Index Research will focus on a country or an issue which is of particular interest to me. Articles have appeared on and others.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


by Sarah Meyer
Index Research

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1. Preface: Nato Dying in Afghanistan

While the US corporate media played out the Obama-Clinton soap opera, many respected organisations indicated “dire” problems within the structure of NATO and with its objectives in their Reports.

Bush is not interested in reading reports. Rice preferred meeting important people and visiting command posts rather than talking with the suffering people in Afghanistan.

US-NATO was in denial. “I don’t think that there’s a crisis, I don’t think there’s a risk of failure.” said Robert Gates in Vilnius.

The US inverted logic of “success” in Afghanistan is confusing. “Success” means more troops needed and a huge military budget, at US taxpayers expense but indeed a ‘success’ for corporate coffers.

European nations were not so sure about ‘more troops.’ Gates slapped wrists: “From our perspective, I worry that for many Europeans the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan are confused.”

U.S. Senator Lugar was also confused. "I'm not sure that we have a plan for Afghanistan,"he said.

Mike Whitney responded: “Europeans don’t need to occupy foreign nations to meet their energy needs. Eventually, the Europeans will see the futility of the war and leave. And that will be the end of NATO .

Not getting their way, the US went into their repetitive PsyOps Red Alert Mode: "US warns of more terror in Afghanistan."

Afghanistan winter 2008

A Winter’s Tale for Afghans meant either freezing or starving to death, or having limbs amputated during the fiercely harsh weather. Alternatively they were being killed by those who were giving them “freedom and democracy.”

"For anyone with eyes to see it is clear that the reasons for the clash of the United States with the world today—while its presidential candidates traipse around the electoral circuit speaking of the new wars to come—are to be found in that complex of historical, social and political factors and the false values, which constitute today’s Americanism. That is, “our way of life,” in the name of which our increasingly illegitimate political leaders pontificate and send our troops, “our boys”, around the world, which, far from defending social justice or the downtrodden, serves to separate the people of America from the rest of the world." Gaither Stewart, Best Cyrano (11.02.08)

The battle between Psyops and Reality in Afghanistan will continue


(click on the subject in which you are interested)
1. Prologue: NATO Dying in Afghanistan
2. Reports
3. Media Response to Reports
4. US Response to Reports: Denial, Censorship, New Base. Military Budget
5. Contractors
6. Contracts
7. US - NATO
8. US-Nato Coalition
9. Human Rights
10. Some NATO deaths
11. Future Deaths
12. References



2. Reports on Afghanistan

Toward a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World (CSIS)

Afghanistan: Post-War Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy," , (pdf) Updated January 14, 2008, CRS

UNICEF Humanitarian Action Update
17.01.08. UNICEF. An estimated 22 million Afghans, or 70% of the population, live in poverty and substandard conditions. 40% children less than three years old are underweight and 54% of under five are stunted. Over 100,000 people - most of them children and women - remain displaced by conflict and drought.

Afghanistan Study Group
30.01.08. Center for the Study of the Presidency. The group, co-chaired by Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and General James L. Jones, included prominent experts on the region and on foreign policy. Joint report with the Atlantic Council

Survey: Troops have lingering health concerns after return from combat
02.02.08. Stars and Stripes. Half of all troops returning from combat zones report a lingering health concern six months later, according to data released by Defense officials this week.

Afghanistan: Economic Incentives and Development Initiatives to Reduce Opium Production
05.02.08. Summary, Relief Web. Source: United Kingdom Department for International Development; The World Bank Group (DFID)

Afghanistan: The Need for International Resolve
06.02.08. International Crisis Group. Afghanistan is not lost, but the international community must urgently strengthen its resolve to reverse the negative trends. With Insurgent violence severely affecting government efforts in some half the country, efforts should focus on institution building, but troop contributing countries have to be prepared to deploy troops wherever needed. Without greater coordination and a more strategic approach by both civilian and military actors, the increased attention and resources now directed at the conflict could prove counter-productive by furthering a quick fix tendency.


Afghanistan: The Need for International Resolve
06.02.08. International Crisis Group. Afghanistan is not lost, but the international community must urgently strengthen its resolve to reverse the negative trends. With Insurgent violence severely affecting government efforts in some half the country, efforts should focus on institution building, but troop contributing countries have to be prepared to deploy troops wherever needed. Without greater coordination and a more strategic approach by both civilian and military actors, the increased attention and resources now directed at the conflict could prove counter-productive by furthering a quick fix tendency.

"The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11,"
(pdf) updated February 8, 2008: CRS

Pentagon Assesses Strain on Military
09.02.08. NY Times. A classified Pentagon assessment has concluded that long battlefield tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with persistent terrorist activity and other threats, have prevented the American military from improving its ability to respond to any new crisis. .. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has completed the risk assessment, which is expected to be delivered to Capitol Hill this month.

Reconstructing Afghanistan
14.02.08. UK Parliament. Fourth Report,

UNODC anticipates another large opium crop in Afghanistan in 2008
February 2008

Afghanistan - Annual report 2008
February 2008, Reporters without Borders. Afghanistan, which has been destabilised by an increasingly violent civil war, finds it difficult to protect its journalists. The Taliban kidnapped and then killed two fixers working with an Italian special correspondent and have launched attacks on several media premises. A court sentenced a young journalist to death for alleged “blasphemy” and security forces harassed the most critical journalists.

Afghanistan:Development and Humanitarian Priorities
February 2008. OXFAM. While aid has contributed to progress in Afghanistan, especially in social and economic infrastructure – and whilst more aid is needed – the development process has to date been too centralised, top-heavy and insufficient. It is has been prescriptive and supply-driven, rather than indigenous and responding to Afghan needs. As a result millions of Afghans, particularly in rural areas, still face severe hardship comparable with sub-Saharan Africa. Conditions of persistent poverty have been a significant factor in the spread of insecurity.

Private Security Contractors at War
HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST. There are as many or more than 180,000 private contractors in Iraq today – outnumbering U.S. military forces there – and thousands more in Afghanistan. … This [Ending Contractor Impunity] report examines patterns of private security contractor operations and the civilian casualties linked to them; the inadequate response of the U.S. government, principally the Department of Justice, to crimes committed by contractors; and the current legal framework governing private security contractors deployed abroad by the United States

The U.S. Military Index
March/April 2008, foreignpolicy / ICH. Foreign Policy and the Center for a New American Security surveyed more than 3,400 active and retired officers at the highest levels of command about the state of the U.S. military. They see a force stretched dangerously thin and a country ill-prepared for the next fight.

3. Media Response to Reports

Afghanistan risks 'failed state
30.01.08. BBC.

US studies fear Afghan decline to terrorist haven
30.01.08. Paul Eckert, Reuters / ICH. Afghanistan's failure would deal a strategic defeat to the U.S. fight against Islamic extremism that would destabilize neighboring Pakistan and threaten the future of NATO, the studies warned. "Urgent changes are required now to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a failing or failed state," said a report by The Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank [who gave awards to Tony Blair and Rupert Murdoch] … Separately, the Afghanistan Study Group warned that "the mission to stabilize Afghanistan is faltering" amid renewed violence, rising opium production and falling Afghan confidence in their government and its international partners. … The two studies recommended the United States step up the fight against the Taliban and other insurgents in Afghanistan, get reluctant NATO allies to commit more troops, redouble efforts to spur economic development, fight the opium trade and promote judicial and other government reforms in Kabul. The Atlantic Council urged the United Nations to name a high representative for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan risks becoming 'failed state', reports warn
31.01.08. Guardian.

US strategy on Taliban attacked
31.01.08. financial times. The Bush administration’s stance on Afghanistan is coming under increasing domestic criticism, as legislators from both US parties and a Nato general hit out at what they say is a failing effort to defeat the Taliban. The debate shifted on Thursday to the US Senate, where senior administration officials defended themselves against the findings of a high-profile report co-authored by General James Jones, who until the end of 2006, was Supreme Commander of Nato’s forces and so responsible for troops in the country.

Bush's Afghan policy raked at hearing
31.01.08. wireddispatch. Senators Say American People, Allies May Tire of Afghan Campaign

Failing state
01.02.08. Leader in Guardian. “It is hard to be hopeful about Afghanistan. Sliding away from progress, the country has begun a fretful, violent descent towards calamity that all the efforts of Nato, aid agencies and Afghans seem unable to stop. To be pessimistic about Afghanistan's future is not to say that the world should walk away: it is to recognise that reality is very grim. What is being done now in the country, at great cost in money and lives, is not working, and must be improved upon if it is not soon to be abandoned in the face of confusion, obstruction and defeat.” … (The) Afghanistan Compact, agreed in London two years ago, .. promised Afghans peace, good governance, human rights and economic development. "All illegal armed groups will be disbanded by end-2007 in all provinces," it said. … The Oxfam report - which focuses on extending development rather than military involvement - is the most useful. Its findings echo complaints made by almost everyone who has watched what has happened in Afghanistan. Development aid has been wasted, spent in the wrong places and in the wrong way, leaving rural areas bereft. The absence of social and economic progress has brought instability. The west's desire to suppress Afghan opium production has made things worse. Military and humanitarian assistance has been erratic, managed by competing agencies and countries.

Afghanistan: New U.S. Report Warns Of Deteriorating International Support
01.08. global security. An independent study [by the Center for the Study of the Presidency] to be released in Washington later today warns that Afghanistan is at risk of becoming a failed state because of deteriorating international support and growing militant violence there. … The Afghanistan assessment was co-chaired by retired U.S. Marine Corps General James Jones and a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Thomas Pickering. VIDEO: Bush says US committed to Afghan war.

Editorial: Betrayal of Afghanistan
01.02.08. arabnews. Three reports issued this week highlight the ways in which the outside world is failing the Afghan people and predict that if the international community does not improve its performance, Afghanistan will tumble back into dissent and chaos and the forces of bigotry will once again seize control.

Nato’s Afghan test
03.02.08. Editorial, Financial Times. Nato is not winning in Afghanistan, which risks becoming, once again, a failed state and haven for global jihadism, sustained by almost limitless narcotics revenue. That is the bleak conclusion of high-level reports last week from the Atlantic Council, a Washington think-tank, and the Afghanistan Study Group, co-chaired by General James Jones, the retired Nato commander, and Thomas Pickering, the former US ambassador to the United Nations. These are not voices or views to be lightly dismissed. Gen Jones argues that Nato’s future as a credible alliance is at stake in Afghanistan. Or, as a top European diplomat puts it: “We are there in force, the country is going backwards, and the whole world is watching.” It has taken a long time for western capitals to catch up with developments on the ground.

Fall back, men, Afghanistan is a nasty war we can never win
03.02.08. Simon Jenkins, Sunday Times. Britain’s commanders ignored every warning that the Taliban were the toughest fighters on earth. The American secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, flies to Britain this week to meet a crisis entirely of London and Washington’s creation. They have no strategy for the continuing occupation of Afghanistan. … Every independent report on the Nato-led operation in Afghanistan cries the same message: watch out, disaster beckons. Last week America’s Afghanistan Study Group, led by generals and diplomats of impeccable credentials, reported on “a weakening international resolve and a growing lack of confidence”. An Atlantic Council report was more curt: “Make no mistake, Nato is not winning in Afghanistan.” The country was in imminent danger of becoming a failed state.

