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Last Updated: Monday, 30 May, 2005, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Should US troops be under Afghan command?
US soldiers in Afghanistan
US President George W Bush has rejected calls from the Afghanistan government to give them command of US troops in the country.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is eager to assert greater independence but Mr Bush told a press conference the two countries would only "co-operate and consult" over military operations.

The request comes after fresh details of the torture and deaths of two Afghan citizens at a US military base which have added to the already strong anti-US feeling in the country.

Should the command of US troops in Afghanistan be handed over to Karzai's government? Would it help ease the anti-US feeling in the country? What is the future for Afghanistan?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by David Stephen Ball-Romney, Seattle, USA:
Should the US hand over command of the US troops in Afghanistan to the government there?

The neoconservative government of George W. Bush would like to be the police department of the entire world. This is properly the job of the UN. The occupying US forces should leave both Afghanistan and Iraq to be replaced by UN peacekeepers if the Security Council decides it is necessary.
Phil, Seattle, USA

Karzai is an American agent installed by Americans to be a puppet President of Afghanistan. He cannot survive a single day without the protection of American forces. Americans must protect him from Afghan people for the sake of so-called democracy in Afghanistan. I personally do not see any difference who commands the US soldiers in Afghanistan.
Syed, Ontario, Canada

No country in the world is going to allow a foreign power to govern its troops
Steve JP, Pittsburgh, USA
No country in the world is going to allow a foreign power to govern its troops unless it is a conquered country.
Steve JP, Pittsburgh, USA

President Karzai needs to understand that puppets are just supposed to jerk at the ends of their strings. They're not supposed to try to pull the strings themselves.
Andrew, Redmond, USA

This forum is a joke. You BBC guys never miss an opportunity to diminish the US. Just by reading what some people think reflects how the media changes public opinion at will. Has the US ever done one thing right, BBC?
Gene Odyssey, Germany

This is a laughable topic. I do not think any army can be under the command of a different government. The only scenario that I can think of is a multi-national force under the umbrella of the UN or NATO where the commander of a unit may not be of the same country. But they all are then answerable to the umbrella organization. Not the same thing as keeping an army under the command of a different government. That is ridiculous.
Arun, USA/India

After WWII, did the fledgling West German or Japanese governments have control over Allied troops? Of course they did not. The very thought is ludicrous. There is no difference in this situation.
Anthony, UK

Upon full consideration of the issues it is proper for the Afghan government to be given the command of the US troops in their country as this will help them better take charge of the security situation in Afghanistan. The alternative is for Bush to commence a gradual withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
Elias Edu, Lagos, Nigeria

Please remember that during WWII British troops were under the Supreme allied Command which was an American. We actually worked together, debated and agreed upon the best course of action. If today's allies do not want to work together then it is time we pack up and leave.
Todd, Virginia, USA

The elected president of Afghanistan has to have a say in how US troops are used in his country.
Alan Rowell, Bingley

The condescending and imperialist tone of some of the US responses is unmistakable. If that's how most Americans feel, then even Western countries will eventually turn against them.
Patrick, Canada

If Karzai's government is confident enough to command US troops then it is time for Afghanistan to stand on their own
Jeannette Madsen, United States
If Karzai's government is confident enough to command US troops then it is time for Afghanistan to stand on their own. US Troops are not the world police. If the world see the US military bases as an occupation then it is time to pack it up and close the bases down. As an American, I do not want to occupy or even help out another nation that hasn't asked for help.
Jeannette Madsen, United States

It must be interesting being a citizen of a small country like Afghanistan and not being able to see the big picture. Karzai is so absorbed in his own small universe that he actually believed this grandiose demand would be met. Karzai is presiding over the shattered remains of a land ravaged by centuries of wars, a land that never even was a "country" except that its boundaries were drawn by western mapmakers and given a name. The US makes possible his presidency and he should be grateful to the US, not making absurd demands like this. The Afghan government is not in a position to demand anything.
Jeremy, Atlanta, USA

