December 1, 2009

HERE'S AN IDEA, HOW ABOUT JUST SPELLING THINGS OUT HONESTLY:

Four reasons for 40,000 more troops (Michael O’Hanlon, 12/01/09, Washington Examiner)

CHANGING THE BATTLEFIELD MOMENTUM. The last two or three years, the Taliban-led resistance in Afghanistan has had the momentum. McChrystal's changes, combined with the arrival of forces approved by Obama in March, have begun to arrest the slide. But while we may no longer be losing this struggle, we aren't winning either -- and Afghans know it. As one tribal leader in Uruzgan province recently put it, explaining why he had half of his tribal youth fighting for the Taliban and half for the government, "I can't tell who's going to win yet." We need to make him, and others like him, realize that NATO and the Afghan government are going to succeed on the battlefield.

TRAINING AFGHAN FORCES. Going beyond what was done in Iraq, McChrystal proposes a form of apprenticeship for Afghan police and army forces. He wants to partner Afghan and NATO units, so that they would pair off as "sister formations" and train, plan, deploy, patrol and fight together. The goal of this sister-unit pairing concept is to build up Afghan security forces to be larger and more effective -- ultimately reaching levels of 240,000 Afghan soldiers and 160,000 police. Within two or three years, a smaller NATO unit might be able to partner with a larger Afghan one -- say, a NATO battalion (of about 800 troops) for an Afghan brigade (of some 2,000 to 3,000). But at first, the NATO and Afghan units will have to be of comparable size.
Suppose the President just came right out and said: "Look, the fact of the matter is that technology makes this sort of war so easy and domestic politics makes it so imperative that we're never going to allow an Islamicist government to rule anywhere ever again. If they try to take over they just make themselves easier targets for our drones.

So, we'll continue our low intensity efforts to create viable security forces that can defend the regime in Kabul and eventually win the war on the ground. And we'll stay and we'll carry on for as long as it takes. The cost is too light to bother us much.

In the meantime, we'll kill Taliban and al Qaeda wherever and whenever we find them. So the sooner the disparate groups in the region reconcile themselves to more peaceful coexistence the better for them."

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 1, 2009 4:03 PM
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