Even though senior NATO and Pentagon officials have expressed doubt that Afghan forces will be ready to take over security for the country in 2014, NATO leaders say thery will move ahead with step one of the plan to do just that. Britan, Canada and other allied countries say they do not want to be in a combat role in 2014 and are beginning to phase out their troops. The U.S. says it will begin it\'s withdrawal from Afghanistan next year.
The U.S. apologized Wednesday for a recent helicopter attack that killed two Pakistani soldiers at an outpost near the Afghan border, saying American pilots mistook the soldiers for insurgents they were pursuing. The Associated Press reports the apology, which came after a joint investigation, could pave the way for Pakistan to reopen a key border crossing that NATO uses to ship goods into landlocked Afghanistan. Pakistan closed the crossing to NATO supply convoys in apparent reaction to the Sept. 30 incident.
Pakistan has been using border crossing closures for political signaling, restricting transit to Afghanistan to convey its message that armed helicopter flights in Pakistani airspace cross the line of tolerable US actions. The September 30th helicopter incident and its aftermath have significant implications. First is that the US has found a red line that Pakistan cannot afford to let the US cross. Second, mistakes from drone attacks are more forgivable than helicopter attacks. And third, the Taliban will learn that a week-long cut-off of supplies at border crossing points is enough to spur action by the US to have the border reopened.
Pentagon officials look at ways to expand NATO\'s collective defense tenet, Christian Science Monitor reports.
\"It\'s no exaggeration to say that cyber attacks have become a new form of permanent, low-level warfare,\" says NATO\'s Secretary General.
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After 19 years, India has once again leased a nuclear-powered attack submarine from Russia. The Nerpa, which NATO classifies as an Akula II attack submarine, departed Russian waters on August 20th bound for India. Once the boat arrives, it will be rechristened INS Chakra and begin sea trials. The ten year lease provides time for India to exploit the Akula II for crew training and guidance in constructing its own nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. A squadron of three is planned. The Akula II - and India\'s conventionally powered submarines -- can launch torpedoes and cruise missiles. India has purchased some of the most advanced underwater-launched cruise missiles in existence.
Marine Colonel William Maxwell, director of the joint operation center in Kabul, joined the Federal Drive from Afghanistan with an update
The brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Ahmad Wali Karzai has become a target of NATO --so to speak. British Major General Nick Carter, a top commander in Afghanistan said his plan is to reduce his role in the day-to-day governing of Kandahar. The president\'s brother has been accused of ties to drug traffickers for many years and represents an impediment to transparency in Afghanistan. Carter\'s goals is to see to it that the actual governor of the Kandahar province gets to govern.
The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan said Friday that the coalition depends too much on private-sector contractors, and insisted his forces are keeping close watch on the flow of Taliban fighters who are training in Iran. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, during a four-day visit to France, said the coalition in Afghanistan has become too dependent on private contractors in the effort to stabilize the country.
April 12th and April 14th, 2009 Elizabeth F. Bagley Special Representative for Global Partnerships Office of the Secretary of State Department of State
France will not send any more troops to Afghanistan and wants instead to see an enlarged Afghan army, President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a newspaper interview released on Thursday. The United States is considering sending up to 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and has urged its NATO allies to do something similar. Britain announced this week that it was ready to send 500 more troops but Sarkozy told Le Figaro daily that he was sticking to a long-standing pledge not to send more forces. He said it is necessary to stay in Afghanistan? And to stay to win. \"But France will not send one more soldier.\"