Thursday, June 30, 2011

Preparing For War

The second batch of Swedish Air Force personnel are preparing to go down to Italy as part of FL02 - "Flygvapnet Libyen 02" (Air Force Libya 2:nd unit), the Swedish task force taking part in NATO mission Unified Protector over Libya. The Swedish political decision to prolong the mission came very close to the date when the unit needed to be ready for transport down to Italy. So this is a very good test of how well prepared the Swedish Armed Forces are today.

By January 1, 2011 the new employment contract was introduced in the Swedish Armed Forces. This new contract makes it mandatory for all personnel (military and civilian) working in the Armed Forces to when needed be sent to international operations. During the autumn 2010 there was a lot of turbulence in the Armed Forces, since the new contract was mandatory to sign, otherwise you were forces to leave the Armed Forces. The Supreme Commander and the Minister of Defence both stated that the new contract was needed, otherwise it was not possible to continue sending Swedish units on international missions.

But how prepared are the armed forces today? Is it possible to send any unit on international missions without a lot of mission specific training?

The Nordic Battle Group trained for a year in order to be available during the 1-2 quarter of 2011 for international missions within the force structure of EU. The Battlegroups has been criticized since there seem to be very little political interest and financial possibilities for the EU to actually deploy a Battlegroup. NBG08 cost a lot of money to train and keep on alert, but nothing happened. NBG11 has been on alert for 6 months, but nothing has happened even though there have been escalation of conflicts in e.g. Sudan.

A unit that is sent to Afghanistan train for approximately 3-6 months depending on the position within the unit. Maybe this will change in the future, but even though army units can take a core company there will always be need for specialists to accompany the unit to the mission area end this personnel also need to be trained as part of the unit.

FL01 was build up mainly by personnel from F 17 Wing in Ronneby that was already on international alert as part of NBG11 EAW - Expeditionary Air Wing. FL02 will be organized mainly by personnel from F 21 Wing in Luleå. F 21 are well prepared, since they also were on international alert during 2010, and were planning to be on alert during 2012. So a lot of the pilots were already combat qualified and current on e.g. AAR.

But in order to be available for international missions just having aircraft and personnel is not enough. The units must be trained in the type of missions that are planned and their flying status must be good enough.

NATO demand 160-180 flying hours per pilot per year. If the entire Swedish Air Force would be at this high alert it would stress the economy a lot. A squadron also need time to train new pilots and to replace the old guys retiring or leaving for HQ duty or schools. Therefore there will never be a time when all pilots in the Air Force are in combat status.

There is also a lot of special training needed. One example is AAR - Air to Air refueling. In order to be "current", a pilot need to train every 90 days. The only AAR-tanker available in the Swedish Air Force is the Tp 84/C-130 Hercules that is currently down in Italy. It has now been sent back to Sweden to train the F 21 Wing pilots and also check out some new C-130 crews on how to handle this specific aircraft.

There are also a lot of other equipment that is in short supply in the Swedish Air Force and is therefore difficult to train with in Sweden, since most of the equipment is down in Italy. Most Air Force pilots are today well trained in CAS - Close Air Support that was planned to be their major contribution to support the army units in a Afghanistan type of mission. Now they are going to Italy as recce pilots!

It will be interesting to see if the Swedish Air Force can continue with the planned activities for 2011. It was planned to send a unit to Red Flag in Alaska during 2011, but will there be any personnel and aircraft available? Will there be any budget left for this kind of exercise? Unified Protector is a sort of Red Flag exercise and has shown that the Air Force units has been trained well enough.

The supreme commander and the minister of defence focus of getting all officers to sign the new contract is not what counts when it comes to be ready for international mission. What counts is to get realistic training in the same type of equipment that will be used down in the hot zone. The old saying is that "You must train as you fight". Unfortunately the truth is too often that you train as you can afford and then fight as what is needed in the operation. This is of course quite risky since the operational procedures can differ quite a lot from the training.

