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Afghan assessment

Pakistani government and military cooperation will be the key to the success of the Obama administration’s second surge strategy, according to a U.S. military officer in Afghanistan.

The officer provided Inside the Ring with an analysis of the strategy, announced last week by President Obama. It calls for the planned deployment of an additional 30,000 troops and sets a deadline to start pulling them out by July 2011.

The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized speak publicly.

“The rapid surge will present logistical challenges, a fact not lost on our enemies, who are likely to orient on our supply-chain vulnerabilities,” the officer said.

The officer said Pakistan’s security forces will be called on by the U.S. and its allies to play an important role in securing the force buildup. “That will be a metric of Pakistani political will to support this effort,” the officer said.

Another key element of mission success will be the response of the NATO allies to provide additional forces beyond the surge of 30,000 U.S. troops to round out the force initially sought by the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the officer said.

“A fundamental center of gravity of this fight is not in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan … and the al Qaeda safe havens,” the officer said.

SEALs in trouble

The purported planner of the 2004 Fallujah killings of four Blackwater security guards has been ordered held by an Iraqi judge, special correspondent Rowan Scarborough reports.

The Navy is prosecuting three SEAL special-operations commandos on allegations of punching detainee Ahmed Hashim Abed or lying about the incident when talking to investigators.

The military had steadfastly refused to officially release the detainee’s name to the news media. A spokeswoman for the special-operations unit of U.S. Central Command, which brought the charges, repeatedly declined to identify the detainee.

When the Navy last week finally released the official documents listing the charges, it blacked out Abed’s name.

However, in response to a query from Inside the Ring, Brig. Gen. Stephen Lanza, the top U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, confirmed that Abed is in U.S. custody in Iraq “pursuant to an Iraqi judge’s judicial order.”

Gen. Lanza would not say whether Abed, who could be a key witness at the SEALs’ courts-martial, has been, or will be, charged. “All other questions must be addressed to the command responsible for the court-martial,” he said.

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