Is Obama at Odds With Military Commanders Calling for More Troops in Afghanistan?
Is Obama at odds with commanders calling for more troops in Afghanistan?
WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2009 -- The leak of a secret assessment by the top military commander in Afghanistan laying out the need for more troops there has raised the question of whether President Obama is at odds with the Pentagon over the direction of the war.
The report by Gen. Stanley McChrystal says that more troops are urgently needed in Afghanistan to prevent "mission failure," while Obama has repeatedly said he will not rush into a decision on whether to increase the U.S. military presence there until after he conducts a review of his administration's strategy for the region.
A copy of McChrystal's 66-page assessment was obtained by the Washington Post and posted on its Web site today with some parts removed at the Pentagon's request for security reasons.
The assessment looked at the security situation in Afghanistan and a request for an increase in troops there was expected to come in a separate request.
It makes the case that the way to turn around the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan is to pursue a classic counterinsurgency campaign that protects civilian populations.
Pursuing such strategy would require more troops than the 68,000 slated to be in Afghanistan by year's end. That number will already be double the number of troops in Afghanistan last year and was made possible by Obama's decision in February to deploy 21,000 additional troops to stabilize the security situation.
Obama told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" that he agreed to send those additional troops even before the strategy review for Afghanistan and Pakistan was completed because he thought it was important to provide security for the upcoming Afghan elections.
In that same interview, he characterized the strategy in Afghanistan under the Bush administration as having developed into "mission creep where we're just there and we start taking on a whole bunch of different missions. I wanted to narrow it."