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Subject: Obama may want more Diggers for Taliban warfare
Volkodav    12/23/2008 5:34:45 AM
Mark Dodd | December 23, 2008 Article from: The Australian THE Rudd Government should brace for a request from the US to increase its troop commitment to Afghanistan, the head of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said yesterday. But retired Major General Peter Abigail played down calls by former colleague Jim Molan for Australia to commit a 6000-strong force to the war-battered country. The Australian Defence Force had spare capacity to send 6000 troops to Afghanistan but would be unable to sustain the commitment, Major General Abigail said yesterday. Major General Molan, who recently retired from the ADF, served as a senior commander of coalition forces in Iraq. The 40-year army veteran is regarded as a specialist in counter-insurgency warfare. Last week, General Molan warned that the NATO-led coalition battling a resurgent Taliban insurgency was heading for defeat unless it drastically increased troop numbers. The quality and experience of Australian soldiers meant Kevin Rudd should expect to get a call soon from US president-elect Barack Obama asking for more Diggers, General Abigail said. Echoing the comments of a recent outgoing British Afghan commander, he raised the prospect of a negotiated settlement with moderate Taliban elements. The ASPI chief said that Dutch forces, with whom the ADF share security duties in southern Oruzgan, are likely to extend their departure date by one year -- originally set for 2010. Ottawa was also set to extend the mandate of Canadian forces. Yesterday, Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon ruled out sending more troops to Afghanistan, repeating what has become a familiar government mantra: Australia is the biggest non-NATO contributor and there will be no increase in troops unless European NATO nations boost their contributions. "We certainly welcome the additional commitment from the US and, of course, we need many more troops and we are still looking for our NATO partners who are currently under-committed to do more," Mr Fitzgibbon told ABC radio yesterday. "In Iraq at its peak, we had 160,000 troops, and that's a country about two-thirds the size of Afghanistan. "Even after the additional US troop commitment, the overall troop numbers will total about 60,000." The US has committed to deploying an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to blunt a growing Taliban insurgency that has made this year the bloodiest for coalition forces since hostilities began in 2001. Their resilience and the lack of credibility of the Karzai Government in Kabul has forced a big rethink of how long the coalition will have to commit to Afghanistan. Australia has about 1100 troops in Afghanistan, but only the elite 300-strong Special Forces Task Group is deployed in day-to-day combat operations.
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Raven22       12/23/2008 7:03:17 AM
While we couldn't send 6000 men (well we could, but we couldn't replace them), we could easily send another 2000-odd men organised around two battle-groups.
At some point Mr Rudd has to decide either to send more men or just shut the hell up. He can't keep telling NATO to send more soldiers without Australia also sending more. It just  makes him, and the whole country, look small and foolish.
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Volkodav       12/23/2008 7:20:27 AM
Would we need a 3rd sqn of Abrams to be able to support a balanced battle group in Afghanistan?
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Raven22       12/23/2008 7:30:43 AM
We've already got a third squadron of Abrams, we just don't have the soldiers to man them. Personally I can't really see any need for a whole squadron of Abrams in country anyway. About the only reason to have an MBT in Afghanistan is to get a 120mm gun tube that can destroy things that a 25mm cannon can't, without the enemy or the terrain having a say in the matter. I imagine that IF we sent Abrams to Afghanistan the most we would send is a troop-group of 5 or so plus an M88.
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