WASHINGTON -- It was the speediest nomination, Senate confirmation hearing and vote to affirm a presidential appointment since Barack Obama moved into the White House. Shortly after noon on June 30 -- just seven days after Gen. David Petraeus was named to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal -- the U.S. Senate voted 99-0 to appoint Petraeus as the next commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. He faces extraordinary challenges. Unfortunately, the O-Team isn't likely to make a tough job any easier.
Petraeus takes command in the midst of an increasingly difficult and bloody campaign. U.S. and NATO casualties topped 100 in June, the most in one month since the war began in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 on U.S. soil. The 46-nation "grand coalition" he now heads under a United Nations mandate is rife with dozens of conflicting "national caveats" that limit how troops from various countries can be deployed and employed. Placating our "allies" in this fight is a full-time task in itself.
The "surge" of 30,000 additional U.S. troops, which Obama famously announced in a surreal speech at the U.S. Military Academy on Dec. 1, 2009, is not yet complete. Logistics support for deploying additional forces to a country suffering from "infrastructure-deficit disorder" continues to be hampered by the need to move personnel, equipment and supplies into Afghanistan by air or overland through lovely places such as Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. All of these routes depend on the good will of their governments -- and exorbitant fees for fuel, bases, security and "transit rights."
Meanwhile, factions in both Iran and Pakistan are doing their best to confound any possibility of "success" -- the word Obama uses instead of "victory" -- for what we're trying to achieve in Afghanistan. Recent intelligence reports do not bode well.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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