(by Jerome Starkey, London’s TimesOnline.co.uk) KABUL — First he banned [alcohol] in his Kabul headquarters. Now the … commander of U.S. and Nato forces [in Afghanistan] has a new target in his war on terror: ice cream and fast food.
General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of Special Forces in Iraq, who runs eight miles a day, eats one meal and sleeps for only four hours a night, has given orders to close the junk food concessions on Nato bases.
No longer will the fighter pilots at Bagram or Kandahar airfields be able to ring Pizza Hut to deliver. Once General McChrystal has his way, the Whoppers will be off the menu: Burger Kings at both locations are to close. Even the newly opened TGI Friday’s on the boardwalk in Kandahar is to close its doors once its contract expires.
“This is a war zone, not an amusement park,” wrote Command Sergeant-Major Michael T. Hall in a military blog.
The boardwalk area also has an Oakley sunglasses shop, a Subway sandwich bar and a Delice de France. The Harley-Davidson concession offering tax-free motorbikes delivered to soldiers’ homes is also going.
The decision is likely to appal the rear echelon soldiers stationed on bases the size of small cities but it has been welcomed by some of the frontline forces stuck in sparse combat outposts without fresh food or running water.
“From the moment [General] McChrystal and I arrived in Afghanistan last summer, we began looking for ways to do things more efficiently across the battlefield. This effort includes moving and reallocating resources to better accomplish our mission,” Sergeant-Major Hall wrote.
“What it comes down to is focus, and to using the resources we have in the most efficient and effective ways possible.
“Supplying non-essential luxuries to big bases like Bagram and Kandahar makes it harder to get essential items to combat outposts and forward operating bases, where troops who are in the fight each day need resupplying with ammunition, food and water.”
In September General McChrystal banned alcohol at his headquarters after complaining that too many staff had hangovers. Some troops dubbed it his “war on Stella”.
The changes are unlikely to have much effect on British troops. Camp Bastion has a Pizza Hut…. Alcohol is already banned.
Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from The Times Online. Visit the website at timesonline.co.uk.
2. a) Why did Gen. McChrystal ban alcohol at his Kabul headquarters in September?
b) Do you agree with the General’s ban? Explain your answer.
3. What closures has Gen. McChrystal ordered for Bagram and Kandahar bases?
4. For what reasons has he given these orders?
5. Sergeant-Major Hall explains the General’s decision further in his blog post with several points:
- …Bazaars and businesses which employee Afghans and feed the local economy will still continue to operate.
- What won’t change or be diminished are the facilities that cater to service members’ well being and morale. Physical fitness centers will be equipped with cardio and weight equipment. We are working hard to get more bandwidth in country so we can provide troops throughout Afghanistan with faster, more reliable and more affordable (perhaps even free) Internet services and access to phones to stay connected with loved ones.
- Some will say the decision to do away with these amenities is meant only to make things harder for deployed service members, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Closing these facilities will free up much-needed storage facilities at both Bagram and Kandahar, space which is critical as 30,000 additional American and up to 7,000 international troops flow into Afghanistan over the next several months.
- As the expansion continues, especially throughout the winter months, having a place to secure equipment will prove vital to outfitting units with basic items and essential equipment. These closures will also lessen the amount of flight and ground convoy traffic across, and in and out of, Afghanistan, reduce both local and military security requirements, free up ramp space on airfields, and drastically reduce the water and electricity needs required to operate these businesses.
- We have an important mission here in Afghanistan, and its one the world is watching and paying attention to. We have a responsibility to outfit our troops with everything they need to be successful. Efficiently providing troops what they need to accomplish the mission is the right thing to do.
a) Do Gen. McChrystal’s orders make more sense after reading more of Sgt.-Major Hall’s explanation? Explain your answer.
b) Do you agree with the General’s closures? Explain your answer.
General Stanley A. McChrystal is the current Commander, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A). He previously served as Director, Joint Staff from August 2008 to June 2009 and as Commander, Joint Special Operations Command from 2003 to 2008, where he was credited with the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq… He assumed his current assignment on June 15, 2009. (from wikipedia)
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council in December 2001…
ISAF was initially charged with securing Kabul and surrounding areas from the Taliban, al Qaeda and factional warlords, so as to allow for the establishment of the Afghan Transitional Administration headed by Hamid Karzai. In October 2003, the UN Security Council authorized the expansion of the ISAF mission throughout Afghanistan, and ISAF subsequently expanded the mission in four main stages over the whole of the country. Since 2006, ISAF has been involved in more intensive combat operations in southern Afghanistan, a tendency which continued in 2007 and 2008. Attacks on ISAF in other parts of Afghanistan are also mounting.
As of January 2009 its troops number around 55,100. There are troops from 26 NATO, 10 partner and 2 non-NATO/non-partner countries. Troop contributors include Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Turkey, Poland and most members of the European Union and NATO also including Australia, New Zealand, Azerbaijan and Singapore. The intensity of the combat faced by contributing nations varies greatly, with the United States, United Kingdom and Canada sustaining substantial casualties in intensive combat operations. (from wikipedia)
Read about the ISAF at isaf.nato.int/en/about-isaf/leadership.
Read Sergeant-Major Michael Hall’s blog post on the closures at isaf.nato.int/en/the-afghan-hands-blog/commanders-blog/command-sgt.-maj.-michael-t.-hall-morale-welfare-and-recreation-mwr-facilities.html.
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