There’s a new Afghanistan war plan. Last fall, NATO commander General Stanley McChrystal rolled out more restrictive rules of engagement, heralding a “population-centric” approach to the war. U.S. President Barack Obama announced more U.S. troops. While U.S.-led forces in eastern Afghanistan doubled their efforts to prop up faltering local governance, troops in the south identified Taliban strongholds in Marjah and Kandahar and went on the offensive. “Has the U.S. broken the Taliban’s momentum?” reporter Nathan Hodge asked. Maybe. But there are new risks, too: the Dutch might pull out of a key southern province, and Afghan national leadership remains weak. The war might be going our way, for once, but it’s far from over. David Axe and Greg Scott head to “The ‘Stan” to see for themselves.
by DAVID AXE
The news came as a surprise to most people. In 2008, the BBC revealed that the United Arab Emirates had maintained a small military presence in Afghanistan for five years. The UAE troops worked alongside U.S. and NATO soldiers and helped bridge the religious divide. “At first I thought these were American soldiers and I wanted them to leave,” an Afghan told BBC reporter Frank Gardner, “but when they said they were Muslims I knew they were our brothers.”
Today in Parwan, north of Kabul, UAE operations continue. The Emirates army has partnered with the U.S. Army and the Afghan National Army to build a new provincial “Operational Coordination Center” — a sort of emergency call center for military operations in the area. It doesn’t look like much: a wall, some tents, a few vehicles, but the so-called OCC-P is evidence of a fairly profound partnership, with a “slice of U.S., a slice of ANA and a slice of UAE,” according to Task Force Gladius command Lieutenant Colonel Chris Eubank.
Task Force Gladius helped train the Emirates troops in infantry tactics. “They love it,” said Sergeant Frank Morabito. “But they’re a bit trigger-happy. They always want to shoot stuff. We have to tell them they can’t do that.” The Emirates troops ride in the same Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles that the Americans do.
Axeghanistan ‘10: Big Man
Axeghanistan ‘10: Parwan Patrol Video
Axeghanistan ‘10: Air Bridge Video
Axeghanistan ‘10: Easier by the Day
Axeghanistan ‘10: Moon Shot
Axeghanistan ‘10: Down Side of the Surge
Axeghanistan ‘10: “Now You Know More than You Did Five Minutes Ago”