Those that say "US troops only under US command" are probably the same people that had no qualms about British or Polish troops under US command.
D LeCount, Germany

President Bush is 100% correct to only "co-operate and consult"
Pete, NC, USA
When you join the military in the USA, you take an oath to the USA and to nobody else. President Bush is 100% correct to only "co-operate and consult"
Pete, NC, USA

Should US troops be under Afghan command? Absolutely not! What may be a better way to deal with this is to work in concert with the Afghans so they both the US and the Afghans are working on mutually agreed upon goals. US troops should not be under the command of anyone other than the US military. The same goes for other countries military groups.
Tom, NY USA

I think that the US troops and the Afghan government and Afghan's military should both work together, and neither the US military nor the Afghan government should act superior to the other. But no, I do not think that US troops should be placed under complete control of Karzai's government.
Sarah Wright, Woodland, California, USA

Absolutely not. American troops must continue to be under America command - or else, pull them out of Afghanistan.
Sam, Ferndale, Michigan USA

Why is the question limited to US troops? The operation is largely a Nato deployment involving troops from many Nato countries. Would the Germans, Canadians and other Nato members with troops on the ground desire to devolve command of this Nato operation to the fledgling local authorities? I rather doubt it.
Sam, Delaware, USA

President Karzai, in the pretext of throwing out the Taleban, the Americans have established their base in your country very firmly and you need not dream that the Americans will ever vacate from your soil. Under the cover of so-called democracy you are under the dictatorship of Bush. This being the reality - how could you think of bringing the American troops under Afghan Command?
KS Balachandran, Chennai - India

Karzai should definitely get a strong voice in what the American military can do in Afghanistan. Otherwise, he just looks like the president of a country still under occupation, and a man in that position is never taken seriously. As for controlling the American military, though, no. Just make his influence on the military as much as that of the US generals.
Andrew, Richmond, VA, USA

If US troops want to stay under US command - easy. US troops get out of all the countries they are occupying. When will Americans learn how much hatred they are stirring up by occupying so many countries all of the time! US troops out of their own country automatically stir up dislike!
Jack, Essex

All troops in another person's country should in normal circumstances be under control of that country... otherwise it's an occupation
Jack, Essex
All troops in another person's country should in normal circumstances be under control of that country (unless they are invading, such as in World War II). Otherwise it's an occupation.
Jack, Essex

American troops have now overstayed their welcome. It's time the Germans took over the heavy work with close Afghan consultation. The US troops are needed to relieve those in Iraq.
J. Stevens, Australia

Never will a foreign government command US troops regardless of strong anti-US feeling. Afghan citizens would get over whatever they are feeling right now when the dividends of US imported democracy are pouring in and changing their lives. Meanwhile, their country is in the front line and a test field for the US anti-terrorism policy. It is simply a price to pay for harbouring terrorists in the first place.
Matthew Adun, Charlotte, NC, USA

Sure, and our troops in Korea should be under South Korean command, and under German command in Germany, and under Japanese command in Japan - has everyone lost their minds?
A, US

It is obvious that no army of one country should fall under the control of another. There are however, much wider issues on the "crusade" like policies of George Bush in the world today that will hopefully be addressed by the American people.
Robert Taylor, Chichester UK

Yes why not. They should only provide back-up to Afghan soldiers and help them build their confidence in dealing with ground realities. At the end of the day they have to take it into their own hands and give some rest to the poor US marines, sending them home in a peaceful environment.
Sarab, India

America is our true friend, we appreciate their help and support in rebuilding Afghanistan, but the Americans shouldn't forget one thing, if you truly are a good friend then don't command us, because you are creating more problems for us than you are solving.
Khalid Hamza, Kabul, Afghanistan

No, our forces should not be under Afghan control, but we had better offer genuine respect to Karzai and the Afghan people. It's more than politics - we have to really show them by this that they are a respectable and valuable nation. When they see this, perhaps they will begin to view themselves with more dignity as well.
Jonathan G Rosendall, Castro Valley, USA