The war that can bring neither peace nor freedom
05.02.08. Seamus Milne, Guardian. The crisis of the Afghan occupation is a reminder of its fraudulent claims, growing cost in blood, and certainty of failure. The Afghan war, you will remember, was supposed to be the "good war". Unlike the catastrophe of Iraq, from which most former cheerleaders still prefer to avert their eyes, Afghanistan was thought to be different. Senior British military figures might wince in private over their Basra humiliation, but would earnestly insist that they were fighting the good fight in Helmand "at the request of the elected Afghan government". Gordon Brown felt able to tell parliament only six weeks ago that "we are winning the battle in Afghanistan". But in the wake of a string of reports that the country is fast becoming a failed state and a humanitarian disaster, as armed attacks on western troops and Afghan forces multiply and Nato splits down the middle over sending reinforcements, that looks ever more other-worldly.

4. US Response to Reports – In Denial, Censorship, Base Building, Military Budget

We have had many successes but we have not yet enjoyed success and that’s what we have to focus on. Richard Boucher, the top State Department official for Afghanistan and South Asia.


Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Secretary Rice, Robert Gates


"I don't think that there's a crisis, I don't think there's a risk of failure, ROBERT GATES, US Defense Secretary, BBC, 07.02.08.

"But to say it's not working, I think, I would say it's not complete, but the strategy is one, I believe, that is having a good effect," Condoleeza Rice . (AFP, 07.02.08. )

American Thinker

Bush Ignores Afghan School Violence
29.01.08. Jason Straziuso, AP / Truthout. In his State of the Union address, President Bush called Afghanistan a young democracy where children go to school and Afghans are hopeful. But he didn't mention the violence that has killed 147 students and teachers, and closed 590 schools in the last year - almost as many as the 680 the U.S. has built.

Afghanistan - the Next Disaster
31.01.08. Saul Landau, Progreso Weekly/truthout. After six plus years, the war in Afghanistan drags on. The media occasionally cites casualties, but if it doesn't involve National Football League veteran Pat Tillman's execution by his own comrades, Afghanistan gets sparse attention. A few stories feature the growing number of Afghan and Iraq War vets on American streets. But the aspiring candidates ignore such "blowback." Instead, they demonstrate verbal aggression, a characteristic thought necessary for victory. "We've got to get the job done there [Afghanistan]," Barack Obama asserted without specifying what the "job" is. (AP, Aug 14, 2007)

US Official Disputes Dire Assessments of Afghanistan
01.02.08 voa. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher appeared before the Senate panel a day after two [sic] independent studies warned Afghanistan could become a failed state amid renewed violence, rising opium production and concerns over NATO's commitment to providing more troops to counter a regrouped Taliban. "No one can tell me that Afghanistan is not going in the right direction," he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

DoD News Briefing with Gen. McNeill from the Pentagon
06.02.08. defenselink. [McNeill] commanded NATO's operations in Afghanistan since February of last year. And General McNeill, of course, as many of you know, previously served in Afghanistan as commander of Operation Enduring Freedom, Combined Task Force-180. McNeil said “when I first took the job. A lot of the headlines were NATO is going to fail at this; the alliance is going to fracture. And that would not be the case. … I'm also reminded of the headlines that said there was a resurgent Taliban … a retrospective look at calendar year '07 says that clearly was not the case … There is progress …, etc.

[What most people don’t know is that McNeill also presided over an infamous center of torture, Bagram Prison],

Rice insists Afghanistan strategy is working despite warnings
07.02.08. Raw Story/ US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denied here Thursday the allied strategy to stabilise Afghanistan was failing, saying it was incomplete and needed innovation to crush "determined enemies." … They [Rice & Miliband} also cited improvements in health and education, other signs Rice said showed the country had made a "remarkable difference for the better" over the many decades it had spent as a failed state.

Conflicting Assessments of War in Afghanistan
11.02.08. P. Baker, Washington Post. President Bush famously doesn't like long memos. So if retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones hoped to get Bush's attention with the report he produced on Afghanistan, he was clever enough to be blunt from the start. "Make no mistake," the report says in its first line. "NATO is not winning in Afghanistan." If Bush read that far into the report, he evidently disagrees. During his speech Friday to the Conservative Political Action Conference, the president offered a far rosier view of the situation in Afghanistan than even his own top military and civilian advisers hold. "The Taliban, al-Qaeda and their allies are on the run," Bush declared to the audience of supporters. … Jones, the former NATO commander, does not couch his judgment. In a pair of reports that he oversaw, he made clear he views the situation in dire terms. One of them described "a stalemate of sorts" in which the Taliban cannot beat U.S. and NATO forces but "neither can our forces eliminate the Taliban by military means as long as they have sanctuary in Pakistan." The report goes on to say that "urgent changes are required now to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a failing or failed state."

NATO chief in Afghanistan on unannounced visit
20.02.08. Xinhuanet. He is“Calm” and ‘denied tensions over the mission would destroy Nato.’


The “ENEMY“ is ‘Free’m and ‘Moc’acy. ’

Pentagon: The internet needs to be dealt with as if it were an enemy "weapons system".
02.02.08. Brent Jessop, Global Research. The Pentagon's Information Operations Roadmap is blunt about the fact that an internet, with the potential for free speech, is in direct opposition to their goals. The internet needs to be dealt with as if it were an enemy "weapons system". … Computer Network Attack; Fighting the Net; PNAC Dominating Cyberspace; Internet 2; Conclusion

Air Force Blocks Access to Many Blogs
27.02.08. blog.wired. The Air Force is tightening restrictions on which blogs its troops can read, cutting off access to just about any independent site with the word "blog" in its web address. It's the latest move in a larger struggle within the military over the value -- and hazards -- of the sites. At least one senior Air Force official calls the squeeze so "utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream." See followup, Who Gets Through the Air Force's Blog Block? at Wired, here “The bottom line is that independent sites using the main blogging platforms, like Wordpess and Blogger, are pretty much shut out, universally.”

US military designates Afghan journalist as enemy combatant
27.02.08. The Jurist. US officials alleged that Jawed Ahmad [SAJA report; CPJ report] had Taliban phone numbers and videos in his possession [CBC report] when he was detained by coalition forces on October 26 at a NATO airbase in Kandahar, but a US military spokesman declined to provide details of the evidence against Ahmad. Ahmad is now being detained at the BagramAir Base [official website]. AP has more. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) [advocacy website] has called on US authorities to disclose the evidence and charges against Ahmad [CPJ report]. US military forces have previously detained without charge journalists working in Iraq and Afghanistan. In December 2006, the Committee to Protect Journalists released a report [text; JURIST report] in which it noted that the US was detaining three journalists, including Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj[advocacy website; JURIST report] and AP photographer Bilal Hussein [AP materials].


at Bajaur: a new US military base

U.S. homes in on militants in Pakistan
30 .01.08. asia times. Another piece of the United States' regional jigsaw is in place with the completion of a military base in Afghanistan's Kunar province, just three kilometers from Bajaur Agency in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. … the base, on a mountain top in Ghakhi Pass overlooking Pakistan, is now operational. … The new US base is expected to serve as the center of clandestine special forces' operations in the border region. … "However, with the new Kunar base, American special forces will carry out extended operations, which means a limited war against Taliban and al-Qaeda assets in the tribal areas. These clandestine operations can be done with or without Pakistan's consent." The building of this base was reported on 17 July 2007 here.


Rice heads for London as Afghan crisis looms
02.02.08. Black and Rice, Guardian. Row escalates over Nato troop reinforcements · Canada may withdraw unless others do more

Gates demands more troops willing to 'fight and die' in Afghanistan
07.02.08. Guardian.

Calls for Nato support in Afghanistan intensify. Jazeera (07.02.08)

President Bush Discusses Progress in Afghanistan, Global War on Terror
15.02.08. White House. “A free Afghanistan helps make this country more secure." ... And I sent reinforcements to our troops so they can accomplish that mission

Bush deploys 3,000 extra troops to Afghanistan to take on Taliban
16.02.08. Guardian


US Spends $88 on the Military for Every Buck Fighting Climate Change
31.01.08. Joshua Holland, alternet. Story based on FPIP report, Military vs. Climate Security

Bush to seek $515 billion for Pentagon in 2009
01.02.08. wiredispatch. Bush also will ask Congress for $70 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the documents show. The budget request will include $183.8 billion to modernize the military and $20.5 billion to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps -- the two services most strained by Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bush Budget Forecasts Deficit Hike
02.02.08. Andrew Taylor, AP / truthout. President Bush wants to cut funding for teaching hospitals and freeze medical research in a $3 trillion budget for 2009 that is still likely to generate a record deficit once war costs are tallied up.

US plan for Afghan troop surge
03.02.08. Sunday Times. THE conservative Washington think tank that devised the “surge” of US forces in Iraq has come up with a plan to send 12,000 more American troops into southern Afghanistan. A panel of more than 20 experts [sic] convened by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has also urged the administration to get tough with Pakistan.
Bush turns US soldiers into Murderers
13.02.08. Robert Parry, consortium. By forcing repeat combat assignments to Iraq and Afghanistan – and by winking at torture and indiscriminate killings – George W. Bush is degrading the reputation of the U.S. military, turning enlisted soldiers and intelligence officers into murderers and sadists.

Pentagon won't detail war spending plan
03.02.08. LA Times.

Full cost excluded on Iraq, Afghanistan
04.02.08. wiredispatch. The $515.4 billion in Pentagon spending for 2009 that President Bush proposed to Congress on Monday does not include the cost of fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iraq, Afghanistan, and the U.S. Economy
04.02.08. Lee Hudson Teslik, Washington Post. Expert opinion varies wildly on the relevance of U.S. war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan to the health of the U.S. economy. At the most basic level, economists disagree whether these wars will have a positive or negative long-term economic impact.

Proposed Military Spending Is Highest Since WWII
04.02.08. NYTimes. As Congress and the public focus on more than $600 billion already approved in supplemental budgets to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for counterterrorism operations, the Bush administration has with little notice approached a landmark in military spending.

Bush just gave himself the power to decide how the next Administration spends the taxpayers' money
05.02.08. Alternet Peek.

Defense Informations Systems Agency seeks big budget boost
05.02.08. govexec. … DISA's fiscal 2009 operations and maintenance budget request tops $1.2 billion, a 30 percent increase over its fiscal 2008 budget of $944.6 million. The agency also asked for a 24 percent increase in its procurement budget, to $361.1 million from $290.2 million in fiscal 2008. … DISA has asked for $316.6 million for its information systems security program, which represents about one-quarter of its overall budget and a 37 percent increase over the $247.7 million in fiscal 2008. The agency has budgeted $54.9 million for information systems security procurement in 2009, a 32 percent jump from the fiscal 2008 budget of $41.8 million. … The Net-Centric Enterprise Services portion of the budget will more than double to $89.9 million in fiscal 2009 from an estimated $26.6 million in fiscal 2008, if Congress approves DISA's request.

Bush Vows to Veto Fiscal 2009 Spending Bills That Exceed His Request
08.02.08. Congressional Quarterly/truthout. … Overall, the president is requesting $987.6 billion for the next fiscal year, an increase of 4.9 percent over the current year. But nearly all of the increase is targeted to what the White House defines as national security the Pentagon and homeland security programs across the government - leaving a boost of less than 1 percent for domestic programs, which would divvy up $393 billion under Bush's plan. That is well below the inflation rate.