Interesting to note is that a lot of the planned Red Flag exercises in Nellis has been canceled for 2011. Maybe the European (and American) units are to occupied with Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq? US minister of Defence, Mr Gates, was to the point when he criticized Europe for our lack of capability/capacity to support the mission in Libya. Sweden is doing its best, but it put heavy stress on the Air Force organization.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Famous Last Words?

I just happened to notice the Air Force Inspector General Anders Silwer speech at the Le Bourget Air Show.

"On 1 April 2013 we will be in Afghanistan [with Black Hawks]; or I won't be here," said Silwer.

Well I hope that he is right. Right now everything looks as the plan to have HKP 16 Blackhawk operational in Afghanistan in 2013 will work. The first pilots and technicians has started their training. The deliveries should be on schedule since Sweden (contrary to NH-90/HKP 14) are buying a standard helicopter with a lot of experience in the design. The helicopter wing will also have a lot of valuable experiences from the ongoing deployment with HKP 10B Super Puma in Camp Marmal.

But it is always dangerous to promise things in advance. Remember another well known Air Force leader from history.

On 9 August 1939, Göring boasted "The Ruhr will not be subjected to a single bomb. If an enemy bomber reaches the Ruhr, my name is not Hermann Göring: you can call me Meier!"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Willing Unwilling Swedes

Sweden has come a long way since the Cold War. From stating "Non-Alliance in Peace aiming for Neutrality in War" Sweden has joined NATO PfP - Partnership for Peace program in 1994 and EU - European Union in 1995.

By tradition Sweden has a long tradition taking part in UN-led Peace Keeping missions.

Our contribution to the United Nations started as early as 1948 when Military Observers were sent to the Middle East. The first Swedish battalion under UN-flag was deployed in Gaza 1956.

The first Peace Enforcing mission was in Congo 1960-1964. This was also the first official engagement for the Swedish Air Force, deploying a squadron of Saab J 29 "Flying Barrel". (The first unofficial engagement for the SwAF was during the war between Finland and the Soviet Union in 1940 where Fighter Wing 19, a "volunteer" wing of Swedish pilots and technicians, fought for Finland using Swedish Air Force surplus aircraft that was given to Finland as a gift from the Swedish government.

After the end of the Cold War at the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the independence of the Baltic States in 1991, the Swedish military command was a bit taken by surprise. The army was focusing more and more on international missions and their material standards were not very good compared to the Navy and the Air Force. The supreme commander decided together with the politicians that there was a unique opportunity to raise the standards of the army units. This was unofficially named the "The Strategic Time-Out". Unfortunately no-one decided when this time-out was supposed to end.

The first true test of the Swedish capability to perform "modern" Peace Keeping/Peace Enforcing missions came during the Bosnian War 1992-95. (I recommend Morgonsurs stories from that war). In 1995 the Swedish UN battalion was transfered to NATO-command, the blue UN berets was replaced by brown and the unit insignia was changed to NATO IFOR. Strangely, this was not a very big issue in the political debate even though the communist party did not like the connection to NATO and therefore also to USA. This was the year when Swedish policy on taking part in NATO-missions truly changed.

Sweden continued to take part in NATO-led missions in Kosovo 1999 - today and Afghanistan 2001 - today and lately in Libya where the Air Force is taking part with combat aircraft for the first time since the Congo War (not taking into account cargo aircraft and helicopters).

During these years the Swedish national defence was torn down into pieces. The Air Force was drastically reduced to today 6 squadrons and the Navy is almost non-existing. Worst of all was that the war-time bases was closed down. The Swedish strategy of defending the country without relying on outside help was no more. After the cold war historians have discovered that there was preparations made to get help from NATO if there was ever a war with the Soviet Union. However this was not trained in any way, so the help would have been quite ineffective.

In 2010 the last brick of the Swedish national defence was torn down when the conscript system was canceled. Nowadays boys and girls only do their military service on a voluntarily basis. The capability of the armed resistance in Sweden has therefore been cut down from 700.000 to 60.000 (including the 30.000 strong home-guard).

