Maj. Gen. David Grange: The international role
UPDATE: Whenever and if ever a U.N. force comes in, they're going to try to make sure it's heavily Muslim and has U.N. experience. Turkish troops, for one, are always very disciplined, can be easily trusted, know how to adapt to western and especially U.S. armies, and are very much team players. The Jordanians have supplied valuable intelligence and worked with us before. Then they would probably bring in Indonesians, although we'd have to be careful because of all the problems in East Timor.
There will be American units involved, but I think they'll have more of a support role -- civil affairs, engineers, agricultural experts and the like -- with a reaction force ready outside Afghanistan to strike. Just because of who we are, the U.S. has to be leery about putting too big of an American unit in the country.
And by proxy, if for no other reason, the Northern Alliance will try most of the non-Afghan fighters in Afghanistan. They know who they are, and it's easier for them to find and grab them.
IMPACT: You have to be careful to avoid another Somalia when you've got all these tribal units and we get dragged into trying to grab some people who are wanted for acts "against humanity." If we get involved going after different leaders, then we'll end up fighting and turning the Afghan people against us.
One issue arises if the Northern Alliance start executing pro-Taliban. It sounds cold and against American values, but you probably should let it happen, because you can't tell the alliance or the next Afghan government how to run their country. Still, when they're doing stuff like that, we want to stay as far away from it as possible.
Ultimately, you've got to ask: When is our mission over? It had been tied to breaking al Qaeda, breaking the Taliban, and then deterring other countries from harboring or supporting terrorism. I would say that we're just about there. We still want a successful Afghanistan, if for no other reason than to satisfy Pakistan, but I think we can still accomplish that with agricultural aid, advising the government, building schools and providing shelter, food and drinking water.
TACTICS: Even though any international presence doesn't have to be organized by the U.N., and the U.S. could just go right in, we usually try to get U.N. approval -- just to lend credence that we're doing the right thing because the U.N. says it's OK.
(T)he function is to "observe and report." You still have to make sure you can defend yourselves, but what happens sometimes is that people just take the U.N. forces' weapons. Or it could be ... peace enforcement, where you force people to abide by your will -- basically, punishing those who violate whatever agreement is in place. The only way (it) will work, in my opinion, is if you have enough force so people know you can walk your talk. If you go in with just a few units, you'll have people killed or you'll just be blown off.
I almost think this should be ... observe and support, but if I see you come in and try to kill my people or someone else, I'll take action. But you don't have the pressure of forcing people to abide by some agreement.
STRATEGY: One question is: Would we go in after someone, be it a Northern Alliance or Taliban, who committed war crimes during the civil war? Probably not, because that was something that happened before we got involved, and our only reason to be in Afghanistan is because of the terrorists and the attacks on the U.S.
We'd love to let other countries and Muslims provide military support, because the U.S. almost has to save its fighters to take on bigger, harder targets, be it Iraq or the Hezbollah in Lebanon or others.
The Northern Alliance may want to execute more people, but they know the West is watching and they don't want to screw that up -- especially with aid in the balance. You're going to have people asking Western leaders questions like, "They just hung 10 guys, what do you think of that? Is that the kind of new government that we support or want?" Second, they don't have enough people to control the country if the Pashtuns turn on them. Right now, the Northern Alliance has most Pashtun going along with them.
U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark (ret.), a former NATO supreme commander, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. David Grange (ret.) and Air Force Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd (ret.) are serving as CNN military analysts during the war against terror. Their briefings will appear daily on CNN.com.
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