Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ah, the Washington Times is always good for a chuckle

Day late and a dollar short on this story, Richard Tomkins: "Estonian troops boost NATO forces." The subhead: "Deployment 10 percent of full military."

Well, for another couple of months, anyway.

As noted yesterday, the Estonian Defense Minister has been in town for talks with Secretary Gates. Here's what he had to say on Tuesday, according to the MoD's website:
Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo pointed out that although for the duration of the elections Estonia has been the biggest per capita contributor to Afghanistan with two infantry companies, keeping up such a presence is not sustainable. “We have come to a common conclusion with the Americans that our military co-operation in Afghanistan should continue primarily with the human intelligence specialists (HUMINT) and also in the context of the NATO Training Mission Afghanistan,” said Aaviksoo.
Which means a draw-down to 170 troops, as noted here. So, um, wouldn't you think the Times would mention that? Not only is there no mention of the redeployment, but Tomkins doesn't even tell us that Aaviksoo's been in town! There's a possible explanation for that, of course: the article is datelined in-theater, so the writer may not know what's going on back here. Then again, isn't that what editors are for?

Just the same, there's some useful content related to what the Estonians are doing there now and a few quotes from the major who leads the Estonian detachment.

"In general, the Estonian people support our being here," said Maj. Janno Mark, commander of the contingent. "The people in Estonia understand we're a member of NATO. We can't just consume security; we have to contribute to it.

"Looking at who is our neighbor, you can understand why we have to be a good and active member."

You ain't kidding.

P.S. I take back whatever comments I made w/r/t training and advising that may have suggested that the Estonians didn't fight or didn't know how to fight, as it now seems plain that at least some portion of their contingent is taking casualties.

1 comment:

  1. I'll follow up on this thread to the previous one.

    {Gulliver, expect an e-mail on this from me, whenever I get to it}

    Notice that the Estonians are in task force Helmand, fighting under British command in the most dangerous part of Afghanistan.

    Estonia: "population is about 1.4 million. Its professional military numbers about 3,300. About 30,000 other Estonians serve at any given time in its territorial force -- a sort of National Guard -- or its 10,000-person reserve..."
    Based on 1.4 million people, a 3,300 sized military is the equivalent of the US having a military of more than 750,000.

    To ask the Estonians to dedicate 60% their military to NATO out of area operations; and assuming a 1/3 deployment ratio, this implies that Estonia would deploy 660 troops to international missions (in Afghanistan, Africa, Balkans, etc.) at any given point of time.

    I still think that focusing the Estonian international mission on FID or foreign capacity building would be ideal.

    Another option for estonia would be to develop an international civilian Corps that deploys on global FID missions. {Which is what I meant to suggest in the previous thread.}

    Under this scenario, Estonia could have an internationally deployed force of 500 troops + 160 civilians at any given point of time. Given Estonia's amazing success in mobile, software, social networking, venture capital and technology outsourcing, I think Estonia's global civilian corps could be more useful than its troops.

    If Estonia could start some simple business outsourcing operations near some Afghan universities; just imagine the long term positive affects.

    It is important to remember that a small number of Indian technology companies contribute a massively disproportionate share of the Indian government's annual tax revenue. The same could happen in Afghanistan.

    Increasing Afghan tax revenue from $600 million a year to close to $6,000 million a year (long term steady state GIRoA expenditure) is one of the three largest priorities in Afghanistan in my opinion.