Gen. Stanley McChrystal Says Fight Is in Afghanistan, Not Yemen

First elements of Afghan surge has blunted Taliban momentum.

ByABC News
January 10, 2010, 3:03 PM

KABUL, Afghanistan Jan. 11, 2010— -- Gen. Stanley McChrystal says he is not discouraged by estimates that there are many more al Qaeda fighters in Yemen than there are in Afghanistan where he is overseeing a major surge in U.S. troops.

McChrystal, America's top general in Afghanistan, was reacting to a question from ABC's "World News" anchor Diane Sawyer who cited intelligence estimates that there are only 100 al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan while there are as many as 300 in Yemen.

"I don't think that this war's in the wrong place," McChrystal said in his exclusive interview with Sawyer. "I think that the Afghan people both need and deserve this assistance."

McChrystal said al Qaeda, which launched the 9/11 attacks from its Afghan bases in 2001, has demonstrated it intends to "try to come back in to Afghanistan if in fact there is that opportunity with a Taliban regime or ungoverned basis. I think it's incredibly important. I think the president laid that out pretty clearly."

Watch Diane Sawyer's full interview with Gen. Stanley McChrystal as Sawyer anchors "World News" from Kabul tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET.

The most recent terror attacks on the U.S. have originated in Yemen, including the bungled "underwear bombing" of a Northwest jetliner over Detroit on Christmas day.

Nevertheless, President Obama stated over the weekend that he has no intention of sending U.S. troops to Yemen or to Somalia, another lawless country where al Qaeda is trying to establish bases.

McChrystal had argued to Obama last year that without a quick infusion of U.S. troops the chances of a victory in Afghanistan would be lost. Obama authorized 30,000 troops and the flow of fresh forces is just underway, but McChrystal said it has already blunted Taliban momentum and is turning the tide against the insurgents.

The general said he believes he is making good on his promise of a "quantum shift" on the battlefield.