Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, June 2010
10 NATO Soldiers Killed Amidst Frictions Between Politicians and Military Commanders
June 22, 2010
The following is a news report representing the NATO side of the conflict. The Editor of this publication could not obtain a pro-Taliban news report.
10 dead in Afghanistan as NATO frictions emergeAFP/Graphic – Graphic listing 10 NATO troop deaths on Monday in Afghanistan. Britain on Monday marked its 300th death …
by Patrick Falby Patrick Falby – Tue Jun 22, 2:00 am ET
KABUL (AFP) –
Ten NATO troops were killed in Taliban attacks and a helicopter crash in
Afghanistan as foreign forces marked another grim milestone in the war against the Taliban amid signs of cracks in the alliance.
Monday's deaths, the second time this month that 10 service members have been killed in a single day, came as commanders press on with a campaign to oust the Taliban fighters from their heartland in the southern province of Kandahar.
There was further turmoil for NATO as Britain announced its special envoy to Afghanistan was taking "extended leave," amid reports he had clashed with military officials over strategy.
The departure of Sherard Cowper-Coles, just a month ahead of a crucial international conference in Kabul, also came as apparent evidence of friction emerged in the US command, with General Stanley McChrystal appearing to mock Vice-President Joe Biden in a magazine profile piece.
In Afghanistan, three Australian commandos and a US soldier were killed when their helicopter crashed in Kandahar -- the single worst loss of life for the Australian military in the nearly nine-year Afghan war.
Another two NATO soldiers -- an American and a Canadian -- died in separate bomb explosions in the south, the powerbase of the Taliban militia that is fighting an increasingly deadly insurgency against Western troops.
Three more American soldiers were killed in other attacks, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.
Another ISAF soldier was killed in the south, a spokesman said, without giving further details.
The deaths take to 65 the number of NATO soldiers killed this month, and to 285 for the year, according to an AFP tally.
Britain on Monday marked its 300th death from the conflict when a soldier died from wounds suffered earlier this month.
The mounting NATO toll is unwelcome news in Western capitals where political leaders are under mounting pressure from electorates unwilling to pay the blood price for a far away and seemingly open-ended war.
Much of southern Afghanistan is blighted by the Taliban resistance, now in its deadliest phase since the 2001 US-led invasion ousted the hardline Islamist regime and installed a Western-backed administration, led by Hamid Karzai.
The US military has warned that casualties will inevitably mount as foreign forces build up their campaign to oust the militants from Kandahar, a hotbed of bombings, assassinations and lawlessness.
A surge of troops ordered by US President Barack Obama will see NATO and US numbers peak at 150,000 later this year -- the bulk of them American -- before a drawdown begins next year.
The surge -- the brainchild of McCrystal -- has not been without its critics, including the US ambassador to Kabul, Karl Eikenberry.
Rolling Stone quoted the US general as saying a leaked internal memo from Eikenberry in which he queried the need for more troops on the ground was the first he had heard of the diplomat's doubts about the strategy.
"I like Karl, I've known him for years, but they'd never said anything like that to us before," McChrystal was quoted as telling the magazine.
"Here's one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, " I told you so."
McChrystal is also quoted joking sarcastically about preparing to answer a question referring to Biden, known as a sceptic of the commander's war strategy.
"'Are you asking about Vice President Biden?' McChrystal is quoted as saying. 'Who's that?'"
A spokesman for Britain's Foreign Office announced Sherard Cowper-Coles was taking "extended leave" from his post, which also covers Pakistan.
Foreign Secretary William Hague is to review the post of special envoy to Afghanistan, the BBC reported.
The Guardian newspaper reported there had been serious disagreements in recent months between Cowper-Coles and officials from NATO. It said he was convinced the military-focused counter-insurgency effort was headed for failure and wanted talks with Taliban insurgents to be a priority.
The Taliban Movement however has so far rejected a plan drawn up at a landmark Kabul peace meeting to give jobs and money to those who lay down arms and last month vowed a new campaign of attacks on diplomats, lawmakers and foreign forces.
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