Welcome to the American Revolution II

Welcome to the American Revolution II
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
"We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method..." and warned about what he saw as unjustified government spending proposals and continued with a warning that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex... The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist... Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."Dwight D. Eisenhower

Sunday, June 14, 2009

U.S. special operations leader takes Afghan command

Gen. Stanley McChrystal takes command of NATO, U.S. forces in Afghanistan

by Jason Straziuso / Associated Press
Monday June 15, 2009, 3:17 AM

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a former commanding general of the Joint Special Operations Command, is now in charge in Afghanistan.

KABUL -- Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a four-star American general with a long history in special operations, took charge of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan today, a change of command the Pentagon hopes will turn the tide in an increasingly violent eight-year war.

McChrystal took command from Gen. David McKiernan during a low-key ceremony at the heavily fortified headquarters of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in central Kabul. McKiernan was fired last month by Defense Secretary Robert Gates one year into a two-year assignment.

McChrystal, a former commanding general of the Joint Special Operations Command, is expected to bring a more unconventional approach to a war that has turned increasingly violent the past three years.

"The Afghan people are at the center of our mission. In reality, they are the mission. We must protect them from violence, whatever its nature. We must respect their religion and traditions," McChrystal said. "But while operating with care, we will not be timid."

McChrystal will command the largest international force ever in Afghanistan. A record 56,000 U.S. troops are in the country, alongside 32,000 forces from 41 other countries.

American troops have poured into Helmand province the last several weeks in an effort to stamp out an insurgency that has a strong hold in the world's largest opium-poppy growing region.

McChrystal met with President Hamid Karzai on Sunday, who warned the American general that the "most important element of the mission" is to protect Afghan civilians.

Civilian casualties during military operations have long been a point of friction between Karzai and the U.S. The most contentious examples of civilian deaths in U.S. military operations in recent years have involved U.S. Special Operations Forces, which McChrystal used to command.

The four-star general has already pledged to reduce the number of Afghan villagers killed in fighting, saying he intends to review U.S. and allied operating procedures with an eye to minimizing civilian deaths.

"Although I expect stiff fighting ahead, the measure of effectiveness will not be enemy killed. It will be the number of Afghans shielded from violence," he said during testimony before Congress this month.

He also said that if he could obtain more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, it would sharpen the precision of allied attacks, thereby avoiding unwanted casualties.

Militant attacks have risen steadily in the last three years and have reached a new high. U.S. Gen. David Petraeus said Afghanistan saw 400 insurgent attacks during the first week of June. In comparison, there were less than 50 attacks per week in January 2004. By Jonathon Burch and Peter Graff
Monday, June 15, 2009; 2:04 AM

KABUL (Reuters) - A veteran commander of top-secret special operations takes charge of the nearly 90,000 U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan Monday, promising to limit the civilian deaths that have cost Western troops Afghan support.

General Stanley McChrystal arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday, a month after being named by President Barack Obama to succeed General David McKiernan, abruptly removed last month from command of a war U.S. officials say is not being won.

"The measure of effectiveness will not be (the number of) enemy killed, it will be the number of Afghans shielded from violence," NATO quoted McChrystal as saying in a statement.

After his arrival, McChrystal met Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who pressed him to avoid civilian casualties, Karzai's office said.

Civilian deaths by foreign troops while hunting the militants, nearly eight years on since the Taliban's ouster, have angered many Afghans and have been the main source of friction between Karzai's government and the United States.

It is an issue both sides have been stressing, especially since a U.S. air strike in May that the Afghan government says killed 140 civilians, mostly children.

Washington acknowledges mistakes in that strike and says 20-35 civilians died along with about 60 people it believes were fighters.

Washington considers Taliban-led insurgencies in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan to be its main security threat, and has begun diverting tens of thousands of troops to Afghanistan from Iraq.

McChrystal takes command midway through a massive build-up of U.S. forces that will see their numbers more than double from 32,000 at the end of 2008 to an anticipated 68,000 by the end of this year.

He also commands about 30,000 troops from other NATO allies.

U.S. forces say the number of insurgent attacks in Afghanistan is at its highest since the militants were driven out of power in retaliation for shielding Osama bin Laden after the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Fighting is expected to intensify over the next months as more U.S. and NATO troops deploy ahead of an August presidential election.

McChrystal's background has raised some eyebrows: for most of the last six years he led a cadre of super-secret U.S. special forces raiders in both Iraq and Afghanistan, tasked mainly with locating, capturing and assassinating insurgent leaders.

Much of his career is classified, and an official biography released by NATO leaves out many details.

But in an interview with the Wall Street Journal this month, he said he had learned that targeted killings, like those he has carried out for much of his recent career, were not enough to defeat an insurgency.

"Since 9/11, I have watched as America tried to first put out this fire with a hammer, and it doesn't work," he said. "Decapitation strategies don't work."

"You're going to have to convince people, not kill them."

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