The hand over of US troops command to Karzai's government is simply impractical. In-fact US troops should leave Afghanistan immediately. Limited presence of foreign troops is essential who can provide training, intelligence and of course military hardware is also required. The UN should set goals and give the Afghan government a timetable to solve their own problems with their own people. I believe this is the only way if we are serious to help Afghan people.
Javed Janjua, Dubai, UAE

It would create a big friendly atmosphere between the US and Afghan government
Sohiel, Heart, Afghanistan
Yes, it would be much more useful to both sides, it would create trust on both sides, it would be accepted by all Afghans. And it would create a big friendly atmosphere between the US and Afghan government.
Sohiel, Heart, Afghanistan

US Troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan. I doubt, when considering the current situation and the history of my country's invasion of Afghanistan that any solution other than withdrawal of those troops will "ease the anti-US feeling in the country". The future of Afghanistan rests with the Afghani people, as it should, and with supportive assistance from the UN and all nations who are concerned with the well being of mankind.
Christine Sell, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

The majority of the citizens of both Afghanistan as well as Iraq are not happy with foreign occupation. They resist and America oppresses more. A vicious circle! US forces are in Afghanistan to help the government, then they should take orders from Karzai or go home. The truth however is that they are occupiers and the government is subordinate to them. Let's call a spade a spade.
Modestus Ogbuji, Abuja, Nigeria

I think the root cause of the problem is lack of communication between the Afghan government and US forces in Afghanistan, hence disabling proper communication between the government and the citizens of Afghanistan. With greater co-operation and smoother, more accurate flow of information between the two sides could improve both sentiment and effectiveness. Without that the whole Afghan future is a subject to jeopardy.
Mary McCannon, Budapest, Hungary

The US troops should not be commanded by Karzai. However, the hunt for Bin Laden is laughable. Bring the troops home and start concentrating on the myriad of domestic problems that are not, and have not, been addressed.
Jim, NY, USA

US troops under US command. Period. No other way.
Carlos M Fernandez, Miami, FL, USA

Whilst the Afghan civilian leaders should maintain political control of the alliance, it would be extremely foolhardy to place them in command of US troops on the ground. Such a thing would be unprecedented.
Iain Howe, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The US Armed Forces is an all-volunteer military essentially comprised of civilians whose job it is to support protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies foreign or domestic. If the US Armed Forces were to ever come under the command of a foreign government, their all important mission of protecting the rights of US citizens will have changed, and the American electorate would never allow that to happen.
Mark Scott, Nedford, New Jersey, USA

The US is the presiding military force and should stay in charge
Logan, Mississippi, USA
It never fails to amaze me how some can turn the question of command in a theatre of war into a "the U.S. is the perpetrator of all evil in the world forum". No, the US should not hand over control of its forces to the Afghan government. The US is the presiding military force and should stay in charge until the Afghan government can take on the job of security themselves.
Logan, Mississippi, USA

If a country wants US forces to assist with their security problems, it's always with the understanding that operational control rests with the US. Agreements can be worked out at the political level over what polices to pursue in the country requesting US assistance, but the actual operations to implement the agreed on security policies stay with US troop commanders. Our armed forces may assist our allies, but they aren't mercenaries.
S Kahn, Denver, USA

If the Americans don't want their army under Afghan control simply because they're too proud to be answerable to Afghans for the atrocities they've committed against innocent people, then its high time the Americans came back. For all those people asking how I'd like it if our troops were under foreign control I'd say that our troops mind their own business by staying in their own country.
Dawood Khan, Lahore Pakistan

No foreign forces should be placed under the command of Karzai's government. The Afghanistan government should focus upon the establishment of national governance and security apparatus. Foreign forces will withdraw from active operations within Afghanistan as the instruments of national governance take hold. Granting the fledgling Afghanistan government control of foreign forces within the country would be contrary to the mission of the troops and the goal of Afghans' self-governance. It would adversely affect the legitimacy of Karzai's government and foment the return of chaos and civil war.
Knox, Atlanta, GA, USA