Sweden has signed the Treaty of Lisbon in 2008. After this date the European Union is a legal body and the work for a common foreign, security and defence policy has started.

The treaty foresees that the European Security and Defence Policy will lead to a common defence agreement for the EU when the European Council resolves unanimously to do so, and provided that all member states give their approval through their usual constitutional procedures.[34] Additionally, the area of defence has become available to enhanced co-operation, potentially allowing for a defence integration that excludes member states with policies of neutrality. Countries with significant military capabilities are envisioned to form a Permanent Structured Cooperation in Defence.

The challenge with this security policy is that it is in writing close to NATO Article 5. Most countries in Europe are NATO-members and has no issues with this. But, Sweden has agreed upon helping NATO-countries and get helped by NATO-countries without being full member of NATO! The military command of the EU, EUMC has very little power compared to NATO and must rely on NATO assets and command structures. A EU-led mission will in all practicalities be a NATO-led mission.

To top all of this Sweden has in 2008 issued a one-way "Declaration of Solidarity".

Sweden would not stand passive if a neighbour is threatened or attacked. We expect others not to stand passive if Sweden is threatened. We must be able both to provide and receive support, with relevant capabilities, also of a military nature.

In practicality most of Sweden´s neighbors are NATO-members (excluding only Finland and Russia). The declaration of solidarity can result in Sweden being forced into a conflict in the Baltic region taking the NATO-side. This will most likely result in a conflict with our biggest neighbor, Russia.

But, even taken into consideration all these small steps towards NATO membership the Swedish politicians refuse to debate whether to request for full membership or not. According to polls the Swedish citizens are against a NATO-membership. The Swedish minister of defence, Mr Tolgfors, states that "there are a de factor solidarity between European countries". But in the same article he also reflects upon the fact that Sweden is doing more for NATO than most NATO-countries. Due to bad economy many European countries (and NATO-members) are not able to take part in Libya. Will they be able to support Sweden or other countries in the future? If the economy is so bad that some countries can´t fulfill their NATO-obligations, then EU military issues will most likely be put on hold.

The ironic thing is that during the Cold War Sweden needed NATO for support, but didn´t train this. Sweden couldn´t be member of NATO due to the official neutrality and couldn´t rely for the help to come. In order to be able to defend the country until NATO decided to help, Sweden had a strong national defence. After the Cold War, Sweden supports NATO and is well trained to both help and receive help from NATO. The capability to defend Sweden is lower than ever and Sweden therefore rely more than ever on NATO-support, but there is still no NATO-membership to guarantee this.

Sweden´s political struggle to admit the NATO-connection has led to very strange decisions regarding the continued mission in Libya. The Air Force unit which is in high demand from NATO is being reduced by three aircraft, but the mission activity will increase. Instead Sweden is planning to send a naval unit and a psy-ops unit that NATO has very low need of. A typical Swedish "lagom" compromise. No-one is happy with the result, but no-one is also angry. All to keep the balance between a minority government and a opposition with the communist party sometimes taking sides with the right-wing nationalist Swedish Democracy party. Political agreements often result in strange bed-mates.

But maybe the politicians are just doing what the Swedish voters want? Both national and international missions. Both keeping the quantity and quality of material. Keep the old type of defence capabilities and building up new units for information warfare. All within a shrinking budget for the Department of Defence. The Minister of Finance, Mr Borg, has more to say about the future of the Swedish Armed Forces then the Minister of Defence. The money does not cover the needs of the armed forces, but the politicians can´t acknowledge the need of NATO-membership due to the low interest of NATO-membership by the Swedish voters.

To quote Mother Teresa:

"We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing."

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Safe Sex

"Safe Sex" are methods for having the fun without the risks of getting pregnant or transmitting deceases when having intercourse with someone. I have noticed that there are a number of similarities with the ineffective "safe sex" methods and the way Swedish politicians act when using Swedish military forces in international missions.

Lets compare!

