Contents: The Sir! No Sir! blog is an information clearing house, drawing on a wide variety of sources, to track the unfolding history of the new GI Movement, and the wars that brought the movement to life.
Where applicable, parallels will be drawn between the new movement and the Vietnam era movement which was the focus of the film Sir! No Sir!
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This article, by Mazhar Tufail, was published in the The News (Pakistan), Februuary 24, 2009
ISLAMABAD: The militants active in North and South Waziristan agencies have been directed by Mulla Omar to immediately stop their attacks on the Pakistani security forces.
In a letter to the militants, who have forged a new alliance, Mulla Omar admonished them not to fight the Pakistani security forces and kill their Muslim brethren, a reliable source told The News on Monday.
“Mulla Omar first sent an envoy to the local Taliban and then wrote a letter to the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) admonishing these leaders and told the TTP that fighting Muslims could not be described as Jihad so they should immediately cease attacks on the Pakistani security forces.
He told them that if they really want to participate in Jihad, they must fight the US and Nato troops inside Afghanistan because their attacks on the Pakistani security forces are undermining the objectives of the war against the invaders and cause of the Taliban movement.
“If anybody really wants to wage Jihad, he must fight the occupation forces inside Afghanistan,” the source quoted Mulla Omar as having told the TTP leaders. “Attacks on the Pakistani security forces and killing of fellow Muslims by the militants in the tribal areas and elsewhere in Pakistan is bringing a bad name to Mujahideen and harming the war against the US and Nato forces in Afghanistan.”
“Our aim is to liberate Afghanistan from the occupation forces and death and destruction inside neighbouring Pakistan has never been our goal,” he added. The source said according to Mulla Omar, the US was devising a new strategy and adopting new tactics to crush Mujahideen in Afghanistan so the Taliban, too, must forge unity in their ranks, and instead of operating in Pakistan, they must concentrate on actions against the US and Nato forces.
He said the new alliance has been directed by Mulla Omar to devise a new strategy to counter the invaders because the reinforcement of the US forces in Afghanistan is food for thought for all the forces fighting the occupation forces in the war-ravaged country.
“The formation of a new alliance of militants by the name of Shura Ittihad-ul-Mujahideen is aimed at implementing the advice given by Mullah Omar,” the source said. “After this development, the attacks on security forces by the local Taliban will decrease if not end completely,” he said.
This correspondent tried to seek comments from some government officials and leaders of the ruling parties, including the Awami National Party and the Pakistan People’s Party, but they refused to say anything on record.
However, one of the officials contacted by The News feared that if the newly found alliance of the militants stepped up their attacks on the coalition troops inside Afghanistan, it would create many problems for Pakistan and Islamabad would face its consequences.
According to an announcement made on Sunday, the new alliance comprises groups led by central head of the banned TTP, Baitullah Mehsud, and Maulvi Nazir of South Waziristan and Hafiz Gul Bahadar of North Waziristan, two militant commanders who were considered to be pro-government. A 13-member body has also been named to run the affairs of the new alliance.
This article, by Iqbal Khattak, was published in the Daily Times (Pakistan), Februuary 24, 2009
PESHAWAR: The US and NATO should seal off Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan along Bajaur to clear the region of what remains of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, a top Pakistani general recommended on Monday.
“Our recommendation to them [the coalition forces and Afghanistan] is that while we are doing manoeuvres, please seal off the border,” Frontier Corps (FC) Inspector General Maj Gen Tariq Khan told Daily Times in interview. He said, “Foreign militants’ movement from Afghanistan does continue.”
The call for sealing off the Afghan border in Bajaur comes at a time when the second phase of 'Operation Sherdil' is in progress, following an interruption caused by tensions with India on the eastern border in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.
Foreigners: “The Taliban we are fighting now include only a few locals … most of them are foreigners coming from across the border. They are Arabic-speaking. We have picked up some Sudanese and (other) people who are different, not the same,” said Tariq while commenting on infiltrations from Afghanistan.
“I have been around here now for years, and the only thing I see is people coming from the other side. We have a mass movement of people coming here [from Afghanistan]. This issue has been taken up at the highest level.”
Liaison: The FC chief acknowledged close liaison with NATO forces in Afghanistan, and said interaction between the two sides was ‘improving’ amid US claims that Pakistan was ‘playing a double game’.
Tariq said tensions on the eastern border with India “affected the operation [in Bajaur] very much, and that is why we are a bit late in finishing it … because of the situation on the eastern border, some [military] assets were moved away [from the tribal area]”.