Pentagon projects weapons spending to rise 20% from 2009-2013
21.02.08. T. Capaccio | Bloomberg News/antiwar. Major programs such as Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Joint Strike Fighter, Boeing Co.'s Future Combat Systems and warships built by Northrop Grumman Corp. and General Dynamics Corp., are moving into production, their most expensive phase. The Pentagon plans to devote an increasing share of its budget to these programs, even as it adds 65,000 personnel to the Army and funds maintenance of existing equipment as well as ever-costlier health care and other benefits, according to projected spending through 2013. Defense analysts say this scenario isn't plausible.

The Three Trillion-Dollar War
23.02.08. J. Stiglitz, L. Bilmes, The Times of London UK/truthout. The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have grown to staggering proportions. The Bush Administration was wrong about the benefits of the war and it was wrong about the costs of the war. The president and his advisers expected a quick, inexpensive conflict. Instead, we have a war that is costing more than anyone could have imagined. The cost of direct US military operations - not even including long-term costs such as taking care of wounded veterans - already exceeds the cost of the 12-year war in Vietnam and is more than double the cost of the Korean War. … As the fifth year of the war draws to a close, operating costs (spending on the war itself, what you might call "running expenses") for 2008 are projected to exceed $12.5 billion a month for Iraq alone, up from $4.4 billion in 2003, and with Afghanistan the total is $16 billion a month. Sixteen billion dollars is equal to the annual budget of the United Nations, or of all but 13 of the US states. Even so, it does not include the $500 billion we already spend per year on the regular expenses of the Defense Department. Nor does it include other hidden expenditures, such as intelligence gathering, or funds mixed in with the budgets of other departments. See also Guardian interview with Stiglitz here.

Economist Stiglitz Says Iraq War Costs May Reach $5 Trillion
01.03.08. Bloomberg. ``This war is the first war ever that's been totally financed by borrowing, by deficits,'' said Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University in New York. ``Because we haven't raised taxes, because we've tried to pretend this war is for free, we've been skimping on our treatment of veterans.'' Bills Pile Up. .. The government also will have to pay back with interest money it borrowed to finance the war, which will drive total costs higher, he told Congress's Joint Economic Committee earlier this week.

Oil Profits

Exxon shatters profit records
01.02.08. money.cnn/legitgov. Oil giant makes corporate history by booking $11.7 billion in quarterly profit; earns $1,300 a second in 2007.

Chevron 4th-Quarter Profit Rises on Record Oil Prices
01.02.08. Bloomberg / legitgov. Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. oil company, said fourth-quarter profit rose 29 percent as crude prices climbed to a record on their way to topping $100 a barrel last month. Net income increased to $4.88 billion, or $2.32 a share

Financial Cuts

Bush Seeks Surplus via Medicare Cuts
31.01.08. R. Pear, NY Times / truthout. "… in his new budget, to be unveiled Monday, President Bush will call for large cuts in the growth of Medicare, far exceeding what he proposed last year, and he will again seek major savings in Medicaid, according to administration officials and budget documents. Over all, the 2009 budget is likely to be the first $3 trillion spending request by a president."

Government Suppresses Major Public Health Report
12.02.08. Maggie Mahar, AlterNet. The public has been denied important information on the link between pollution and health problems including lung, colon and breast cancer.

Child Poverty and How to Stem America's Prison Madness
29.02.08. Dan Brown, Huffington Post. It’s hard to argue with the final lines of the Cradle to prison Pipeline report’s recommendations:

"Repealing and not extending the tax cuts for the top one percent of the wealthiest taxpayers could provide $57 billion of the entire estimated $75 billion policy agenda listed above. The war in Iraq already has cost over $450 billion through 2007."

No Funds in Bush Budget For Troop-Benefits Plan
09.02.08. M. Abramowitz/R. Wright, Washington Post / ICH. He Made Proposal in January Speech. President Bush drew great applause during his State of the Union address last month when he called on Congress to allow U.S. troops to transfer their unused education benefits to family members. A week later, however, when Bush submitted his $3.1 trillion federal budget to Congress, he included no funding for such an initiative

Marines Call New Body Armor Heavy, Impractical
27.02.08. Fox news. The Pentagon and Marine Corps authorized the purchase of 84,000 bulletproof vests in 2006 that not only are too heavy but are so impractical that some U.S. Marines are asking for their old vests back so they can remain agile enough to fight. Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway wants to know who authorized the costly purchase of the nearly 30-pound flak jackets and has ordered the Marine procurement officers at the Quantico base in Virginia to halt the rest of an unfilled order, FOX News has learned.

Half New Orleans Poor Permanently Displaced: Failure or Success?
04.03.08. Bill Quigley, Dissident Voice. Government reports confirm that half of the working poor, elderly and disabled who lived in New Orleans before Katrina have not returned. Because of critical shortages in low cost housing, few now expect tens of thousands of poor and working people to ever be able to return home.

Two invaluable newsletters that reveal the true state of US economy
Danny Schechter's Media Channel
Carolyn Baker's Speaking Truth to Power

5. Contractors


Private Security Contractors at War
HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST. There are as many or more than 180,000 private contractors in Iraq today – outnumbering U.S. military forces there – and thousands more in Afghanistan. … This [Ending Contractor Impunity] report examines patterns of private security contractor operations and the civilian casualties linked to them; the inadequate response of the U.S. government, principally the Department of Justice, to crimes committed by contractors; and the current legal framework governing private security contractors deployed abroad by the United States.


Wartime Use of Contractors
02.02.08. AP. CONTRACTORS OUTNUMBER TROOPS: There are 196,000 contract employees working for the Defense Department in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are 182,000 U.S. forces in both countries. Most of those are Army troops.

Report: Military Contractors Are Hard to Fire
02.02.08. Richard Lardner, AP / truthout. … The Army Criminal Investigation Command is busy, too. The command has 90 criminal investigations under way related to alleged contract fraud in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, according to spokesman Chris Grey. Two dozen U.S. citizens have been charged or indicted so far - 19 of those are Army military and civilian employees - and more than $15 million in bribes has changed hands, Grey said.

Air Force Limits Alliant Group Contracts
06.02.08. moneycnn. U.S. Air Force Places Alliant Techsystems' Launch Systems Group on Excluded Parties List. .. Existing contracts are not affected by the action. The action is related to an ongoing lawsuit regarding testing of the company's LUU-19 illumination flare in the late 1990s. The complaint, filed in federal court by a former employee, alleges that Alliant ignored problems in flares used by U.S. forces in search-and-rescue and combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

CIA Likely Let Contractors Perform Waterboarding
08.02.08. Siobhan Gorman, Wall Street Journal/truthout. The CIA's secret interrogation program has made extensive use of outside contractors, whose role likely included the waterboarding of terrorist suspects, according to testimony yesterday from the CIA director and two other people familiar with the program.

AFGHANISTAN: Security companies fall foul of gun controls
11.02.08/ timesonline / corpwatch. Afghan police have begun a crackdown on private security guards carrying guns in Kabul, paralysing foreign aid and other organisations whose rules oblige them to travel with armed escorts. The Interior Ministry has also detained four foreign employees of two security companies for several days, including two British citizens who were released on Saturday but still have charges pending against them, The Times has learnt. … Industry insiders say that elements of the police are trying to cripple foreign firms and drive their clients to Afghan firms with links to the Interior Ministry or other parts of the Government. ASG, one of the biggest Afghan private security companies, is owned by a cousin of President Karzai. … because of the recent arrests, and some have decided to stop carrying firearms altogether. That has forced some of their clients to halt operations, because their security regulations insist that they be escorted by armed guards. … They are believed to include USAid, the US Government aid agency, and Bearing Point, a consultancy linked to the World Bank that advises the Afghan Finance Ministry.

See Security Companies in Afghanistan here

Gang-Rape Victim Says She and Others Silenced by Halliburton
12.02.08. Maddy Sauer, ABC News/truthout. Jones says they are forced to argue their sexual assault cases in secretive arbitration. .. Since the attacks, Jones has started a nonprofit foundation called the Jamie Leigh Foundation, which is dedicated to helping victims who were raped or sexually assaulted overseas while working for government contractors or other corporations.

Miliband challenged on mercenaries abuse
18.02.08. waronwant. Legal writ over government failure to act

Senator Clinton Cosponsors Legislation to Ban Use of Private Security Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan

6. Contracts

Crescent Petroleum interested in investing in IPI
30.01.08. dailytimes,

Federal defense contracts in Massachusetts nearly double in four years
30.01.08. metrowestdailynews. The UMass report, which was commissioned by MassDevelopment, shows that the value of ``prime contracts'' - those worth more than $25,000 - awarded by the Department of Defense to Massachusetts employers rose 84 percent from $4.9 billion in 2002 to nearly $9.1 billion in 2006. … The growth in this state apparently kept pace with the nation's growth [sic] in the wake of domestic responses to the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Boeing Awarded $116 Million JDAM Production Contract
30.01.08. pressmediawire. … The Air Force and Navy have used JDAM weapons extensively in Afghanistan and Iraq. JDAM is a low-cost guidance kit that converts existing 500-, 1,000- and 2,000-pound unguided free-fall bombs into accurately guided "smart" weapons. Boeing has produced more than 190,000 JDAM tail kits since 1998.

Canada sells RADARSAT to US weapons and space industry
02.08. Commonground.

USAF buys 4,000 more Boeing JDAM kits
04.02.08. UPI. Boeing has won a $116 million U.S. Air Force contract for more than 4,000 Joint Direct Attack Munition tail kits. … "The (U.S.) Air Force and Navy have used JDAM weapons extensively in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Raytheon wins 22 mln usd French govt deal to upgrade Paveway guided bombs
06.02.08 moneycnn. .. Raytheon's Paveway II (P2) laser-guided smart bombs already equip the Mirage 2000D, which supports U.S. and other NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Military contract funds McGill research
07.02.08. Mcgilldaily. University to launch fellowships funded by Boeing plane contract with Canadian military tomorrow. … “McGill is recognized for excellence in this field and combined with Boeing’s resources, this research will serve the interests of the aerospace industry at large,” Mills said. [It is alleged that McGill: was the location of a CIA-funded mind control project by Ewen Cameron some years ago]

AmeriQual gets new MRE defense contract
12.02.08. courier press. AmeriQual Group, LLC, which is based in northern Vanderburgh County, is being awarded a U.S. Defense Department contract of more than $20.5 million for its Meals Ready-to-Eat program.

Plan to curb contract fraud doesn't apply overseas
12.02.08. usatoday. A Bush administration plan to crack down on contract fraud has a multibillion-dollar loophole: The proposal to force companies to report abuse of taxpayer money will not apply to work overseas, including projects to secure and rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. For decades, contractors have been asked to report internal fraud or overpayment on government-funded projects. Compliance has been voluntary, and over the past 15 years the number of company-reported fraud cases has declined steadily.

Firm wins £30m laser eye contract
15.02.08. BBC. Surveillance System Range Finder Thales described the contract as a boost for the workforce. A £30m contract to provide state-of-the-art laser vision to frontline forces has been won by the Glasgow-based firm Thales. The all-weather day and night target locator kit enables troops to pinpoint the exact location and distance of enemy forces within 3.1 miles (5km).[Thales also has joint contract with Raytheon ]

Vodafone Targets Emerging Markets
15.02.08. moneycnn. Last week, Vodafone expanded the service into Afghanistan by partnering with Roshan, that country's biggest wireless firm. Vodafone aims to set up mobile money-transfer services in other developing countries, including India.

