Skip to comments.British General Takes Command Of US Troops
Posted on 07/30/2006 6:33:03 PM PDT by blam
British general takes command of US troops
By Ahmed Rashid in Lahore
A British general will command American troops for the first time since the Second World War when Nato takes charge of the mission to pacify southern Afghanistan today.
Lt Gen David Richards
Lt Gen David Richards, Britain's most experienced officer in developing world arenas, assumes control of a merged Nato and US force that will grow from 9,000 to 18,000.
It is one of the largest and toughest missions the alliance has faced, covering six southern provinces and extending its authority to almost all of the country. At a press conference in Kabul on Saturday, Gen Richards promised that Nato will bring a new strategy to the fight.
Instead of chasing down the Taliban, Nato forces will garrison key towns and villages. It wants to bolster the weak government of President Hamid Karzai and win the support of local people by promoting much-needed development.
The general said he hoped there will be "secure zones" in the volatile south in three to six months.
The direct approach pursued under American command, particularly by British troops, has claimed the lives of some 700 Afghan fighters - more than a third of them Taliban - and 19 western troops including six British soldiers.
US-led coalition forces and Afghan police killed 20 suspected Taliban on Saturday following an attempted ambush in the Shahidi Hassas district of Uruzgan province.
Since the Americans launched Operation Thrust two months ago, Allied forces have been surprised by the ferocity of the Taliban counter-offensive, while there is growing evidence that more Afghan tribesmen, disillusioned with the lack of jobs and reconstruction and a corrupt government, are supporting the rebels.
Gen Richards emphasised that the opium trade was to blame for a major part of Afghanistan's violence. "That very evil trade is being threatened by the Nato expansion in the south," he said.
"This is a very noble cause we're engaged in and we have to liberate the people from the scourge of those warlords." It is unclear to what degree leading drug runners will be targeted.
Nato will control security in 75 per cent of the country - in the west, north and south - while the US-led coalition still leads the fight in the eastern provinces along the border with Pakistan.
In the south, the force will comprise mainly British - there are already 4,300 UK soldiers - Dutch and Canadians.
Nato will also command 13 Provincial Reconstruction Teams and take on more responsibility from the Americans for training the Afghan National Army and police.
Francesc Vendrell, the European Union representative in Kabul, told The Daily Telegraph: "The European countries will need to face the fact that sending forces to the south is going to be dangerous and I am convinced they are ready to take losses, although we want to minimize them."
Tom Koenigs, the head of the UN mission, told the UN Security Council last week that 2,000 Afghans had been killed this year and there were 54 suicide bombings carried out by extremists.
These were unknown in the country until January, when they were introduced after Taliban and al-Qa'eda received training in Iraq.
"The violence is four times what it was in 2005. . . at no time since the fall of the Taliban have the prospects for security been more bleak," said Mr Koenigs.
Nato also has to deal with the sensitive issue of Pakistan's support for the Taliban. Mr Koenigs told the UN that "the cross-border character of this insurgency is no longer a matter of debate".
There is also the danger that just as the Iraq war distracted the West from giving more money and troops to Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban in 2001, the crisis in Lebanon will have the same effect.
What a picture they chose
I'm sorry. My last tour of duty in the Army was three years in a NATO unit. It was three years that couldn't end quick enough and made me very eager to get out of the military altogether. All due to the fact that none of my commanders during those years were American and cared not a single bit about American interests. I didn't think very much of it beforehand, but since that time I a vehemently opposed to anyone other than American officers commanding American soldiers.
This is the new ISAF commander's intent.
ISAF COMMANDER'S INTENT - ISAF IX
My guiding intent is, through our actions and a linked information operation firmly rooted in substance, to reinforce the people of Afghanistan's belief that long-term peace and growing economic prosperity from which everyone can benefit is possible if they continue to give their government, and its international partners, their support and encouragement.