Two methods are very often used when Swedish politicians decide upon when and where to send troops:

- Fertility Awareness. Many politicians believe that they can "sense" when there is a right or a wrong time to enter a conflict to avoid the most troublesome time periods when there is a high risk for unwanted results. Unfortunately each conflict has its own characteristics and time-line. The subject matter experts are the military, but the politicians not only want to decide when and where, but also how to use the troops. Unfortunately they have very little access to the other parts in the conflict and the analysis can be very wrong.

- Coitus Interruptus. This method can represent the Swedish politician belief that it is possible to pull the troops out of the conflict before the situation goes out of control. However it is very difficult to do this in time and most often the damage occur before the troops has left the country. It is also very hard to find a decisive indicator to decide when to leave the conflict. To early and you will lose a lot of international credit, too late and you will expose your soldiers to unnecessary danger.

The Swedish politicians need to decide what they are aiming for, since the goal decides the methods to be used.

- If the goal is to avoid getting pregnant, then castration is a very good method. Cutting the manhood off avoids even the slightest possibility of getting into to much trouble. If it is done correctly before the man comes of age, then it will also decrease the sexual desire in the same way as what was done with the eunuchs of the old Arabic harems. The cut down of the Swedish military forces is a very good but also slow way of achieving this political goal. Unfortunately the eunuchs are not very good soldiers and will have problem to defend the harem when the evil invaders arrive to the Sultans palace.

- If the goal is to avoid getting sexual transmitted deceases then the best way is to avoid sex altogether or to wear some kind of barrier. Avoiding sex is not very funny and is not recommended for anyone who want to have a social life. The barrier method is very effective, but even the best condom can brake down. You can never have 100% guarantee that the barrier keeps you out of harms way. The best way is maybe to let someone else do the job! However, in the long term this will result in a bad reputation and all the girls will avoid any further contact.

It is very difficult to get a politician to admit to having "sex" or even wanting to have "sex". The subject is very sensitive and most often the politicians just want to talk about the money involved.

Maybe one need to take some calculated risks? Try to get to know the girl to see if there is any risks involved and then just go for it?

The Two Saab

All is quiet in Trollhättan. No Saab automobiles are being build. No salaries are paid to the workers. Now everyone is waiting for financial support from China.

The problem is that there are two Saabs with the same company name and very confusing logotypes that easily can be mixed up. When I speak to people in other countries they often ask me if the manufacturer of Gripen will be bankrupt soon. What they don´t understand is that the aircraft and the automobile manufacturer are not the same company any more. The Saab automobile museum give us some clues to that there are more than one user of the Gripen logo.

Aircraft manufacturer
In the beginning it was only the aircraft manufacturer Saab in Linköping. It was founded in 1937 as Svenska Aeroflygplan AB. In 1965 the name was changed to Saab AB. In 1967 Saab was merged with Scania-Vabis and the name of the company was changed to Saab-Scania AB.

The first Saab logo was with their first manufactured aircraft, the Saab B 17 dive-bomber. The second logo that was used for a long time on all cars was with their twin engined Saab B 18 Bomber.

Today Saab AB uses a very similar logo to Saab Automobile with the head of the Gripen in the center. This has nothing to do with the Gripen aircraft.

The symbol was introduced in 1984 and was the symbol for the then Saab-Scania group. This is the first Saab logo to reintroduce the head of the mythical Gripen, or Griffin, first seen on the AB Scania-Vabis logo.

Saab Automobile AB introduced the new corporate symbol of the red Gripen head and gold crown with the name SAAB in silver beneath it all contained within a blue roundel.

The heraldic Griffin's head - derived from the coats of arms of the Skåne and Östergotland counties in southern Sweden traditionally symbolizes vigilance.

This logo was officially introduced on 14th August 2000, just months after the complete takeover of Saab Automobile AB by General Motors.

Saab say that the corporate symbol "...has now been refined to reflect more clearly the strengthening brand name and a model range which is the most competitive ever produced by Saab."

