Wednesday, May 5, 2010

NATO Afghan operation: FAIL

Operation Moshtarak: Lessons Learned
The International Council on Security and Development: NATO's Operation Moshtarak, launched in February in Helmand province, was the first deployment after the beginning of the much-debated surge of 30,000 additional US troops. It was billed as the largest military operation since the invasion of 2001. The planning for the operation emphasised the needs of the Afghan people, and the importance of winning hearts and minds as part of a classic counter-insurgency operation. However, the reality on the ground did not match the rhetoric...

ICOS field research reveals that Operation Moshtarak has contributed to high levels of anger among local Afghans: 61% of those interviewed feel more negative about NATO forces than before the military offensive... Of those interviewed, 95% believe more young Afghans have joined the Taliban in the last year. 78% of the respondents were often or always angry, and 45% of those stated they were angry at the NATO occupation, civilian casualties and night raids...

95% of Afghans interviewed by ICOS said that the operation had led to new flows of internally displaced people. Thousands of displaced Afghans were forced to move to non-existent or overcrowded refugee camps with insufficient food, medical supplies or shelter. Local aid agencies were overwhelmed, and in some areas were not present at all.

Another issue causing friction with the local population is the lack of an effective or realistic counter-narcotics strategy. Poppy crop eradication -- which took place during the operation -- and a new policy of paying farmers to eradicate their crops themselves, undermines the local economy without putting sustainable alternatives in place. Eradicating the poppy crop is opposed by 66% of Afghans interviewed by ICOS.

59% of those interviewed believed the Taliban will return to Marjah after the Operation. Alarmingly, 67% did not support a strong NATO-ISAF presence in their province and 71% stated they wanted the NATO forces to leave.
Image sources here and here.