Iranian firm signs $2mn. contract for dam construction in Afghanistan
17.02.08. Afghanistan Energy and Water Minister, Mohammad Esmaeil Khan told the reporters after signing the contract, "Construction of Gol Bahar Dam would lead to providing sufficient water to irrigate 60 hectares of agriculture lands in Kapsia and Parvan provinces, both in northeast Afghanistan."

Labor may abandon $1bn helicopters
18.02.08. DEFENCE Minister Joel Fitzgibbon tonight admitted that the federal government may yet abandon the $1bn Seasprite navy helicopter project. The Seasprite remains one of the Defence Department's most difficult projects, running more than six years behind schedule and already costing $1 billion – with no operational helicopters in sight.

Boeing Wins $49.8M Air Force Contract
19.02.08. Boeing Co. has won a $49.8 million Air Force contract boost to handle technical requirement changes for radios being developed as part of a Defense Department wideband satellite communications network, the Defense Department said late Friday.

BAE Profit Gains 28% as US Purchases Tap War Budget (Update2)
22.02.08. Bloomberg. BAE Systems Plc, Europe's biggest weapons maker, increased second-half earnings 28 percent after U.S. purchases boosted revenue from Bradley Fighting Vehicles and blast-resistant Humvees used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
See THE BAE FILES, (Guardian, UK)

Loophole Irks Contract Watchdogs
22.02.06. AP. The loophole would allow companies performing government work overseas to avoid having to report contract abuse. A review of documents shows it was added by Bush administration policy-writers after they received a draft of the proposed rule from the Justice Department.

Air Force set to award $40 bln air tanker contract
22.02.08. Marketwatch. Boeing vs. Northrop Grumman

Bush targets contract oversight provisions
22.02.08. govexec. Bush has issued 156 signing statements, covering more than 750 statutes -- more statutes than any other president -- including a signing statement for every Defense authorization bill since 2001. [NB: This article covers information about some of these signing statements which involve Afghanistan]

Military Helmets

13.02.08. Citizens for Ethics. The New York Times reported that Sioux Manufacturing, which makes the Kevlar for helmets, has agreed to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that the company had shortchanged the armor in up to 2.2 million helmets for the military, including helmets used by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Department of Defense, aware of both the problem with Sioux's helmets and the company's efforts to cover it up, awarded another contract to Sioux a mere 12 days before the lawsuit was settled. That same day, CREW sent a letter to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees requesting an investigation into a Department of Defense $74 million contract awarded to Sioux Manufacturing. Additionally, over 16,000 Americans have signed a petition asking for an investigation into the contract.

Tele-Press Conf. Thurs. Demanding Investigation into $74 Million DOD Contract to Company Producing Substandard Helmets
27.02.08.businesswire. Tape Recordings of Whistle Blower Conversations About Production of Substandard Helmet Material Will Be Played. Tomorrow, Thursday, February 28th, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), will join and two whistle blowers to discuss the need for a congressional investigation into a $74 million Department of Defense contract awarded to a North Dakota manufacturing company, Sioux Manufacturing Company , which has been outfitting our nation's troops with substandard Kevlar helmets.

Italian Defense awards contract for MRAPs
25.02.08. UPI. The Italian Ministry of Defense announced it has contracted South Carolina-based Force Protection Inc. for soldier transport and route clearance vehicles.

NATO Funds Record Purchase of New Demron Nuclear Radiation-Blocking, Anti-Chemical and Biological-Protection Suits
27.02.08. prweb. Ronald DeMeo, MD, MBA, president and chief executive officer with Radiation Shield Technologies (RST) today announced NATO's funding of a purchase of a record number of Demron nuclear radiation-blocking, anti-chemical and biological-protection suits. The suits, which will be deployed by the Ministry for Emergency Situations of the Republic of Belarus, are manufactured with RST's patented Demron technology, the first and only product of its kind.

EODT Wins Recompeted Canine Services Contract In Afghanistan
29.02.08. sev.prnewswire. The federal authority which oversees defense and security contracts for Iraq and Afghanistan - the Joint Contracting Command Iraq/Afghanistan (JCC-I/A) - has selected (pdf) EOD Technology, Inc. for a $6.4M contract to provide explosives- and narcotics-detecting dogs to NATO forces in Southern Afghanistan, it was announced today. The Joint Contracting Command's award is for six months with two additional option six-month periods, to provide a total of 43 Explosive Detecting Dog (EDD) and Narcotics Detecting Dog (NDD) teams. The teams will support security operations at base entry points, along the Kandahar Airfield's outer perimeter, as well as in support of Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan's five southern provinces.

Northrop Grumman, EADS Secure $35B Pentagon Contract Over Rival Boeing
29.02.08. Fox News. The U.S. Air Force announced today that Northrop Grumman and a European company have been awarded a $35 billion contract to produce the next-generation fleet of Air Force refueling tankers. The new contract, which came as a surprise to many in the aviation community, is one of the military's three largest aviation investments ever.

Grassley: Cut Contract Fraud Loophole
29.02.08. AP. The loophole, quietly slipped last year into a proposed Bush administration rule, would allow companies performing government work overseas to avoid having to report contract abuse. Contract fraud has cost taxpayers $14 million in bribes alone out at least $102 billion spent in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.

Amid probes, Army reworks purchasing protocol
29.02.08. he Army is ordering an overhaul of the way it buys supplies for troops in combat zones as the number of criminal inquiries into wartime contract fraud nears triple figures. Chief among the moves is the formation of a contracting command to better manage military purchasing in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, according to a Jan. 30 memo written by Army Secretary Pete Geren and obtained by the Associated Press.

The command will be headed initially by Jeffrey Parsons, a civilian, underscoring how few senior Army officers have extensive credentials in defense contracting. The position eventually will be filled by a two-star general who will have two one-star generals as deputies.

The Army also plans to hire 1,400 additional contracting personnel to expand a workforce that was too small and poorly prepared to deal with the heavy demands of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The extra 400 military and 1,000 civilians mark about a 25 percent increase. The Army now has about 5,800 contracting employees. Hiring all 1,400 is expected to take two to three years.


"It is our right to defend our country. We are not a threat to other countries. But we have to use our rights when our country is occupied by foreign forces." - Mullah Omar, Taliban leader

NATO Genocide in Afghanistan
30.01.08. Ali Khan, ICH. Ali Khan argues that the internationally recognized crime of genocide applies to the intentional killings that NATO troops commit on a weekly basis in the poor villages and mute mountains of Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban.

Report calls for a radical overhaul of NATO
31.01.08. IHT. With NATO facing the risk of failure in Afghanistan, a group of former senior officers has called for a radical overhaul of the alliance, which they say is paralyzed by cumbersome decision-making rules, inequitable funding arrangements and an inability to sustain long-term missions. The officers' 152-page report, "Toward a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World," attempts to analyze why NATO has not completed the transformation from a Cold War organization to one capable of dealing with threats and conflicts in the 21st century. … The authors - General John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former NATO commander; Admiral Jacques Lanxade, former chief of the Defense Staff of France, General Klaus Naumann, former chief of the Defense Staff of Germany; Field Marshall Peter Inge, former chief of the Defense Staff of Britain; and General Henk van den Breemen, former chief of the Defense Staff of the Netherlands - served together in NATO.

Belgium to boost troops, aircraft in Afghanistan
01.02.08. wiredispatch.

Nato chief fears split on Afghan forces
02.02.08. financial times. Nato’s top civilian is worried that public efforts to generate more military forces for Afghanistan are deepening divisions within the alliance, his spokesman said on Friday. … Nato military commanders are seeking 7,000 combat troops for the south to bolster the 42,000-strong alliance contingent in the country. After expressing frustration at the lack of response from other Nato governments to his public calls for more troops, Mr Gates last month agreed that 3,200 US marines would be sent on a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan – 2,200 of whom would go to the south.

The Anti-Empire Report
02.02.08. Wllliam Blum. NATO is a treaty on wheels -- It can be rolled in any direction to suit Washington's current policy. … The alliance has been kept amongst the living to serve as a very useful handmaiden of US foreign policy as well as providing American arms and airplane manufacturers with many billions of dollars of guaranteed sales due to the requirement that all NATO members meet a certain minimum warfare capability. (following are examples of what} NATO has been up to in recent years as it strives to find a new raison d'être in the post-Cold War era (including Afghanistan)

Nato allies divided on how to tackle growing Afghan crisis
03.02.08. Raymond Whitaker, Independent.

Insurgencies Spread in Afghanistan and Pakistan
03.02.08. Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy/truthout. Islamic insurgents are expanding their numbers and reach in Afghanistan and Pakistan, spreading violence and disarray over a vast cross-border zone where al Qaida has rebuilt the sanctuary it lost when the United States invaded Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. There is little in the short term that the Bush administration or its allies can do to halt the bloodshed, which is spreading toward Pakistan's heartland and threatening to destabilize the U.S.-backed governments in Afghanistan and Pakistan. “In Afghanistan, U.S. and NATO forces are facing "a classic growing insurgency," Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday.


Why the Afghan Taleban feel confident
01.02.08. David Loyn, BBC News.uruknet. In Afghanistan, the Taleban now claim to have influence across most of the country and have extended their area of control from their traditional heartland in the south.

NATO says insurgency is not spreading in Afghanistan
03.02.08. IHT. "It is becoming increasingly clear that the insurgent movement is being contained," Foss told a press conference in Kabul.

Taliban attacks on allied troops soar by up to a third
03.02.08. Jason Burke, Observer. Attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan surged last year, according to previously unpublished figures from allied military forces fighting insurgents. Statistics compiled by the multinational International Stabilisation Force in Afghanistan show attacks on international troops and the Afghan government have gone up by between a fifth and a third. But although admitting the figures show a 'significant rise', Nato insists the geographic extent of the violence remains limited.

Swan Song for NATO
13,02,08. Mike Whitney, ICH. The real cost of defeat in Forgettistan It was supposed to be "the good war"; a war against terror; a war of liberation. It was intended to fix the eyes of the world on America's state of the art weaponry, its crack troops and its overwhelming firepower. It was supposed to demonstrate—once and for all-- that the world's only superpower could no longer be beaten or resisted; that Washington could deploy its troops anywhere in the world and crush its adversaries at will. Then everything went sideways.

The war veered from the Pentagon's script. …

The Taliban's approach is methodical and deliberate. They've shown they can survive the harshest conditions and still achieve tactical victories over a better-equipped enemy. They are highly-motivated and believe their cause is just. After all, they're not fighting to occupy a foreign nation; they're fighting to defend their own country.

PREVIEW-US and allies at odds over Afghanistan
04.02.08. Reuters. Experts say their agenda could backfire if the United States is too strident in its criticism of allies and in pushing for more troops, especially in countries where the public opposes more involvement in Afghanistan.

