Sunday, January 18, 2009

Playing catch-up

A legal quandary for NATO officials:

NATO commanders in Afghanistan wary of antidrug effort

Kandahar, Dec 26 (CSM) - NATO leaders' agreement this fall to let their troops attack drug traffickers in Afghanistan held the promise of stemming the flow of funding for the violent insurgency here.

But military commanders now seem reluctant to go after the drug runners. NATO commanders in Afghanistan say they are holding back because of concerns over the legality of drug operations...

Military officials cite legal concerns that, despite the Budapest agreement, it is inappropriate for the military to be used in a counternarcotics role – which is still seen as a criminal activity. (link)
Special Forces train Afghan police and army:
A surge of Special Forces for Afghanistan likely
Defense officials say it will fill urgent gaps but Special Forces officers are skeptical.
By Gordon Lubold | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Washington, Dec 23 - The Pentagon is likely to send up to 20 Special Forces teams to Afghanistan this spring, part of a new long-term strategy to boost the Afghan security forces' ability to counter the insurgency there themselves.

The "surge" of elite Special Forces units would represent a multiyear effort aimed at strengthening the Afghan National Army and police units that the US sees as key to building up Afghanistan's security independence, say defense officials who asked to remain anonymous because the controversial decision has not yet been announced...

The initial deployment of the Green Berets would expand the size of the Special Forces contingent there by 30 or 40 percent, defense officials say, and represent a significant new commitment to developing and expanding Afghan security forces...

Yet many within the tightly knit Special Forces community say the Special Forces teams already in use in Afghanistan should be employed far more effectively before any new teams, which number about a dozen men each, are deployed...

[I] in many cases, the Green Berets are paired with much smaller groups of Afghan forces, sometimes even one-on-one. In other cases, they are used to man checkpoints, say some Special Forces officers.

Critics worry that Lute's plan is to simply send more Special Forces units to Afghanistan without a coherent plan to support them. "Don't just throw ODAs out there as an answer," says another senior officer. "That's just the easy, lazy answer out there." ... (link)
German spies target NGO:
Der Spiegel

Germany Spied on Aid Organization in Afghanistan

Dec 8 - Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), spent years spying on an office of a German aid organization in Afghanistan. The BND has informed the group, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe or German Agro Action, that it monitored the e-mail traffic of Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO), an agency run by Welthungerhilfe, between October 2005 and April 2008...

Intriguingly, during the period in question, Welthungerhilfe was run by Ingeborg Schäuble, the wife of German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble... (link)

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