By Ramtanu Maitra
April 2007. Volume 10. Number 35. AAKROSH
On 13 March 2007, while US president George W. Bush was visiting South America, the White House announced its plan to send another 3,500 US troops for deployment in Afghanistan. This will bring the number of US forces there to 27,000, the highest level since 2001. The decision to send more troops to Afghanistan was taken by President Bush himself as “part of the effort to speed up the training and expand the size of the Afghan forces,” said the US national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
In addition to the 27,000 US troops, another 32,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops are already on the ground in Afghanistan. Thirty-seven NATO member-nations have contributed troops and materials in this expansion of NATO into Asia, making adjacent major nations Russia, China and India somewhat apprehensive of the United States’ and NATO countries’ future plans for the region.
The immediate purpose behind the decision to enlarge the size of the US military contingent in Afghanistan is to deny the Afghan insurgents—generally attributed by the media in the United States, and in the West, in general, as the “Taliban”—military victories in the spring of 2007. This objective of the White House has already been spelled out on a number of occasions by the US authorities.
On 15 February, almost a month prior to his announcement from South America to raise the US troop-size in Afghanistan by another 3,500 soldiers, President Bush, speaking at a forum organized by the right-wing think-tank, American Enterprise Institute (AEI), at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, had dedicated a significant portion of his speech on his upcoming plans for Afghanistan. Expressing his deep concerns about increasing flexing of muscles by the Taliban in Afghanistan in recent months, and the impending advent of spring, which is expected to usher in another ‘spring offensive’ by the Afghan insurgents, he pointed out that he has six key goals vis-à-vis Afghanistan.