Afghanistan: September 4, 2002


 Some Special Forces troops are being withdrawn from Afghanistan, to be replaced with regular troops. The most elite commandos (JSOC's Delta Force and Seal Team 6) are needed for any invasion of Iraq. Such an operation will probably make much use of commandos to hunt down Scud launchers and capture chemical and biological weapons facilities, as well as going after key Iraqi leaders. To do this, JCOM operators need time to plan and train for such operations. US commanders in Afghanistan would prefer to keep the JCOM operators, as these men are among the finest infantry in the world, and can carry out difficult operations with a minimum of fuss and friendly casualties. Using regular infantry for these raids on suspected Taliban and al Qaeda hideouts will be messier and get more Americans killed. But JCOM has fewer than a thousand troops and they are needed elsewhere. Same thing with the Special Forces troops in Afghanistan. Special Forces groups special specific regions of the world, and the 5th group that covers Afghanistan also deals with the Persian Gulf. The 5th  Special Forces  Group contains the Arab speaking troops with knowledge and experience of the Middle East. They are needed for any invasion of Iraq. Pulling all of these guys out is really dangerous, because one thing the Special Forces do very well is establish personal relationships with the locals. In this case were are talking tribal chiefs and warlords. Troops from other Special Forces units are being sent in, after a crash course in the local languages and customs. This shift will make working with testy, and heavily armed, Afghans more difficult. But the men of the 5th Special Forces Group can't be in two places at once. Iraq is apparently taking priority.


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