Success: He said that by the “middle of next month (March), we should secure Bajaur valley, where the paramilitary and army have so far lost 84 troops and officers and killed some 1,800-plus foreign and local militants since September 8 last year”.
Tariq said the Swat Taliban would not leave the valley and come to Bajaur, after a peace deal, as “they have stakes in Swat”.
The senior military commander proposed that a political process be launched only when the Taliban had been flushed from Bajaur. “We are better focused in Bajaur now. My suggestion is let us finish them off.”
He said internally-displaced persons from Bajaur were returning under a “controlled environment, and they are registered to have an impact on lines of communication, protection and security of the area”.
During another interview with the Reuters news agency at the Frontier Corp's headquarters in Peshawar’s historic Balahisar Fort, Tariq received word that his forces had taken the strategically important village of Barchina.
“It means that Charmang is now in our hands,” he said, referring to one of the remaining valleys leading to eastern Afghanistan.
He told Reuters that he was forced to carry out an offensive in neighbouring Mohmand Agency after the Taliban launched a major attack on his forces there last month.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that 70 American military advisers were in Pakistan training the army and paramilitary forces, but Tariq denied this, complaining at the inadequacy of US support.
“Are Americans giving us any lethal assistance? Do we get any rocket launchers or bombs or aircraft (from them)? We are getting nothing actually,” he said.
“What we are getting are bullet-proof jackets, helmets, water bottles ... medication, surveillance equipment and communication equipment,” he added.
This report was posted by MSNBC, February 17, 2009
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama approved adding some 17,000 U.S. troops for the flagging war in Afghanistan, his first significant move to change the course of a conflict that his closest military advisers have warned the United States is not winning.
"To meet urgent security needs, I approved a request from (Defense) Secretary Gates to deploy a Marine Expeditionary Brigade later this spring and an Army Stryker Brigade and the enabling forces necessary to support them later this summer," Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.
About 8,000 Marines are expected to go in first, followed by about 9,000 Army troops. Some 34,000 U.S. troops are already in Afghanistan.
"There is no more solemn duty as president than the decision to deploy our armed forces into harm's way," Obama added. "I do it today mindful that the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention and swift action. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe-haven along the Pakistani border."
Of the 17,000 troops authorized, deployment orders have been issued for 12,000 and some of those are being reassigned from roles in Iraq. Where the remaining 5,000 troops will come from will be determined later.
The Marine unit is from Camp Lejeune, N.C.. The Stryker unit is from the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division out of Fort Lewis, Wash.
The Stryker brigade was originally ordered last fall to go to Iraq. It is now at the National Training Center in the Mojave Desert, training for deployment.
Deployment likely in south
Most of the extra forces are expected to be sent to southern Afghanistan, where a shortage of U.S. and NATO troops face an intensifying Taliban insurgency.
The new troops could be a down payment on an even larger influx of U.S. forces that has been widely expected this year, and it will get forces in place in time for the increase in fighting that usually comes with warmer weather and ahead of national midyear elections.
Earlier Tuesday, Obama said the situation in Afghanistan "actually appears to be deteriorating at this point."
"I'm absolutely convinced that you cannot solve the problem of Afghanistan, the Taliban and the spread of extremism in the region solely through military means," he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. in an interview ahead of his trip to Ottawa on Thursday. "We're going to have to use diplomacy, we're going to have to use development."
Afghan strategy still under review
The Afghan directive is the first time the new commander in chief has sent significant numbers of new forces into battle. Obama campaigned on a new strategy for the Afghanistan war, but he has taken his time to approve the new forces.
The planned troop deployment does not preclude sending more forces in the future, a senior White House official said. Any others, however, would come as part of a broader strategic review of the entire policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, not as a stand-alone troop decision, the official said.
That review should be completed sometime around the end of March, which coincides with a NATO summit in Europe.
U.S. commanders have said they could send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan this year, nearly doubling the American contingent. Gates has said two brigades could be ready to go there by spring and a third by summer.
Earlier Tuesday, a think tank issued a report concluding that a "game-changing" strategy is urgently needed in Afghanistan to save the faltering international campaign.
"All is not lost in Afghanistan," RAND Corp. experts said in a paper released by the congressionally funded United States Institute of Peace.
This article, by Sarah Baxter and Michael Smith, was published in the London Times, February 8, 2009
PRESIDENT Barack Obama has demanded that American defence chiefs review their strategy in Afghanistan before going ahead with a troop surge.
