New Years Day Roundup

Thegreatermiddleeastbrill_5502 Some Thoughts


– From available information it appears that Israel has decided to assault areas in Gaza with ground troops.  To that end the IDF has been moving forces into assembly areas near the border.  Available photography shows vehicles parked administratively rather than tactically .  This would indicate that the IDF does not anticipate offensive action by the Palestinians before the IDF chooses to cross the border.  Some of the vehicles shown in photographs are US made 155 mm. self propelled artillery pieces.  This would point to an offensive that will be heavily supported with artillery fire as was the IDF effort in south Lebanon in ’06.

– Statements by Livni and Brigadier (Ret.) Hertzog indicate that Israel’s goals in Gaza are essentially psychological in that they seek to demonstrate to all the Israeli capability and willingness to inflict great damage and numerous casualties in pursuit of a position of dominance in the ME region.  Israel senses correctly that its image as hegemon in the eastern Mediterranean was badly eroded in the period from the Israeli evacuation of south Lebanon through the ’06 war and into the present.  It now seeks to restore its image of ruthlessness in pursuit of its goals.  The belief persists in Israel that enemies can be made into clients through intimidation.

US/Israeli Relations

– There appears to be a major cleavage within the incoming Obama Administration between those who wish to continue to accept what amounts to Israeli tutelage in US Middle East policy and those who do not.  The key issue leading to a division of opinion and an inevitable crisis within the administration is whether or not the United States should pursue an improvement of relations with Iran.  The Israeli oriented faction among Obama’s people follow Israel’s lead in opposing this arguing that Iran is the functional equivalent of Nazi Germany, i.e. an unalloyed evil ruled by irrational madmen.  Their opponents argue that Iran is a country like all others,  a country that follows its state interests and that realizes that its interests would be served by detente with the US.  This faction believes that a US/Iran relationship can be made to provide a security umbrella for Israel.  The AIPAC and AEI dominated group does not accept this concept, implicitly accepting Israel’s rejection of an American security guarantee as well as its rejection of the concept of nuclear deterrence. 


The US armed forces and the Obama Administration to come intend to pursue a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan based on the successful strategy followed by the Petraeus team in Iraq.  Presumably, Petraeus and his current study team favor this approach.  Such a strategy of increased use of US conventional troops, civic action in infrastructure improvements and mobilization of local forces against the Taliban may well work.  Nevertheless, this may not be the optimal strategy for the US in Afghanistan.  The US armed forces are in the business of using troops against threats.  Does this institutional bias influence thinking in this matter?  Would it not be better to use guile rather that brute force?  Is Afghanistan not a case better handled though covert political action?  This is an open question.  pl

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38 Responses to New Years Day Roundup

  1. McGee says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Appreciate and reluctantly concur with your take on the spilt within the coming admininstration regarding our relationship with Israel and subsequently overall ME policy. Obama’s choices for Chief of Staff and SecState particularly worrying in this regard as it appears that the AIPAC/AEI crew may be in the catbird seat. Can only hope that he is bright and perceptive enough not to be as thoroughly conned as his predecessor was (and still is) and carve s new path here. Think he might well be but only time will tell.
    Thank you as always for your wonderfully informative blog and taking the time to share your thinking with us.
    Happy New Year!

  2. Duncan Kinder says:

    Would it not be better to use guile rather that brute force?

    The Odyssey rather than the Iliad should be our template.

  3. John Howley says:

    “For the moment, however, the offensive in Gaza is proving popular with Israelis, and Livni and Barak are reaping the benefits. Recent polls show them closing the gap with Likud party leader Netanyahu, who had opened up a wide lead based on his promise to take a hard line against Israel’s main adversaries — Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.” WaPo 12/31/08
    ‘Nuff said…

  4. Old Bogus says:

    “There appears to be a major cleavage within the incoming Obama Administration between those who wish to continue to accept what amounts to Israeli tutelage in US Middle East policy and those who do not. ”
    While I hadn’t heard this expressed explicitly, it IS an improvement. O’Bama may get his first ulcer with his “Cabinet of Rivals” and their differences. Hardly like West Wing!

