All is not well with relations between American and Polish troops in Afghanistan, nor with the writers or editors of Time magazine. On top of that, Polskie Radio news shy away from copying and pasting the really hard passages in favour of those easier to bear.

An otherwise interesting article about the row brewing over whether the Polish troops in Afghanistan are either “brilliantly carrying out their duties” (Polish version) or are “just kind of hanging around” (American version) is spoiled by some rotten-hyphen-fever:

“U.S. officers say the Poles’ top-down approach to war-fighting is ill-suited to a counter-insurgency campaign that requires real-time decision-making by mid- and lower-level officers on the ground. They add that the Poles’ six-month deployments strain continuity, and that logistics snafus make them dependent on U.S. support,” the article in Time reads.

Having found the original article on Time’s website it appears it is the Americans who like hyphens and Polskie Radio have simply copied and pasted.

It is also clear that Polskie Radio could have chosen far more scathing passages to demonstrate what the American troops think of the Polish ones, I wonder why they didn’t? For example:

The Taliban were resurgent in areas that U.S. forces had pacified before handing control to Polish forces a year earlier. “It was as if the [Polish] were waiting for us to come back and release them from their base” and then take the credit, says one U.S. officer, describing how failure to patrol the roads has allowed a route between coalition bases to become choked with roadside bombs.

A new crop of U.S. officers now grumbles that their Polish partners are not doing enough fighting.

Despite fielding just 600 men compared with the Poles’ 2,600, the previous American battalion had, over eight months of heavy fighting, achieved a measure of security in the province. U.S. officers enjoyed warm relations with local Afghan government and security personnel, and had upgraded the capacities of the local police. But they feared that the Polish forces to whom they were handing over control might not have the nuanced, carrot-and-stick approach necessary to consolidate those gains. At the handover ceremony, the Poles flew a Russian-made HIND gunship, the kind with which the Red Army had terrorized the Afghan countryside in the 1980s, over a reviewing stand full of elderly Afghans, who “turned white” from shock, according to one officer.

In the Deh Yak district, to the north, soldiers explained that many villages they entered were meeting coalition forces face-to-face for the first time. Afghan security forces there said essentially the same thing. “The Polish did nothing for us,” says district police chief, Lt. Faiz Muhammad. “It just got worse day-by-day until the Americans got here.”

Afghanistan is surely a hard enough place to be without this kind of in-fighting. We’re always being told that what is most important to the troops at the sharp end is that everyone gets behind them and they feel that what they are doing is valued and worthwhile. All the more important when the war itself is almost impossible to explain and to win. Then they come up with this kind of inflammatory and demotivating reporting. Very strange. Then again, the troops are there to do a job of work and if these reports are to be believed the Polish troops are seriously under performing. If so they should either shape up or ship out – I’d vote for the latter.

Mind you, didn’t Tusk or someone say the Polish troops were pulling out of Afghanistan? Or was that Iraq?


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