ISAF, in partnership with the GOA and the International Community, is to think and plan for the long-term future of Afghanistan, seizing short-term opportunities as they occur but always in a way that is in step with the long-term vision for the country. We are to focus on action that actively assists the GOA in nurturing and further developing the consent of the people to the GOA (our centre of gravity) and its international partners, not least NATO. Respect for the people of Afghanistan and their faith is to be central to all we do.
Within this framework, ISAF will:
a. In step with GOA's National Development Strategy, concentrate on those activities that will most clearly and quickly assist the GOA in its drive to establish the sustainable economic growth on which the future of the country depends. Some examples of this approach include:
1. Helping ensure the security of mineral resources, border crossing points, and the transport network, water and power supplies.
2. Supporting the GOA in the development and prosecution of its Counter Narcotics (CN) campaign.
3. Assisting in the GOA's economic and human resource development strategy so as to enable Afghanistan to become increasingly self-sufficient.
b. Work to resolve conflict and reduce tension within Afghanistan, focusing on the holistic defeat of the residual insurgency threat to the country. Supporting and helping to train the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to a standard that will enable them in time to assume full responsibility for the internal and external security of the country will be critical to success.
ISAF is to be prepared to respond positively to requests to help the GOA and International Agencies (IA) with its guidance, advice and coordinating skills as required, in order to assist actively in the achievement of these aims.
My Main Effort is to extend and deepen the areas in which the GOA and IAs/NGOs can safely operate in the interests of the people of Afghanistan, enabling the ANSF increasingly to take the lead in achieving this aim. In this way too I will seize the initiative against those who oppose the GOA through violent means, by using appropriate and well considered measures - including the robust use of force should it be necessary - at times and in places of my choosing thereby forcing them to respond to my design.
ISAF continues to support the Government of Afghanistan, GOA, in providing a safe and secure environment in the Kabul, northern and western regional Areas of Operation. Currently ISAF forces are responsible for providing security assistance in more than 50% of Afghanistan's territory. ISAF has operational control over nine NATO-ISAF PRTS and two Forward Support Bases, with two regional co-ordinating bodies to facilitate command and control.
Very well said. My sentiments, exactly.
He has been completely briefed on "Precious Body Fluids"
Instead of chasing down the Taliban, Nato forces will garrison key towns and villages. It wants to bolster the weak government of President Hamid Karzai and win the support of local people by promoting much-needed development.That's a brilliant idea. Create large, immobile targets for Taliban raiders to strike at will.
I don't like this
Last time I checked, The US Constitution did not apply to Afghanistan.
Oh....boy....here....we....go....another...."Monty's Folly"....I hope we don't have to suffer another "Bridge to Far"!!!!!!:-(
um, when did UK generals start wearing stars?
I absolutely agree.
We (U.S.) can't expect NATO nations to contribute soldiers to Afghanistan if we're going to refuse to ever let anyone else command the ones we send. Unfortunately, we can't have it both ways.
"I wonder if this British general took an oath to uphold and defend the United States Constitution like the soldiers he will be commanding did."
As the United States Constitution has no possible influence or impact on the mission being undertaken, I wonder what the relevance of this is? British forces have operated on Nato operations under an American commander, there is no valid reason at all why the reverse shouldn't happen.
The US Constitution has no influence or impact on the mission? Oh, please. It has everything to do with it. In case you forgot, US soldiers are there to protect and defend the United States, and by extension the Constitution. A British commander, or any foreign commander for that matter, has absolutely no allegiance to the United States other than what their superiors dictate. By doing this, we are placing US troops under the command of officers who do not have to answer to the President, Congress, or the American people, but rather to a foreign government.