  5. Mad Dogs says:

    Gaza – I still think that any move by IDF ground forces into Gaza will only be as bait to draw out some of the Hamas foot soldiers and reduce their numbers by a tiny fraction.
    This the IDF can do. That the Israelis would consider this as restoring their image says a great deal about just how far the Israelis’ own self-image has fallen.
    Tanks, artillery pieces, APCs, and helicopter gunships overhead arrayed against “shoot and scoot” bands of irregulars whose transportation has devolved down to donkeys, armed with small arms, RPGs and satchel explosives is not much of a fight.
    This is an indicator of Israel’s strategic weakness, not strength. Their strategic desperation, not confidence.
    Notice who the Israelis aren’t picking on (in order of magnitude):
    1. Hezbollah.
    2. Syria.
    3. Iran.
    Oh how the mighty have fallen.
    Afghanistan – I’m still questioning just who the US and its NATO allies want to fight, and then why?
    Al Qaeda? Yes, indeed!
    The folks on the ground and in the hills who the US and its NATO allies have all-encompassingly labeled “Taliban”?
    This doesn’t pass the smell test.
    Yes, I ken the understandable reflexive nature of wanting to shoot back at folks who are shooting at you.
    But that doesn’t pass muster as Strategy.
    General Petraeus has been reported in the MSM to be reviewing the Afghanistan situation with any eye to duplicating some aspects of his Iraq COIN strategy; notably the “buy and divide” effort used in Iraq’s Sunni Awakening:

    …General David Petraeus, who as U.S. Central Command Chief now oversees American operations in Afghanistan, has indicated he favors pursuing an Afghan government-led reconciliation effort with the Taliban. Such a move would include reconciliation with Taliban insurgents both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    A report in the Washington Post says U.S. military officials believe renegade Afghan commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and other rebel leaders might be persuaded to stop fighting in exchange for money and greater political influence. Such tactics were used with some success in Iraq, and the report says the U.S. military is considering doing the same in Afghanistan…”

    But, that report also says this:

    “…But the Taliban has said repeatedly it will not talk with the Afghan government until all foreign troops leave the country.
    Also, Pakistani newspapers have recently quoted hard-line Taliban leaders as warning that Washington is trying to divide them. They reportedly have vowed never to break up their alliance with al-Qaida.
    Stephen Cohen at the Brookings Institution says there should be no reconciliation talks unless this alliance is severed — though he acknowledges such a move is unlikely…”

    I’m less sanguine about whether buying folks in Afghanistan, or for that matter, in Iraq, makes for long-term buddies, but I guess we’ll see.
    Perhaps in both cases, it might be enough to allow us to vamoose out of Dodge, but it provides no certainty regarding the stability left behind.
    Lastly regarding Afghanistan, from what I read, it seems a core component of General Petraeus’s pacification strategy depends on a whole lot (20,000-30,000?) additional troops of whom a large contingent would be Special Operations Forces.
    I’d assume that the SOF responsibilities would be similar to the Colonel’s oft-lamented previously traditional duties of working, training and living with the locals, rather than the New Age Hunter/Killer elite-style tough guys so the rage these days in Spec Ops Command.
    And whither will the US and its NATO allies find the raft of SF folks necessary to fill these billets? I sure don’t know.
    “Parle vous Español” ain’t gonna cut it.

  6. Lysander says:

    “There appears to be a major cleavage within the incoming Obama Administration between those who wish to continue to accept what amounts to Israeli tutelage in US Middle East policy and those who do not.”
    Col Lang,
    Who would you consider to be on the ‘who do not’ side?
    WRT Iran, in addition to those forces pushing for confrontation on Israel’s behalf, there is probably an anti-detente faction based on the premise that security in the Persian Gulf should be strictly determined by the U.S. and not be a matter of consultation with a regional power.
    Honestly, this is typical of American policy elsewhere. For example, the U.S. does not want to share security decisions in the Baltic, the Balkans, the Black Sea or Central Asia with Russia. This was no less true during the Clinton administration. If the U.S. is unwilling to compromise with a power like Russia (unless, perhaps, absolutely compelled to do so) then I doubt Iran can aspire to that kind of detente. Clearly it would be in Iran’s interests, but I’m not sure the option exists. I suspect many in the old and new admins believe the current Iranian government is temporary and with enough patience will fall and be replaced with one more to their liking.
    Instead, the real story is behind the Gaza massacre. It is, in Israel’s mind, an attempt to commit the U.S. to their policy of rolling back Iranian influence. If they succeed in Gaza, the up coming Netanyahu government (he’s going to win anyway) will then try this on Lebanon again and “defeat” Hizbollah and try to neuter Iran.
    That’s the plan, anyway. Failure at any step will be costly.

