We here at the Marmot’s Hole have been known, on occasion, to, ahem, question the scale of Korea’s contribution to the US-led war in the War on Terror, but over at The Diplomat, David Axe writes that Korea is taking a more active military role overseas, and that the Provincial Reconstruction Team being sent to Afghanistan is just a cover for a what is, in essence, indistinguishable from a US Army combat task force:
The South Korean contingent in Afghanistan illustrates Seoul’s veiled approach to a wider security role. The Korean troops, with their helicopters and armoured vehicles, form a ‘heavy’ reconstruction team that is, in fact, virtually indistinguishable from a US Army combat task force. And in fact, both the Korean PRT and a typical US task force conduct many of the same kinds of operations. After all, the Afghanistan war is a counter-insurgency campaign, where efforts to win Afghans’ allegiance drive military planning. In Afghanistan, the only important distinction between the South Koreans and the Americans is rhetorical.
Seoul is not the first government to attempt this sleight of hand in the interest of deploying forces to Afghanistan. The Dutch government deployed a similar heavy PRT to the southern part of the country soon after the US-led invasion in 2001. The Hague sold the deployment as a strictly peaceful, reconstruction exercise—never mind the jet fighters, artillery and helicopter gunships that accompanied the engineers. The rhetoric of peace was the only way to avoid a popular backlash against the operation.
The Taliban poked holes in The Hague’s cover story when hundreds of armed extremists attacked Dutch positions in Uruzgan Province in June 2007. It was one of the largest pitched battles of the year for NATO forces. Several Dutch soldiers died, while more than a hundred Afghan civilians were killed when the Dutch fired artillery and dropped bombs on heavily populated areas. In the aftermath of the fighting, elements in the Dutch government advocated cancelling the Afghanistan deployment; it took more than two years of political manoeuvring, but in February The Hague announced it would evacuate its troops this year.
Read the rest on your own.