Watch the news, and the average American might think that the war in Afghanistan is primarily between the United States and the insurgents.
This is not exactly the entire picture.
While there are more US troops than any other country participating in the war, there still are a lot of other international actors who face the same dangers US servicemembers face.
Right now, there are 42 countries who contribute to the effort, in one way or another.
Admittedly, many of the countries’ contribution are in support elements instead of active combat. This is partly because of the small numbers of bodies they contribute … For example, according to one article, as of July, Finland had 110 troops in the ‘stan. 110 troops are not enough to wield a fighting force, but it may be enough to help observe elections.
110 is small compared to the America’s 30,000. But 110 is still more than many countries. Austria has three (yes, THREE … As in a SINGLE DIGIT NUMBER.) Bosnia has two … Singapore has eight. So, with such small numbers, it’s understandable why you won’t see the news reporting on the military exploits of a country like Ireland, who has seven troops in the ‘stan. (With only seven troops, there simply aren’t that many opportunities for them to experience the excitement the media feeds on.)
But, there are several countries who ARE engaged in combat alongside the United States. France is one of them. The French are blastin’ & kickin’ in doors in a manner that totally blows that whole “prone-to-premature-surrender”-stereotype out of the water. I know from first-hand experience. The French have a fair-sized force in the ‘stan, about 3200. It’s not 30,00, but it’s enough to fight. And they do … WELL.
We’ve been working side-by-side with the French ever since I arrived in the ‘stan. But today, our Provincial Reconstruction Team was actually ASSIGNED to work FOR the French, under Task Force Lafayette. This means that rather than our team reporting to a US higher command, we actually answer to a unit that is comprised of primarily French forces.
The French Task Force held a ceremony to assume command of the battlespace in Kapisa (where my team works.) As such, we participated in the ceremony. (Of course, I was wearing my public affairs officer hat, taking pics and escorting media.)
I thought you might find it interesting to know that some US units report to non-US entities. It may not change your opinion about our involvement in the ‘stan, but I hope people become aware that we’re not fighting alone. It’s not just the United States.