  7. Homer says:

    PL: Hertzog indicate that Israel’s goals in Gaza are essentially psychological in that they seek to demonstrate to all the Israeli capability and willingness to inflict great damage and numerous casualties in pursuit of a position of dominance in the ME region
    “essentially psychological”: Are there any points of similarity between the methods used by the Wehrmacht and the Israelis?

  8. mo says:

    The Israelis, I am betting, will not launch a full scale invasion. Pictures of IDF infantraymen in body bags wont sell in an election cycle. There will only be a full scale invasion if premliminary incursion go really really well. And if they do go that well, this will mean that either Hamas has really been beaten or that they are trying to lure the Israelis in.
    I would seriously doubt any Hamas offensive actions on the ground before the Israelis try to go in to Gaza. The border region is too open to give them any advatage.
    Statements by Livni and Brigadier (Ret.) Hertzog indicate that Israel’s goals in Gaza are essentially psychological in that they seek to demonstrate to all the Israeli capability and willingness to inflict great damage and numerous casualties in pursuit of a position of dominance in the ME region?
    Perhaps they missed it in ’06 and maybe they will get it this time but their ability to inflict great damage and huge casulties no longer scares the populations of their neigbours. And Israel has gone from a nation that can defeat multiple nations at once to one that cannot even take on any kind of well organised and trained militia.
    The psychological damage done by the ’06 war is to be repaired by attacking people who have had little or no access to mostly anything for the better part of 2 years?
    So what happens to the psychological war if Hamas is still firing its rockets on the last day of this war?
    “The belief persists in Israel that enemies can be made into clients through intimidation”
    If it really does, then they are trully finished, because it means they are no longer willing to learn from or even accept what is going on around them. Their “clients”, or clients by proxy have hardly prospered in the West Bank or Lebanon and their clients in Jordan and Egypt are in very precarious postions.
    If, as I expect, the Israelis start making some “accidental” bomb drops resulting in large scale civilian casulties (such as on a hospital for example) then I would expect the Egyptian street and, maybe even the Jordanian one, to get louder. As it is, the response from these two groups especially as been beneath contempt.
    US/Israeli Relations
    If there is a single iota of change towards the Palestinians I will buy a hat and eat it ungarnished.

  9. Arun says:

    Ms Marvi Memon is a (junior) Pakistan Muslim League Member of the National Assembly with a blog. This entry of her meeting with Senator John Kerry may be of interest.

  10. Arun says:

    Senators Bond and Kerry just concluded a long visit to Afghanistan and have issued a report and a bunch of recommendations. An outline and executive summary (in PDF) is available at . The URLs for the documents are really long so not including them here.
    According to the report the coordination between nations and even between US agencies is lacking; moreover Afghanistan cannot be approached as a single country problem. They want a Special Coordinator, with more authority than a deputy National Security Advisor, actively backed by the President. Details in the document you can find above.