Automobile manufacturer
After the second world war the Swedish government wanted that Saab manufactured other things besides aircraft in order to be a more financial stable company. The first car prototype was shown in 1947. In 1949 Saab started to manufacture cars in Trollhättan. In 1990 Saab Automobile was separated from the aircraft manufacturer and half of the company was sold to GM - General Motors. At the same time Scania was made into a separate company within the Wallenberg Investor industrial sphere. However Saab Automobile still used a lot of branding from the aircraft industry and a lot of the car commercials showed Saab aircraft. The owner Wallenberg wanted that the car industry kept the high-tech image from the aircraft industry. In 2000 GM bought the rest of the stocks in Saab Automobile. Even after this sell-out Saab automobile still kept using the aircraft industry connections in their commercials.

In December 2009 GM decides to close down Saab. The company is bought by the dutch car manufacturer Spyker in January 2010. 6 April 2011 the production stops at at Saab due to financial problems. The Chinese company Hawtai buys stocks in Spyker. 15 June 2011 Spyker change name to Swedish Automobiles and sold the Spyker car plant to CPP Global Holdings.

Unfortunately there is today not much left of the well known Saab Automobile brand with driving legends like Erik "Carlsson på taket". Saab even had a short time in formula racing.

Saab future
Unfortunately the dying Saab Automobile are dragging the other Saab companies into the dark and deep pits of bad brands. My recommendation would be to be very careful when talking about Saab and distinguish between the two companies by using the full names "Saab Automobile" and "Saab AB" that is divided in a number of sub-companies among them "Saab Aeronautics" that manufactures the Gripen aircraft. And if I were in charge of selling Saab Automobile I would not let the brand "Saab", now sold to China, to be used for second class cars

Note the Gripen aircraft on the display behind the car in the video above. Note also how Saab Automobile President Jan-Åke Jonsson uses the word "pilots" to connect the car design to aircraft design.

Saab AB lawyers has stated that the Saab brand can not be sold separately to any buyer without buying he entire automobile manufacturer. This is regulated in a contract between Saab AB, Saab Automobile and Scania.

It will be very difficult to think about quality in the future when one hear the name Saab. Maybe it is to late to save the brand Saab? Maybe Saab AB (or Saabgroup) should be renamed to Saab Defence to distinguish it more from Saab Automobile? "Release me" is maybe still a campaign that should be used by Saab to release the Saab logo and Saab brand from the Chinese?

These commercials clearly show the link between the car manufacturer Saab Automobile and the aircraft industry. Saab Automobile has always used their connection to the aircraft manufacturer Saab AB as a quality mark.

Lastly an "oldie, but goodie" from the historical archives. The Saab stunt group was used in the same way as aerobatic display teams to sell the Saab car brand.

Read more in "SAAB Aircraft since 1937" by Hans G Andersson, ISBN 0-85177-886-0.

Interesting articles about the Saab logos here, here and here.

SvD1, SvD2, SvD3, SvD4, SvD5, SvD6, SvD7, SvD8, SvD9, DN1, DN2, DN3, DN4, DN5, DN6, DN7, DN8

Friday, June 24, 2011

Evolving Gripen

The Gripen NG - Next Generation has been flying for a few years as a technology demonstrator at Saab aircraft factory in Linköping. It has been offered to Norway and is also taking part in the bidding process in India (Gripen is today out of the bidding process togehter with F-18E/F, F-16IN and Mig-35) and Brazil.

However, in Sweden the politicians and the commander of the armed forces has difficulties to decide if they want to upgrade their existing fleet of Gripen A/B/C/D to E/F-standard or if they just want to upgrade them to C/D+ standards, without the modification of the airframe to be able to use the bigger F414-engine, carry more internal fuel and add two extra weapon pylons on the fuselage.

Many Swedish politicians does not want to buy more aircraft. They think that buying 204 aircraft for the Air Force and then reducing them to the now planned 100 Gripen C/D was a big mistake.

