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Afghanistan on the brink
Afghanistan on the brink
Her er utdrag av rapporten "Stumbling into Chaos: Afghanistan on the Brink" utgitt av Senlis. Rapporten påstår blant annet at den NATO-ledede styrken må dobles til minst 80.000 soldater hvis den skal ha mulighet til å lykkes.
In September 2006, Senlis Afghanistan released a security assessment report detailing the return of the Taliban to Afghanistan, pointing to the increasing hold that the movement has on southern provinces. 
Some 14 months later, the security situation has reached crisis proportions. The Taliban has proven itself to be a truly resurgent force. Its ability to establish a presence throughout the country is now proven beyond doubt; research undertaken by Senlis Afghanistan indicates that 54 per cent of Afghanistan’s landmass hosts a permanent Taliban presence, primarily in southern Afghanistan, and is subject to frequent hostile activity by the insurgency.

The insurgency now controls vast swaths of unchallenged territory including rural areas, some district centres, and important road arteries. The Taliban are the de facto governing authority in significant portions of territory in the south, and are starting to control parts of the local economy and key infrastructure such as roads and energy supply. The insurgency also exercises a significant amount of psychological control, gaining more and more political legitimacy in the minds of the Afghan people who have a long history of shifting alliances and regime change.

The depressing conclusion is that, despite the vast injections of international capital flowing into the country, and a universal desire to ‘succeed’ in Afghanistan, the state is once again in serious danger of falling into the hands of the Taliban. Where implemented, international development and reconstruction efforts have been underfunded and failed to have a significant impact on local communities’ living conditions, or improve attitudes towards the Afghan Government and the international community.

The current insurgency, divided into a large poverty-driven ´grassroots´ component and a concentrated group of hardcore militant Islamists, is gaining momentum, further complicating the reconstruction and development process and effectively sabotaging NATO-ISAF’s stabilisation mission in the country.

Of particular concern is the apparent import of tactics perfected in Iraq. The emboldened Taliban insurgency is employing such asymmetric warfare tactics as suicide bombings and roadside bombs, causing numerous casualties both among the civilian population and the international and national security forces.

Increased lawlessness and lack of government control in the border areas with Pakistan are directly and indirectly fuelling the insurgency through the flow of new recruits, a stable financial and operational support base and ideological influence inspired by Al-Qaeda.
Les hele rapporten her (2,4 MB PDF) Anbefales!


In order to start regaining the ‘hearts and minds’ of ordinary Afghans, an expanded, caveat-free ‘NATO Plus’ presence must be established. It is clearly no longer sustainable for the troops of just four core NATO member states – Canada, UK, US and the Netherlands – plus support from such non-NATO countries as Australia and New-Zealand, to engage in active combat against an emboldened and increasingly successful enemy.

A mandated minimum contribution from member-states
A proportional level of commitment from every NATO member state is an important benchmark, and would send out a clear message that NATO is a unified entity with the capacity to project itself globally. A force of 80,000 troops – over double the present total – should be achievable within a relatively short time-frame.

Two per cent a minimum: In order to lay the groundwork for an expanded deployment, each NATO state should spend at least 2 per cent of its GDP upon defence. At present only five of NATO’s pre-1999 expansion states (France, Greece, Portugal, Turkey and the UK), and two of its newer members (Bulgaria and Romania) meet this criteria, prompting Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to declare that he felt ‘ashamed’ by this discrepancy. Although an imperfect measure, it does at least provide an equitable benchmark that will facilitate the deployment of required numbers of troops to ‘NATO Plus’.

Establish a troops deployed/GDP ratio: With approximately 40,000 soldiers, NATOISAF still lacks substantial numbers of troops to be able to successfully fulfil its mandate. This figure is equivalent to less than a quarter of the deployment of international troops to Iraq, whereas the rugged country of Afghanistan is more populated, and has a total area almost 50 per cent larger than Iraq. The 50,000 soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) are neither numerous enough, nor suitably equipped or trained to be able to fully complement the current international force.