  11. curious says:

    The significance of Iran to the US should be about central Asia.
    China will not allowed so much of middle eastern oil controlled by the US. And Russia will not accept more US central asia encroachment. China and Russia both will keep supplying Iran with advance technology to balance US in the middle east.
    Israel of course is freaking out. (Since by now Iran has S-300 SAM, much more accurate mid range ballistic missile, and self sufficient nuke program.)
    I don’t think Obama can negotiate Iran to get rid of their nuke. Bush has destroyed any leverage left (time). Probably more trade sanction, but that doesn’t seem to work.
    I can’t see Israel has too many options either.They can do expensive ground invasion and reoccupation. (which then will be very expensive in term of cost and Israel international image) Or keep bombing, not very effective beyond loud TV news) US public will not accept sharp escalation, not with the troops still in Iraq and Afghanistan. I simply can’t imagine Obama sending troop into Gaza or Lebanon. His number will plummet before he even begin difficult domestic policy push.
    So Israel is in a pickle.
    (I don’t buy the idea that Hamas will cave on some psychological game. They’ve been talking about starving Gaza and make Hamas collapse wince 2 years ago. But hamas is still operating.)
    It will be interesting if West bank will flip. Fatah can’t control west bank anymore (riot in the months)

  12. Again PL your premises are based on the US controlling events. Suggest 2009 will end that fantasy.

  13. Ken Roberts says:

    Thanks to Arun for the website reference – it looks like good info.
    There is a tendency in much media coverage of Pakistani motivations to simplify and stereotype (not at SST, thankfully), and that is risky as it can set up for policy stampeding.
    Pakistan is a great country with a long tradition of serious intellectual thought and verbal art. Nuance is beneficial.
    Re another comment, the Odyssey is indeed a better model.

  14. DaveGood says:

    I hear rumours that the Indian Army (through back channels) are preparing an offer of up to 120,000 troops for Afghanistan.
    These units are specifically mentioned.
    “Lt. General Bikram Singh as Force Commander (tentative)
    HQ III Corps or HQ XXI Corps
    4th Infantry Division
    6th Mountain Division
    23rd Infantry Division
    36th RAPID Division
    30+ Rashtriya Rifles CI battalions
    2 Reconnaissance and Observation squadrons (Army Aviation)
    1 Il-76 squadron
    2 An-32 squadrons
    4+ Mi-17 helicopter units
    1 UAV squadron
    2 fighter squadrons
    Undetermined number of paramilitary security battalions
    HQ III Corps is the counter-insurgency corps in Eastern Command, it is dual-tasked to the western front. In exercises and on operations it has functioned, on different occasions, in three different sectors. HQ XXI Corps is the third Indian strike corps, but is not as critical as the other two strike corps and is dual-tasked as India’s intervention force corps. So there’s good reasons to take either.
    The infantry divisions include a tank battalion. 36th Division has one tank and two infantry brigades. All four divisions are part of strike corps and so are not deployed on the front, but India will give up its ability to sustain a major offensive against Pakistan if these divisions are overseas.
    The only thing that needs explanation for our non-Indian readers is the Rashtriya Rifles. These are specialized for counter-insurgency and have six rifle companies vs the usual Indian infantry battalion’s four. CI is, after all, a manpower intensive business. The troops are all regular Army and do a 3-year rotation with the RR from their affiliated regiments with the RR. Each Army regimental center has 3 or more RR battalions affiliated.
    Because the Indians tend to bulk up their divisions with extra brigades and their brigades with extra infantry battalions when on CI, its probably reasonable to assume the four divisions will have 50 battalions with them (including corps independent brigades). With the RR, that’s 380 rifle companies, or the equivalent of nine US divisions. (We count the US brigade as having 10 companies, because the cavalry squadron in the brigade is very manpower short. We’re sure it’s all well and fine in the type of high-tech/sensor dense environment for which it is designed, but we’re talking CI here.”
    Pakistan already has the Indian Army on it’s west Flank… If that offer by India is made and accepted (And if made it will be accepted) Pakistan will have another Indian army on it’s East flank.
    Interesting times.

  15. Bill W, NH, USA says:

    In spite of their huge propaganda machine, Israel has soundly lost the propaganda war. Will this soldier be punished appropriately, I kinda doubt it.

  16. Andy says:

    There will be no Indian troops deployed to Afghanistan. The idea is a complete fantasy. Even if the Karzai government and the US agreed to such an offer (and neither is that dumb), India has no supply line to Afghanistan, much less the logistical capacity to support an expeditionary force anywhere near that size.

