As NATO plans for a major summit in early April, the 59-year-old defense alliance is facing a serious test over European governments' commitment to the conflict in Afghanistan, where many members signed up for a peacekeeping mission but found themselves in a war.
With some nations declining to send troops into combat with Taliban-led insurgents, U.S. officials and others have warned that NATO's future is in danger if all member states do not step up. And there are increasing worries in Washington that the U.S. will have to pick up the slack and send more troops, further taxing an already overtaxed military.
The US has already sent 3200 more of our warriors this month to Kandahar Province because the Cannucks have been threatening to pull out unless they get "more help in the Taliban stronghold."
U.S. Gen. Dan McNeill, commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, plays the situation down somewhat, stating that more troops would be nice, but more intel, air transport and reconnaissance troops were topping his wish list.
He [McNeill]acknowledged the difficulty of running such a large multinational operation, with 40 countries where every one has different rules about how soldiers operate. McNeill said that it was "not helpful" for countries to set their own tour lengths but that he could do little to change the restrictions that every nation has.
"I try not to bang my head against the wall because that will accomplish nothing," said McNeill, who took over as ISAF commander in February 2007.
McNeill would be discussing some of the more absurd rules of engagement for troops. When NATO assumed full command of the country's security, they assured rules of engagement would be "robust" enough for troops to defend themselves. The US Operation Enduring Freedom had more aggressive standards to "hunt" al Qaeda and Taliban.
NOTE: The ReliefWeb link above has proven to be intermittent. The article from 2006 comes up sometimes, others with a "page cannot be found" error.
More "robust" rules of engagement pretty much translates to they get to shoot back when shot at. Altho later in the game, they did increase the ability to confront the bad guys, and launch preemptive strikes for suspected ambushes. NATO, however, finds itself in the bent over backwards position to appease the sundry human rights groups, ready to pounce over civilian collateral by foreign NATO fighters (while apparently not coming down so hard on the jihadi collateral... double the amount of the military collateral).
I've heard reporters from the region also state NATO restrictions on such conditions as night fighting, and battles in extreme weather. We don't hear much about rules this silly in the press, tho I, myself, find it to be extremely relevant.
But there is more on the caveats NATO allies demanded prior to agreeing to assist in Afghanistan.
In 2006, to get all the countries to sign on to the NATO plan to take over from the U.S. in Afghanistan, certain "caveats" were negotiated. Some nations agreed to send troops that would not fight; others would fight, but only in certain areas. Some sent troops in for four months, others for nine months. Troops under NATO command could fire only when fired on—but they could not start offensive operations.
So in relatively peaceful northern Afghanistan, German troops serve tours of duty that are usually only about four months — the shortest tour length in Afghanistan. After the U.S. pressure in February, the Germans said they would send 500 more troops—but under no circumstances would the troops be sent to dangerous areas.
And everyone wonders why Afghanistan has gone retrograde since the NATO takeover? I ask you... is this any way to conduct a war you wish to win? And even more importantly, how many US citizens want the DNC to effectively place our future national security in the hands of this bunch?