The USA Steps Into The Gap
That's weird. I thought they called this group the "NATO Alliance." This trend of American soldiers moving in to provide 100 per cent replacement for allied armed forces in a hot zone of relevance to the rest of the world is not a good thing.
Still no word on when Russian or Chinese armed forces will be showing up to fight the Taliban and make their responsible contribution to international stability.
Mark Collins has the latest:
Canada hands over responsibility for Kandahar City to U.S.
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — After holding the Taliban at bay in Kandahar City for more than four years, Canada transferred responsibility for the war in the provincial capital to the U.S. army’s 82nd Airborne Division on Thursday afternoon.
With the move, Canada’s area of responsibility has now formally shrunk to Panjwaii and Dand districts, to the southwest of Kandahar City. The 1 Royal Canadian Regiment battle group now patrols Panjwaii and a squadron from the U.S. army’s 10th Mountain Division, which remains under Canadian command, does the same in Dand [see here for composition of our Task Force Kandahar, US Army unit list now out of date--82nd Airborne ones now gone, see below].
While Panjwaii, in particular, remains a grave military problem, with large numbers of Taliban, NATO and the insurgent leadership have long said that Kandahar City was the most crucial ground in the long war.
Where Canadian Brig.-Gen. Jon Vance’s command only three weeks ago included nearly 6,000 troops and covered much of the most hotly contested geography in Afghanistan, it now involves slightly more than 3,000 troops, including the soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division. Where Canada’s area of operations once covered an area the size of New Brunswick, it now encompasses territory no larger than Calgary or Ottawa.
The decision by NATO to give the Americans the lead in Kandahar City has been anticipated every since President Barack Obama announced last December that the U.S. would send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Military responsibility for the city, and close relations with its top politicians and quasi warlords, now falls to Col. Brian Drinkwine of the 82 Airborne’s Task Force Fury. The paratroop commander has an infantry battalion and a strengthened military police battalion under his command, with many additional forces expected in the coming weeks.
Task Force Fury is now charged with enforcing a ring of stability, which includes a warren of heavily fortified and defended checkpoints that were set up around the city perimeter under Vance’s direction in recent weeks.
As Canada prepares for the end of its combat mission in Afghanistan in July 2011, the first time in its history that it will leave a war that has not yet finished [emphasis added], its influence in NATO in Afghanistan and elsewhere is expected to plummet at the very moment when the war here becomes a much bigger, potentially decisive endeavour…
Although no one from NATO has said so publicly here, Ottawa’s decision to abandon the Afghan mission has frustrated and angered many in the alliance. Canada’s withdrawal has been regarded far more seriously than the decision by the Dutch government to bring its troops home from Uruzgan province this year. This is because Canada contributed more troops to a far more dangerous area of the country and gave them more robust rules of engagement…
As for the Dutch:
New US commander in Uruzgan: “We’ll continue the Dutch work”
The Dutch effort in Uruzgan will not be wasted, said United States Army Colonel James Creighton in an interview at Camp Holland with Radio Netherlands Worldwide. On 1 August, he will take over command from the Dutch troops who have been stationed there for the last four years…
The new US commander is not entirely sure how many additional US troops will be deployed in Uruzgan. Earlier, US Special Forces and diplomats told RNW that Uruzgan might possibly have to make do with less troops than the current 1700 from the Netherlands, because the situation in the bigger provinces is demanding more attention. The colonel has another idea about that.
“I think it will be a little bit less than we had, but basically about the same. I don’t know the exact numbers of the Dutch before and I don’t know the numbers now, that we’ve got [!?!, emphasis added]. We are still in the planning phase. But it is enough to do the mission. My mission is to maintain what the Dutch have done and build on it if possible.”
Colonel Creighton emphasised that he will deploy more diplomats and experts than the Dutch…
Preparing for the exit from our Afghan burden
Update: Media round-up from Conference of Defence Associations:
“The Afghanistan Tightrope” – Moore