  17. ” their ability to inflict great damage and huge casulties no longer scares the populations of their neigbours. ”
    That is what I saw in South Lebanon this fall. People talked, when asked directly, of the war of 2006. But they don’t look scared. They’ve figured out what they will do in case of attack, and they will all do it. Anybody who is really scared has already left the area. Everybody remaining seems to walk this Zen-like balance between enjoying life and being prepared for all-out destruction.

  18. Thomas says:

    How are the Indians going to support this force? The shortest way for supply is though Pakistan, and well, the Pakistanis may not be too keen on an Indian Corps dropped in their backyard.

  19. Someone please tell me that this wouldn’t be sheer madness! Is the force India is proposing not going to be primarily Hindu? In a Muslim nation? In the middle of other Muslim nations? I mean, I love the manpower commitment and India gets some first class combat experience but will this actually work on a geopolitical level? And, do they have to go THROUGH Pakistan to get there? How the hell is that going to work?
    I always thought that Joe Biden’s test was going to come between India and Pakistan or some combination of them. I was hoping it wasn’t going to involve mushroom clouds.

  20. Jose says:

    “there is only one lord of the ring
    only one who can bend it to his will. and he does not share power” – Tolkien
    We need to know know who our true master is and soon, because IMHO, events are currently not evolving in America’s best interest.
    The Col. asked, in earlier post, what Hamas interest really where and we all assumed it was to stand up to Israel and win the support of the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic “street”.
    What if Hamas had a grandeur ambitions?

  21. Alex says:

    Is the force India is proposing not going to be primarily Hindu?
    No. That would require a rather different course of Indian history over the last 300 or so years.
    Obviously this won’t happen, and if anyone is suggesting it, it’s to annoy the Pakistanis. It is, however, a better way to express Indian anger than increasing IAF Southwestern or Western Command alert conditions, which would actually be dangerous.

  22. Matthew says:

    Here is some good background on the sequence of events in Gaza.

  23. Arun says:

    Any logistical support to Indian troops in Afghanistan must flow through Iran, and thus Iran will need to be on board.
    Look up Chabahar, Zaranj, Dilaram.
    Or this from 2003 –
    It would depend on the state of construction – this from 2007:

  24. Arun says:

    FYI – Senator Bond’s report talks about the narcotics problem; and while proposing alternative crops, notes that Afghanistan sells India 50,000 tons of pomegranates a year – the Indian market could easily absorb a million tons they say.
    Such increases in trade will only increase Indian influence in Afghanistan, which Pakistan is unequivocally against. The US is going to have figure out how much of its problem is really Pakistan not Afghanistan.

  25. DaveGood says:

    Far as I can tell… No matter what… since the Pakistan supply route is being forcibly shut down as we speak… (How many of you missed the fact that 100 US re-supply trucks got taken out in one hit in Pakistan just days ago)…..
    Supply routes from other directions are being explored and will be needed no matter what.
    I’ve seen routes posted on line that look feasible but very fragile , and expensive.

  26. Charles I says:

    Debkafile reports today that the plan is for a well dug in last stand by 15,000 Hamas fighters around a beseiged Gaza city, operating light mobile night attacks against the deployed Israeli forces, with no major engagement before then.
    The rubble is rubble. Starvation and terror aside, invasion is now Israel’s only further Anti-Hamas option. Digging in Gaza has been nonstop, one assumes, literally and metaphorically.
    Helena Cobban at JWN notes AP reporting that though the infrastructure is gone, Hamas government is functioning with resilience.
    “Israel has destroyed the buildings, but Hamas is still here,” Ahmed Yousef, a Hamas spokesman, said Thursday, the sixth day of the bombing campaign. “There is no anxiety over the existence of Hamas — even if they destroy all of Gaza — because we are among the people.”
    W/r/t Afghanistan, Pakistan went ballistic when Karzai allowed India to start opening consulates around Afghanistan. Indian troops would tend to Pakistani Army/Taliban/Pashtun Tribal coherence in a forceful and blatant manner too obvious to ignore. It’d be madness in a policy sense, importing a new Kashmiri front into Afghanistan. It would ensure continual double deal from the Pakistani Army and the ISI on the whole Taliban/AlQaeda issue – so long as they bothered to go along with the GWOT.
    Someone in Washington or Afghanistan must know this.
    Lets be cockeyed optimists and pray that the appointment of Senator Clinton and others of her ilk are tactical ones of an a-la-Nixon-opening-to-China type – takes them with the rock solid credentials to make the big change and withstand the existential screeching that ensues. Sadly though I’m with Mo, I’ll eat two hats if there’s any change toward the Palestinians.