EDITORIAL: Is NATO failing in Afghanistan?
05.02.08. Taipei times. it is becoming increasingly evident that the US-led alliance operating there since the Taliban were overthrown in 2001 is on the brink of collapse. How did a ragtag group of ill-equipped militants manage to survive seven years of military occupation by the strongest military in modern times, backed by the strongest military alliance since the collapse of the Warsaw Pact? From the outset, the NATO mission suffered from lack of a clear mandate. Was the long-term objective stabilization? Reconstruction? Development? Or war-making, as US forces, aided by special forces from other countries, hunted down al-Qaeda fighters and their Taliban hosts?

Afghanistan Spins Out of Control, U.S. Fiddles: Frederick Kempe
05.02.08. Frederick Kempe, Bloomberg. NATO is winning most battles in Afghanistan, but the international community is losing the war. That has consequences far beyond Afghanistan if the U.S., Europe and its friends don't change course fast.

Military Balance report sees "willpower gap" in NATO over conflicts
05.02.08. wiredispatch. "In the past it was the technological and doctrinal gap between the US and its NATO allies that was at the centre of anxious transatlantic debate, now it is the willpower and capacity gap that is striking," concluded the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in its Military Balance 2008 report.

Problems on all fronts as Afghan mission reaches turning point
06.02.08. Declan Walsh/Ian Traynor, Guardian. Nato Tensions: The past fortnight, leading up to a Nato defence ministers' meeting in Lithuania tomorrow and then a summit in Romania in April, has witnessed a transatlantic shouting match between the Pentagon and Europe over mismatched abilities, alleged cowardice and incompetence from Kunduz to Helmand. Further subjects: Deployment issues; Testy relations; Taliban; Drugs

Pentagon Seeks Money for Unmanned Drones
06.02.08. Lolita Baldor, AFP. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will be traveling to a meeting of NATO defense ministers this week to discuss military needs in Afghanistan … According to military officials and budget documents, the Pentagon's spending proposal would buy more of the larger, costlier and deadlier Air Force Predators and Reapers than in the current budget year.

Nato at crossroads over commitment to Afghanistan campaign
07.02.08. Kim Sengupta, Independent. The Nato mission in Afghanistan could fail unless there is greater commitment from member countries, a meeting of the alliance will be told today.
See also on page: related articles.

Nato should not be fighting this war in Afghanistan
08.02.08. Adrian Hamilton, Independent. .. someone ought to be asking the question: "What the hell is a North Atlantic alliance doing in a north Asian country at all?" That is not the same question, although inextricably linked, with the question of whether we, the Brits or the Americans, should be there still or getting out of the morass. Nor is it the same question of whether the current spat between America and its European allies over troop deployments and numbers is a defining point in the alliance or not. But it is to ask whether Nato, the most successful military alliance since the Second World War, is the right organisation for this job, and indeed, whether it can survive the strains that the Afghan occupation is putting on it.

U.S. official intrigued by NATO cost overhaul idea
09.02.08. Reuters. … A group of former officers of the western security alliance last month proposed a radical overhaul of NATO, amid tensions between the United States and some allies over the reluctance of some members to send troops to Afghanistan or to allow those there to engage in combat. … The report's authors, who included former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of staff John Shalikashvili, suggested all members of the alliance could help fund operations, rather than just those who contribute their own troops or equipment. [More about NATO enlargement]

NATO opens missile defenses facility
15.02.08. UPI. A NATO missile defense system testing facility in the Netherlands is expected to open Thursday, in a project to protect forces against ballistic missiles. Officials say the facility's opening of the integration test bed marks a major milestone for the multiyear NATO project aimed at protecting forces from missile attacks while deployed on operations, NATO reported. The facility, run by NATO's Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense Program Office, will test the designs for NATO systems that will allow European and U.S. missile defense technologies to work together to protect forces against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.

(See US-NATO 'Missile Shield' Programme: Index Timeline Update, Sarah Meyer, Index Research - updated)

NATO troops to stay in Afghanistan for another seven years
18.02.08. Xinhuanet. NATO, including Norway, cannot pull out until the Afghan army "functions well" and that is likely to take another seven years, Stroem-Erichsen told Norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen, noting that the Afghan army now has 40,000 soldiers but needs at least 80,000.

Towards the Conquest of the Middle East and North Africa: The U.S., the E.U. and Israel join hands
18.02.08. Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, global research. The Mediterranean Union: NATO’s Role in Conquering the Middle East and North Africa; NATO Expansion in the Mediterranean: Paving the Way for E.U. Enlargement; Israel to join the E.U. and NATO; Western Energy Security, NATO, Israel, and the Bigger Picture; The Divided Political-Military Relations that exist in Europe are Replicated in the Mediterranean; NATO and the Persian Gulf: Rivalry with the Eurasian Heartland?

Afghan mission 'a must' says Nato head
22.02.08. D. Loyn, BBC. Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has completed a two-day visit to Afghanistan at a time of unprecedented tensions in the alliance over its first major operation outside its area in Europe and the North Atlantic. President Hamid Karzai told the secretary general that he would attend the crucial summit at Bucharest in April, when the issue of Canada's threat to pull out its troops unless more nations send forces into the south will be discussed.

US urges EU to spend more on defense, end conflict with NATO
22.02.08. IHT. The ambassador [and PNAC person], Victoria Nuland, dismissed the notion that the United States does not want stronger, more integrated European military forces.

More troops for Iraq and Afghanistan, Defense Department says
26.02.08. .The Defense Department says it needs more troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. But an Army general warns that troops already in the fight are under too much strain. The warning comes as violence in Afghanistan – unlike Iraq, where violence is down - is expected to increase.

The world is changing; NATO needs a new strategy
28.02.08. Henk Van den Breemen, P. Inge, J. Lanxade, daily star Lebanon. We, five former defense chiefs of staff, recently published a booklet containing proposals for such a new strategy, as well as a comprehensive agenda for change.

Bush and Scheffer to discuss NATO enlargement
29.02.08. makfax.

NATO chief disputes US view of Afghan control
29.02.08. AP/wiredispatch. NATO's top official took issue Friday with a U.S. intelligence assessment that the Afghan government controls just 30 percent of the country and the Taliban holds 10 percent. .. De Hoop Scheffer did not offer an alternative assessment but said the U.S. figures did not match the views of commanders leading the NATO-led force trying to stabilize Afghanistan. The dispute comes amid rising concern in Washington about the war in Afghanistan, where Taliban militants have increased suicide bombings and car bomb attacks over the past two years.

Bush Does Not Commit to NATO Bids
29.02.08. AP. President Bush, meeting with the NATO chief Friday, made no commitment to support bids for membership in the alliance by Croatia, Macedonia and Albania. The United States has been behind the idea, while urging all three nations to step up changes in their governing practices. With their bids due to come up for a vote in April at the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, it is still unclear whether they have the required unanimous support to join.

Pot Calling Kettle Black?
Bush warns Iran, calls for more NATO troops in Afghanistan
01.03.08. AFP. US President George W. Bush on Saturday warned his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to "stop exporting terror" ahead of the Iranian leader's historic visit to Iraq.

PENDING: Albania, Azerbaijan, Croatia, France, Georgia, Israel, Macedonia, Norway

Croatia, Macedonia, Albania discuss NATO bids with US officials
19.02.08. IHT.


Use of Military Technique of Soviet Model Not an Obstacle to NATO: First Vice Speaker
12.02.08. trendaz.


US, France Discuss Afghanistan and NATO
31.01.08. voa. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his French counterpart Herve Morin discussed NATO's involvement in Afghanistan during a meeting Thursday at the Pentagon, but neither would provide many details of their talks. VOA's Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon.

Nato at pains to dismiss Afghan tensions
07.02.08. BBC. "We are studying several options." French Defence Minister Herve Morin.
The Financial Times
reports, also on 7 February, that Morin said, “I’ve said we’ll help the Canadians.”

French minister calls for more aggressive reforms in NATO structure
10.02.08. Xinhuanet. .. Welcoming NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer's reform efforts, Morin said NATO has been overstaffed and requires a sharptrim. According to Morin, the trans-Atlantic military bloc has 22,000full-time employees, and nearly 320 committees or subcommittees, with some carrying the name of "committee on the challenges of modern society" or "food and agriculture committee."

Training mission will also mean casualties, French envoy warns
12.02.08. M. Blanchfield , Canwest News Service. France, with 1,100 troops responsible of the security of Kabul, recently bolstered its contribution to the NATO's training efforts by sending a small team to the southern Afghanistan province of Uruzgan.

France to hold Afghanistan aid conference in June: EU official
21.02.08. eubusiness.

France ponders grand engagement in Afghanistan, experts say


Georgia asks NATO for membership action plan
15.02.08. itar-tass.

Georgia Applies for Official NATO MAP


NATO and Israel: Instruments of America's Wars in the Middle East
29.01.08. Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, global research. NATO’s Role in the Middle East War Theater; Paris and Berlin reveal their functions in the “Global War on Terror”; The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative: Entrapping the Palestinians in Mecca and via a Gaza-West Bank Split; The Annapolis Peace Summit: Foreshadowing events yet to Come; Lebanon Déjà Vu: Internationalization of the Gaza Strip by NATO?; Israel: The De Facto Arm of NATO; Creating Barriers in the Palestine Territories: Calculated Steps for the Future?; Creating Additional Barriers between Lebanon and Israel; Regional War Scenario: Israeli Preparations for a Retaliatory Missile Storm; Does a Link exist between Talks of a Palestinian Nation and War?; NATO-Israeli War Consultation at NATO Headquarters in Brussels; In 2007 NATO gave Israel the “Green Light” to start a war with Iran at an Undisclosed Time; Israel will be protected by NATO in a war scenario with Iran and Syria; Israel Working to Shape Strategic Atmosphere and Environment: But for Whom?; Nuclear Armageddon in the Middle East: Israel to target the Arab World and Iran with Nukes?; Osirik/Osiriq Déjà Vu: Israeli Attack against Iran in the Works?; Israel: An Instrument of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East

US military aid to Israel for 2009: $2.55 billion
05.02.08. Ran Dagoni, Globes/uruknet. Israel may use up to 25% for military equipment and arms from local defense industries. .. According to the new US-Israel aid plan, Israel will receive a total of $30 billion in military aid over the next ten years starting in 2009, with the amounts gradually increasing from $2.55 billion to a ceiling of $3.1 billion as of 2013 and throughout the plan. The provision of the funds is subject to US congressional approval, as are all budgetary laws.

Israel, US discuss W. Bank NATO troops
20.02.08. jpost.


Norway unable to meet US request for increasing troops in Afghanistan
02.02.08. Norwegian Minister of Defense Espen Barth Eide said that in the light of his country's 2008 military strategy, Norway could not make any significant increase to its participation in Afghanistan, noting that NATO members were satisfied with his country's contribution to combat operations and logistic reinforcement. Eide said that there were 500 Norwegian troops in Afghanistan at presented and that an additional 150 of the special force would be dispatched in March, noting that they would be stationed in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Norway Closes Kabul Embassy After Threat
10.02.08. casperstartribune. Norway closed its embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul Sunday because of "terror threats," a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said. Norway currently has around 500 soldiers in Afghanistan, with another 200 set to leave for the war-torn country next month and some 150 to return home before the summer ( Xinhuanet, 18.02.08.)

Norway to send troops to southern Afghanistan
26.02.08. Xinhuanet. The fresh troops, including 50 Norwegian officers and soldiers, will be sent to Afghanistan in October to help training the Afghan troops, the minister told the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK. … The missions will last for up to three months, she added.


