NATO spokesman, General Josef Blotz, a German officer, announced today that, despite the recent violence, insurgents in the Afghanistan warÂ are not gaining ascendancy against international troops. ThisÂ disagrees with the conclusions of a recent Pentagon report which, according to the LA Times, characterized the insurgency as having â€œdeep roots and broad reach, able to withstand repeated U.S. onslaughts and to reestablish its influence, while discrediting and undermining the country's Western-backed government.â€
Furthermore, a UN report last month noted an â€œalarmingâ€ 94 percent increase in improvised explosive attacks in Afghanistan, over 2009.
Various previous investigations have revealed that the Taliban has steadily risen from the ashes of its initial decimation by NATO forces nearly nine years ago. A study released last September by the London-based International Council on Security and Development reported that the Taliban has a "permanent presence" in 80 percent of Afghanistan, up from 72 percent in 2008 and 54 percent in 2007.
So far, there is no hard evidence that the double surge to over 100,000 U.S. troops has had any measurable impact.Â Even the Marja campaign in March, which was originally trumpeted as a success, has become, what ex-commander Stanly A. McChrystal called, a â€œbleeding ulcer.â€
Last week, the Department of Defense released the obituaries of 13 military personnel killed in Afghanistan, ranging in age from 19 to 31. The concern that not enough is being done to combat the destructive impact of improvised explosive devices and to provide a sufficient number of explosive-resistant vehicles (M-RAPS) for the troops, was once again elevated, as such attacks accounted for nearly 80% of the recent deaths.
In addition, six American soldiers were killed yesterday, and their loved ones are, today, hearing that dreaded knock at the door.
Total U.S. deaths in Afghanistan now stand at 1,171, according to the website icasualties.org.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, the carnage foisted on that nation by Americaâ€™s preemptive invasion and occupation has not escaped the dog world. In Baghdad, alone, provincial officials estimate that there are about 1.25 million homeless dogs roaming the area. The solution has been to put them down by shootings and poisonings. In the past three months, 58,000 dogs have been so killed there.
Another unintended result of the Iraq military operation has been to see that nation gradually drawn into Iranâ€™s sphere of influence. This was onceÂ again revealed by an article in Thursdayâ€™s New York Times reporting that, while the United States may be leading the effort to impose new sanctionsÂ against the Islamic Republic, more than a thousand tankers per day, loaded with oil, are illegally snaking over the border from Iraq into Iran.
Americaâ€™s forces in Iraq are now in the process of being reduced to the 50,000 level.Â Â The Department of Defense, last week, released the obituary of one 22-year-old National Guardsman who died there from what were described as non-combat-related injuries. Total U.S. deaths in that theater now amount to 4,412, according to icasualties.org.
President Obama, announced yesterday that the VA is finally easing the rules that have hamstrung soldiers from receiving help for post traumatic stress disorders, one of the two signature injuries of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Reportedly, veterans will no longer be stymied by a requirement to produce evidence that a specific event triggered their disorder. Hopefully, the VA will give priority to implementing this change and will be capable of handling the likely rush of new patients.
Two years ago, the Rand Corporation reported that 300,000 returning service membersÂ claimed symptoms of post-traumatic stress or major depression and that nearly half of them had not sought treatment.
The new change was championed by Congressman John Hall (D-N.Y.).