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Irish troops in Afghanistan

category international | anti-war / imperialism | opinion/analysis author Friday December 08, 2006 23:26author by David Morrison Report this post to the editors

Ireland is supplying troops to fight the Bush/Blair “war on terror” in Afghanistan, and it has been doing so since July 2002. Not many, it’s true. But Ireland is a contributor to ISAF, the NATO-led multi-national force there, which has killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Afghans in recent months.

Well over half a million US troops have passed through Shannon on the way to and from Iraq and Afghanistan. This aspect of Ireland’s support for the US war machine is well known.

Almost unknown is the fact that Ireland is supplying troops to fight the Bush/Blair “war on terror” in Afghanistan, and it has been doing so since July 2002. Not many, it’s true. But Ireland is a contributor to ISAF, the NATO-led multi-national force there, which has killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Afghans in recent months.

This came as a shock to me when I discovered it recently on ISAF’s website [1], where Ireland is listed as one of the 37 contributing states. And I suspect it would have come as a shock to the vast majority of people in Ireland, since the Government has kept very quiet about it, knowing full well that it is not the kind of “peacekeeping” mission that Ireland has traditionally engaged in.

Recently, Labour TD, Joe Costello, questioned the Minister of Defence, Willie O’Dea, about Ireland’s role in Afghanistan. He asked:

“if Irish soldiers are stationed in Afghanistan; if so, when the mission began; the number of soldiers serving in Afghanistan; the role of the soldiers; the person under whom they serve; the length of time they will stay; the person who decided to send Irish soldiers to Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”

In a written reply, on 26 October 2006, O’Dea said:

“On 20 December, 2001, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1386 authorising the establishment of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for six months to assist the Interim Afghanistan Authority in the maintenance of security in Kabul and the surrounding areas. The authorisation of ISAF has been extended by the UN Security Council since then. NATO assumed the lead in ISAF on 11 August, 2003. The current Commander of ISAF, which has a strength of approximately 8,000 personnel, is Lt. Gen David Richards (UK).

“Ireland has participated in ISAF in Afghanistan since 5 July, 2002, following the Government Decision of 2 July, 2002 authorising the provision of seven members of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the force.

“Seven Irish personnel are currently serving with the force. Three personnel are serving as staff officers with the ISAF HQ in Kabul and four personnel are deployed in Liaison Teams in the Regional Command Capital (RC(C)) Kabul. The Liaison Teams specifically liaise between the RC(C) and the Afghan National Directorate of Security, Kabul Police and the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA). Irish personnel serving with ISAF are rotated on a four monthly basis.

“It is proposed that the Defence Forces will continue to serve with ISAF in the immediate future, subject to an ongoing review by my Department.” (Question 176)

This answer is incorrect in one respect in that, as of 5 October 2006, ISAF had approximately 31,000 (not 8,000) troops [2], the largest contributors being the US with 11,250 and the UK with 5,200. The US has a further 8,000 troops in Afghanistan under its own separate command.

The answer is misleading because it gives the impression that Ireland is engaged in a “peacekeeping” mission in Kabul, and has nothing to do with the offensive military operations in which ISAF is now engaged in southern Afghanistan. To that end, it quotes from the Security Council resolution 1386 [3], which set up ISAF, initially for 6 months, when its role was indeed

“to assist the Afghan Interim Authority in the maintenance of security in Kabul and its surrounding areas, so that the Afghan Interim Authority as well as the personnel of the United Nations can operate in a secure environment”.

Initially, therefore, its role could possibly be described as “peacekeeping”, and its area of operation was limited to a small area around Kabul. Bombing villages in southern Afghanistan was not part of its initial mission - that was then the business of the US forces under separate US command engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom.

O’Dea’s answer states that “the authorisation of ISAF has been extended by the UN Security Council”. Extended in time, he seems to be saying. It was: for a further 6 months in May 2002, and a year in November 2002. But, in October 2003, as well as extending the time span of its mandate for a further year, resolution 1510 [4] also changed its role and area of operation and authorised it to operate

“in areas of Afghanistan outside of Kabul and its environs, so that the Afghan Authorities as well as the personnel of the United Nations and other international civilian personnel engaged, in particular, in reconstruction and humanitarian efforts, can operate in a secure environment”

In addition, resolution 1510 required ISAF to “work in close consultation” with “the Operation Enduring Freedom Coalition”, which by no stretch of the imagination was engaged in “peacekeeping”. None of this is mentioned in O’Dea’s answer.

Under this new mandate, ISAF set up bases first in northern Afghanistan (for instance, at Konduz and Mazar-e-Sharif) and later in the west (for instance, at Chaghcharan and Herat), ostensibly to provide security for Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). These actions met with little resistance, since these areas are home to the groups that made up the Northern Alliance, which helped the US overthrow the Taliban regime in late 2001. Also, as far as I can see, ISAF has made no attempt to interfere in the governance of these areas, which remain unaffected by the powerless regime in Kabul. ISAF has certainly made no attempt to interfere in poppy growing.

In 2006, 10,000+ US troops were transferred to ISAF command and it extended its operations to the Pashtun areas of southern Afghanistan, from which the Taliban regime arose. By so doing, ISAF essentially joined in the still ongoing US Operation Enduring Freedom and it understandably met with fierce resistance. This seems to have taken the troop supplying states by surprise. States like Canada and The Netherlands that sent troops to Afghanistan on a “peacekeeping” mission have had dozens of them come home in body bags.

