Europe De-Militrarizes NATO Military Contingents
If you think General McChrystal's changes to the Rules of Engagement are difficult, you might consider how European governments restrict their NATO forces in Afghanistan.
But analysts say NATO commanders are hindered in their fight against insurgents by so-called "caveats" - restrictions placed by various countries on what their forces can or cannot do.
Michael Williams, a NATO expert at London University, describes some of those restrictions.
"Some caveats might be our forces can't operate after night," said Michael Williams. "Our forces can't operate outside of this region or district. They can't be sent in combat operations. They can only fire when fired upon, etc. And so it can lead to some bizarre circumstances where if your rules of engagement are unless you are fired on you can't return fire - if let's say you are with the British and they are being fired at, but technically your soldiers aren't being, they can't actually assist the British forces."Williams and other experts say those "caveats" make it difficult for commanders on the ground to put together a workable strategy.
Military forces that "can't be sent into combat" are effectively no longer military forces. European political leadership renders them about as useful as Wal-Mart door greeters.
That means McChrystal's hands are tied, as far as European forces go, before they even show up. It's been a complaint of mine - and many others - for years.