Anyone would be better than Bush and Rumsfeld, why not. They will do what they want anyway regardless of who is "publicly" in charge
MJA, Germany

Karzai knows very well that the US will not relinquish command of its troops to Afghanistan. Further, Karzai would not even want this to happen. His statements are for the Afghanistan audience and, while not genuine, simply amount to what a canny politician would say. On the other hand, I believe that Afghan prisoners should be turned over to Afghan control, once they have been interrogated, lest they "escape" with the help of corrupt local officials.
Chris, US

To all the Americans saying their troops shouldn't be under anyone else's command. Fine. Then don't tell our troops what to do in Iraq. Or is it acceptable for the US to be in charge of other nation's forces?
Paul Watson, London, UK

With all due respect to President Karzai, no. The US military should never be placed under anyone else's control, whether it be a foreign government or the UN. What would help curb anti-US sentiment is the news media keeping its mouth shut.
Zach Smith, Bloomington, IN, USA

The way this whole affair has been presented again betrays the rabid anti-Americanism of the world press
John C, New York, USA
The US is solely responsible for bringing the horrible Taliban regime to an end and for driving out Al-Qaeda. The US must stay firmly in command of these forces until the job is done. I find it laughable that some want US troops to come under Afghan command because of these abuse allegations. Did rogue British soldiers ever once abuse a German POW in WWII? Were there calls at that time to put the entire British army under someone else's control? The way this whole affair has been presented again betrays the rabid anti-Americanism of the world press and the BBC in particular.
John C, New York, USA

US troops should never be under the command of anyone but the US. The future only holds more misery for these people if they cannot gain control using their own troops and resources. I wonder which feelings are stronger for this nation, anti-Taliban or anti-US?
Dwayne Chastain, West Jefferson, Ohio

Absolutely not. American troops signed-up to join the US military and not the Afghanistan military. Last time I looked the Afghan military hierarchy is not something to be envied, but is a organization in the midst of a major overhaul and not prepared to command a force as advanced as that of the US military. Not that US forces have not been under the command of non-US officers; an attachment of US Marines were under the command of British officers during the initial invasion of Iraq. So this is not the US being high-and-mighty but it is a case of being realistic. On the political front, the Americans and Afghans should work together to better coordinate the efforts against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Shaun Carr, New York, USA

The US has become a rogue nation, attacking and occupying nations at will. It withdraws or disregards all conventions aimed at preserving human rights and promoting harmony among nations. The elected government should have control of the forces to implement its policies and safeguard its citizens, if a government can do neither it is not a government.
Greg Pressey, Tillsonburg, Canada

Absolutely not! Karzai has to understand that the cost Afghanistan must bear for being the launching base for the 9/11 attacks is its de facto loss of sovereignty. As for our presence in the country, we're never leaving so people better get used to it. As far as I'm concerned, after 9/11 Afghanistan lost the privilege of determining its own strategic future. Karzai is a good man and will lead his people to prosperity, but he should never forget that the house that he is building is being held together with the nails of the US military. The simple fact of the matter is that US forces serve the US and our capabilities are as a fighting force can only be understood by Americans.
Jonathan, Boston

Would you want your country's troops to be under another nation's formal command? Of course not. Anyway, our all-volunteer forces signed up to serve the US, not some other country. Turning the US military over to Afghan control would be a disaster for troop morale and domestic political suicide for Bush.
Sue, New Jersey, USA

The US will never allow its troops to be under Afghan control. To the US command mindset, Afghanistan is a wholly owned colony to be exploited for purely financial gain. What the local population thinks or how many live or die is of no interest whatsoever. Ditto Iraq.
Ralph Williams, Cambridge UK

To Ralph Williams, UK: Ever been to Afghanistan? During my six months there I never saw anything which could be of the remotest financial value to the US. Saw the US contributing plenty to a society recovering from the utter rottenness of the Taleban though. Come on mate, grow up!
Ron, Brit Engineer with US Military





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