21 September, 2006

NATO "numerically in the ball park".

Stars and Stripes is one of a number of papers today carrying a story that NATO is to get more troops in Afghanistan.

Nearly two weeks after NATO’s top commander asked for additional troops to bolster operations against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, alliance members have offered close to the additional 2,000 to 2,500 personnel to fill out the mission roster. “Numerically, we are in the ballpark,” U.S. Marine Gen. James L. Jones, NATO’s supreme allied commander, told Pentagon reporters Wednesday.
The Washington Post has a similar story but with a subtle negative spin:
Many of the people of Afghanistan are on a fence right now, and they will be for whichever side wins," ...[General Jones] said. Despite the deteriorating security, Jones pointed to progress in Afghanistan, citing the fact that 6 million children are attending school, and hundreds of development projects have been undertaken -- including the construction of about 1,800 miles of roads -- in the past four years.
"Deteriorating security situation"? That would be the security situation which yesterday Crumbling Spires could report was improving. Stars and Stripes quotes what Jones actually said.
On Sept. 15, the Taliban’s spokesman in Afghanistan issued a statement to Islamic press outlets that said fighters had made a “strategic retreat” in southern Afghanistan.
“It was not a decision that was theirs alone, I assure you,” Jones said. “It was encouraged highly” by the NATO forces on the ground.Despite the retreat, “I don’t think they’ve been totally defeated,” Jones said of the Taliban.
“We will continue to see them where there is less [central government and NATO] strength,” particularly in western Afghanistan, as well as “continuing to use their asymmetric tactics,” like attacking civilians, he said.
Perhaps something was lost in translation.

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