With a new military strategy to implement NATO is facing a long, hot summer in Afghanistan. Attacks by insurgents against the military alliance have jumped by 73 percent in a year. They are at their highest level since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
In the coming weeks the first of 17,000 US troops will spearhead a new military campaign aimed at bringing security to the restive south of the country. By the end of the year NATO aims to have 130,000 soldiers on the ground. But that is only the half the battle, according to some analysts. Greg Austin of the EastWest Institute said: “NATO certainly needs to make a bigger investment in Afghanistan if it’s to remain committed. But bigger investment probably has to come in civil areas, it has to come in military logistics, and has to come in military intelligence. The idea of just putting new troops on the ground, infantry as it were, to try and solve this problem is not going to work. The US government is looking hard at a new civilian surge, NATO should look also at a new civilian surge.” NATO wants to make the south secure so that humanitarian organisations can begin the task of reconstruction and development. This, it is claimed, will help the alliance, achieve its military goals. But its efforts are undermined by ongoing civilian casualties. The killing of a 12 year old girl by Italian troops on Sunday was the latest in a series of accidental killings that have incurred the fury of Afghans, and perhaps increased support among some for the Taliban and the al Qaeda allies. Analyst Greg Austin said the focus on al Qaeda may be misguided. “Many in US would like to think that by fighting the war in Afghanistan they are continuing to fight the war against Al Qaeda, but that is not true. Al Qaeda left Afghanistan a long time ago and there is no reason to think Al Qaeda would come back to Afghanistan, it can go to many places in the world before it chooses to go back to Afghanistan.” NATO’s new strategy may be clearly defined, but it wll be some time before we know if it is being effective.