Saturday, March 03, 2007

Remember Afghanistan?

From Matthew Cole at Salon.com.

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Photo here.

Watching Afghanistan fall

.."In November, I traveled with the Army's 10th Mountain Division to Afghanistan's Kunar and Nuristan provinces, the region where Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have been sighted over the past three years, to see how American forces were fighting the "other" war. What I learned is that the war in Afghanistan is going badly. Three years after U.S. forces secured much of the country and helped 10 million Afghans vote in a presidential election, the country has slid back into a dangerous power vacuum, with the Taliban again competing for control of significant sections of the country. Last November, a CIA analysis of the Karzai government found it was losing control, and American ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald Neumann warned then that the U.S. would "fail" if the plan for action didn't include "multiple years and multiple billions." Our gains, once held firmly, have been lost and the coming year may portend Afghanistan's future, with ominous rumors floating down from the mountains about a spring offensive by insurgents"..
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.."The Kamdesh base is the northernmost American outpost in Afghanistan, in an area of Nuristan so remote that local villagers asked American troops in August, when they arrived, if they were Russian. The base itself is not more than a quarter-mile wide, on a valley floor, next to a clear, trout-filled river. Three-thousand-foot mountains rise above the base on both sides of the river. A row of Humvees, all mounted with grenade-filled Mark-19 machine guns, face the closest mountain, which nearly hangs over the front of the base. When I was there the soldiers hadn't yet named the base, and had made up their own name, Warheight, for the imposing peak. From Kamdesh, a small outpost near the Pakistani border, to Naray, a larger base 25 miles south, to another border outpost called Camp Lybert, the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry -- the so-called 3-71 -- was supposed to control a 220-square-mile triangle of territory"..
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