Sunday, December 10, 2006

Anybody who thinks the U.S. is bogged down in Iraq isn’t paying attention

“Any active-duty unit sent to Kosovo would mean a Guard unit sent to Iraq, and spending a year in Iraq is not why people join the National Guard. Whereas spending a year in scenic Kosovo might not be so bad.”

That’s generally been true. According to Maj. Paul Pecena, spokesman for the 36th Infantry Division, which is just finishing its yearlong Kosovo deployment this week, the unit’s biggest challenge was forming a brigade-sized team out of soldiers from a variety of units — National Guard, Reserve and some active-duty — from the U.S. and six other countries.

“That’s a lot of moving parts," Pecena wrote in an e-mail.

Daily duties were carried out without the need of body armor or Kevlar and consisted of patrols in Humvees or on foot.

“We also had soldiers out in the communities assigned to Liaison and Monitoring Teams,” Pecena wrote. “Their job was to interact with the local government and talk to folks out on the street to see what their concerns were, then help them find a solution.”

But the protest in Pristina is likely a sign of further unrest — and worse, according to a private intelligence firm called Stratfor, which is based in Austin, Texas, and is sometimes called a “shadow CIA.”

“Protests like those of Nov. 28 are likely to be repeated — often — until the United Nations finally cuts Kosovo loose,” according to a Stratfor report titled “Kosovo: The Next Yugoslav War.”

“And that is when things will get interesting — and probably bloody.”

“Three months from now, if Kosovo doesn’t have independence, the Albanians will rise up against the U.N. forces,” said Peter Zeihan, a Stratfor senior analyst.

On the other hand, if the U.N. does grant Kosovo independence, the Serbs will react, he said.

“Their national identity is wrapped up in Kosovo,” Zeihan said. “They’re [angry] enough that the Albanians are living there.”

And according to the Stratfor report, “With most of the West’s deployable forces bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq — the question is much starker: Can NATO and/or the United States even attempt to counter what will likely be near-simultaneous Serbian moves in Bosnia, Montenegro and Kosovo?”

Stratfor’s worst-case scenario is not universally shared.

“The Serbs invading again? I just don’t see how that’s going to happen,” Pike said. “They saw what happened last time they did that. And anybody who thinks the U.S. is bogged down in Iraq isn’t paying attention. The Army has its hands full, and the Marines have their hands full. But the U.S. Air Force isn’t doing squat over there.”

Earhart, too, said he doubts violence will erupt in his area on his watch. “The average Kosovo citizen wants to get on with it,” Earhart said. “They want to have a job, take their kids to school, lead normal lives. Once [Kosovo’s] status is out there, whatever it is, I think you’ll have some movement” in progress and foreign investment.

Stars & Stripes

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shadow CIA seems to be as speculative as the real CIA. USAF is a different story.