Putin uses keynote speech to attack US and NATO
09.02.08. euronews. Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of launching a new arms race.

Threat of gas cutoff, NATO tensions cloud Ukrainian leader's visit to Moscow
11.02.08. AP. … And his [president, Ukraine] talks with President Vladimir Putin promise to be further clouded by Ukraine's push to join NATO, its accession to the World Trade Organization ahead of Russia and the investigation into Yushchenko's dioxin poisoning, which he complains Moscow is stalling.

Join Nato and we'll target missiles at Kiev, Putin warns Ukraine
12.02.08. Guardian / ICH. .. If Kiev agrees to sign up to Nato, it could host US anti-missile defences on Ukrainian soil.

U.S. pushing to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO
13.02.08, IHT. Despite fierce objections from Russia, the United States is pushing NATO to start membership negotiations with Ukraine and Georgia at an alliance summit meeting in Bucharest in April, diplomats said Wednesday.

Putin: Russia could aim nuclear missiles at Ukraine if it joins NATO
15.02.08. kyivpost. It was Putin's strongest warning to date against Kyiv's efforts to join the Western alliance. Speaking Tuesday at a news conference in Moscow after holding four hours of talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Putin said that Ukraine's aspirations to join NATO would restrict its sovereignty.

Putin Agrees to Go to NATO Summit
13.02.08. themoscowtimes. President Vladimir Putin will attend a NATO summit in April, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday. The Bucharest meeting will be the first time a Russian leader has taken part in a NATO summit since Rome in 2002. Putin's decision to accept NATO's invitation came as a surprise, given his bristling criticism of the alliance. Most recently, Putin lashed out at NATO in a speech Friday to a session of the State Council. He noted that some NATO member states were increasing their defense expenditures and that "NATO is expanding, nearing the borders of the Russian Federation."


Sweden's defense minister says joining NATO would be natural
16.02.08. IHT.


Switzerland ends military mission in Afghanistan
23.02.08. "The two Swiss officers could no longer carry out their mission effectively because of the measures taken by the troops for their own protection," the ministry said in a press release.


Ukrainian defense minister reaffirms ambition to join NATO despite domestic tensions
07.02.08. AP / IHT.

On 29 February, there were two following google headines. Take your pick:
1. Ukraine likely to join NATO MAP at Bucharest summit
2. US Ambassador: Ukraine not ready for NATO

NATO not Considering Ukraine at This Time

8. US-Nato Coalition (Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, UK)


"I have to say the West isn't pursuing a coherent strategy in Afghanistan," the newly appointed defense minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, said by telephone Tuesday au.14.02.08.

New report on Afghanistan calls for 'grand bargain' between EU and US
“Most EU governments have only made a symbolic contribution to the military effort in Afghanistan, the report says. For example, Austria has contributed three soldiers, Ireland seven, Luxembourg nine, Slovakia 70 and Slovenia 66. Latvia, Cyprus and Malta are the only EU countries not to have any troops in Afghanistan. In contrast the UK has 7,000 troops. Mr Fitzgibbon told a weekend closed-door meeting of NATO defence ministers in Lithuania that Australia, as a key contributor of troops to Afghanistan, wanted a say in NATO's decision-making. The defence minister also criticised the former Howard Government for sending - with no questions asked - Australian troops to war in Afghanistan.

West will never beat Taliban, Rudd warned
30.01.08. Matt Wade Herald, ICH. A FORMER head of Pakistan's military intelligence says Australia's troop deployment in Afghanistan is doomed to failure and has urged the Government to withdraw its forces as quickly as possible.

Australian role in NATO talks
11.02.08. [Defence minister} Mr Fitzgibbon told a weekend closed-door meeting of NATO defence ministers in Lithuania that Australia, as a key contributor of troops to Afghanistan, wanted a say in NATO's decision-making. The defence minister also criticised the former Howard Government for sending - with no questions asked - Australian troops to war in Afghanistan.

Australia criticizes NATO over Afghanistan strategy
12.02.08. IHT. Australia wants a major reconsideration of Western strategy in Afghanistan and will not increase troop levels in the country until "underperforming" NATO countries shoulder their fair share of the burden, the Australian defense minister said Tuesday.

Australia to send military trainers to Afghanistan
19.02.08. Reuters / wiredispatch. But Fitzgibbon ruled out increasing Australia's overall military contribution to Afghanistan, saying Australia would maintain its reconstruction team and special forces, both working in the restive Oruzgan province.

Australia pledges to keep troops in Afghanistan for long-term
22.02.08. xinhuanet.

Australia could buy US fighter jets
24.02.08. smh. United States Defence Secretary Robert Gates says he will investigate whether Australia will ever be able to buy the Lockheed F-22 Raptor jet fighters. Currently an Act of US Congress bars any foreign sales of what is believed to be the most advanced combat plane in the world.


Canada threatens to pull soldiers from Afghanistan
26.01.08. wiredispatch. Canada will pull its 2,500 troops out of Afghanistan early next year unless NATO sends in significant reinforcements, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday, signaling Ottawa has lost patience with what it sees as foot-dragging by allies.

Tories mount failed search for choppers
30.01.08. nationalpost. Canada has been quietly, and unsuccessfully, scrambling to secure a handful of desperately needed medium-lift helicopters for Afghanistan, Canwest News has learned.

Forces to lease long-range UAVs
30.01.08. The Canadian Forces will lease unmanned aerial vehicles for the Afghanistan mission and is in discussions with the U.S. government for early delivery of Chinook helicopters.

Canadian death toll in Afghanistan: 78 soldiers, one diplomat
30.01.08. (see Deaths, below)

NATO wants Canadian troops in Afghanistan to stay

Canada army chief rejects noncombat Afghan mission
01.02.08. wriedispatch. Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants Canada's 2,500 troops in the southern city of Kandahar to stay in Afghanistan beyond the scheduled end of their mission in February 2009. The opposition Liberals -- who are keeping the government alive in Parliament -- say they will only back an extension if the troops focus solely on training Afghan troops. So far 78 Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan.

Canadian takes command of 12,000 NATO troops
02.02.08. CTV.CA. Canadian Maj.-Gen. Marc Lessard will lead 12,000 NATO soldiers that are part of the Regional Command South, which covers six Afghan provinces. Lessard will be in charge of the Taliban stronghold for the next nine months. The general admits the insurgents are gaining in strength.

Afghan mission tough PR sell
04.02.08. thestar. OTTAWA–Several times a week, senior federal officials gather by phone to plot strategy for pitching the controversial Afghan mission to Canadians. They dial in from defence headquarters, foreign affairs, the RCMP and the Canadian International Development Agency. Sandra Buckler, the prime minister's director of communications, is an occasional participant. Moderated by David Mulroney, the foreign affairs official who leads the Afghanistan task force, the phone calls are a key part of Ottawa's public relations campaign for handling the issues and problems that surround the mission. But as communications campaigns go, this group hasn't been doing a very good job, according to the independent panel that assessed Canada's future in Afghanistan. … "It's not about communications. It's about keeping the press gallery at bay," he said. "Government is no longer in the communications business." … Indeed, the communications effort has been marred by opposition criticisms of cover-ups on sensitive files, such as detainees, and accusations that the Prime Minister's Office takes an active hand in muzzling bureaucrats and cabinet ministers. All issues related to the Afghan mission are vetted through the Privy Council Office, the bureaucratic wing of the Prime Minister's Office. That often means delays that can stretch to days when reacting to fast-developing stories, like the detainee issue.

Canada considers Afghanistan withdrawal
06.02.08. CANADIAN Prime Minister Stephen Harper told French President Nicolas Sarkozy today that Canada will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan unless NATO sends reinforcements, his spokeswoman said.

Canadians fired almost five million bullets in Afghanistan in two years

Much remains to be done in Kandahar
08.02.08. Brian Hutchinson , Canwest News Service. "My men don't want to come back after 2009," said the captain, a grizzled army veteran.

Canada's Afghan NATO crisis PM's fault for denying need to end combat: Dion
11.02.08. canadianpress.

Canadians Reject Extending Afghan Mission
11.02.08. Angus Reid Global Monitor. 58 per cent of respondents disagree with allowing the mission to continue beyond February 2009. In addition, 61 per cent think the current government has not effectively explained the mission in Afghanistan.

Web warning issued for soldiers in Afghanistan
15.02.08. thestar. Innocent photos and reports to families can provide information to insurgents, general says

The Quick and the Dead
18.02.08. E. Margolis, J, Manley, The facts are indisputable: Canada has taken prisoners in Afghanistan and transferred them in circumstances prohibited by the Third Geneva Convention, that Convention governing United Nations Forces in the field, and the United Nations provides the legal cover for what Canada is doing in Afghanistan. I'm looking forward to Rick Hillier's trial in The Hague.

Meanwhile, the Manley Report [.pdf] falls predictably like a dead hand on the tiller of Canadian foreign policy in Afghanistan: we're heading for the rocks, but we should be more frank about the impending shipwreck. The Manley Report begins with a falsehood ("Afghanistan is at war") and goes downhill from there. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is not at war, and it has declared war on no other state. How can Manley, a lawyer, not get this?

Canada to End Afghan Mission in 2011
22.02.08. R. Gillies, AP. Canada's prime minister unveiled a proposal on Thursday to withdraw his country's forces from volatile southern Afghanistan in 2011, a move that largely accedes to opposition demands amid threats of an early election. … Parliament will vote on extending the mission next month — a confidence vote that would trigger early elections if rejected. An agreement would avoid an early election over the issue.

Canada debates Afghanistan troops
26.02.08. BBC. A debate has begun in the Canadian parliament in Ottawa on the future of the country's troops in Afghanistan.

Combat will sometimes be part of mission: MacKay
27.02.08. There will be times after 2009 when Canadian troops will have to be engaged in combat in Afghanistan and the timing of such decisions are best left to commanders on the ground, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Wednesday.

Canada resumes Afghan detainee transfers
29.02.08. globeandmail. Many details of the handovers were kept secret as Canadian officials spoke with reporters via teleconference. They declined to say when the transfers resumed, how many have been transferred, or whether Canada has now emptied the makeshift prison facility at Kandahar Air Field that held a growing number of detainees for almost four months. The transfers halted on Nov. 6, one day after Canadian officials discovered first-hand evidence of torture inside a detention facility operated by the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's feared intelligence service.

$25B spent, but no plan
01.03.08. editorial, the star. Defence spending, currently $19 billion, will rise to $30 billion by 2031, not $27 billion as expected, thanks to a budget top-up. Ottawa also plans to spend $720 million on a polar icebreaker. Afghanistan gets $100 million more this year. Foreign aid will reach $5 billion by 2010, as planned, up from about $4 billion. Yet … the government has yet to provide a rationale for much of this spending.


Germany has the third biggest economy in the world. Over the last few years, they have strengthened ties with Russia and made agreements that will satisfy their long-term energy needs. But German involvement in Afghanistan has put a strain on relations with Moscow. .. Eventually, German leaders will see that its foolish to tweak the nose of the people who provide them with energy (Russia) just to support Washington's adventures. Mike Whitney

Berlin Rejects Washington Call for Troops on Taliban Front
01.02.08. Spiegel / ICH. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and senior members of her government are rejecting a call by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to send Bundeswehr combat troops to Taliban hotspots in Afghanistan. Merkel's spokesman says the existing Afghanistan mandate is not open for discussion.

