks in Afghanistan.

NATO has apologised for the deaths of three Pakistani soldiers in a cross-border strike by a NATO gunship in the most serious incident,  after which Pakistani authorities re-opened the Khyber pass route for NATO supplies to move into Afghanistan. But they remain deeply suspicious of American motives, and this week the  Pakistani press reported another, small and fleeting incursion by a NATO helicopter in the southern stretch of the border.  The two sides  are due to a hold a strategic dialogue in Washington next week under the shadow of these incursions that strike at the heart of Pakistan’s identity as a sovereign nation,. 

The obvious question to ask  is how does this new aggressive U.S. military policy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan square up with the bid to seek a negotiated settlement with the Taliban as  a flurry of reports over the past week have suggested,  The United States has given its backing to these informal preliminary exchanges that appear to be more like talks about talks than any negotiation. But still the idea that America has intensified the war against the Taliban just as different players including Pakistan have opened up lines of engagement to them is intriguing. Or perhaps if you looked at it another way,  is America bringing its military muscle to bear on the engagement process ? Force the pace perhaps by turning up the heat on the Taliban leadership ?

But as independent analyst Matt Waldman tells the New York Times  its hard to see the Taliban coming to the negotiating table, forced by U.S. pounding of their hideouts. If anything , escalating the war against  them  can only lead to the rise of a new class of leaders more committed to fighting.

Comments

A very good article. The one thing the intelligent folks of the Obama rag tag administration have not yet disclosed that the DNA examined of several so called Talibans have revealed the missing Gene which causes ‘Angst’? The great marines are on their final march towards their home. This step, in my view, not Bob Woodwards view, was decided by the President himself when the four star General ridiculed the National Security Team and was asked to leave Afghanistan. We should watch for the departure date of the Secretary of Defence!
Rex Minor

Posted by rex Minor | Report as abusive
 

PS
The USA has no role to play in Afghan reconciliation process, which can only start when the Amis have left, though the non Pashtoon Afghans would like them to leave after the reconciliation has been achieved.
Rex Minor

Posted by rex Minor | Report as abusive
 

Ah yes, Pakistan playing both sides as always. I sincerely hope General Petraeus puts an end to this nonsense and forces the Paks to choose sides once and for all.

They can’t clean out the tribal areas….but they somehow get soldiers up to these border posts so our helicopters attack them (after the ‘pakistani border guards’ fire a bunch of mortars at our troops). To me, the Pakistanis and the Taliban are more or less one and the same.

God help them if the US is attacked again in any way shape or form….we will not hesitate to go in there, secure their nuclear arsenal, and clean out the tribal areas ourselves…

Posted by Leigh | Report as abusive
 

How can I tell that this aint Iraq. This is Afghanistan. We are not fighting one people, we are fighting the God damn very well orchestrated Chaos by all the neighboring countries including Russia, China and India who are not even neighbors but have strong interests in Afghanistan. Above all their is the Super Power America being bled severly down on its knees to all parties amusement with no win and no wining prize either. God damn it, we need to use Brains, not Bazookas. For Christ sake, lets use some sense instead of arsnel. Thanks for reading.

Posted by Nj | Report as abusive
 

KILL THEM ALL!!

Posted by rick | Report as abusive
 
 

There was never a chance that the US could win in Afghanistan.

Just think, if it did win, then what?

Better to look after your own and stop murdering others.

Posted by mike | Report as abusive
 

Billions spent on this crap. Get out. Duh.

Posted by Reality Time | Report as abusive
 

Stop these illegal unnecessary wars that are bankrupting the US.

