Russia Prepares 1-Million Man Army for Afghanistan
The shape of the governments-to-be of Afghanistan and Iraq – “when the war is over” – seems to be uppermost in the minds of the US-led alliance engaged in the war against world terrorism. This may be a useful academic exercise, but while it is in process, the war itself shows strong signs of running out of steam.
debkafile ‘s military and intelligence experts ascribe this loss of momentum to two primary dilemmas:
1. In order to tackle its objectives of overturning the Taliban regime and rooting out Osama bin Laden’s terrorist apparatus, the United States needs to field a ground army of some 400,000 trained combat troops in Afghanistan alone. At a pinch, US and British strength combined amounts to less than a third of this figure – the 100,000 American troops stationed in bases around Afghanistan’s borders, the Persian Gulf and the Middle east, and another 20-35,000 British combat troops.
2. The United States and Britain have never invested in the kind of intelligence tools required for winning this war, focusing instead in recent years on satellite and electronic intelligence, which is of limited use in Afghanistan and the counter-terror campaign.
America’s deficiency of ground forces for combating terrorism is the direct outcome oft the collapse of the international anti-terror coalition doctrine. The diplomacy employed by US secretary of state Colin Powell to muster this coalition stripped the United States of the fighting strength needed for the campaign itself. The four nations with the right kind of fighting strength are India, Taiwan, Israel and Turkey. The first three had to be counted out, while Turkey was only retained as a pro-American reserve for securing the Turkish-Iraqi frontier and standing by in case anti-US turbulence got out of hand in Central Asia and Pakistan.
Therefore, Washington has painted itself into a corner with only two options: Declaring a military call up at home – partial, then full conscription, with all the political hazards entailed, or turning to the only other power which commands a substantial military force, whose enlistment will not jeopardize US long term goals – Russia.
debkafile‘s sources in Moscow report that in the last ten days, the lights in the planning and operations departments of the Russian armed forces have burned brightly round the clock, as staff officers draft the blueprints for the Russian army’s return to Afghanistan in a manner very different from its dismal experience in the 1980s.
This time, Russian troops will be going in on a huge scale to fight shoulder to shoulder with their erstwhile foes, the Americans. The Afghanistan intervention force will be made up of roughly quarter of a million combat troops and an equal number of rest air force, intelligence, logistical and services personnel.
The conditions posed by Russian army chiefs for meeting President Vladimir Putin’s demand for this force were:
A. The entire force would not be fully engaged before winter was over, ie April 2002.
B. The United States would carry all the costs – not only for the creation and training of the Afghanistan expedition army, but also for setting up a comparable force for operation in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia and Chechnya.
According to debkafile‘s Moscow informants, Putin bowed to the generals’ demands whereupon they went to work on the new venture without delay. This means that the Russian military staff is in the process of building a combat ground force one million strong.