  27. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    As I am just back from Punjab and Delhi, it seems to me logical that US policy takes into consideration the Indian point of view.
    All manner of think tank studies on Afghanistan and legions of “experts”, civilian and military, and poseurs, civilian and military, on matters South Asian are popping up like mushrooms inside the Beltway.
    1. There is an active Indian presence already in Afghanistan which is logical given their (and the Russians’ and the Iranians’) strategic interest in the country.
    2. Some SST readers may have missed the matter of the road construction undertaken by India in western Afghanistan. My understanding is that the road is operational. Others may have missed that Indian logistics currently run through the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and then north to connect to this road. Thus, we can consider India and Iran strategic allies with respect to Afghanistan.
    3. Given that India and Iran are strategic allies with respect to Afghanistan, it is logical that Washington consult with Dehli and Tehran (not to mention Moscow) on matters Afghani.
    One fashionable US concept of a logistic route from Georgia, Azerbaijan and thence into Central Asia and Afghanistan seems somewhat unrealistic.
    4. Looking at the regional situation through 19th century British Imperial “Great Game” eyes is not realistic for Washington in the 21st century. The present situation is quite a bit more complicated and complex.
    5. What is our mission? (oh that…)
    Whether we have one or not, to begin to get a sense of the “guile” needed in Afghanistan it seems to me logical to study the situation and context from a South Asian point of view.
    Thus one would study the local military history, for example the Sikh-Afghan wars, as perceived by locals. Wiki has a useful entry about Maharajah Ranjit Singh and his campaigns.

  28. Alex,
    No sarcasm meant but what am I missing about the Indian military in a country with this demographic? I am completely open to being educated.
    India — Religions: Hindu 80.5%, Muslim 13.4%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.1% (2001 census)
    According to

  29. curious says:

    Two things come to mind about Israel Gaza operation
    – US political Calendar. Israel has only 2 weeks left under Bush neocon team. That means they have to be able to launch an invasion and have viable exit plan before the new crew in. Once Obama is in, I seriously doubt Israel can act like they run US foreign policy. (Even this week, one doesn’t hear a peep from US politicians openly supporting Gaza bombing. Is it just me? Usually Congress already passing bunch of resolution and press announcement on Israel. )
    – Hamas supply line. The egyptian tunnels particularly. If they can keep themselves supplied, Israel occupation will be very long and painful. It will be pure urban combat supported by Iranian intel and equipments. (eg. Fatah doesn’t have serious land mine capability.) They are itching to test all that, not to mention making sure Israel stuck in endless combat.
    I for one think we are going to see body armor piercing guns.
    It would be interesting to see how much Hamas learn from Hezbollah. And if they can expand to west bank at all. (Fatah day is almost over.) West bank is more than ready to flip once Israel Gaza invasion begin. More and more Palestinian will see Hamas as more viable force to create Palestinian independence.
    Indian army in Afghanistan? I don’t know, hard to believe, they never do large operation outside their border before. They have no direct land connection. Logistic will be difficult.
    India will be better off opening trade office and trade route to Afghanistan.
    Much more helpful that way. Afghanistan needs training, technology, trade.

  30. DaveGood says:

    I’m serious…
    None of you were aware that America’s main supply line had been chopped off for days?
    Temporarily or not?
    But you still feel qualified to come here and post?

  31. DaveGood says:

    Far as I can tell… No matter what… since the Pakistan supply route is being forcibly shut down as we speak… (How many of you missed the fact that 100 US re-supply trucks got taken out in one hit in Pakistan just days ago)…..
    Supply routes from other directions are being explored and will be needed no matter what.
    I’ve seen routes posted on line that look feasible but very fragile , and expensive.