Posted by Todd | Report as abusive
 

Forwarded (Letter to General David Petraeus)

General Petraeus,

Are your neocon advisors (Frederick Kagan and Max Boot) trying to get US to invade Pakistan as well with the following?:

US Drone Strike Kills At Least Three Militants In Pakistan – Officials .

http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-2010 1015-703576.html

————————————— ———————————–

MISSION CREEP IN AFPAK (by Eric Margolis)

http://www.ericmargolis.com/political_co mmentaries/mission-creep-in-afpak.aspx

Invading Pakistan (how many more Americans will have to die/get wounded & maimed as a result of such?):

http://america-hijacked.com/2010/09/30/i nvading-pakistan/

After reading the above article (by Eric Margolis) the mention of the neocon ‘divide and conquer’ plan for Pakistan is most interesting because friend Dr. Stephen Sniegoski discussed such for Iraq in his ‘The Transparent Cabal’ book (see http://tinyurl.com/thetransparentcabal & http://tinyurl.com/fragmentationofiraqfo rIsrael as well) which I had given a copy of to Admiral Mullen (I also arranged for a copy to be sent to Admiral Fallon). Now we can take a look at the following URL to see who has been advising you:

Neocons Resurfacing under Obama

http://tinyurl.com/neoconsresurfacingund erobama

You might also be interested in taking a listen/look to the recent Press TV interviews I did about the Afghan quagmire and the double standard with Israeli nukes (via the links at the following URL):

Israeli Nuke Double Standard:

http://tinyurl.com/IsraeliNukeDoubleStan dard

The following includes the URL for the UK New Statesman blog entry about the email exchanges that I had with you (scroll down to the comments section as well if interested further):

General Petraeus Leaked Emails about Israel:

http://tinyurl.com/petraeusinnewstatesma n

Former CIA field officer Philip Giraldi had the following article about such:

Who Owns General Petraeus?:

http://tinyurl.com/whoownsgeneralpetraeu s

Steve Sniegoski had the following write-up about such:

President Petraeus: The Neocons’ Choice
http://america-hijacked.com/2010/07/14/p resident-petraeusthe-neocons-choice/

http://tinyurl.com/Petraeustheneoconscho ice

The following interview (initial one) I did for Press TV seems to explain why no US media covered such:

Pro-Israel biased media threatens US security:

http://tinyurl.com/proisraelbiasedmedia

You might be interested in taking a look at the following too:

New NSA replacing Jones supports harder line against Iran (for AIPAC/Israel of course!)

http://america-hijacked.com/2010/10/08/n ew-nsa-replacing-jones-supports-harder-l ine-against-iran-for-aipacisrael-of-cour se/

http://tinyurl.com/Jonesreplacementwants Iranwar

Sincerely,

James Morris

 

The War on Terror (see comments section at bottom as well):

http://www.tinyurl.com/paulcraigrobertst hewaronterror

 

Gen Petraeus or the Pope Petros, the man with a frail chest carrying heavy metal is currently on a PR trip. According to the former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt Alexander the Great was the most intelligent amongh the invaders who entered Afghanistan and in a hurry left towards India.The ex chancellor is a great friend of Henry kissinger the advisor to mr Obama on national Security. Did you guys get it? But watch, like the CNN Larry King says the rats are leaving the sinking ship!
The other possibility is that the Gen. is being told to plan a march with his rag tag military towards Pakistabn and stopping in Kashmir? George Clooney is very much interested in sudan and Kashmir these days?
Rex Minor

Posted by rex Minor | Report as abusive
 

to all those calling and cheering for a war with pakistan i hope its your children and grandchildren who die in the terrorist attacks that will continue for generations

Posted by PAUL | Report as abusive
 

Cannot understand why and what is this mission creep towards Pakistan. This obamas war is unwinable under any circumstances. It cannot subdue 22 million people in Afghanistan and you expect to subdue an additional 170 million. Look across the border from Pakistan and a billion plus size country has not been able subdue it either. And nato forces need their food and water to go through Pakistan. Is anybody thinking

Posted by Hamid kamal | Report as abusive
 

The big undelying problem about virtually the whole Mid East:
The sovereign image, ‘State of Iraq’ never really existed inside Iraq and so there’s no real long term sustainable incentive to unify under any more than a vague wishful ideology for a mere few who seem to not know their own religion themselves. Separation of Church and State is not only completely alien to their deep rooted Islamic image culture, but their religion is exceedingly deeply ingrained in their politically oriented tribal roots such that no potential for an actual democracy by a sovereign Iraq calling is impossible to achieve even if the US military, well intentioned envoys and diplomatic staff are there holding their hand every step of the agonizing way. Of course that then leaves them with no sense of their own decision making freedom in the process. No sense of a sovereign Iraq anyway. The transcending effects run so deep as to be beyond description here and now. Clearly there are many who have underestimated their potential to permanently break up or disrupt Islam into self-implosion. They’ve been living it over there for centuries and so it all plays right into what they love and thrive on anyway. Crank up the butane, ‘splurge’ your heart out and just watch what happens.

