From yesterday’s Globe and Mail:
Some of American's closest NATO allies reacted with surprise and disbelief Wednesday to reported comments from Defence Secretary Robert Gates suggesting that their troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan are not up to the job.
The Dutch Defence Ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador for an explanation of a Los Angeles Times article that said Mr. Gates complained about soldiers from Canada, Britain and the Netherlands not knowing how to fight a guerrilla insurgency.
In Ottawa, the Liberal opposition demanded the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper call in the U.S. ambassador to Canada — or seek direct clarification from Mr. Gates himself.
Wow. I mean really … just wow. That’s about nine different kinds of fucked up. But don’t worry, kids, Secretary Gates has clarified his remarks.
In Washington, Mr. Gates' spokesman Geoff Morrell said the secretary had "read the article and is disturbed by what he read."
Mr. Morrell did not challenge the accuracy of the quotes in the story, but said he thought it left the wrong impression — that Mr. Gates had singled out a particular country.
"For the record he did not — to the L.A. Times or at any time otherwise — publicly ever criticize any single country for their performance in or commitment to the mission in Afghanistan," Mr. Morrell told Pentagon reporters in Washington.
Hmmmm - the secretary had "read the article and is disturbed by what he read." You know what? I’m pretty disturbed by what I read as well. Let’s take a look at the article, shall we? Unlike the average Blogging Tory, we here at CC Central like to be accurate which is entirely different from thinking we’re right because Big Daddy says so. Anyhoo. From the LA Times:
In an unusual public criticism, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he believes NATO forces currently deployed in southern Afghanistan do not know how to combat a guerrilla insurgency, a deficiency that could be contributing to the rising violence in the fight against the Taliban.
"I'm worried we're deploying [military advisors] that are not properly trained and I'm worried we have some military forces that don't know how to do counterinsurgency operations," Gates said in an interview.
Maybe it’s just me but that’s pretty fucking ballsy considering the bill of goods NATO was sold when they took over the Afghanistan mission just so Dubya could toddle off to Iraq and show up Poppy Bush. An opinion that seems to be held by people who actually know what they’re talking about. Further down in the same article:
But coming from an administration castigated for its conduct of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, such U.S. criticism of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is controversial. Many NATO officials blame inadequate U.S. troop numbers earlier in the war in part for a Taliban resurgence.
"It's been very, very difficult to apply the classic counterinsurgency doctrine because you've had to stabilize the situation sufficiently to start even applying it," said one European NATO official, who discussed the issue on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the alliance. "Even in the classic counterinsurgency doctrine, you've still got to get the fighting down to a level where you can apply the rest of the doctrine."
Lovely. The Americans made a mess, NATO’s trying to clean it up and Gates is criticizing how they vacuum.
Well ... this makes everything better. Junior assures Canadians everywhere that Secretary Gates isn’t being meeeeeeean to us, just the rest of those incompetent bastards in NATO. Looks like we’re still bestest friends forevah!
U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates wasn't talking about Canada when he verbally attacked the skills of the allied troops working in southern Afghanistan, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Wednesday.
MacKay said Gates called him Wednesday to explain that the comments he made in the Los Angeles Times were meant to be a general reflection on NATO's shortfalls when it comes to battling insurgents.
“His comments were certainly not directed at Canada”, MacKay told reporters in Ottawa, recounting the conversation he'd had with Gates five minutes earlier.
"He said, 'I specifically made no reference to any country and Canada is the last country I'd make those comments about.'"