ISAF forces often manage to defeat Taliban units but are not able to permanently defend gained terrain and thus fail to prevent insurgents from re-conquering it. ISAF does not have enough troops in Afghanistan to make sure its victories are followed by the establishment of sustainable control over the rural territory. Too few troops on the ground also means that ISAF is heavily relying on air power to keep a tactical edge on the insurgents; the intense use of air power allows ISAF to win battles, but is resulting in a growing number of civilian casualties that make ISAF fail to win hearts and minds, and perhaps lose the war.
The total number of international troops integrated to ISAF urgently needs to be doubled to an minimum of 80,000 troops. Currently, NATO is in command of the International Force and most ISAF troops are provided by NATO member States. Nevertheless, contributions from individual countries are, even within NATO, largely uneven when considered in proportion to their population or GDP. For instance France and Spain are contributing less than 1 soldier per billion of GDP (measured in USD) while the United Kingdom and Turkey each supply above 3 soldiers per USD billion.
This disparity is hampering ISAF’s efficacy and should be reviewed to allow for an increase in the total number of ISAF troops. Of course there is no easy answer to the question about how precisely the burden should be shared and how much every single country should contribute. But some first approximations of a fairer deal could involve having contributions proportional to national GDP.
Currently, The Netherlands is contributing to ISAF 2.3 soldiers per billion of GDP (in USD). This ratio represents less than half the UK’s ratio of 3.2 soldiers per billion of GDP, but is the double of the US figure of 1.1.
If all NATO member countries increased their contribution to ISAF to this 2.3 soldiers per billion of GDP (or kept it the way it is when it is already higher), the total number would increase to around 71,000 troops.
In particular if each of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy Norway, Portugal, Spain and the United States increased their contribution to a relative level equivalent to the Netherlands, ISAF would increase by a total of 30,000 troops.
In addition to increased NATO involvement, ISAF should benefit from contributions from non-NATO countries that also have an interest in establishing a sustainable peace in the region. While Australia, New Zealand, and nations from the Euro- Atlantic Partnership Council are already contributing to ISAF, new contributions could enhance ISAF’s capacity and legitimacy.
In particular, participation to ISAF by more countries with significant Muslim population would ensure that the international force could not be described as mono-culture.
A debate should be opened on to what extent ISAF should grow in size and how that build up in capacity is to be achieved in a fair and legitimate manner.
National Caveats lifted
NATO’s mission was hamstrung from the very outset, as a number of states were unwilling to share the fighting burden. If the coalition has any chance of success in Afghanistan, national caveats must be lifted immediately and states must engage the enemy under one set of rules.
Secure Development Areas (SDAs) to be established
Elements of ‘NATO Plus’ should look to establish concentrated Secure Development Areas (SDAs). Similar to the Afghan Development Zone (ADZ), these SDAs will focus upon bringing security to a densely populated or strategically important town, enabling non-military agencies to undertake developmental projects in a secure micro-climate.
Establishing security for SDAs requires one set of troops to be engaged in static security tasks, with a strong forward mobile presence aimed at preventing the insurgency from disrupting the development work. An expanded force of 80,000 would enable a higher concentration of forces to remain in situ within strategic towns that are desperate for reconstruction.
Once firmly rooted, an SDA can become a beacon of developmental progress for other troubled parts of the country, thereby exporting stability by example.
Increased representation from Muslim states
From an internal perspective, the overriding impression of the West’s presence in Afghanistan is that of external aggressor. Such a perception has historically congealed Afghan resistance of all hues against that presence, prompting an expedient coalition intent upon expelling them from the country. Indeed, much of the Taliban can be viewed through such a lens.
In order to at least partially counteract that perception, deployments from Muslim states should serve within a ‘NATO Plus’ force, primarily within the SDA serving as community liaison officers. This addition to NATO’s presence in Afghanistan will have tremendous symbolic value, bolstering efforts to win over local hearts and minds, and helping NATO to project itself in means other military operations. A contingent of Muslim forces should also be detached to fight alongside NATO forces entering Pakistan.
Senior Muslim military figures should also be seconded to work alongside NATO commanders in ISAF headquarters in Afghanistan.
Support provided to Pakistan in missions against radical Islamists
An expanded ‘NATO Plus’ force would offer support to the Pakistani military’s already extensive mission to defeat militant Islamists in its troubled western provinces. This support would range from the sharing of tactical intelligence assets (for instance, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle target imagery) to air support and tightly-targeted ground assaults upon high value insurgent targets.
‘NATO Plus’ support would serve under the operational control of Pakistan, and maintain the lightest possible footprint during lulls in combat to mitigate against insurgent strikes upon forward operating bases.
‘Afghan COIN’ adopted
In order to win hearts and minds, it is incumbent upon the forces operating in Afghanistan to adopt a different approach to the realities on the ground. An increasing recourse to airstrikes in densely populated areas is proving disastrous for the military’s standing amongst local communities, and should be stopped. It is pivotal that the political and physical sanctuaries within which insurgents operate is shrunk, and SDAs established in their place.
In order to achieve this outcome, the military must transition from a counterterrorism-led approach to a counterinsurgency (COIN)-driven one, such as advocated by former Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) chief General David Barno. The adoption of such tactics by an expanded ‘NATO Plus’, adapted to the Afghan theatre, will provide for more effective prosecution of core stabilisation strategy. The role of Muslim military liaison officers will be key in this regard, as these forces will offer strategic advice to western forces regarding suitable methods of engagement with locals.
Intelligence-driven approach
A greater emphasis upon intelligence, in particular, human intelligence (HUMINT) is required. This intelligence-driven approach should see the ‘NATO Plus’ strategy concentrate upon the needs and security of the population, although clearly the short-term operational requirement to defeat the insurgency militarily must continue in tandem.
The traditional methods for gathering intelligence developed during the Cold War have been proven consistently ineffective against the new terrorist networks of today, therefore, in order to conduct a successful COIN plan, it is imperative to operate at the grass-roots level, establishing a relationship of trust with the locals, who are historically suspicious of any outsiders (particularly in the Afghan context).
As difficult and long as this process may be, it will be the only way to get trustworthy information from an insurgency that relies on human relations to operate.
Marginal insurgents reintegrated
The reintegration of ‘marginal insurgents’. Vast swathes of the Taliban are fighting for economic as opposed to ideological reasons. Establishing viable, sustainable alternative income sources in secure environments will deprive the movement of a core membership strand.

Development Recommendations
A coherent, well-defined strategic course
The need to associate development and security
Security and development are two inseparable sides of the same reconstruction effort. Development without security and the rule of law would certainly lead to Afghanistan’s disintegration.
On the other hand, security at the expense of development will not be sustainable; social and economic development is essential to long-term political stability. The lack of economic governance will eventually provide a breeding ground for conflict, further instability and violence.
The international community’s strategy in Afghanistan must be a serious commitment to improve the lives of Afghans in an immediate and substantial manner. An improvement to the lives of Afghans living in the south of Afghanistan is essential in counteracting the Taliban’s propaganda against the West and the Afghan government. A coherent hearts and minds strategy that addresses the dire circumstances present in Afghanistan’s southern provinces will help international troops achieve their mission.
Formulate well-defined development objectives
For the reconstruction effort to be an unambiguous success story, it is essential that the international community has clearly defined goals to work towards in terms of development. Currently, the Afghan society is littered with disasters such as the alarmingly high maternal mortality rates, a failure to adequately promote secondary education, high unemployment and mass displacement.
These are areas that the west should be focussed on improving, setting priorities and sequencing and determining what is the real impact of efforts on the lives of the Afghan people.
Match development and aid spending with military spending
Promoting a stable and prosperous Afghan state is undoubtedly an expensive task. Most importantly, development assistance expenditure should be increased to a level where it can adequately address the humanitarian crisis in the country and create the necessary infrastructure for sustainable growth.
No one has helped the people who have been displaced by the fighting in Arghandab. There have been several discussions about aid but actual aid has yet to be delivered. The Canadian government has not done any development work in Arghandab; there is no sign of development whatsoever: no water wells, no health clinics, no roads, no schools and no irrigation systems.”
District Chief of Arghandab, November 2007 

Currently, overall military spending far exceeds international development assistance. It is imperative that the international community exemplifies its commitment to the Afghan people and streamlines budgeting and planning of development operations in Afghanistan.
A strong response to Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis
The role of the military: Combat DFID/CIDA
An extensive, well-funded aid campaign is desperately needed to respond to the humanitarian crisis in the southern and eastern parts of the country. The situation in Afghanistan’s southern and eastern provinces is so precarious that the UK Department for International Development and the Canadian International Development Agency have halted development operations. In the conflict-ravaged areas, the military has a vital role to play in supporting the activities of development agencies.
The military must now be tasked to deliver immediate aid to these areas and be granted control of DFID and CIDA’s war zone budgets. This will not only help respond to the immediate needs of the Afghanistan’s poor and vulnerable but will also propagate the message that international troops are in the country to help and protect its suffering population.
Addressing Immediate Needs
A winning strategy for the international community is to provide measurable and immediate improvements to the living conditions of local Afghans. With the harsh Afghan winter about to set in, it is of critical importance that immediate needs are addressed. Many internally displaced people are residing in makeshift refugee camps which will be an arena of misery very shortly if adequate shelter, clothing and food needs are not provided soon.
The international community must make this its number one development priority. Healthcare, especially in the war-torn south, requires a general overhaul in order to cater for the increased number of civilian casualties and malnourished population.
Building a secure future
Establish an Afghan Family Fund
The international community’s policy in Afghanistan must be to bring about the conditions in which social and economic development can ultimately be created and sustained by the Afghans themselves. It is key that the international community does not allow the conflict to impact on the futures of the youth of Afghanistan. Improving literacy and education; providing healthcare; creating the necessary infrastructure; and providing economic choice through licit sources of revenue and job opportunities are all essential to Afghanistan becoming an economically robust state which is capable of democratic self-governance. An Afghan Family/Community Fund, similar to Brazil’s Bolsa Familia project, should be set up, whereby positive actions from the Afghan public would be rewarded with mutual investment on the part of the government with the support of the international community.
Preparing Afghanistan’s new leaders
Securing Afghanistan’s stable and prosperous future requires a young generation of competent, peace-driven Afghans to take the leadership. Leadership training for the young unemployed and conflict-ravaged Afghans should be organised seeking to provide them with the necessary skills to assume leadership from current stakeholders, who are the victims of decades of conflict, civil strife and tribal tensions.
Afghan ownership
The international community has a crucial role to play in building local capacities and strengthening Afghan ownership by forging connections between Afghans by investing in infrastructure, healthcare and education, as well as investing in locally supported delivery systems. Afghan ownership of the development situation is a politic way forward as it helps build public confidence and trust in the Afghan government and the international community.
A pragmatic counter-narcotics approach
Halting forceful eradication operations
By calling for forced poppy eradication and chemical spraying, the US-led international community has aggravated the security situation, precluding the very reconstruction and development necessary to remove Afghan farmers’ need to cultivate poppy. Chemical spraying is a crude policy instrument that not only fails to resolve the root causes of opium cultivation in Afghanistan but crucially creates further social unrest and violence. The international community must be united in its opposition to US plans for chemical eradication of poppy crops.
Pragmatic solutions to Afghanistan’s drug crisis: Alternative livelihoods and Poppy for Medicine
The Afghan government and the international community must deliver on their promises to create economically sustainable opportunities and thus incentives for stakeholders to move away from the illicit trade. Alternative development programmes must involve community participation at all stages of planning, implementation and evaluation.
The Senlis Council has developed a Poppy for Medicine project model for Afghanistan as a means of bringing illegal cultivation under control in an immediate yet sustainable manner. The key feature is that the opium poppy would be transformed into morphine and codeine for pain-killing medicine. The economic profits from Poppy for Medicine projects will remain in the village, providing the necessary leverage for farming communities to diversify their economic activities. Furthermore, the profits generated by exporting morphine tablets would accommodate all stakeholders, including middle-men and local power-holders. Producing internationally tradable commodities, poppy for medicine projects would also benefit the central government. A pragmatic approach to Afghanistan’s drug crisis would be conducive to building support for the Afghan government and the international partners.
Om Senlis
The Senlis Council is an international policy think tank with offices in Kabul, London, Paris, Brussels, Ottawa and Rio. The Council’s work encompasses foreign policy, security, development and counter-narcotics policies and aims to provide innovative analysis and proposals within these areas. The extensive programme currently underway in Afghanistan focuses on global policy development in conjunction with field research to investigate the relationships between counter-narcotics, military, and development policies and their consequences on Afghanistan’s reconstruction efforts. Senlis Afghanistan has field offices in the Afghan cities of Lashkar Gah and Kandahar
Les hele rapporten her (2,4 MB PDF) <- ANBEFALES!
Sist oppdatert:23.11.2007 07.57.11

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