So how can Mr. Obama reconcile the two goals of strengthening the American presence in Afghanistan while curbing Russian expansionism? The answer is to rely less on troops, and more on covert operations like the C.I.A. Covert operators are far more useful for the actual war that we are fighting (and they can carry their supplies on their backs). The primary American interest in Afghanistan, after all, is preventing terrorist groups from using it as a base for training and planning major attacks. Increasing the number of conventional troops will not help with this mission.
WASHINGTON – A classified Pentagon report urges President Barack Obama to shift U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, de-emphasizing democracy-building and concentrating more on targeting Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuaries inside Pakistan with the aid of Pakistani military forces.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has seen the report prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but it has not yet been presented to the White House, officials said Tuesday. The recommendations are one element of a broad policy reassessment under way along with recommendations to be considered by the White House from the commander of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. David Petraeus, and other military leaders.
The Joint Chiefs' report advises a greater emphasis on U.S. military training of Pakistani forces for counter-terror work.
Pakistan's government is well aware of growing U.S. interest in collaborating to improve its military's muscle against al-Qaida and Taliban elements in the border areas. The topic has been broached repeatedly by senior U.S. officials, including Mullen.
The training efforts also would expand and develop the Afghan army and police force, while at the same time work to improve Afghan governance. The report also stresses that Afghan strategy must be driven by what the Afghans want, and that the U.S. cannot impose its own goals on the Afghanistan government.
"Afghanistan is the fourth or fifth poorest country in the world, and if we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Central Asian Valhalla over there, we will lose," Gates said, a mythology reference to heaven.
As protests crackdowns continue, West lines up to sell arms
British, European and US weapons manufacturers are participating in the region's largest arms bazaar, hoping for a share in the world's fastest-growing arms market.
By Praveen Swami, Diplomatic Editor 4:26PM GMT 22 Feb 2011
More than 80 British firms are represented at the ongoing International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi, including BAE, Thales UK and Motorola UK. The firms are offering everything from weapons and communications equipment to parachutes and uniforms.
Lockheed Martin and L-3 communications from the US, France's Renault and Germany's Rhinemetall AG are among other major defence multinationals represented at IDEX.
Now in its 10th year, IDEA has attracted over 1,000 exhibitors this year, most of them from the United States, Britain, France and Germany. European governments have blocked sales of law enforcement equipment, like tear gas grenades, to some countries, but there are few restrictions on the sale of military equipment.
Facing budget cuts at home, western arms firms are desperate for a share of the lucrative Middle East market. "The post-financial crisis reality," said Herve Guillou, president of Cassidian Systems, a subsidiary of European aviation defence group EADS, "is that today it is clearly the Middle East that is seeing the biggest growth." Iran's growing military power has pushed Gulf states into their largest-ever military build up, making purchases worth £76 billion from the US alone in 2010. The largest acquisitions were made by Saudi Arabia, which is spending £41 billion on F-15 fighter jets and upgrades for its naval fleet.
The six Gulf Cooperation Council countries - Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait - along with Jordan will spend another £41 billion on defence in 2011, according to Frost and Sullivan, a research firm.
Libya and Egypt are among the states which have representatives at IDEX. Global Industrial and Defence Solutions, a Pakistani exhibitor, lists Libya as being among the "key customers of our products." Renault also issued a press release before the exhibition, saying it had contracted to supply military trucks to Egypt. Libya's al-Musallah magazine, which covers arms-trade related issues in the country, is also among the exhibitors.
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