Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Kosovo's independence, US security assistance in Africa, and the Army's currently limited size.

The need to report on all ethnic groups in Kosovo

Regarding the Feb. 15 article, "Why Kosovo's independence bid is unique": After reading several articles published in the past weeks about Kosovo's declaration of independence and the recent history leading up to it, I am dismayed to see the exclusion of any mention, let alone discussion, of the frightening situation for the region's Romani population.

The presentation of historical information also appears to me to exclude important facts concerning ethnic cleansing of Roma, Serbs, and other minorities in the aftermath of the NATO intervention and the extreme mistreatment of the non-Albanian population of the past eight years.

Those of us involved in trying to support the Roma in and from Kosovo would appreciate more complete coverage of the current situation, the recent history of the region, and the continued and potentially increased threats to safety and security that the Roma face in an independent Kosovo.

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Carol Bloom

AFRICOM's mission is clear

Regarding your Feb. 14 editorial, "Bush's unfinished Africa legacy": The editorial was spot on when it said that the mission of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) is not to wage war but to prevent it. So why claim later in the piece that the mission of AFRICOM is unclear?

For many years, the US has provided security assistance through a variety of programs to help build the capacity of African militaries and regional security organizations to respond to crises and prevent conflict on the continent. Programs include peacekeeping training, maritime and border security, counterterrorism training, military professionalization, medical assistance deployments, and disaster response.

Simply put, AFRICOM's mission is to take over these ongoing programs previously administrated by three different US commanders and make them better. AFRICOM can do this by creating a staff with more Africa expertise and a sharper security assistance (instead of war-fighting) focus. It also integrates other parts of the US government so that military planners can ensure their programs fully complement US diplomatic and developmental efforts, and that US assistance overall has a greater payoff for both Africans and Americans.

Col. Pat Mackin


Public Affairs Chief, US Africa Command


The need to increase the Army's size

Regarding the Feb. 13 article, "For stretched US Army, no relief in sight": The Army especially is stretched today, but the problem is not primarily Iraq and Afghanistan. This concern begs a broader strategic context.

The underlying problem is the size of the US Army. We are not in Iraq because of Iraq, but because of a much broader strategic concern in dealing with Islamic radicalism. This long-term threat is far from having run its course. US interests will remain a target because of who we are: leaders of the free world.

The size of today's Army and US Marine Corps is already adversely affecting US foreign affairs and security. We need an 800,000-strong active Army, not our 400,000 -troop "peace dividend Army."

The Army must provide credible "conventional" warfare capability, but in today's threat-environment it must primarily provide sustainable long-term unconventional warfare and stability capabilities.

These shortcomings require urgent national attention; they belong in our national dialogue as we prepare for the 2008 elections.

Jim McDowell

Fairfield, Va.

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