More Russian Boots in Kyrgyzstan

Anyone wondering what the Kyrgyz giveback to Russia would be for extending the U.S. lease at Manas didn’t have to wait long. That base is getting costly, especially since the logic for it ends with the operations in Afghanistan, whereas whatever concessions the Russians get in Kyrgyzstan are likely to have a lot more staying power.

Whack-a-Mole in Afghanistan

Seems like the U.S. isn’t the only one having a bit of difficulty with the “hold” component of “Clear, Hold and Build” in Afghanistan: Taliban fighters are returning to an area in northernAfghanistan just days after being driven off in a combinedAfghan-German military operation. There’s growing concern that theTaliban — and al-Qaida fighters — are forming strongholds in what hadbeen the relatively peaceful north. . . . The reports coming from the Kunduz area raise doubts about thesuccess of Operation Adler. The Afghan Army said it wouldn’t repeat themistake made in past offensives that troops were removed too quickly,enabling the […]

NATO Phone Home

I didn’t see a whole lot new, other than the name of NATO’s secretary general, in this Steven Erlanger interview with Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Afghanistan and Russia are still the alliance’s top priorities, Europe still needs to do more for the former, and the alliance’s rhetoric still doesn’t quite match up to the status quo on the latter. This did catch my eye, though, in response to a question about France’s reintegration of the alliance’s military command: “The French decision has removed a lot of suspicion internally”within NATO, he said. “It opens big and interesting perspectives fortrans-Atlantic relations and the […]

To get a sense of what “complex operations” are, one need look no further than the kind of wars the U.S. fights when it intervenes overseas today. Unlike the total wars of the past, in which the U.S. military battled the national army of an enemy state, today’s struggles for security, stabilization, peace-building, reconstruction, and development in the most fragile states around the world are engaged by several different departments of the U.S. government. That’s it in a nutshell. But clearly, describing it is far easier than doing it. When you listen to how the best minds that are thinking […]

These are nerve-racking times at the Pentagon. For “Big War” adherents, Iraq is not looking like the “one off” that many hoped it would be, as Afghanistan-Pakistan appears to be, if anything, an even harder slog. None of the dominant Big War scenarios are looking good, now that Iran is ever closer to nuclear deterrence, North Korea ever closer to collapse, and Taiwan ever closer to a peace deal with Beijing. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, meanwhile, is locking in a more balanced take on small wars versus large, and the serious Leviathan budget-cutting has begun. Clearly, a tipping point […]

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