Posted by Jar Man- Glass keeps it fresh | Report as abusive
 

I am sure that “Leigh” will be the first one to join up and head over there and show us all how to do it. I am getting pretty tired of all these people advocting was from the safety of their isp

Posted by john | Report as abusive
 

We should just read about the last days of the Roman empire. It is amazing the USA is slowly but gradually after a very short history following the foot prints of the Roman Might.

Posted by rex Minor | Report as abusive
 

Petraeus is a curious guy. His vaunted ‘surge’ in Iraq is unraveling on all fronts. The Sunni Awakening militias are heading back to al Qaeda in Mesopotamia; the Kurds are getting deeply restive over Kirkuk, and today we learn that the Shia under Maliki have struck a deal with Sadr brokered by Iran and Syria to form a pro-Tehran government that vows to have all U.S. and British forces out of the country by the end of next year.

Petraeus is the fellow who commanded the team that crafted the new U.S. counterinsurgency field manual, FM3-24. In a Washington Post interview after its release he described that as the most labor-intensive warfare of them all. Heavy firepower, including aerial bombardment, was to be avoided if at all possible. It seems as though he’s tossed his own playbook out the window.

I suspect the general has figured out that if the foreign army backing the government side hasn’t reached a decisive turning point within nine years, it has failed. The Pentagon’s own think tank, the RAND Corporation, did an insurgency analysis and concluded Afghanistan was lost.

Back before he took active command in Iraq, Petraeus said that counterinsurgent forces have a very finite shelf life after which they go from liberator/defender to occupier/oppressor in the eyes of local populations. On that score he was entirely right.

Posted by MoS | Report as abusive
 

“- Posted by rex Minor
October 17th, 2010
GMT
to all those calling and cheering for a war with pakistan i hope its your children and grandchildren who die in the terrorist attacks that will continue for generations”

Hopefully before that happens you and your family will be arrested and then transformed into water-boarding superstars. How do you think Pakistani nationals living in the US would fare after such incidents?

Posted by William Harryson | Report as abusive
 

America should understand the fact that the solution to Afghanistan is in Pakistan. Inside the Pakistan. Take the N weapons from Pakistan and change the military regime change. Destroy ISI. Every world terrorists problem will be gone permanently. Period. Period.

Otherwise keep giving 100s of billions dollars to Pakistan and they will keep milking money from US one hand and manuafacturing terrorists on the other hand using the same US money. This will keep the US money flow to Pakistan uninterrupted.
US should start taking some hard decisions on Pakistan. That is the only way this problem can be solved.

Posted by Amer | Report as abusive
 

Mr Obama and the clintonians with their foreign policy, no better than that under the previous administaration, have managed to make the USA as the most unpopular country in the world. The republicans are now likely to gain power in the congress, making it impossible to allow any more meaninful reforms by the Obama administration uring the remaining tenure.
Bye Bye Mr WE CAN!! In Afghanistan Mr Karzai now represents the so called Talibans?
Rex Minor

PS who says Mr Petros is going to turn on the heat?

Posted by rex Minor | Report as abusive
 

Petraeus is petraeus, is he in iraq or in afghanistan. now united states become common enemy of peace loving world.
drone will never win the war, its only increase crime on humanity and delay defeating US_NATO in afghan. one day in the future petraeus and robert gates have to bring to international court for crime to humanity.
we wait more classified information from wikileak and observe american brutality in iraq and afghanistan.

Posted by anto | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •