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The cost of America's war in Afghanistan                    by   Alexander Viskov


In a paper published in March-2013, it has been estimated that for every soldier injured in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US government is expected to spend on average $2 million in the long term. Moreover this paper stated that the US had 866,181 officially counted injured casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq as at March 2013.

This paper has been published by Linda Bilmes at Harvard's Kennedy School (available on: https://research.hks.harvard.edu/publications/workingpapers/citation.aspx?PubId=8956). The estimated costs include the 'immediate requirements to provide medical care for the wounded, as well as the accrued liabilities for providing lifetime medical costs and disability compensation for those who have survived injuries'.

The paper concluded that years of conflict have left America still burdened with heavy costs, despite the withdrawal of ground troops from these theaters of conflict. This enormous cost to care for the injured means that the US military will have to make difficult trade-offs in other areas of defense despite the already shrinking defense budget.

What are the real casualties?

A number of interesting observations can be posited from the findings of the above paper. Firstly the estimate of the official injured soldiers is staggering. At almost a million injuries it makes a mockery of the US claims regarding their casualties in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

In a world rife with war propaganda, the US has been careful to conceal the true cost of their wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Americans and NATO regularly deny casualties in their encounters with the Mujahideen. If we rely on the claims of the Pentagon and NATO then we would be led to believe that the US had no more than 25,000 - 50,000 injured casualties in both military theaters.

It should also be borne in mind that the 866,181 injured do not include the 'private' contractors or the injured casualties of other ISAF countries. If we factor in the casualties of the private contractors and ISAF members, the numbers could rise quite significantly.

In a Congressional Research Service report published in mid 2013, it was stated that there were approximately 108,000 private contractors in Afghanistan versus a US army presence of 65,700. This is a ratio of 1.6 private contractors for every US soldier in Afghanistan. While the ratio of contractors versus soldiers tend to fluctuate, one can only imagine the casualties of this disproportionate presence of private contractors and its implications for the US defense spending.

Granted that not all contractors are involved in the security sector but the point still stands that US casualties from the wars far exceed the official 'military' casualties generally admitted.

Secondly we may assume that the economic cost of this war is correlative to the number of military and non-military casualties of this war. Not only does the US have to pay the medical cost of the military casualties, they also pay compensation to the families of dead soldiers.

In addition they will need to cater to the needs of the private contractors, such as indirectly (perhaps through private insurance companies) to the dead private security contractors, the injured private contractors as well as the cost of transporting these contractors out of the war theater to other countries around the world. America and her allies usually also bear the financial burden when transferring Afghan spies and collaborators to third countries.

Some ISAF countries have already taken Afghan collaborators with them to other western countries. This includes the cost of travel for these persons and their families in addition to the costs of resettlement. These costs will need to be borne by the governments of these governments whether it be from the defense budget or the overall government budget.

A heavy price paid

From the above observations one can conclude that the US has paid a heavy financial and human price for her military adventures in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Reminiscing on US mood in 2001 and 2003 the world was dumbfounded by US arrogance at the time. Her sense of superiority, overestimation of its own capabilities and underestimation of the rivals' strength was evident.

Her justifications for her aggressions were as untenable and abstruse as could be. The US politicians portrayed the Muslim world as a world of barbarism and wilderness that needed to be taught respect for world powers. The US invaded two countries, destroying the lives of millions, presumably to capture a few 'jealous and backward terrorists' and to neutralize some 'weapons of mass destruction'.'

America conveniently forgot that she along with a few select group of states control more than 90% of the world's mass weaponry. If the invasion of these 'other' possessors of mass weaponry were justified because they were 'irresponsible' states then surely no nation had acted more irresponsibly and with more callous disregard for international norms as the US at the start of the new millennium.

Despite the weakness of these justifications, or perhaps because of it, it was abundantly clear that America did not act due to these reasons. The real reasons for America's actions were driven by strategic calculations.

America entered the Muslim world in order to radically alter the geo-strategic landscape. According to the self-indulgent political scholars of Washington, America had to respond to the September 2001 attacks by bringing 'civilization' to the Muslim world.

America would strike such a blow to the Muslims that it would rival the Mongol invasions of Islamic land. Moreover unlike the Mongols, the Americans would not integrate into Muslim society but rather assimilate Muslims to western 'civilization'.

Besides these grandeur schemes the invasions were also to strengthen US strategic presence in Middle East and Central  Asia particularly vis-a-vis China. America would also gain more valuable bases in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. In addition US military interventions would strengthen her erstwhile ally, Israel's position in the Middle East. And then there was of course, access to the natural resources of Middle East and Central Asia.

These were the calculations behind America's moves. The results however were far beyond the intentions. America suffered enormous human losses in both conflicts.

The financial burden of these wars was such that American economy grinded to a halt and eventually precipitated the Global Financial Crisis.

Politically America lost all credibility as a responsible state actor. Militarily it is overstretched and in urgent need of radical concentration. It has been so exhausted by these lengthy conflicts that it no longer has any appetite for any form of confrontation. It's passivity in the Korean peninsula, its lukewarm reaction to chemical attacks in Syria, its degradation by Israeli politicians during the Palestine-Israel peace talks, and more recently its inability to respond coherently or forcefully to the Ukrainian crisis are all examples of America's passivity and the new limits of its powers.

While to many of us on the outside America's new found pacifism and its aggressions of the past decade might appear unrelated, in truth the latter has had a tremendous impact on the former. The military and financial costs of these conflicts have convinced America that she needs to be more particular in choosing her fights. She has also learned that she needs to focus on her vital strategic interests such as the Pacific and Europe rather than rushing off to distant theatres and fight for another's cause.

One can only hope that these lessons will be applied in the long term rather than as a temporary measure. America would fare far better of it relinquishes its role as a global 'hegemon', focuses on its vital interests, respects global diversity and the legitimate interests of divergent societies, and interacts with farther afield countries on basis of reciprocal respect and mutual benefits.

The dreams of America acting as the world's policeman are now nothing more than a forlorn hope. It is time for America to abandon her plans of imposing her values on others and instead embrace diversity and partnership on global affairs. 

Published on 27th June, 2014   www.dawnpost.com

 
Destruction of Iraq, who is responsible?                                    by     Musa Muhajir

The crusaders contaminated with the poisonous propaganda of Zionism, have always tried to accuse their adversaries and rival countries for various forged charges and then justify their attack over their foes on the basis of these artificial accusations.

In 2003, before invading Iraq, the Americans blamed this country for possessing chemical weapons. As the main American intention was the invasion of this country, therefore they did not pay any attention to the reports of observers and officials of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) that Iraq does not possess any chemical weapons and eventually invaded this country.

Before invading Iraq, the Americans widely propagated against the then Iraqi president Saddam Husain that he is a tyrant and cruel ruler. They depicted him as an oppressor of the Iraqi people. Though Saddam Husain had oppressed the Shiite and Kurd population of Iraq and a great number of these sects were hanged by the then regime and many more were killed in fighting; but it is an irrefutable fact that at that time Iraq was free from internal chaos. The ordinary Iraqi people were living a comparatively calm and peaceful life before the American invasion. Shiite and Sunni were living side by side in one village. No one was threatened by the other. Neither Sunni was thinking that he is Sunni and the other one is Shiite and the same was the case with Shiite. It was unimaginable for them to shed each other’s blood. Though the Saddam regime had oppressed his opponent Shiite members of the society but this oppression was not confined to Shiite only, he had also oppressed his Sunni rivals; but these deeds had not created any cleavage between Sunnis and Shiites which could divide Iraq into two warring factions.

The Iraqi people say themselves that before the American invasion they had never thought about the Sunni-Shiite issue rather they were living in a calm and peaceful atmosphere together.

 

After the American invasion, the whole scenario was changed and this country was dragged into an endless civil war. When the Americans invaded Iraq in 2003, both Sunnis and Shiites started Jihad against these invaders. The Sunnis were mostly fighting under the leadership of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Shiites were largely fighting in Mehdi army under the leadership of Muqtada Al-Sadr against this imperial power. Though the Al-Sadr groups under the emblem of Mehdi army launched their armed resistance a bit latter but this Shiite leader was against the American presence inside Iraq from the very first day.

When the Americans were confronted with two different war fronts, they then changed their tactics. They tried to inflame sectarian division and war between Sunnis and Shiites with the help of those semi-Iraqi westerners who were brought and empowered by the American invaders. In this way they wanted to reduce the casualties of their invading forces because the force which was exercised by both Sunnis and Shiites against the Americans was now being used between themselves. Once the sectarian violence was started in this country, it kindled a fire in this Muslim country which not only affected the Sunni and Shiite people of this county but this fire encircled all those Islamic countries where Sunnis and Shiites existed. The Americans wanted to follow their usual divide and rule policy. They handed over the control of Iraq to pro-American Shiites and multiplied their number in the Iraqi army as well. All this resulted in the Sunni uprising in full fledge. Though the Mehdi army was fighting in some areas but their major targets were American forces. The Sunnis were generally fighting against the Americans and their puppets as well. The Americans did take advantage from this phenomenon i.e. when the officials were killed by Mujahidin, the Americans used to arouse the Shiite that Sunnis are fighting against you. On the other side, they were secretly spreading the mentality among the Sunnis that they should fight against the Shiites as most of them are supporting their puppet regime.

This sectarian violence which erupted and intensified in 2006 and 2007 was not confined to Iraq only. It not only burnt this country but its flames have spread to other neighbouring countries as well.

Fuel was added to this fire when the prime minister of this country, Noori Al-Maliki, ordered his army in December 2013 to attack the protesting camps of Sunnis in Al-Anbar province. Noori Al-Maliki who is considered the real cause of sectarian violence and differences; who has deprived the Sunnis of this country from all their basic rights, pushed Iraq into a new phase of violence by doing so. This act of Noori Al-Maliki not only aroused the anger of Sunnis but some Shiites also explicitly said that it can lead to a new start of the internal civil war and condemned this act of Noori Almaliki. Shiite scholar, Muqtada Al-Sadr said on 19th of February while alluding to this latest action of Noori Almaliki that he is a cruel dictator. Muqtada Al-Sadr also condemned the officials empowered by the Americans. He added that most officials of Noori administration have come from west and they serve the western interests i.e. the prolongation of the Sunni and Shiite division and violence.

This internal war spread to an extent which has endangered the unity of Iraq. Moreover, the Iraqi people are safe nowhere due to this civil and sectarian fighting. Most of the people avoid going to the crowded areas which has badly affected the economy of the people. Surly from economic and civil war point of view, this country is facing great chaos.

The detachment between the Sunnis and Shiites is increasing day by day and the west is achieving her malicious objectives through her puppets i.e. the division of Iraq into two parts. The Americans who consider themselves to be the guardians of the human rights, the benefactors of mankind and the arbitrator of the whole world turned Iraq into a massacre and they are still flaming the fire in this war ravaged country which had been started by them more than a decade ago!!!

Published on 27th June, 2014   www.dawnpost.com


 
Czech Republic chief of defence visits ISAF, deployed troops  by ISAF, NATO

General Petr Pavel, Chief of the General Staff of Armed Forces of the Czech Republic, visited senior leaders at Headquarters International Security Assistance Force June 21 – 22.  He also met with deployed Czech Republic forces serving at Bagram Air Field, Kabul International Airport, and Headquarters, ISAF.

“The capable support of the Czech Republic has been invaluable to ISAF and will continue to be important for the NATO Resolute Support mission,” said General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., ISAF Commander.

In addition to force protection and field surgical teams, Dunford pointed out the “dramatic improvements of the Afghan Air Force, specifically due to Czech forces training the Afghan Mi-17 and Mi-24 (Mi-35) helicopter crews, will be critical to Afghan National Security Forces’ future success.” 

Gen. Pavel last visited Afghanistan in February 2014 with the President of the Czech Republic and met with deployed Czech Republic forces stationed throughout the country. His latest visit to Afghanistan was to discuss the current security situation after the June run-off elections, capabilities of Afghan military and possible participation of the Czech military in the upcoming Resolute Support operation in Afghanistan after 2014.

