Thursday, November 29, 2007

US Marines: Out of Iraq, into Afghanistan?

The top general of the US Marines, James Conway, is pushing his new plan to move the main contingent of Marines out of Iraq and redeploy them in Afghanistan. As the Christian Science Monitor reports:

Conway says that marines, who have been largely responsible for calming Anbar Province in Iraq, can either return home or "stay plugged into the fight" by essentially redeploying to Afghanistan.
Anbar province? See Patrick Cockburn on Anbar province:
[T]he US has, in effect, created a new Sunni tribal militia which takes orders from the US military and is well paid by it and does not owe allegiance to the Shia-Kurdish government in Baghdad. This is despite the fact that the US has denounced militias in Iraq and demanded they be dissolved.

The US success in Anbar was real but it was also overblown because the wholly Sunni province is not typical of the rest of Iraq. The strategy advocated by Washington exaggerated the importance of al-Qa'ida and seldom spoke of the other powerful groups who had not been driven out of Anbar. (link)
At any rate, the CSM article does not mention the Marines' reputation in Afghanistan. In March of this year, a US Marines unit killed twelve civilians in a "rampage" following a suicide attack in Nanagarhar province, notes the New York Times.

NYT on Polish war crimes trial
WARSAW (November 29, 2007) - Poland is facing a rare war-crimes prosecution at a crucial juncture for both the newly elected government’s commitment to overseas military engagements and the effort to overhaul the nation’s armed forces.

Seven Polish soldiers sit in a military jail in Poznan, accused of killing six Afghan civilians, including women and children, in the village of Nangarkhel in August...

The country has 1,200 soldiers in the NATO operation in Afghanistan. Poland has also been a significant ally for the United States in Iraq, and it still has 900 troops there. ..

The new government has also declared its intention to phase out conscription completely by 2010, as Poland continues its effort over many years to transform its army from a lumbering institution of the Communist era to a nimble modern force geared toward distant missions like Afghanistan and Iraq. But the war in Iraq was unpopular with the Polish public even before the invasion in 2003...

Public opinion is opposed to [the Afghanistan mission], according to one recent survey here conducted for the newspaper Gazeta Polska... (link)

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