What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Update: On Hungarian troops to be sent to Uruzgan

I've recently written that some 50 Hungarian soldiers might go to Uruzgan as a result of discussions among NATO countries over the previous weeks. Well, things are never so simple in the end.
Today the Hungarian daily Népszabadság reported this for a change (my translation - P.M.):
" Our presence in Afghanistan is set to expand with one more element. To the South of Afghanistan, often heard of in the news because of the skirmishes there, to the province of Uruzgan belonging to the Dutch military's area of operations, twenty OMLTs* (Operational Mentoring Liaison Team officers) will travel, to assist the regiment/battalion-size Afghan force operating there. All five parties** agree regarding the mission. The time for it to start was moved ahead, in accordance with NATO and Dutch intentions, but the troops will only depart when the Hungarian team's preparation, the equipment issues and issues regarding their resupply (largely a responsibility for the Netherlands) are taken care of. "
So that's not talk of 50 soldiers any more. Just 20 OMLTs, and this in fact is not really new information. The sending of OMLTs has always been planned; the news is what one could only, logically, suspect before, that OMLTs will be going to the South, where operational mentoring of Afghan forces is especially needed, and the South definitely includes Uruzgan which has now been officially named as a destination.
Something that could potentially (but still rather unlikely) mean some additional Hungarian soldiers ending up in Uruzgan from time to time, is news that a company of special forces, from the Szolnok-based László Bercsényi special operations battalion will serve in Afghanistan from next October, without territorial restrictions, and with a one-year mandate. There'll only be some 12-14 of them at a time in Afghanistan. They have operated there before by the way, already back in 2004, but on much more specific, territorially restricted missions.
This is where the picture gets incredibly blurred. Reading this defence ministry announcement I could even come to think that these same special forces will be the OMLTs themselves. At some points the text is written so ambiguously, to put it euphemistically, that I just don't know what to think. It quotes Hungarian defence minister Imre Szekeres as saying "It is not ill-founded to think that this unit (the special forces battalion I mentioned - P.M.) will have as its task the Afghanistan commitment just announced." So I give up for now.
Is it 50 then? 20 + 12 to 14 at a time? Just 12 to 14? You see what I mean...
* Feel free to just say omelettes, that's in use already.
** Five major political parties currently with seats in the Hungarian parliament.
Update (Uruzgan-wise): I'll be working on finding out more about what my small country is up to exactly in Uruzgan.
For the time being here's some more controversy. Dutch journalists doing interesting things. This is the way it plays out. For a while everybody who follows what's going on in Uruzgan knows there are plans to clear Baluchi valley of insurgents. Then the day a new, major operation with that objective is set to start, one Dutch journalist, Arnon Grunberg writes on his weblog that "Tonight a big operation started in Oruzgan, somehow I feel it's a pity that I'm not there to write about this operation." You see: instead he's over here to write about it. Ok, I don't really think the offensive is so totally unexpected to insurgents in the area, but even if this would be of much significance - and well, writing about things coming tonight is really not that wise in general - even then probably not everybody would notice that blogpost. But then Hans de Vreij (Radio Netherlands) enters the scene, and he writes an article about how things could go unnoticed if defence analysts wouldn't pay attention to weblogs. But of course they do which is why he writes that article of his. Which gets a lot of attention. And meanwhile the Dutch defence ministry makes Arnon Grunberg delete his blogpost. Which obviously makes a lot of difference at that stage. All in all, unintentionally, this may have been good dramatic timing for some useful albeit minor input to the NATO debate in Nordwijk, the Netherlands. NATO threw most that the allies could provisionally, before the official force generation ritual, cough up this time, at Uruzgan, but one has to note that that's still not all that much, especially with a possible Dutch reduction of troop numbers.

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