Merkel Says Germany Making an `Important Contribution' to NATO
07.02.08. Bloomberg. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany is making an ``important contribution'' to NATO's operations in Afghanistan, rejecting U.S. calls to deploy combat troops to fight Taliban insurgents in the south of the country.

Nato at pains to dismiss Afghan tensions
07.02.08. BBC. he [German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung] made it clear that Germany was not able to deploy combat troops to the south. "Within Nato, we have agreed on a reasonable share-out of tasks, which in my view is very wise," said Mr Jung in Vilnius. "I think our contribution in Afghanistan is sufficient." .. [Thomas Raabe, the German defence ministry spokesman] said. "Our allies might think we should do more in Afghanistan, but our message is that we are already the third largest troop-contributing nation and we are doing other things for the whole of Afghanistan."

ROUNDUP: Germany to boost Afghan troops amid NATO split
09.02.08. wiredispatch. After intense pressure from Washington, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government indicated it would seek parliamentary authorization to expand its contingent with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) by 1,000 personnel, from 3,500 to 4,500.

Berlin says it has no plan to boost troops in Afghanistan
12.02.08. Xinhuanet. The German government on Monday denied news reports that it is considering to increase its troop levels in Afghanistan. "There is no such consideration at this time," said Defense Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe at a press conference.

Merkel stands firm on German refusal to deploy to southern Afghanistan
18.02.08. AP / IHT. Germany's Afghan mission is governed by a parliamentary mandate that is due for renewal in the fall. It caps the maximum number of troops at 3,500 and limits them to the country's relatively calm north.


Italy questions its involvement in Afghanistan
14.02.08. eueropecourrierint. After the death of an Italian soldier on February 13th in Afghanistan, Franco Venturini considers the presence of Italian troops in this country.


Half-trained troops to fight the Taleban
31.01.08. timesonline. Nearly 1,000 new army recruits face having their combat training cut by half so that they can be rushed to the battlefields of Afghanistan. The “exceptional” measure is being proposed by senior officers to meet a serious shortage in manpower,

Iraq veterans are denied help for combat trauma
03.02.08. Mark Townsend, Observer. Hundreds of veterans, including many who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, are being denied vital help by the government to cope with the psychological fallout of war.

Psyop assault
04.02.08. Timesonline.

Secret UK Taliban plan angers Kabul
03.02.08, Financial Times. Kabul had no knowledge of attempts to persuade fighters to switch sides and train to fight in local militias until the plan was exposed last December, they said. .. Electronic documents outlining the scheme were found on a team of western and Afghan officials detained in Helmand province in late December. .. Mervyn Patterson, a United Nations political officer, and Michael Semple, deputy head of the European Union mission in Afghanistan, who were in the team, were ordered to leave the country on December 25 for “threatening national security”.

Revealed: British plan to build training camp for Taliban fighters in Afghanistan
04.02.08. Jerome Starkey, Independent. Britain planned to build a Taliban training camp for 2,000 fighters in southern Afghanistan, as part of a top-secret deal to make them swap sides, intelligence sources in Kabul have revealed. The plans were discovered on a memory stick seized by Afghan secret police in December. The Afghan government claims they prove British agents were talking to the Taliban without permission from the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, despite Gordon Brown's pledge that Britain will not negotiate.

Sickness thins the ranks of troops on front line
04.02.08. Thomas Harding, Telegraph. Almost 7,000 infantrymen are unfit to fight, leaving front-line troops "dangerously exposed," figures show today. … Troop shortages are so acute that at least six battalions are being sent to do the job of four battalions when the next brigade deploys to Afghanistan this spring, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. Commanding officers waiting for reinforcements for infantry units in Helmand have been told to wait until 17-year-old soldiers turned 18, the legal landmark to qualify for the battlefield. … For at least a year, military chiefs have been aware that the strain of two substantial missions in Iraq and Afghanistan would prove a massive drain on manpower and now the Armed Forces are at the very limit of being able to provide personnel for the front line. … The Ministry of Defence was told in a critical Commons defence committee report that the Forces were losing large numbers of experienced personnel fed up with constantly being away from home. … The seriousness of the shortages is highlighted in the spring deployment to Afghanistan, which will be announced in Parliament this week.

Petition against the nomination of Tony Blair as "President of the European Union
As of 4 March ‘08, 24, 376 people had signed this petition.

Blair, EU president? Non, merci
05.02.08. N. Clark, Guardian. As president of the European council, Tony Blair would effectively neuter Europe as a global power. We can't let it happen.

Sarkozy and Mandelson 'strike a deal to get top EU job for Blair'
02.03.08, daily mail. Nicolas Sarkozy is backing Tony Blair's campaign to become the first President of Europe in return for the way Peter Mandelson secretly helped him win the French Presidency, it was claimed last night.

Extra firepower sent to Afghanistan as UK digs in
06.02.08. Richard Norton-Taylor/Ian Traynor, Guardian. · Record deployment of paratroopers· Country may be sliding to civil war. A fresh British force with extra firepower is to be sent to Afghanistan as the US intensifies pressure on other European allies in an increasingly urgent attempt to prevent the country from collapsing into civil war. In what is being described as a "critical week" for Nato's role in Afghanistan, the British move, due to be announced today, shows that the government is prepared to maintain a significant military presence there despite severe pressure on its already overstretched army. … In London today, Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, will have talks with David Miliband, the foreign secretary, in what an official called "an important window to step up the international community's game". … The Rice-Miliband talks also come on the eve of a Nato defence ministers' meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, which will be dominated by the burgeoning crisis in Afghanistan. … Nato officials sought to put a positive spin on the campaign and depict the security failings as a local problem.

Brown and Rice Meeting to Focus on Afghanistan War
06.02.08. Bloomberg.

Who is right on Afghanistan?
15.02.08. C. Foley, Guardian. Both Polly Toynbee and Seumas Milne have offered strategies for what to do next, but the view on the ground is somewhat different. … When it comes to analysis, though, I think they are both wrong. I cannot see any grounds for thinking that doing "more, more, more" of what has already failed is going to be successful. Equally to argue that the "withdrawal of foreign forces" is the "only chance for peace" is to misunderstand the nature of the conflict.

Bite the Bullet
16.02.08. TimesonLine. The Government must properly equip the troops it sends to war. Rarely has a coroner criticised a government department in such scathing terms, or more damningly, and directly blamed dithering in Whitehall for a soldier's death. But the assistant coroner in Oxford, conducting the inquest into the death of Captain James Philippson in Afghanistan in 2006, said yesterday that the failure to supply him with basic equipment was “unforgivable and inexcusable” and constituted a breach of trust by the Ministry of Defence.

Comment: In the face of death, they deserved more than this
16.02.08. M. Evans, TimesonLine. . The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have forced the Ministry of Defence to face up to the realities of counter-insurgency warfare. The provision of the right equipment has been ad hoc, often delayed and frequently too late to prevent tragedies on the battlefield. No war can be fought without casualties. There is no such thing as 100 per cent protection for the troops. Even if every soldier went into battle in armour-plating, there would always be an Achilles’ heel for the enemy to exploit.

Troops will fight Taliban without vital Chinooks
17.02.08. S. Rayment, Telegraph / anti-war. British troops serving in southern Afghanistan have been warned that no extra Chinook helicopters will be made available for at least 12 months, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

Armed Forces employ 7,000 foreigners
17.02.08. Telegraph. Some 2,030 are from the small nation of Fiji. There are 880 South Africans, 790 Ghanaians and 600 Zimbabweans. The MoD figures exclude the 3,700 Nepalese Ghurkhas serving in the Army. More than 6,000 of the Commonwealth personnel are soldiers in the Army, which is already 3,800 short of its desired manning levels because of soldiers leaving. … In 2000, there were only 820 Commonwealth soldiers in the Army, meaning levels have risen tenfold since the start of operations in Afghanistan.

MoD ‘donkeys’ dither over military spending
24.02.08. business timesonline. Due to the unhappy coincidence [sic] of expensive commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan and the planned start of several big programmes, the Ministry of Defence has money problems. It needs to save £2 billion over the next two years.

Harry is One of Our Boys
29.02.08. The Sun. .. The 23-year-old Household Cavalry lieutenant killed up to 30 of the enemy on his frontline tour by directing at least THREE air strikes. [he wants to go back and kill more Afghans]

Afghanistan: Prince Harry To Be Pulled Out Of Combat Zone
29.02.08. rferl.

Harry's War': The ugly truth
0 2.03.08. L. Docherty, Independent. In September 2006, British forces attacked and occupied what was until that point a thriving agricultural town. This means that the local farmers, who are poor cash-croppers exploited by opium barons, grow a great deal of poppy. But the British arrival, as in other towns across Helmand, brought nothing but military might – no means of development, no improvement in local living standards and no alternative to the poppy. The most basic tenets of counter-insurgency were abandoned in the Army's haste to see action. Violence ensued as poppy farmers and opium traffickers teamed up with the Taliban to oppose the foreign occupiers. As the first British bombs fell, killing Afghan civilians, the battle for hearts and minds was lost. The fighting rages still and opium production has soared to new heights. Overwhelming firepower (the kind that Harry co-ordinates) cannot resolve the fact that the British campaign in Helmand is illogical; we are trying to fight our way to winning hearts

9. Human Rights


Visas for War Zone Translators Halted
29.02.08. Walter Pincus, Washington Post/truthout. "The State Department has stopped processing the applications of 551 Iraqi and Afghan translators seeking special visas to come to the United States, because the current legal quota of 500 visas for the program this year is about to be reached, according to department officials.... The halt is the latest obstacle for many of the several thousand translators who have worked for US military units in Iraq and Afghanistan, risking their lives and leaving their families vulnerable to retaliation from insurgents who see them as accomplices of American troops."


Veterans Not Entitled to Mental Health Care, US Lawyers Argue
05.02.08. Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle/truthout. Veterans have no legal right to specific types of medical care, the Bush administration argues in a lawsuit accusing the government of illegally denying mental health treatment to some troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mounting social distress among returning US troops
07.02.08. Naomi Spencer, WSWS / legitgov. A number of recent reports shed further light on the growing social and public health crisis among US veterans. After serving tours in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of troops are returning wounded and psychologically traumatized from the experience. With their needs frequently ill met by the military medical system and confronted with a collapsing economy, data suggest the most disturbed are committing suicide and violent crimes, and suffering homelessness, addiction, and mental illness in record numbers.

See also: War Torn (13.01.08, NY Times): The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war.

333,000 US Casualties: Are They Covered?
14.02.08. Maya Schenwar, t r u t h o u t. As Iraq and Afghanistan war casualties soar to unprecedented levels, Bush's 2009 Veterans Affairs' budget comes up short. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will treat about 333,000 sick and injured veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in 2009, according to VA statistics released last week. That number is a 14 percent increase over this year's casualty total. Yet, despite the Bush administration's promises to prioritize the VA even as other domestic departments' funds are cut, its annual budget request for next year places more financial burdens than ever on many returning soldiers.

