The past seven days have been particularly deadly for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Nine soldiers paid the ultimate price, with seven killed in action and two due to other causes. Another 20 were wounded in action. Military casualties in Afghanistan reached a milestone of 2,000 soldiers killed.
"Green-on-blue" attacks, an attack where members of the Afghan Security Forces have killed NATO soldiers, has become a major concern of Gen. John Allen. As a result, joint operations with Afghan Security Forces were suspended for almost a week, but have since been reinstated.
The strategy in Afghanistan depends heavily on the training of Afghan Security Forces. Unfortunately, according to both Allen and Karzai, the Taliban or al-Qaida has been extremely successful in infiltrating those forces. More than 50 NATO troops have been killed from insider attacks so far this year.
Allen, in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," said he is mad as hell about it, and although the troops are ready to sacrifice a lot for this campaign, they are not willing to get murdered for it. Allvoices
During the same "60 Minutes" segment, Presidentwas asked to explain to Americans what's at stake in Afghanistan. Karzai said that the main reason for America's and NATO's intervention in the 11-year war, was to eliminate terrorism. Karzai said that terrorism has not gone away, it has increased.
The U.S., including the military, maintain that the job is getting done in Afghanistan and that the strategy for a transition of the responsibility of security for Afghanistan to Afghan forces is on track. In the face of recent increased attacks by Taliban insurgents and the establishment of foreign fighters linked to al-Qaida calls that asessment into question.
While the insurgents cannot meet NATO or Afghan forces head on, infiltration, IEDs and suicide attacks have been very successful for the Taliban.
Although news from Afghanistan have been overtaken by events in the Middle East and the U.S. election campaign, the war strategy is a major issue for the administration.
The State Department is addressing the issue head on and to this end held a working with its Pakistani counterparts on the means to to disrupt the illicit networks that supply the components and financing for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In a media note, the State Department said that the working group emphasized the importance of taking action against these networks.
"The U.S. and Pakistani delegations emphasized the importance of taking action against the threat posed by IEDs to their respective civilian, law enforcement, and military personnel. The U.S. delegation reiterated the danger these devices pose to Pakistan as well as Afghan, U.S., and coalition forces working to establish stability and security in Afghanistan. The U.S. delegation noted the steps taken by the Government of Pakistan to combat IEDs. Both sides recommitted to pursuing practical solutions for improving joint efforts to combat IEDs and work with the Government of Afghanistan to improve security along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
The U.S. and Pakistani delegations each agreed to take specific steps to: strengthen coordination and communication; improve enforcement of existing laws on the transport and storage of IED precursors; increase public awareness of the threat posed by IED networks and facilitators; disrupt financial flows that support these networks; and improve interdiction efforts.
The U.S. delegation included senior representatives from the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the Treasury Department. State Department Media Note
While the media note statement looks good on paper, it is no easy task for the Pakistani government. The reality of the tribal areas is that the Pakistani military has little access and convincing the public to whistleblow is an insurmountable problem.
There have been some reports last week that there has been an outreach by Pakistan to Russia, in order to forge closer ties.
The U.S. election is one month away. With the first debate, which focused on the economy, out of the way, foreign policy and national security will probably be discussed during the vice presidential debate this coming week, covering the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, among a range of issues.
Libya and Benghazi will be particular headaches. With each passing day, more information is revealed. The exact details of what occurred in Benghazi will not be known until after the election.
Meanwhile the war in Afghanistan continues and the future of Afghanistan after a NATO withdrawal is difficult to predict. Until every NATO troop has left Afghanistan, there will be more casualties, both military and civilian. Lest we forget.
Below are this week’s updated DoD casualty figures:
Op Enduring Freedom Total Deaths KIA Non Hostile WIA
DoD Civ Casualties--------------3-------- ----1--------2
Accumulated 2012 Casualties:
KIA Non Combat Deaths WIA