|08-24-2008, 07:50 PM||#1|
Angling in the Deep
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Texas Riviera, Southern Mountains
Taliban Turns Lethal: 101 US Deaths in Afghanistan
Bads news for us there. Bombing civilians isn't endearing us to the locals either.
Taliban turns lethal: 101 US deaths in Afghanistan
By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 3 minutes ago
KABUL, Afghanistan - Taliban insurgents once derided as a ragtag rabble unable to match U.S. troops have transformed into a fighting force — one advanced enough to mount massive conventional attacks and claim American lives at a record pace.
The U.S. military suffered its 101st death of the year in Afghanistan last week when Sgt. 1st Class David J. Todd Jr., a 36-year-old from Marrero, La., died of gunfire wounds while helping train Afghan police in the northwest. The total number of U.S. dead last year — 111 — was a record itself and is likely to be surpassed.
Top U.S. generals, European presidents and analysts say the blame lies to the east, in militant sanctuaries in neighboring Pakistan. As long as those areas remain havens where fighters arm, train, recruit and plot increasingly sophisticated ambushes, the Afghan war will continue to sour.
"The U.S. is now losing the war against the Taliban," Anthony Cordesman, of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in a report Thursday. A resurgent al-Qaida, which was harbored by the Taliban in the years before the Sept. 11 attacks, could soon follow, Cordesman warned.
Cordesman called for the U.S. to treat Pakistani territory as a combat zone if Pakistan does not act. "Pakistan may officially be an ally, but much of its conduct has effectively made it a major threat to U.S. strategic interests."
An influx of Chechen, Turkish, Uzbek and Arab fighters have helped increased the Taliban's military precision, including an ambush by 100 fighters last week that killed 10 French soldiers, and a rush on a U.S. outpost last month by 200 militants that killed nine Americans.
Multi-direction attacks, flawlessly executed ambushes and increasingly powerful roadside and suicide bombs mean the U.S. and 40-nation NATO-led force will in all likelihood suffer its deadliest year in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on a visit to Kabul last week, said he knows that something must "be raised with Pakistan's government, and I will continue to do so." French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who rushed to Afghanistan after the French attack, warned Thursday that "terrorism is winning."
"Military sanctuaries are expanding in the (Pakistani) tribal areas," Gen. David McKiernan, the American four-star general in charge of the 50,000-strong NATO-led force here, told The Associated Press last week. McKiernan has called for another three brigades of U.S. forces — roughly 10,000 troops — to bolster the 33,000 strong U.S. force here.
Complicating relations between the Afghan government and the U.S., last week a joint Afghan-U.S. military operation in Herat province killed around 90 civilians, President Hamid Karzai's office says. The U.S. said it was investigating.
Some 188 international soldiers have died in Afghanistan this year, including the 101 Americans, according to an Associated Press count. This year's toll is easily on track to surpass the record 222 international troop deaths in 2007.
U.S. critics of the Afghan government are becoming more vocal. Rep. Jim Marshall, a Georgia Democrat who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said last week that Karzai's government "is not nearly where it should be."
"I'm not willing to have a long-term U.S. commitment, a substantial U.S. commitment to Afghanistan without seeing substantial reform and improvement in the government," Marshall said on a visit to Kabul.
Karzai's influence barely extends outside the capital. The Interior Ministry is seen as uniformly corrupt, and opium poppy cultivation has soared in recent years.