Is NATO Failing Afghanistan?

Captain Ed reports on problems with the NATO mission in Afghanistan:

It took months of wrangling to persuade other NATO members to agree to supply troops. But one senior officer described the efforts of coalition partners as “shambolic”, accusing the Dutch government of demanding United States military protection for its troops before agreeing to send them.

Another officer accused the Germans of a complete failure in their mission to rebuild the country’s police force. He said German forces had trained little more than 200 officers in four years, and when the new police force was deployed in Kabul, they had promptly disappeared. “In many ways, Afghanistan is in a worse position now, four years on from the war there, than Iraq is,” he said.

Remember how a certain craggy Massachusetts Senator thought that European troops were the solution to our problems in Iraq?

This situation isn’t surprising. With the exception of the UK, Europe has virtually no military projection capabilities. They have no military airlift capability to provide logistical support in a place like Afghanistan. European troops don’t anything close to the level of training that US troops have, and even Wesley Clark found that European military commanders were shamefully incompetent and pissant political concerns were constantly hampering operations. Europe simply doesn’t have the requisite level of experience to fight a modern war. They don’t have the training, equipment, or leadership, and few if any European governments wish to provide the funding to develop any of those three. With the exception of the UK, the idea of a EU rapid reaction force might as well be the Keystone Kops.

Until Europe can carry its own weight in terms of military power and logistics, the idea that European participation in peacekeeping operations beyond that of Great Britain is necessary or even helpful is simply untrue. To borrow a quote from Jed Babbin, taking Europe to war with you is like taking an accordion hunting – all you’ve added is a bunch of noisy baggage.

Perhaps once we’ve taught the Iraqis how to have a decently functioning military we can do the same for the EU…

4 thoughts on “Is NATO Failing Afghanistan?

  1. “This situation isn’t surprising […]”

    Jay, I hate to say this, but it is precisely because we knew all this that we (meaning left (-leaning), liberal Bordeaux drinkers) thought that the war is not such a great idea.


  2. Yes, that one, too. Though you are right: the Iraq war has met by far the strongest opposition – and that one has not been discussed in your entry. Blame it on the Bordeaux (which in my case is not Bordeaux, at all, but El Cortez Vino Tinto Espana, Semidulce, La Mancha…)

    One (of “our” – whatever “we” actually is) core arguments against military action has been the logistical impossibilities. The German armed forces are in no way capable of supplying any kind of useful support for the American armed forces. America’s plea for united action has often been understood as “Well, the Americans want their war and want us to help them out by giving them our army, which we know won’t do any good. So if America is asking for our impossible support, it just shows that their alleged plea for cooperation is just a fake, since they know as well as we do that we don’t have anything they might have a use for.”

    Or something like that.

  3. Janek:

    In the Gulf War, Germany didn’t offer much in the way of millitary support. Instead, despite going through a costly reunification period, they gave us cold, hard cash. So did the Japanese and the Saudis- a ton of it. Other than some cash from Koizumi, the US has had very little in the way of foreign fiscal support for our adventure in Iraq; we’ve had to put most of it on our Chinese Take-Out Bill.

    If Europe can’t fight, they can at least underwrite.

    (That, and in the leadup to the war, I think we paid way too much attention to whiners in Europe, and not enough to the powers in Asia. For a time, Pakistan and India were even thinking of lending a hand- why didn’t we press them harder? How about asking the Chinese for some cost defrayment in exchange for some oil access? Why didn’t we ask Russia for help? France and Germany aren’t the powers they used to be; but we need to quit acting like Asia’s are chopped liver, ’cause they aren’t, and that’s what could really come back to bite us…)

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