Report From a US Military Outpost in Afghanistan
24.02.08. E.Rubin, New York Times/truthout. "I went to Afghanistan last fall with a question: Why, with all our technology, were we killing so many civilians in air strikes? ... After a few days, the first question sparked more: Was there a deeper problem in the counterinsurgency campaign? More than 100 American soldiers were killed last year, the highest rate since the invasion. Why were so many more American troops being killed? To find out, I spent much of the fall in the Korengal Valley and elsewhere in Kunar province alongside soldiers who were making life-and-death decisions almost every day - decisions that led to the deaths of soldiers and of civilians."

Taxi to the Dark Side

Winter Soldiers: 12 – 16 March, Washington, D.C.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans to Detail War Crimes in Upcoming Hearings
06.02.08. Dennis Rahkonen, uruknet. This spring, Iraq Veterans Against the War is revealing the reality of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. In what will be history’s largest gathering of U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Iraqi and Afghan survivors, eyewitnesses will share their experiences in a public investigation called Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan.

Vets Break Silence on War Crimes
29.02.08. Aaron Glantz, US veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are planning to descend on Washington from Mar. 13-16 to testify about war crimes they committed or personally witnessed in those countries. .. "The majority of the American people are very dissatisfied with the Iraq war now and would be happy to get out of it. But Americans are bred deep into their psyches to think of America as a good country and, I think, much harder than just the hurdle of getting troops out of Iraq is to get Americans to realize the terrible things we do in the name of the United States."

More on Pacifica's Live Winter Soldier Broadcast
The veterans also want to stress the similarities between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The exact same units that are getting the exact same training and the exact same orders are getting sent to both Iraq and Afghanistan," explains Perry O'brien, a former US Army Medic who became a conscientious objector after his tour in Afghanistan. "What we're seeing is a lot of similarities between practices in both countries and both are equally criminal."

"Something that I personally witnessed and that I'm going to be submitting testimony on is the use of civilian corpses for medical practice," he added. "When a patient would die we would hear over the PA system we would hear an announcement through the clinc saying 'Who wants to learn how to do a chest tube?' or 'Who wants to know what a human heart looks like?' Rather than giving the proper treatment of the dead, the body would become a cadaver for medical practice with no consent from the victim."

Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan


See US Martial Law and Updates

Rendition, Guantanamo and Torture are always covered in the Human Rights section of Index on Afghanistan. However, February saw a huge amount of material on these subjects which are now the focus in separate blog, Robicheaux's Nightmare: US Rendition, Guantanamo, Torture in February 2008

More on US torture here.

10. Some US-NATO Deaths


Bearing the burden: ISAF casualties in Afghanistan


78 Canadian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2002
Canadianpress (02.02.08)

Details on Canadian military deaths:

* 2002 - 4 (all died in one friendly fire incident)
* 2003 - 2 (one incident; a landmine outside Kabul)
* 2004 - 1
* 2005 - 1
* 2006 - 36 (Canada took over the Kandahar mission in earnest in February 2006; there was heavy combat, particularly in the fall. Thirteen died in roadside bombings or suicide attacks)
* 2007- 30 (24 died in roadside bombings)
* 2008 - 4 (to Jan. 23; all are roadside bombings)

Canadian death toll in Afghanistan: 79 soldiers, one diplomat
02.03.08. canadianpress.


Denmark loses another soldier in Afghanistan
25.02.O8. timesofindia. Denmark lost its 10th soldier in Afghanistan when a 21-year-old was killed accidentally during training in southern Helmand province, the Danish military said.


Italian soldier dies in Afghanistan
13.02.08. gulftimes.


2 Polish Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan
27.02.08. AP.





Eighty-seven UK service personnel have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, most of them in the past two years, writes the Guardian 02.02.08

MoD criticised for soldier deaths
15.02.08. BBC. Two coroners have criticised the government over the deaths of three soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

British NATO soldier killed in Afghanistan
18.02.08. AFP. The soldier from the 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment died on Sunday, it said in a statement, adding that the injuries of the other casualty were "not life-threatening."

British Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan
21.02.08. AP. The ministry said the death brought to 89 the number of British service members killed in Afghanistan.


“Another example of hidden costs is the understating of US military casualties. The Defense Department's casualty statistics focus on casualties that result from hostile (combat) action - as determined by the military. Yet if a soldier is injured or dies in a night-time vehicle accident, this is officially dubbed "non combat related" - even though it may be too unsafe for soldiers to travel during daytime. In fact, the Pentagon keeps two sets of books. The first is the official casualty list posted on the DOD website. The second, hard-to-find, set of data is available only on a different website and can be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.” Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, The Three Trillion-Dollar War, The Times of London UK/truthout. 23.02.08.

Close to 73,000 American servicemen and women have been killed, wounded, injured or fallen in ill the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another 263,000 have received treatment from the VA. 245,000 have filed a disability claim. These are not numbers the warmongers in Washington want everyone to know. Aaron Glantz

“ … nearly 500 U.S. troops have perished in America's "forgotten war." Time , 31.01.08



US soldier suicides reach a record high
01.02.08. timesonline. Suicides among serving American soldiers reached a record high last year, as more troops were sent back for multiple tours of the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The findings are contained in an internal military report that concludes that the army was utterly unprepared for the psychological fall-out from fighting two parallel and demanding insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both conflicts have continued far longer and at a far higher intensity than was planned for, with many troops now returning for their third or fourth deployment in six years or less, as an overstretched military struggles to staff its battlefields. Colonel Elspeth Ritchie, the army's top psychiatrist and the author of the report, saod that the trend would continue upwards unless there was a serious rethink of a mental-health programme that was not designed to cope with the demands of the current conflicts — or indeed, any conflict at all. … Critics say that the new report highlights not merely the need for more reform, but raises fundamental questions over whether the US Army, with only 500,000 active duty members, can continue to cope with the levels of its commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Soldier Suicides Reach Record Level, Study Shows
31.01.08. Dana Priest, Washington Post / Truthout. the "Army was unprepared for the high number of suicides and cases of post-traumatic stress disorder among its troops, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have continued far longer than anticipated. Many Army posts still do not offer enough individual counseling and some soldiers suffering psychological problems complain that they are stigmatized by commanders. Over the past year, four high-level commissions have recommended reforms and Congress has given the military hundreds of millions of dollars to improve its mental health care, but critics charge that significant progress has not been made." … Last year, 121 soldiers took their own lives, nearly 20 percent more than in 2006.

Suicide by Guard, Reserve Troops Studied
12.02.08. AP/Truthout. National Guard and Reserve troops who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan make up more than half of veterans who committed suicide after returning home from those wars, according to new government data obtained by The Associated Press. A Department of Veterans Affairs analysis of ongoing research of deaths among veterans of both wars, obtained exclusively by The AP, found that Guard or Reserve members were 53 percent of the veteran suicides from 2001, when the war in Afghanistan began, through the end of 2005. The research, conducted by the agency's Office of Environmental Epidemiology, provides the first demographic look at suicides among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who left the military - a situation that veterans and mental health advocates worry might worsen as the wars drag on. Military leaders have leaned heavily on Guard and Reserve troops in the wars. At certain times in 2005, members of the Guard and Reserve made up nearly half the troops fighting in Iraq. Overall, they were nearly 28 percent of all U.S. military forces deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan or in support of the operations, according to data from the Defense Department through the end of 2007. … According to the VA's research, 144 veterans committed suicide from the start of the war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, through the end of 2005. Of those, 35 veterans, or 24 percent, served in the Reserves and 41, or 29 percent, had served in the National Guard. Sixty-eight - or 47 percent - had been in the regular military.

Lack of Blast-Resistant Vehicles Cost Marine Lives
15.02.08. AP /truthout. Hundreds of U.S. Marines have been killed or injured by roadside bombs in Iraq because Marine Corps bureaucrats refused an urgent request in 2005 from battlefield commanders for blast-resistant vehicles, an internal military study concludes.

DoD Reports 414 Afghan-Area US Deaths
02.02.08. AP.

Army Sgt. James Healy, 25, Hesperia; killed by roadside bomb in Afghanistan
24.02.08. LA Times.

Korenghal Valley

Report From a US Military Outpost in Afghanistan
24.02.08. E.Rubin, New York Times/truthout. "I went to Afghanistan last fall with a question: Why, with all our technology, were we killing so many civilians in air strikes? ... After a few days, the first question sparked more: Was there a deeper problem in the counterinsurgency campaign? More than 100 American soldiers were killed last year, the highest rate since the invasion. Why were so many more American troops being killed? To find out, I spent much of the fall in the Korengal Valley and elsewhere in Kunar province alongside soldiers who were making life-and-death decisions almost every day - decisions that led to the deaths of soldiers and of civilians."

11. Future Deaths

Top-secret Livermore anti-germ lab opens
02.02.08. David Perleman, sfgate. A high-security laboratory where deadly microbes are being grown by scientists seeking defenses against terrorist attacks began operating in Livermore last week without public announcement, and opponents said Friday that they will go to federal court in an effort to close the facility down.

StratCom: The Most Dangerous Place on the Face of the Earth
04.02.08. David Swanson, After Downing Street. Details of April conference and the GLOBAL NETWORK AGAINST WEAPONS & NUCLEAR POWER IN SPACE

Sun May Set on a Project That Monitored Biological-Weapons Research
08.02.08. citizensedproject. The Sunshine Project, an arms-control group that monitors biological-weapons research, much of it taking place at universities, has suspended its operations. The group has recently been something of a thorn in the side of some universities. Examples given.

Three-year-old Xuan Minh, believed to be suffering from the effects of Agent Orange,
looks out from his hospital bed in Ho Chi Min. Photo Richard Vogel/AP

Your Tax Dollars In Action: DU Birth Deformities Forever For Afghan Babies
Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, PhD

Agent of suffering
10.02.08. Tom Fawthrop, Guardian / uruknet. A third generation of Vietnamese are suffering deformities caused by US chemical warfare and still Washington refuses to accept responsibility

Senators Demand Tighter Controls on US Nuclear Weapons
12.02.08. Congressional Quarterly. Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday insisted that the Air Force fix what Defense Department officials described as the U.S. military's loss of focus in safeguarding its nuclear weapons.


Sarah Meyer is a researcher living in the United Kingdom


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12. References

Many of the chapter headings in this Index Research are also in the following articles on Afghanistan. I first started tracking the US ‘war on terror’ in Afghanistan on 26 May 2005. The first research included all PNAC involvement with Afghanistan prior to the US invasion.

Index on Afghanistan (May to August 2006)

Index on Afghanistan : September 2006

Index on Afghanistan : October 2006

Index on Afghanistan : November 2006

Index on Afghanistan : December 2006

Index on Afghanistan : January 2007

Index on Afghanistan : February 2007

Index on Afghanistan : March 2007

Index on Afghanistan: April 2007: Murder in Nangarhar

Dead in Afghanistan: May 2007

Index on Afghanistan: May 2007 Part I

Index on Afghanistan: May 2007: Part II - NATO; Human Rights

Schisms: Index on Afghanistan, August 2007

Autumn '07 in Afghanistan


Further articles on Afghanistan & NATO:

Afghanistan: Cleared of Wrongdoing

Security Companies in Afghanistan , 7 November 2007

Robicheaux's Nightmare: US Rendition, Guantanamo, Torture in February 2008

US-NATO 'Missile Shield' Programme: Index Timeline 06.08.07: (updated continuously)

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO): Index Timeline: "NATO OF THE EAST". 16.10.07: (updated continuously)

NATO: The Bathtub of Unreadiness

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