  32. DaveGood:
    None of us being aware of attacks on the U.S. supply line? Don’t you think you use too broad a brush, laddie? The attacks on the supply line have been well publicized and the SST cohort seems to be a rather well read and thoughtful group.

  33. @DaveGood,
    It should not surprise you that knowledge about the vulnerability of supply lines thru Pakistan might be limited. The western media have made it a point to downplay these attacks — although many are cataloged over here: Minstrel Boy blog
    Of late, Pakistan Taliban has made it clear that they will attack supply convoys traversing the Kyhber so long as U.S. UAVs continue their attacks against targets inside Pakistan.
    Given this, I would not predict a let up anytime soon, despite Pakistan’s attempts to stop them. The real question I have is what are the U.S., NATO, and Pakistan willing to do to protect the LOCs?

  34. fnord says:

    Dave Good: Its been shut down by the Pakistanis as part of an offensive against the Taleban element currently operating in the pass. US commanders have been informed of this in advance. Its not yet critical, as far as I understand.

  35. Cieran says:

    None of you were aware that America’s main supply line had been chopped off for days?
    I doubt that presumption is warranted, even if it’s couched as a question. The problem of GWOT logistics has been discussed here before, so it’s likely not a surprise.
    It’s true that this problem is not being widely reported in the corporate media, but it’s thankfully showing up now with increasing frequency, albeit often in an implicit form, e.g., this last week’s headlines about Pakistani troops opening up the Khyber Pass route.
    Today’s LA Times version of this story actually led with relevant facts about how important this route is, and how often it’s been closed by combat operations, so we can only hope that more such reporting will be found in the future.

  36. Andy says:

    Col. Lang has posted on the subject of logistical lines into Afghanistan a few times now. Because some of us have not commented on it here does not mean we’re ignorant. As for myself, I spent some time in Afghanistan and have followed the attacks on the logistical lines for a couple of years now.
    As for India, some of you need to realize that 210km of new road is not a magic bullet to supply a sizable Indian force, even if such a thing were politically likely (which it isn’t in the least). A token force? Maybe. 120k? Not a chance. India simply does not have any kind of significant expeditionary capability.
    It’s also important to note what India’s interest really is here – putting the screws into Pakistan. This offer, if it really exists, is a political maneuver, nothing more, particularly considering the current climate between India and Pakistan – something else that isn’t reported on.

  37. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Anent Peshawar/logistics:
    The Talibanization of FATA and NWFP raises significant security issues. The Taliban of Pakistan are related to the Taliban of Afghanistan and originated first in Waziristan (South and North). But they are spreading through the region.
    The region is Pushtun ethnically. According to some estimates, the Pak army is about 15-20 percent Pushtun at the officer level and about 20-25 percent rank and file.
    1. The Talibanization of the area since a reorganization 2007 falls under the umbrella of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. The 40 member shura of this group includes representatives from the seven agencies of FATA as well as from NWFP districts such as Swat, Bannu, Tank, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohistan, Buner and Malakand.
    2. The HQ of the Pak Taliban has been located in South Waziristan (FATA). Baitullha Mehsud, 34, of the Mehsud tribe is the leader there. By an agreement with the Pak central government in 2006, the “Islamic Emirate of Waziristan” was founded. North Waziristan holds the Haqqani network of the Pak Taliban.
    3. FATA’s Khyber Agency is located next to Peshawar. Thus, as the Talibanization of this agency procedes, pressure is increased on Peshawar. Active here is the Lashkar-e-Islam group of the Pak Taliban. Based in the Bara area, it has extended its control to the Jamrud region of the Khyber Agency.
    4. In June 2008, the NWFP Inspector General of Police, Malik Naved Khan, warned that Peshawar would be taken over by the Pak Taliban failing strong government action against them. Khan’s appreciation of the situation was reinforced by a subsequent warning from NWFP Interior Secretary, Tipu Mohabbat Khan, to the same effect.
    5. As of June 2008, the regional chamber of commerce indicated that about 90 percent of material supplies to NWFP industries have been stopped owing to the security situation. Businessmen are shifting their operations out of the area.

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