There is concern among senior Democrats that the military is preparing to send up to 30,000 extra troops without a coherent plan or exit strategy.
The Pentagon was set to announce the deployment of 17,000 extra soldiers and marines last week but Robert Gates, the defence secretary, postponed the decision after questions from Obama.
The president was concerned by a lack of strategy at his first meeting with Gates and the US joint chiefs of staff last month in “the tank”, the secure conference room in the Pentagon. He asked: “What’s the endgame?” and did not receive a convincing answer.
Larry Korb, a defence expert at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank, said: “Obama is exactly right. Before he agrees to send 30,000 troops, he wants to know what the mission and the endgame is.”
Obama promised an extra 7,000-10,000 troops during the election campaign but the military has inflated its demands. Leading Democrats fear Afghanistan could become Obama’s “Vietnam quagmire”.
If the surge goes ahead the military intend to limit the mission to fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and leave democracy building and reconstruction to Nato allies and civilians from the State Department and other agencies.
The United States has been pushing Britain to send several thousand more troops but there is just as much disagreement and confusion among British defence chiefs over the long-term aim. Gordon Brown is set to receive a full briefing this week.
General Sir Richard Dannatt, the army chief who will step down this summer, has insisted that troops need a rest and believes he can send only one battlegroup, senior defence sources said.
General Sir David Richards, his successor, believes that the two extra battlegroups the Americans have asked for is the minimum the UK should send, the sources said.
This analysis, by Juan Cole, was originally published to Informed Comment, February 8, 2009
While the attention of the US public and the news media here has been consumed (understandably enough) by the congressional debate over the economic stimulus plan, America's war in Afghanistan has nearly collapsed because of logistical problems.
First, the Taliban destroyed a crucial bridge west of Peshawar over which NATO trucks traveled to the Khyber Pass and into Afghanistan. 75% of US and NATO supplies for the war effort in Afghanistan are offloaded at the Pakistani port of Karachi and sent by truck through the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan. Then the Taliban burned 10 trucks carrying such materiel, to demonstrate their control over the supply route of their enemy. The Taliban can accomplish these breathtaking operations against NATO in Pakistan in large part because Pakistani police and military forces are unwilling to risk much to help distant foreign America beat up their cousins. That reluctance is unlikely to change with any rapidity.
Well, you might say, there are other ways to get supplies to Afghanistan. But remember it is a landlocked country. Its neighbors with borders on the state are Pakistan, China, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan; Kyrgyzstan is close enough to offer an air route. Pakistan is the most convenient route, and it may be at an end. China's short border is up in the Himalayas and not useful for transport. Tajikistan is more remote than Afghanistan. The US does not have the kind of good relations with Iran that would allow use of that route for military purposes. A Turkmenistan route would depend on an Iran route, so that is out, too.
So what is left? Uzbekistan and (by air) Kyrgyzstan, that's what.
More bad news. Kyrgyzstan has made a final decision to deny the US further use of the Manas military base, from which the US brought 500 tons of materiel into Afghanistan every month. It is charged that Russia used its new oil and gas wealth to bribe Kyrgyzstan to exclude the US, returning the area to its former status as a Russian sphere of influence. (Presumably this would also be payback for US and NATO expansion on Russia's European and Caucasian borders).
Then there was one. The US has opened negotiations with Uzbekistan, which had given Washington use of a base 2002-2005 but ended that deal after it massacred protesters at Andizhon in 2005. Some Uzbeks charged that the US had promoted an "Orange Revolution" style uprising similar to the one in the Ukraine against Uzbek stongman Islam Karimov. But even if the US could get a stable relationship with Karimov, the Uzbeks are not offering to be the transit route for military materiel, only for nonlethal food, medicine and other items.
In the light of these logistical problems (which are absolutely central to the prospects for success of the Afghanistan War), and given that no clear, attainable, finite mission in Afghanistan has ever been enunciated by US civil or military leaders, it is no wonder that President Barack Obama is reported to be putting the "Afghan surge" or the sending of 30,000 new troops to Afghanistan on hold until a clearer mission can be formulated. TheTimes of London writes:
'The president was concerned by a lack of strategy at his first meeting with Gates and the US joint chiefs of staff last month in “the tank”, the secure conference room in the Pentagon. He asked: “What’s the endgame?” and did not receive a convincing answer. '
and adds, 'Leading Democrats fear Afghanistan could become Obama’s “Vietnam quagmire”.'