According to CNN, in reaction to recent attacks by Afghan security forces, the Nato Commander, U.S. Marine General John R. Allen has ordered all 90,000 troops at NATO headquarters and all bases across Afghanistan to carry “loaded” weapons.  Nothing in the chamber, but they can carry a magazine in their gun now.

General Allen recently testified before the  House Armed Services  Committee.

General Allen said, “There is no part of our strategy that  intends to stay in Afghanistan  forever…I wish I could tell you that  this war was simple and that progress could  easily be measured, but  that’s not the way of counterinsurgencies.  They are fraught  with success and  setbacks, which can exist in the same space and time,  but each must be seen in  the larger context of the overall campaign. And  I believe that the campaign in  on track.”

The current plan seems timed around the U.S.  Presidential elections.  First, a drawdown of 23,000 American troops by the  end of September (before elections in November) followed by a  complete withdrawal by December 2014, when Afghan forces step up.  The Afghan government forces have shown little real progress over the last five years.  It is doubtful anything will change by 2014.

It is claimed that Afghan security forces have expanded from 276,000 to  330,000 in the last year.  Some of these men only exist on paper so their wages can be pocketed by commanders.  The men actually there are poorly paid and lead.  They will not fight and cannot possibly defeat the forces of regional war lords.  The only option is to persuade the war lords not to disrupt the government

General Allen  also said 60 coalition troops  from six countries have been  killed since January.  Thirteen of these soldiers were killed by “what appears to have been  Afghan security forces.”

If you haven’t been deployed, it may surprised you to know that, on base, guns were empty with no magazines.   There was an elaborate system of clearing barrels.  Troops were required to carry weapons all the time but they are not allowed to put a magazine in.  We were more afraid of accidents than the enemy.