What the politicians do not understand is that if operational life of the Gripen aircraft is going to extended to the planned year 2040, there will be need of heavy modifications to the aircraft. Not only to meet future threats, but also to have spare parts to the electronic equipment in the aircraft. The Gripen system computer has already been upgraded three times with more modern electronics. The Gripen NG demonstrator has a complete new set of avionics that sooner or later need to be used also by the Gripen C/D aircraft. Not only to get extra capability, but also because there will be no other options to get spare parts for the old computers.

What the Swedish politicians has to study is the cost difference between rebuilding the existing C/D-fleet with just new avionics or also rebuilding them with a new airframe in the same way as 31 Gripen A/B has been converted to C/D-standard by rebuilding the fuselage and then adding wings, fin, engine and avionics from the old A/B-aircraft. There is still discussions if there is need of the bigger fuselage in order to carry the Selex/Galileo AESA-radar. If the smaller C/D-airframe is used, the Gripen must use a smaller radar disc, which add extra cost instead of just cooperating with the Eurofighter development program.

There are also big question marks regarding the possibilities for Volvo to build a updated RM12+ with more thrust. Will this be possible within the existing license agreement that Volvo has with General Electric? Unfortunately, Volvo has been lobbying heavily for using the RM12+ instead of the F414. This can be one of the major reasons for the Swedish politicians hesitations. If there is a possibility to get more thrust out of the existing engine, why buy a new fuselage only to cope with the bigger F414? What they miss is the fact that more thrust also result in the need for more fuel. More fuel also need a bigger engine in order to keep the aircraft performance. Otherwise the thrust-to-weight ratio will be too low. An aircraft need to be kept in balance. Weapons need to be balanced with sensors, engine with weight (including extra weapon and fuel) etc, etc.

Saab also need to have specialist personnel employed for heavier maintenance of the aircraft even if no new aircraft are built at the Linköping aircraft manufacturing plant. This in order to support the Swedish Air Force and other customers with heavier repairs on the aircraft after accidents. This due to the fact that this capability is not available on normal fighter wings. To keep this personnel trained it can be more effective to build extra fuselages for the modification of Gripen C/D to Gripen E/F in the same way as being done today with the modification from Gripen A/B to Gripen C/D.

The Swedish politicians must understand that there will be no new aircraft being built for the Swedish Air Force, just the existing 100 aircraft kept up to standards with the threat development and the development in technology.

Baltic Watch

The Swedish defence policy has during the last years focused on international operations. The national defence capability to stop invasion of Sweden has been demobilized and a lot of hardware has either been scrapped or sold on the second hand market.

Instead of being a neutral country between NATO Norway and Denmark and the Warszawa pact Russian Baltic states, Poland, East Germany, Sweden has moved closer and closer to NATO. First only as an observer taking part in NATO PfP exercises, but nowadays more NATO compatible then most NATO countries.

As of now the Swedish Air Force is part of the NATO United Protector mission against Libya. But there are still Air Force activities in the Baltic region.

The Swedish Air Force has been involved in the NATO PfP exercise BALTOPS. COMAO - Composite Air Operations has been trained together with units from other NATO countries and led by NATO E-3 AWACS.

In the Baltic states, NATO is responsible for the QRA - Quick Readiness Alert to guard the air space. As of now the French Air Force has replaced the previous JG 71 Jagdgeschwader Richthofen old F-4 Phantoms with their Mirage 2000. An interesting fact is that when Germany replaced the Czech Republic Gripen fighters in with their new Eurofighter Typhoons in 2009 they had serious problems with the availability of the Eurofighter. They had to repelace the Eurofighters with F-4 Phantoms after only a week of operations. Since Germany are still using the F-4 for QRA missions in the Baltic states there must still be technical problems with their Eurofighters. The German F-4 pilots use the nickname "Der Wunderwaffe" for the Eurofighters.

During the German session in the Baltic region there was time for a joint exercise with the Swedish and the Lithuanian Air Forces. This was the first time that the Swedish Air Force took part in NATO QRA training exercises, see the film below.