Currently, Bush and Blair are trying desperately, but without much success, to bludgeon NATO states into sending more troops to kill and be killed in southern Afghanistan and into lifting the “caveats” they apply to troops already operating in Afghanistan but not in the south. Germany, for instance, which has 2,750 troops serving in the north, restricts them to firing in self-defence, which is appropriate to a “peacekeeping” role, but not to ISAF’s offensive operations in the south. (It would be interesting to know what “caveats”, if any, Ireland lays down for the operations of its troops).

The small Irish contingent may reside in the safety of Kabul, at a distance from ISAF’s offensive operations in the south, but, as a state contributing to ISAF, Ireland is as responsible for Afghan deaths as the US and the UK, whose ground troops and aircrew are doing most of the killing.

David Morrison
8 December 2006


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author by Magnerpublication date Sat Dec 09, 2006 21:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Minister for Defence, Willie O'Dea

Just William
Just William

author by JFHpublication date Mon Dec 11, 2006 11:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This news of our army’s participation in Afghanistan does not surprise me. The following piece was writing before the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1386 on 20 December 2001. It comes from the editorial, the Mayo Association Yearbook 2002 launched in October 2001; a county that lost thousands through emigration in the 21st Century and is now losing its population through the drop in the birth rate: There were 29% more students in its National Schools in 1985/86 then in 1999/00: A fall of 4,230 young people. This is greater than the number lost in Northern Ireland since the start of the troubles c. 1968.

“The fall in the birth rate is a direct result of this era combined with almost manic efforts by the Government to get married woman onto the labour market. The Government Cabinet lost the run of itself in this period and is still tripping up. Leinster House gives the impression that any laws that it introduces have nothing to do with the collapsing birth rate. It has washed its hands and appears to not want anything to do with this problem. It doesn’t even want to know! Where does the buck stop? There is an element of know-how missing, a deficit of knowledge at our Cabinet Table! It appears to be blind as to the long-term results of any actions that it takes. It is no great achievement to make money or be the best economy in the world if it is built on the backs of a falling birth rate! This is pure base human behaviour and is an insult to our ancestors. We need to come up a few notches on the intellectual plane and start using our ‘Use of Reason’.

We are living in troubled times. Leinster House has brought in many unchristian laws over the past thirty years. Wealth creation was always its short-term goal. They have done this with the same abandonment as a young person driving at 70mph down a motorway in a 50-mile exclusion zone. Man’s recent and past experience gained over two thousand years was just forgotten! ……………………………..Capitalism is a great system, but it has a finite existence as a result of the suicide policies pursued by the rulers of the Western Hemisphere throughout the latter half of the twentieth century. As a result, Capitalism can now only function properly coupled with a continual decrease in birth rates and massive immigration. Ireland currently is one of the few nations in the Western World that demographically can afford to send its young men to war! One shudders at the ease with which the modern Leinster House seemed to bend under international pressure and ignore sound principles of human existence! ………………………………..We will be caught in the dangerous eddy as the great Western Economies go into rapid decline, caused by the hidden power of demographics and not any highly visible terrorist deed. The hole that Leinster House is digging is getting deeper and the further down they go, the less opportunity for movement. A former leader had much firmer foundations to stand on, when he resisted international pressure. Leinster House now, more than ever for the sake of our future, our young workforce, badly need a stabilising influence.

Cardinal Connell or somebody like him could supply the missing cord that would bind the Irish Cabinet and turn it into one of the most informed Government legislation bodies in the Western World! There definitely should be a representative of the archbishop’s house at the Cabinet Table or at least in the Oireachtas.

Ironically it seems to be one of the only customs that we failed to inherit from the British Parliamentary system, where a number of seats in their Upper House in Westminster are the preserve of Church of England bishops. Britain was able to hold onto their population and grow it; but obviously the bishops are loosing the battle over the latter half of the 20th century; they also could do with a strong man like our Cardinal.

The future alternative is to live in a world of CHAOS! Listen! The politicians on Capital Hill called for restrained and no panic selling on the opening of Wall St. after the Sept. 11th. (Read the story of the Mayoman living in New York who also witnessed the events of the 1929 collapse, see MAYO PROFILE – Patrick Boyle by Enda Brogan in this book). What happened! Investment and finance went galloping away faster than the Lone Ranger ever did and got to hell out of there! Wall Street had the biggest collapse for a long time. Demographics of the Western World are all wrong to withstand such a shock! Message: Finance and one particular country are not inextricably linked. Don’t build your future on wealth alone. The real wealth of a country is in its children and how well they are looked after. Discount the wealth of a childless Nation, you get ZERO value! ceteris paribus. Not writing here about individual family units, but from the Macro end of things. Money and investment will eventually flee a country whose birth rate continues to fall; this is only pure logic, but maybe not to those people who are living above their station! i.e. lacking pure handed down foundation principles of life (Christian, Islamic or whatever)!

The proponents of core Christianity are in the main, few in numbers. The Western World has become weak as a result. It is not that Islam is getting stronger. The current world problems are there; because an element in the Islamic world recognises this inherent weakness, and hope to reap some advantage by causing panic with terrorists deeds and will continue to do so throughout the 21st Century! Bosnia, Afghanistan, where next”

The above yearbook had other writings which promoted the idea that we should exploit our hydrocarbons instead of our young men and women of child bearing age. Guess there is nobody in authority listening! See

author by PaddyKpublication date Thu Dec 14, 2006 02:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Our military pawns are in Afghanistan for the purposes of information.

Information is good.

But in Kosovo they are supporting organised crime. Not good.

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