Poland to Increase Afghanistan Troops?

The Polish daily Gazeta (via Nicolas Gros-Verheyde) is reporting that Poland is planning to send 400 more troops to Afghanistan. That might seem like good news for an Obama administration that has been lowering its expectations for European troop increases. (And yes, any good news on European troop increases will number in the hundreds, not the thousands.) But the reason why the Poles are likely to send the reinforcements is cause for some concern:

The 1,600 Polish troops in Ghazni province are in for an exceptionallystormy spring and summer. U.S. forces will be pushing the Taliban out ofthe Kabul region and the south of the country. Lacking any other route,the Taliban will be retreating to the Polish-controlled Ghazni province.

“I’ve just warned the Polish commanders that they’ll have their handsfull,” says Col. David Haight, commander of U.S. troops in the provincesWardak and Logar near Kabul.

“We’ll help them only if we can, but my job is to beat and chase awaythe Taliban from under the gates of Kabul. The Poles’ task will be todeal with the insurgents in Ghazni.”

In other words, regardless of initial shows of support by Europeans, the American troop increases and more aggressive counterinsurgency tactics are ultimately going to increase the pressures on European governments to question their Afghanistan deployments. Especially since those deployments are now at peak levels and suffering relatively limited casualties.

The Poles are planning to get more aggressive in their counterinsurgency as well. But the political challenges in Europe of the Afghanistan mission are only going to get worse should the American escalation redirect fighting and casualties into the zones of its less resilient and already reluctant allies.

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