This training was going to be used live very soon. On July 14 Swedish Gripen fighters together with the French Mirage intercepted a Russian Il-20 "Coot" over the Baltic Sea. The Russian air craft was just watching the BALTOPS training, but the Swedes took the possibility to train together with the French aircraft.

Sweden is part of NATO operations in Afghanistan and in Libya, and now the Swedish Air Force take more or less official part in NATO QRA. When will the Swedish politicians officially acknowledge full Swedish NATO membership?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Avalanche Warning

The Afghan winters can be very cold and normally the Taliban fighters cease fighting during the winter season. Avalanches are a rare thing during the winters and even less this time of the year. But I bet that Mullah Omar can hear the rumbling sound of the avalanche that will start when the US troops start their tactical retreat from Afghanistan.

President Obama plan for removal of the troops has a very tight schedule.

Mr. Obama announced plans to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. The remaining 20,000 troops from the 2009 “surge” of forces would leave by next summer, amounting to about a third of the 100,000 troops now in the country. He said the drawdown would continue “at a steady pace” until the United States handed over security to the Afghan authorities in 2014.

Slovenia has decided to pull back their troop contribution to ISAF
. When USA leaves, this will also give an official go-ahead for other countries to leave. Countries that were not happy with being in Afghanistan, but needed to show NATO/USA how much they want to cooperate will be the first to leave. The Dutch has already left the country and France will also reduce their troop contribution.

President Karzai was positive to the removal of the US troops. However reading between the lines one can guess that he will start to cooperate with the Taliban in order to stay alive in the future. The afghan people also realizes this.

“During the Taliban regime there were no suicide attacks, but since these people have shown up in our country we have faced lots of adversity,” said Nasrullah, a shopkeeper in Kabul’s dilapidated downtown, who like many Afghans uses only one name. “When they leave Afghanistan, the Taliban will stop fighting; it is only because of these foreigners they are fighting.”
“This drawdown will embolden the morale of the Taliban, and actually it has already emboldened them,” the elder said. “The Taliban are saying to the elders not to support Americans or you will be killed, and now they say, ‘The Americans are leaving and your lives will not be spared.’ ”

In the senate the US politicians are talking about all the positive things that have been accomplished during the US/NATO rule. But will it remain so when the foreign troops leave the country? I seriously doubt that.

The war will most probably change from Counter Insurgency to Counter Terrorism. Instead of troops on the ground the US will support the afghan forces with Close Air Support, UCAV attacks on Taliban leaders and UAV and satellite surveillance.

How will Sweden react to the US withdrawal?

- Less troops in the south will give the Taliban the possibility to either take back lost territory in the south or reinforce in the east and the north where there up until now have been a relatively low-intensity war. This can result in heavier fighting in RC North and in the Swedish/Finnish PRT in Mazar-e Sharif. If the Swedish personal losses increase it can end in a public out-cry to pull back the troops ASAP. The Swedes are supporting the war in Afghanistan, but if the cost is to high the support will diminish.

- The Swedish politicians have publicly decided to start pulling back Swedish troops during 2011 in order to have completed the hand-over of the security to Afghan troops in 2014 when most of the Swedish troops will be sent back home. This clearly is a direct copy of president Obama plan. But can Sweden follow their intentions if the security level in PRT MeS is reduced? Or will the Swedish politicians just use the US withdrawal as an excuse to leave Afghanistan in the same way as Slovenia is doing?

Unfortunately, the US plan reminds me of the withdrawal from Vietnam. First a "surge" in 1972 with the Linebacker campaign to bring the north Vietnamese to the negotiating table in Paris. Then a pull-out of US troops and a Vietnamization of the war using South Vietnamese troops to do all the fighting and ensuring the public safety. However the South Vietnamese were not able to stop the north from invading and in 1975 the last US helicopters left the US embassy in Saigon just as the first North Vietnamese tanks entered the city.

Hello World!

What to say? This is my first message on this blog, so I wanted it to be something noteworthy to remember. But I think I will let the future show what my message is and will be.

Some people make a more thorough work than me of letting the World know that they exist...