80,000 is the High Number of Troops Options in McChrystal’s Request

Oct 13, 2009 9:40pm

ABC's Martha Raddatz reports: Among three different troop options currently before the President and his national security team, General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, as first reported here, favors the middle option, which recommends an increase of some 40,000 more troops. A source familiar with the document says that’s the minimum McChrystal believes is needed for a chance for success in Afghanistan. Although the debate is really about the middle option, there is a much higher number included in the McChrystal options. Other sources who have seen the request say the high number of troops requested is 80,000. These sources also say that they believe McChrystal’s bottom option has no "combat" troops but 10,000 that could be enablers or trainers. This is also considered the “high risk option.”  ABC News has also learned more about how the questions that the White House wants answered are being handled. It is not merely a discussion in the White House meetings. The Pentagon is getting "R.F.I.s" request for information — such as "what would counterterrorism heavy require?" In other words — what would it take to pull off these various other options they are talking about, in terms of equipment and manpower. Sources say McChrystal favors the middle option, and that he knows the high number is a ‘throw away' number, and is more than the U.S. could possibly support, either politically or with boots on the ground given how stretched the military is right now.  As one observer noted to us, “It is common for the military to give several options, but what McChrystal has done here is say, ‘you can be hung, shot or eat your vegetables.”

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