August 16, 2004


Taking on the Taliban (Ahto Lobjakas, 8/17/04, Asia Times)

Lance Alford is a colonel in charge of a battalion of marines at Camp Salerno and other smaller outposts. This is how he describes the threat currently posed by Taliban insurgents: "Weak. They're coming across trying to hit some different places along the border and we smash them every time they come across."

Alford said most insurgents come across the border from Pakistan. Top officers at Camp Salerno confirm a clear increase in enemy activity in recent months. Maps shown to reporters indicate the lion's share of combat activity takes place at or near the border.

Major-General Eric Olson heads the task force that oversees the 18,000 combat troops that form the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom. He said this increase in activity has been misunderstood by much of the international press. "It's been translated as a deteriorating security environment, and it's not that at all. Coalition forces have been much more active, they've been out much more than they have in the past, we've been initiating engagements more than we have in the past, I think the security environment is actually improving. The engagements you're hearing about are engagements that we're initiating and terminating on our terms. As opposed to being attacked, we're out there conducting offensive operations," Olson said.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's top general, James Jones - himself a US marine - told troops at Camp Salerno that a large-scale threat from the Taliban and al-Qaeda had been virtually eliminated.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 16, 2004 10:27 AM
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