Sunday, June 08, 2008

Real and Token Forces

KANDAHAR—Ask American troops in Afghanistan what ISAF means, and you are opening the door to a running joke: "I Saw Americans Fight," and "I Suck at Fighting," and "I Sunbathe at FOBs" (a reference to the heavily fortified and largely safe forward operating bases) are among the more popular punch lines. In fact, ISAF is the acronym for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, which is made up of soldiers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, and 35 other nations.

And the U.S. soldiers who offer up the jokes are only half kidding. Their point is a serious one: that troops from the United States—along with just a handful of other countries—do the bulk of the heavy fighting, while a number of other ISAF detachments are limited by their own governments' combat restrictions. These include prohibitions, or "caveats," against, for example, fighting in the snow for troops from some southern European nations. Other soldiers are required to stay in calmer areas of the country or to keep their aircraft grounded at night or to consult their home legislatures before operating near the volatile Pakistani border.

Read the rest of the U.S. News & World Report article here.

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