And it doesn't matter if that government is friendly with us one bit. What does matter is that this type of thing happens far too often with barely a word said about it. I suggest you take a look at this site: http://www.mikenew.com/index.html. It is the story of Michael New, a US soldier who was arrested and dishonorably discharged from the Army for having the audacity to believe that the Constitution and the oath of enlistment actually mean something, and that foreign officers have no legal authority over his status as a US soldier. His situation had to do with the UN, not NATO, but the principle is still very much the same.
btw, If the United States Constitution has nothing to do with the mission, then please tell me how you justify sending American soldiers, whose sole duty is to protect and defend it, into harms way.
"The US Constitution has no influence or impact on the mission? Oh, please. It has everything to do with it. In case you forgot, US soldiers are there to protect and defend the United States, and by extension the Constitution"
The soldiers haven't been transferred the UK. They're not our soldiers now. If George Bush happens to pop by and give them an order, they still answer to him. All that has happened is that the overall control of this particular operation is being held by a British officer.
"please tell me how you justify sending American soldiers, whose sole duty is to protect and defend it, into harms way."
I'm not American, so I'm not sure I have to justify it. I'm also not sure where the 'sole duty' part comes from. I don't see the word 'sole' in the Oath of Enlistment. It describes a duty to 'support and defend the Constitution' and also to obey the orders of the President and superior officers. It seems to me logically (again not claiming any kind of knowledge or expertise here) that, if the President has the authority to determine that operating in Afghanistan falls within that remit, then I don't really see why he shouldn't equally decide that operating in that same arena in support of and under operational command of an ally falls within the remit.
What would you advocate in practical terms here anyway? Should we (British), the French, Germans, Spanish, Belgians and multiple others all pull our troops out of Afghanistan? Or should they all be there operating independently? I'm not sure how that would be beneficial to the mission.
They have been transferred to the command of a British officer. Their lives have been placed in the hands of a foreign officer who is under absolutely no obligation to answer to the American people or government.
I'm not American, so I'm not sure I have to justify it. I'm also not sure where the 'sole duty' part comes from. I don't see the word 'sole' in the Oath of Enlistment.
The purpose of the US Army is to protect and defend the US Constitution. American soldiers take an oath to do so. Foreign officers take no such oath, and have no such duty. It's pretty clear that there is a conflict of interest here.
It describes a duty to 'support and defend the Constitution' and also to obey the orders of the President and superior officers. It seems to me logically (again not claiming any kind of knowledge or expertise here) that, if the President has the authority to determine that operating in Afghanistan falls within that remit, then I don't really see why he shouldn't equally decide that operating in that same arena in support of and under operational command of an ally falls within the remit.
The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the military. This authority is subordinated, by the President, to American officers. These officers are given a 'commission' to command and lead American soldiers. However, just becuase he is the CIC, it does not mean that he can give command of US soldiers to whoever he pleases. The President does not have the legal right to subordinate American soldiers to the command of officers of a foreign power. They have not been 'commissioned'. If he wished to do so he would have to go to Congress and get approval in the form of a law. Congress makes the laws.
Unfortunately, this practice of subordinating American soldiers to foreign commanders illegally is nothing new. It started in WWII under FDR, and has continued right on up through Clinton and Bush.
If there is a situation where it is necessary to place the command of US soldiers under foreign officers then there is a legal way to do so. Through Congress. However, Congress has managed to skillfully tap dance around these types of issues on the few occassions they have actually been brought up.
That it is. This isn't the first war involving Britain it has caused.
Dien Bien Phu?
I can see the force of your argument: but surely the more this argument is developed, the more the reverse must also hold true. It must logically be equally unacceptable for British troops ever to be under the command of an American officer. Or, indeed, that the troops of any one sovereign state should ever be under the command of an officer of any other sovereign state. For although the form of words may differ, the oath taken by the armed forces of any country is essentially equivalent to that which you describe for the US: to defend that country and that country alone. The logic of this is that an effective multi-national force of any kind would be impossible in any circumstances: for presumably we all agree that any force to be effective must have an overall command, which can't be a committee. Are you really being as absolutist about this as to rule out all such multi-national forces in all situations?