Afghanistan: How many coalition forces are enough?

As difficult as it might be to believe, it has been reported that U.S. generals are calling for more forces in the fight for southern Afghanistan. Officials long have wanted more firepower, though the Marine Corps, as it spearheads this effort, is pushing aside indiscriminate firepower in favor of counterinsurgency precision.

Still, more troops in the vast region to fight the Taliban insurgency could be helpful. Money would be good, too.

The former (and dare we say beleaguered) supreme allied commander in Europe, Army Gen. John Craddock, has fought his own war with NATO over these very issues throughout much of his time in this top slot. He, as well as Defense Secretary M. Gates, have asked, cajoled, and shamed NATO nations to do their part in Afghanistan. Though NATO “supports” U.S. efforts there, attempts to get this league of nations to act and support operations with manpower have failed.

Undoubtedly the U.S. will continue to try to garner useful NATO involvement — but this is Europe, after all, and they will continue to fail. It seems even support to supporting roles may be a stretch. Craddock, who is not holding back on the eve of his retirement, says NATO nations come up with countless reasons they cannot assist. Those from NATO nations who do make it in theater come with so many restrictions they can barely perform. (Right or wrong, Europe probably does not have the collective stomach for the bloodshed that might result.)

What lies ahead for the U.S., NATO, and Afghanistan is beyond prediction. It appears the U.S. will go continue to go at it with the Brits and too few of the crucial Afghan military. (More to come on Afghan forces.)

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