Obama’s Extra War Funding Wins House Approval
Many Democrats are wary but put aside their concerns to issue a vote of confidence in the president’s plans for military escalation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
President Obama on Thursday won decisive House approval for money to escalate U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the victory obscured anxiety within his party about the course he is taking in the war-torn region.
Some Democrats — as opponents of President Bush’s war in Iraq — see the same perils in the new administration’s military moves. >>>
The Pentagon is planning to fast forward the training of Pakistani military to enhance their abilities against insurgents who are building up on the Afghan border.
The U.S. defense officials are consulting with Pakistan about paving the way for the increased presence of U.S. special operations trainers in the Asian country.
This, the U.S. authorities maintain, could cut the training hours by as much as two years for more than 9,000 members of Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps, AP quoted a senior defense official as saying.
The U.S. trainers are seeking to shorten the training time of the Frontier Corps forces and extend their training to the Pakistani army, said the official, who asked not to be named because the discussions are preliminary and no decision has been made.
The U.S. believes that by putting the training courses in the fast lane, it will be able to get the upper hand over the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the region. Controlling the border, officials insist, is key to stabilizing Pakistan and winning the war in Afghanistan.
Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, last week told U.S. senators that it was essential to create a galvanized Pakistani paramilitary Frontier Corps to effectively confront the insurgent saying that, “We think the Frontier Corps deserves much more attention.”
Pakistani leaders are wary of closer cooperation with the US military, fearing it could fuel anti-American sentiment domestically.
Pentagon Chief Robert Gates hints that his forces would press ahead with their controversial airstrikes across the war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Gates said in Washington on Thursday that an influx of more than 21,000 U.S. troops would not reduce the demand for airstrikes across the conflict-torn country.
“We need to protect our troops,” Gates said while explaining his review of air operations which have frequently led to civilians’ causalities across the conflict-torn country.
He insisted newly appointed military commanders in Afghanistan would still require air power to protect U.S.-led NATO forces from the insurgents.
Earlier on Monday, Gates fired the top American commander in Kabul, Gen. David McKiernan, and replaced him with Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a veteran of the shadowy world of special operations.
The Pentagon is also sending Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez to Afghanistan to oversee day-to-day military operations, duplicating the command structure long used in Iraq.
However, Gates confessed that anti-American sentiments were rising across the volatile region and a policy change was required in this regard.
“But if we’re on offense, that’s where I think we need to take a closer look at the operational concept and our planning and how we’re going forward with this in a way to minimize the chance of innocent civilian casualties.”
The remarks come after nearly 150 civilians including 95 children were killed two weeks ago when U.S. warplanes dropped bombs on two villages in the Bala Baluk district in the western province of Farah.
Human rights and medical officials also accused the U.S. forces of using white phosphorus during the lethal strikes.
Medics told Press TV that some of those wounded in the attack have unusual burns which could have been caused by the flesh-eating chemical — white phosphorus.
The attack also sparked days of protests in Kabul and other major cities across Afghanistan.
President Hamid Karzai has demanded a halt to Washington’s airstrikes in his country following the deadly incident.
The killing of civilians by U.S.-led forces continues seven and half years after the U.S. invaded the country to allegedly destroy Taliban and al-Qaeda and bring stability to the volatile region.