Phi Beta Iota: Zbigniew Brzezinski is doing an enormous amount of damage in his hidden counsel to the White House; if John Hamre replaces Bob Gates in January as has been discussed, this will get worse, not better. Below are a few odds and ends from various contributing editors, consolidated here to avoid beating a dead horse with too many postings. We have not sought to reconcile contradictory points of view, only to honor the importance of listening to diverse points of view. The London Telegraph piece is reproduced in full as it has disappeared from online view.
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Obama’s West Point speech of December 1 represents far more than the obvious brutal escalation in Afghanistan — it is nothing less than a declaration of all-out war by the United States against Pakistan.
Marcus Aurelius Sends: Special Forces Unite To Destroy Taliban Leaders London Sunday Telegraph December 13, 2009 Pg. 2 By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
British and US special forces are set to open a new front in southern Afghanistan in a bid to “break the back” of the Taliban insurgency.
A task force composed of members of British, US and Afghan special forces will be ordered to hunt down and kill or capture senior Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders as part of American-lead Nato surge into southern Afghanistan and the border region of Pakistan.
The operation to “decapitate” the Taliban leadership will begin in earnest in the next few weeks and form part of a series of “shaping operations” prior to a major offensive against key insurgent strongholds in central Helmand.
The British special forces group, called Task Force Crichton, will focus on targeting medium value targets (MVTs) such as Taliban bomb teams and middle-ranking insurgency commanders.
Key to their mission will be the increased use of unmanned predator drones to attack Taliban and al-Qaeda units and headquarters, a covert CIA tactic which has reaped huge dividends in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
It is understood that troops from Task Force Crichton have already killed and captured dozens of middle ranking commanders across southern Afghanistan in a series of operations over the past six months.
Senior sources have said that as well as the 30,000 extra troops promised by US President Barack Obama, “hundreds of special forces troops” will be made available with improved intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capabilities.
The US special forces will be drawn largely from Delta Force, the highly secret unit which has worked closely with the SAS since 2001.
Defence chiefs are hoping that the additional elite troops will emulate the success of Task Force Black, the combined US and British special forces unit which had a string of high profile successes in Iraq, including the killing of al-Qaeda in Iraq's leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Britain has around 500 members of the special forces serving in Helmand from the SAS, the Special Boat Service, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) as well as a collection of intelligence gathering units.
The role of the SFSG has been vital to the success of special forces missions in Helmand. The unit was created in April 2006 and was formed around the 1st battalion The Parachute Regiment and contains elements of both the Royal Marines and the Royal Air Force Regiment.
Over the past three years it has mounted numerous, and increasingly independent, operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
British special forces are based in a secret location which The Sunday Telegraph has decided not to identify, where the SFSG select and train Afghan volunteers to serve in the highly regarded Afghan Territorial Force (ATF).
Those who pass the rigorous selection process, which involves physical training, field craft tactics and weapon skills, are posted to front line units to work closely with British troops, where they are now highly regarded.
The Sunday Telegraph has agreed to an MoD request not to publish further details of the relationship between the ATF and the special forces for fear that security may be compromised.
But one defence source said: “The ATF are in great demand. They have saved dozens of British lives. Every unit in Helmand wants to work with them because they are such a fantastic asset.”
A senior British commander described the surge in special forces troops as “very bad news for the Taliban”.
He added: “The plan is to break the back of the insurgency. We will erode their ability to plan and conduct attacks against Nato troops through a series of very precise special operations. It will be classic behind the lines fighting and we believe it will have a strategic impact in Helmand.”