Monday, November 06, 2006

For a more upbeat view

This headline caught my eye - "I will build more and kill less" - well, it seems hard to argue with that. And the photo makes General Richards (Commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan) look so damned chirpy, it is a bit hard to resist reading on... Anyway, the man is in charge of 31,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan and he has pledged the winter campaign to a focus on development and reconstruction (I heard more about this - Operation Oqab/Eagle - at the PRT Commanders Conference today). The shift focus is premised on the impact of recent intensive security operations in the South resulting in reduced insurgency activity over the winter. I hope the premise holds and I hope that the massive reconstruction projects that will be facilitated by Operation Oqab come off. I know it is his job, but I can't help finding his apparent optimism a little bit infectious and suddenly the pessimistic views of the people he refers to as 'armchair critics' seem a little tawdry and cynical to me. You see what a sucker I am for a bit of good old fashioned PsyOps (I learned today that this is the label given in the military to what we civilians call PR). Of course behind the jolly photo and the upbeat messages is some analysis that seems to me to be so obvious as to defy argument, but which may be a matter of quite serious debate in military circles for all I know. The flash of brilliance is this: "General Richard's tactical switch away from killing Taleban comes as army officers, local officials anddefensee analysts gave warning thatNATO's daily body count of Afghan fighters could be fuelling the insurgency. The lessons of Vietnam suggested that body counts bore no relation to progress in the war, and more often signified the disaffection of the local population, they said." Well, if nothing else this article gives me hope that it might be possible for the military to learn form past mistakes. That in itself is enough to give me feel hopeful about. Meanwhile, my gorgeous bloke arrives in ttomorrowmorw so I'm baking two pumpkin bread loaves tonight to welcome him and provide something for him to offer his staff morning tea. It is a recipe I got off the internet, and I'm baking in the funny wee benchtop oven we have here, so I'm a bit unsure of the results - but it is time to go town and see how things are coming along.

2 comments:

Mary Parker said...

Hello lovely,

That's a nice positive blog. General Richard's sounds great - hopefully there's no catch.

How did the pumpkin loaf go?

xx

M

Anonymous said...

ciao bella

so we meet online as well :-) nice to have another blogger in herat (and also in general very nice to have you around!)

as for the military.... I really like them... I always thought of them as a bit weird, then I was part of the Swiss Army in Kosovo and discovered that besides a lot of crap, they do things in a very solution-oriented and practical way. this is what Afghanistan needs. I am aware that it is not the army alone who will bring peace to this country, but I do put quite some hope into them.

the PRTs, so much mistrusted and seen as disguise for "simply" winning hearts and mind can actually be great tool for cooperation.

hm. I think I just found a topic for another post... there are a lot of thoughts wanting to come out.

enjoy this day (I know you do - the reason for baking pumpkin loaves! :-)