 “I informed the ISAF commander, that the Czech Armed Forces will remain committed to the deployment in Afghanistan as part of the new NATO Operation Resolute Support. Within the next several months, the Czech Government and the Parliament will approve a new mandate for the operational deployment in the timeframe 2015 – 2016,” said Pavel. “In accordance with the Train, Advise and Assist concept, we expect Czech soldiers will continue to serve in Kabul as a Field Surgical Team at the American military hospital, as an Air Mentoring Team to support and train the Afghan Air Forces, as national representation at the Mission Headquarters and as a Force protection company at Bagram Air Field.”

Currently, there are 250 Czech Republic service members supporting the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul and Bagram Air Field in Parwan Province.

One hundred and fifty Czech soldiers support the American battalion Task Force 1-320 by providing security support in the northern district of the Bagram Security Zone. Other Czech forces comprise the Air Adviser Team, stationed at Kabul International Airport, and are responsible for training Afghan airmen to pilot and maintain Mi-17 and Mi-24 (Mi-35) helicopters. Additionally, the 10th Field Surgical Team reinforces the military hospital personnel at the Kabul airport.

Published on 27th June, 2014   www.dawnpost.com


 

U.S. to continue support of antiterror efforts in Afghanistan         By Terri Moon Cronk



The United States will continue to work with Afghan National Security Forces and support the fight against terrorism, a senior Defense Department official told a Senate panel Wednesday.

Kelly E. Magsamen, acting assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a hearing on U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

"A post-2014 U.S. military presence will have two objectives," Magsamen said. "Training, advising and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces as part of a NATO-led Resolute Support mission, and supporting counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al-Qaida."

Since assuming the lead for security across Afghanistan one year ago today, Afghan National Security Forces have proven their resilience and capability, she told panel members.

"With minimal coalition assistance, Afghan forces now plan and execute nearly all combat operations, continue to improve their capacity to execute large joint combat operations and demonstrate tactical superiority over insurgents," Magsamen said.

The Afghan security forces recently demonstrated their capability to provide effective security for the Afghan people during both rounds of the presidential elections, she said. The Afghan government and its security forces worked closely to prepare for the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan's history, she added.

"The performance of the ANSF during these two rounds [of voting] is a major milestone in our efforts to develop a capable force that is accountable to the Afghan people," Magsamen said.

"The ongoing drawdown of U.S. and NATO forces reflects the progress that the ANSF has made," she said. "Yet, much work remains to develop a self-sufficient ANSF."

To work toward that goal, U.S. forces will continue through 2014 to provide "a time and space" for Afghan government officials and security forces to increase their capacity, she said.

"By next year, Afghans will be fully responsible for security in their country and we will be in an advisory role, pending the conclusion of a U.S.-Afghanistan bilateral security agreement and a NATO-Afghanistan status of forces agreement," Magsamen told the panel.

She added that President Barack Obama's recent call for a "limited" military presence of 9,800 forces in Afghanistan in 2015 represents the expected amount of forces for NATO's follow-on mission, Resolute Support.

In 2015, the NATO mission to train, advise and assist will focus at the core level and above to "develop further capabilities in aviation, intelligence and special operations, as well as the capacity of Afghan security ministries," Magsamen said.

"By the end of next year, the U.S. force presence should be reduced by roughly half and consolidated in Kabul and Bagram," she said. "In 2016, our focus will be on advising at the ministerial level to ensure contracting, procurement and financial management practices."

By the close of 2016, U.S. forces are expected to be limited to a Kabul base presence, with a strong security assistance component to assist in sustaining the ANSF, Magsamen said.

"We have not forgotten what brought us to Afghanistan more than a decade ago," she said. "And our core objectives are clear: Disrupt threats posed by al-Qaida, support Afghan security forces and give the Afghan people the opportunity to succeed as they stand on their own."

Magsamen said the United States continues to have national security interests in South and Central Asia.

"To pursue these interests, we will continue to conduct security cooperation with these countries and the region," she told the panel.

Published on 27th June, 2014   www.dawnpost.com


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